Described as one of the best country homes to be built in Scotland for more than a century, the 545-acre Eilean Aigas Estate on a private island in the River Beauly in Inverness-shire, has been reportedly bought for £7million by the Qatari royal family.
The history filled property was sold last September by Canadian telecoms tycoon Brendan Clouston to a “mystery buyer”.
Yet after it was registered with the Jersey-based offshore company, Goldenrod Limited, speculation has been ignited that it was purchased by a member of the Qatari royal family.
Steve Byford, of Kilmorack Community Council, spoke of the sale saying: “I believe one of the Qatari royal family has bought it. I think the community would welcome them to the area and hopefully they will get involved within the community.”
Another local also confirmed that he has also been told the new owner was Qatari royalty.
In 2003, the 60-acre island was bought by Clouston for £3million. Later farmland and woodland on the mainland were purchased by Clouston to ensure the privacy of the island. Over six years, a new home was built with six receptions rooms and eight bedroom suites.
The original house built in 1839 underwent a facelift and a new gate-lodge and estate office with staff accommodation was added. A farmhouse with development potential was also built.
After losing the campaign against Scottish and Southern Energy’s controversial Beauly-Denny overhead line that passes close to the Eilean Aigas estate in 2012, Clouston put it on the market asking £15 million. After it went unsold for three years he cut the price down to £3 million.
The Qatari family also bought the 10,000-acre Cluny Estate near Laggan, another Highland property, last year for £7.3 million that was purchased through the Jersey-based company.
Andy Wightman, land researcher, campaigner and author of Who Owns Scotland said that it appears that the Qatari royal family are buying more property in the United Kingdon. He said: “My real concern is that tax havens are being used increasingly and about 750,000 acres in Scotland – an area larger than Ayrshire – are owned by companies registered in secrecy jurisdictions, which means the public has no means of finding out who owns the land,”
In the past ten years, the Qatari royal family has been buying up areas and key buildings around the United Kingdom, including the ownership of the department store Harrods, 95% of the Shard and the Olympic Villiage in London. They are also a major investor in the London Stock Exchange, Sainsbury’s and Barclays.
Sir John Lister-Kaye, the owner of the nearby Aigas Field Centre, is hoping that the royal family will be guardians of the important wildlife in the area, including the nesting ospreys.