Middle-Eastern Investors [Heart] New York!

Middle-Eastern investors snatched up $3.14 billion in Manhattan real estate in  2006, according to a new report from brokerage Jones Lang  LaSalle. Not too shabby for the Big Apple as the total Middle-East  investment in U.S. real estate during last year was just north of $7 billion.  

One name dominated the headlines, though.

Istithmar, the Dubai-based investment house, seemed to be involved in every major deal involving office space in the city. In April 2006, it acquired Six Times Square for $300 million. Two months later, it purchased 280 Park Avenue for $1.2 billion from Boston Properties. It capped off the summer of 2006 by purchasing 450 Lexington Avenue in August for $600 million.

Not wanting to limit itself to one particular niche, Istithmar also bought the W Hotel Union Square for $285 million in October and the former Knickerbocker hotel in Times Square for $300 million in June.

The royal family-owned company is not resting on its laurels, though. As The Observer reported last month, it unloaded 280 Park Avenue to Broadway Partners for a slight profit just 10 months after acquiring it. Also in April, Istithmar paid $278 million for the majority stake of the Mandarin Oriental hotel in the Time Warner Center.

Should we expect more from Istithmar and other Middle-East investors? Yes. Yes we should.