Qatar ruler takes title to 6 Greek islands

March 6, 2013 at 12:42 AM

VATHY, Greece, March 6 (UPI) -- The emir of Qatar, one of the world's richest men, has taken title to six uninhabited Greek islands after a year and a half of paperwork.

Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani paid $11 million for the islands in the Echinades chain, The Guardian reported. They are politically part of Ithaca, the island in the Ionian Sea that was home to the Homeric hero Odysseus.

The sheik plans to create vacation retreats for his family, which includes three wives and 24 children. Ioannis Kassianos, who became mayor of Ithaca three years ago after a career as an economics professor in the United States, said the sheik plans to buy the entire Echinades chain of 20 islands, all of them uninhabited. Dennis Grivas, owner of the smaller five islands, negotiated a price last week.

"The islands have been in my family for over 150 years but we are not rich enough to be able to keep such valuable properties any longer," Grivas said. "We are very, very happy to see them go. They have been on the market for nearly 40 years."

Kassianos said the sale involved 18 months of red tape.

"Greece is that kind of place," he said. "Even when you buy an island, even if you are the emir of Qatar, it takes a year and a half for all the paperwork to go through."

Kassianos said the sheik now has to find a workaround for a Greek law limiting the size of private homes.

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