London's west end, with its plush offices and 250 year-old Georgian town houses, has for years been high on the shopping list of wealthy Arab property investors, keen to get a firm foothold in what is one of the world's most sought-after real estate hot spots.
High demand among wealthy hedge fund groups and very limited supply has pushed prices and rents ever higher over the last decade. More insulated from the property downturn than other parts of the UK, Central London continues to provide solid returns for investors attracted to the relative steady returns offered by long leases.
The conundrum facing all types of investors in a real estate slump is when to call the bottom of the market.
But demand from Arab investors for the high-end properties of Knightsbridge and Mayfair is now starting to wane.
Typically, Arab money is behind between 5 percent and 10 percent of the total commercial property deals in London's West End, and around 3 percent in Paris.
Unlike the German institutional funds and Irish syndicates, who are some of the biggest investors in London, Gulf money doesn't dictate the market but still remains an important part of cash flooding in from abroad, according to local brokers.
Deals in London's financial district, the Square Mile, and its fringes over the last year - such as the Qataris' rescue of the $2.2bn Shard of Glass project and the Kuwait Investment Authority's (KIA) $627m acquisition of flagship office tower the Willis Building - have shown Arab money will go after trophy assets, even if they were considered expensive at the time.
But now signs are emerging that investors from the region are becoming more cautious, anticipating further declines in property valuations.
"They are lining up to buy but waiting for the market to stabilise and seeing how things play out," says Stephen Hubbard, deputy chairman of CBRE for Europe, Middle East and Africa.
Hubbard expects activity will pick up again at the start of next year when prices, albeit some 30 percent down from their peak in the summer of 2007, may have started to stabilise.
And it is pricing that seems to be the main concern among Gulf investors right now, according to Bob Hird, who heads up Middle East investment for CBRE in Abu Dhabi.
"They are being very selective and waiting for the opportunity. The problems they are facing is pricing: nobody knows where pricing is. There have been very few investment sales of a major nature this year in London," he says.
Hubbard estimates that commercial property values have declined by as much as 20 percent in the last year in the UK, with rents in the City of London falling from $104.30 per sq ft to $88.16 per sq ft over the same period. Alongside this, yields have softened making returns for investors that more attractive.
They have moved out from around 4 percent in central London to above 5.5 percent in some cases, as seen when a private Middle Eastern client bought 15 Berkeley Street in Mayfair, London, for $49m in August at an initial yield of 5.72 percent.
Equally, the conundrum facing all types of investors in a real estate slump is when to call the bottom of the market. Both Hubbard and Hird agree it is impossible to tell when the bottom of the cycle has been reached, until prices start to rise.
It is this uncertainty over pricing, driven by the wider uncertainty over the longevity of the global economic downturn, that is causing investors to buy on sentiment.
Paul Cockburn, head of West End investment at London-based property adviser Savills, says Gulf investors will buy when the market improves, not while things are still gloomy.
"They are buying on sentiment, rather than pricing. They are not going to say, that looks good at 6 percent [yield] or that looks good at 5.5 percent, they are going to say, the market is going down, we'll come back in 12 months time.
"If the market is saying 5.5 percent after a year then they will probably come back in, just because it is a good time to buy."
According to Savills, Middle Eastern money has been behind 11 out of the 110 deals done in the West End in 2008, making up 10 percent of the market. This represents a small rise on the previous two years.
In 2007, 6.4 percent, or nine out of 188 buildings in the West End were sold to Middle East-backed purchasers, while in 2006, 15 Middle Eastern-backed transactions out of 223 were recorded, constituting 6.7 percent of the total market.