Sloane Rangers vs Arabs – the battle for Chelsea

On one side: old affluence. On the other: shiny new supercars

12 July 2014

9:00 AM

12 July 2014

9:00 AM

Perhaps you’re aware that it’s Ramadan right now, the month in which all good Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, smoking and sex during daylight. What you might not know is that Ramadan also marks the start of an annual turf war in London; a battle between the tribal Sloanes and the young Gulf Arabs to dominate Chelsea.

The skirmish actually begins before Ramadan. The Gulf States heat up to an intolerable degree and their oil-rich young migrate over here in droves to escape both religious censure and the sun. They descend first of all on the department stores in what’s become known as the Harrods Hajj, to flash their cash around. One friend of mine working in Selfridges was asked by a young Saudi what she would like as a present. ‘A diamond ring,’ she replied, joking. The next day the customer was back — with the ring.

Fashionable clothing stores in Kensington and Chelsea time their grand openings to coincide with Ramadan, which makes perfect sense when you consider that the ‘Ramadan rush’ made about £150 million for London retailers last year. And where best to show off all the bling? Well, the King’s Road of course, from the front seat of a burnt-orange Lamborghini.

This is where the natives of SW1 and SW3 start to become restless. Thirty years ago, Sloane Square was known for one thing and one thing only: the Sloane Ranger. Knightsbridge was the favoured stomping ground of every London-based Sloane, and as Peter York’s 1982 book The Official Sloane Ranger Handbook put it: ‘How many miles from “the centre” you are is, of course, measured from Sloane Square.’ Back then, tweed, gilets and red trousers were all the rage, and a princess was a style icon.

Some of this might sound familiar. But one thing has changed. These days, Sloane Square simply isn’t Sloane central any more. As Arabs dominate the King’s Road, so the young Sloanes slink further afield, to Fulham and Parsons Green, grumbling as they go. The ever-increasing price of London property means that many of those who have faithfully circled Sloane Square for years now can’t afford to live anywhere near their spiritual home. They’ve migrated further afield, leaving SW1 and SW3 to oil money.

According to one estate agent based in the Royal Borough, cash purchases are common, and many of their new customers ‘don’t even bother visiting properties before they buy’. There is mention of a Saudi Arabian woman buying a house in Chelsea Green (average price for a two-bedroom house: £3 million) for the sole purpose of storing her dresses.

It’s the supercharged Koenigseggs, Bugattis and Maseratis that probably upset the long-time residents the most. Their hearts sink as ‘Arab supercar season’ gets underway. The ‘carparazzi’, attracted by the sound of revving engines, dedicate whole websites to the machines, many of which are shipped over specially for the summer. A Lamborghini Aventador recently made headlines when it was filmed crashing into a Mazda on Sloane Street. King’s Road in summer can feel like a real-life version of the computer game Grand Theft Auto, with shiny vehicles parked willy-nilly outside bars and cafés, and the Metropolitan Police last year seized a large number of uninsured supercars, including one particularly tasteful ‘glow in the dark’ Lamborghini. But there are plenty still roaring around.

Posing and shopping are the visitors’ main hobbies, but they aren’t the only things that bring them from the Gulf to London. It’s the whole experience, from clubbing and drinking to gambling. Last summer, for example, a group of Arab women visited the lesbian drinking spot Candy Bar in Soho; their religion might not allow them to go clubbing normally, but they were permitted to go there as their jealous menfolk deemed it a safe female space.

Naturally enough, Arab Londoners have their own bugbears about the other inhabitants of their adopted city. I heard tell of a Saudi child who said to his private tutor that he was fed up with food from Harrods, but his mother refused to shop in Waitrose ‘because it is full of Russians’.

Of course, the truth is that many of the original Sloane Rangers were priced out of K&C long ago. But the trouble is that where Sloanes go, foreign investors follow. Suddenly Fulham has become a popular choice of third home for families escaping the Emirati heat. Thus prices rise, and Sloanes are forced to move ever further afield — to Acton, Balham, and even Brixton.

There are still some strongholds though, where the old-timers can gather to moan. The Thatcher-themed Maggie’s Club on Fulham Road holds no appeal for your average Gulf playboy, and the Berlusconi-inspired Bunga Bunga bar in Battersea also remains Sloane central.

As long as Sloanes stick to themed parties and fancy dress, they’ll probably be OK. Old habits die hard after all, and no one dresses up quite like a hooray. And as the Handbook says: ‘Sloane is a state of mind — not simply a place.’

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  • jesseventura2

    Have you ever been to Hong Kong and Thailand to see how the Saudi males forget fantasy allah?

    • kevinlynch1005

      is it young boys, young girls, or just animals (goats?)

      • Shazza

        Probably all three.

        • Doggie Roussel

          Ask the domestic staff at the Carlton Towers Hotel who said that clearing up all the shite after one of these savages had so fouled the most expensive suite in the hotel would have made Hercules’ task with the Augean Stables look like child’s play !

  • Doggie Roussel

    Horrid, culture-free camel drivers… just look at them in all their Savile Row finery at Ascot or the Derby… in spite of all their spondulicks they just can’t hack it as gents and look just like the greasy spivs that they are… not that we’d look good with tea towels on our heads and draped in pristine robes… but then we don’t wish to dress like these jerks…

    • Shazza

      Heartbreaking to see what has happened to this once, greatest city on Earth.

      • Doggie Roussel

        Yes, We have sold out to these pimps and ignorami…. for the need to fill our cars with fuel…

        • ArchiePonsonby

          Don’t get me started about their er, consorts in their Armani bin-bags! Bayswater? I’m old enough to remember when it was the preserve of genteel dowagers and uncrowded pavements. Now?

        • Reg Bungaloyd

          There is something very ironic about your ignorance of the plural of ignoramus…

          • Doggie Roussel

            There is always some nitpicking, blistered-palmed pedant who manages to creep out of the woodwork and pick up on some utterly trivial point of no consequence whatsoever…

            So for your pre-orgasmic satisfaction I will correct my plural to Ignoramuses

            Now just mop up with the Kleenex…

    • John Dalton

      LOVE your posts DR – you hit the nail on the head!

  • kevinlynch1005

    I highly recommend The Mayfair Set, a documentary about finance and the birth of shareholder activism in the UK in the 1960s/’70s. Anyhow, one of the episodes deals with the flood of Arabs and their money into London in the early ’70s. Apparently, there was a lack of familiarity on the part of these ‘gentlemen’ with the toilet and its uses (in the latter part of the twentieth century – for Gawd’s sake!), and which is rather amusingly recounted here by this individual (who incidentally appears to be parodying himself):

  • disqus_JXTaH3N9kU

    If ever an article had appeal and interest to a miniscule portion of the population in Britain, this is it.

    • patrickirish

      Surely the ease with which foreign wealth usurps the locals would be of interest to a large part of, dare I say it, England?

      • disqus_JXTaH3N9kU

        Well, I suggest we ask people in, I don’t know, Wrexham, Derby, Totnes and Newcastle whether or not they are concerned with Sloanes versus Arabs. I suspect it won’t be of pressing demand.

    • Trofim

      This is, in a very small scale, a representation of something which is occurring on a much larger scale in Britain and the World – the way in which Muslim little by little elbow others aside and monopolise the available space.

    • lucillalin

      Quite a large portion on Londoners have to deal with this crowd in customer cervices though. I used to work at Selfridges and they were the rudest customers I’ve met in my life. They are the only group of tourists I know that really arrogantly invade any space, Gulf families have often forced me to jump out of their way like I’m some inferior species.
      Other notable things: How fat they are, especially the kids
      And the poorly dressed Filipino maids carrying or the shopping bags and pushing the prams at the same time.

      • Doggie Roussel

        It’s an inferiority complex really… when you consider that a generation or so ago they were squatting behind date palms for their daily ablutions and have only just discovered the joys of wearing shoes etc… heaven sent for the likes of Lobb and Manolo Blahnik …

        • Lord Denning MR

          Doggie Roussel, your comments here are filled with bigotry. I hold no brief for these visitors, frankly their values appear to be appalling, but your comments are even worse.

    • Mark Bailey

      Although it interested you enough to read it………and then comment on it!

      • disqus_JXTaH3N9kU

        But I have vast amounts of time on my hands.

        • Mark Bailey

          And yet still, in the whole of the Worldwidewasteoftime you chose to read this.

          • disqus_JXTaH3N9kU

            I get The Spectator each week and read all the articles; except for Taki and Delingpole, of course.

          • Shenandoah

            Taki seems inadvertently perfectly named.

  • monty61

    ‘It starts before Ramadan …’ ‘Scuse me but doesn’t Ramadan move about (being a lunar-calculated thing)? So it has nothing do do with Ramadan, except occasionally, as this year, by accident.

    • post_x_it

      It does, but for the last few years it’s been happening during the British summer, so the article makes sense, especially since it points out that “the skirmish actually begins before Ramadan”. For the sake of completeness it should have mentioned that before 2009 and after 2017 the coincidence of summer and Ramadan does not apply.

  • Alice Boxstrom

    One if by land, two if by sea. Keep the fires burning: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0094KY878

  • JoeDM

    Londonistan !!!

  • commenteer

    I lived in South Ken in 1985 to 1987. Believe me, the whole place was heaving with Arabs. Shops in the Brompton Road sold Arab delicacies, and I can well remember two yellow Lamborghinis parked outside out front door. The idea that Kensington and Chelsea were inhabited purely by Sloanes in the 1980s is nonsense: they’d already moved across the river by then.

  • Doggie Roussel

    The worst damage to the Raghead’s obscene boy racer vehicle was apparently the instant evacuation of his bowels onto the calfskin cover of his driver’s seat… they are still trying to scrub out all the instantly-evacuated sheep’ eyeballs etc …..

  • Innit Bruv

    Racism and xenophobia are alive and well in today’s Britain….

    • SWIFTcat

      Yes! Thank goodness for racism and xenophobia!

      • Innit Bruv

        You might want to remember what happened to Stephen Lawrence and Anthony Walker because of people who,like you, “thank goodness for racism and xenophobia”.
        You might also want to remember what happened when some right-wing nutter by the name of David Copland planted three nails bombs in London back in April 1999.
        Try using your brain,if you have one, before posting such stupid comments, you useless cretin !!!

  • Nathan Jessup

    Since civilization and competitive free markets are dynamic, spontaneous, and unpredictable, one must always be ready to adapt to their inevitable changes.

  • evad666

    As no doubt daddy invited the situation suck it up guys and gals.

  • Jason Bourne

    Highly exaggerated and not (completely) accurate commentary on Sloane Square, King’s Road, Lamborghinis and the arab population in Chelsea.

    The description is more fitting for the Brompton Road and Knightsbridge, which was infiltrated by arabs in the late 70’s and early 80’s. So they’ve been ‘holiday shopping’ in Harrods for 40 years now.

    I’ve been resident in Chelsea for 30 years, do my weekly ‘shopping’ ritual (supermarket, bank, post office, Caffe Ca’puccino, etc.) on the King’s Road and it is extrelely rare to see “arabs” and Lamborghinis parked in that Road. Besides, the shops in King’s Road and Duke of York Square cannot begin to compare with Bond Street or Harrods, which is where you will find arabs.

    Miss Camilla Swift should get her facts correct before making an attempt at “journalism.” Either that, or apply for a training job at RT.com.