The UAE has been ranked among the top 10 countries globally in terms of the number of billionaires as the nation is home to 55 of them, controlling $165 billion in wealth, according to Wealth-X Billionaire Census 2019.
The UAE was the 10th-biggest market for billionaires worldwide, dropping one place from last year, and sharing the 10th position with France as both countries host the same number of billionaires.
The population of billionaires fell 11.3 per cent in the UAE, with their wealth dipping 1.6 per cent. Ninth-ranked Saudi Arabia also saw its billionaires population and their wealth dropping 8.1 per cent and 13.2 per cent, respectively.
“Despite moderately positive equity markets and a growing economy, billionaires’ fortunes worsened in these two countries in 2018. The richest continue to be affected by Saudi Arabia’s anti-corruption purge, which began in 2017,” Maeen Shaban, director for research and data analytics at Wealth-X, said in the report.
Forbes magazine earlier this year featured seven Emirati billionaires in its annual list for 2019, same as last year, but the value of their assets declined year-on-year due to a slowdown in the global economy and a dip in property prices in the UAE.
The value of total assets of the billionaires fell $4.3 billion or 18 per cent to $19.7 billion compared to $24 billion last year.
However, wealth mangers said that the wealth of high net worth individuals (HNWIs) and ultra high net worth individuals (UHNWIs) with over $30 million in wealth will grow in the coming years.
“High net worth individuals and ultra-high net worth individuals are expected to increase by 18 per cent and 20 per cent, respectively, over the next five years,” said Taimur Khan, research manager at Knight Frank.
“In the UAE, we have seen growth in both segments by 11 per cent and the numbers are expected to increase by 14 per cent in terms of number of millionaires and UHNWIs by 15 per cent. These increases have been driven by equity markets and real estate markets which have had strong levels of growth in 2017,” Khan said.
Farzad Billimoria, UAE head of HSBC Private Banking – DIFC branch, also noted that growth of wealth in the UAE has been positive due to several factors.
“One is the geographical advantage of where the UAE is placed. Secondly, financial infrastructure in the country has been very positive and lastly is the strength of the regulatory framework. Hence, the UAE has been attracting a lot of talent from all over the world and is one of the top choices for ultra-high net worth and high net worth individuals,” he added.
He expects private wealth will continue to grow in the UAE.
Among the top 15 markets globally, four countries – the United States, Russia, the UK and France – registered an increase while 11 markets saw a decline in billionaires’ population.
According to the New World Wealth Report, the UAE last year saw 2,000 millionaires making the country their home. It found that around 51 per cent of wealth in the UAE is controlled by high net worth individuals.
Oliver Wyman and Deutsche Bank forecast in its fourth annual report that high net worth growth slowed to four per cent last year in the Middle East and Africa region.