Billionaires own quarter of UAE’s wealth

Dec 09, 2013 12:00 AM

The Middle East’s billionaires hold a combined net worth of Dh1.3 trillion ($354 billion), which in percentage terms is the highest total wealth in any other region in the world, according to findings from the Wealth-X and UBS Billionaire Census 2013 show.

According to the report, 40 per cent of the Middle East’s wealth is held by the region’s 157 wealthiest billionaires, known by the term ultra high net worth (UHNW), compared to 28 per cent in Europe, 22 per cent in North America and 18 per cent in Asia.

While billionaires in the UAE control almost a quarter (24 per cent) of the country’s wealth, their counterparts in Saudi Arabia control more than 70 per cent.

Saudi Arabia leads the region with the most billionaires (64), and 25 of these individuals are based in the country’s capital, Riyadh.

According to the report, UAE billionaires hold a total of $45 billion (Dh165 billion) in combined wealth, with an average net worth of $1.2 billion (Dh4.46 billion) per ultra-wealthy individuals in the country.

As Emirates 24|7 reported last month, the UAE has 4.5 billionaires per million people, and is ranked No. 7 in the world in terms of number of billionaires per capita.

On the other hand, the total wealth of Saudi billionaires ($204 billion) is more than half the combined net worth of their counterparts in the Middle East, according to data from the Wealth-X and UBS Billionaire Census 2013, the first-ever global study on the billionaire population.

The UAE trails its GCC peers Kuwait and Qatar, both of which have marginally better 4.7 billionaires per million people. However, the number of billionaires in both Kuwait (17) and Qatar (9) is less than the UAE’s 37 billionaires.

On the other hand, with 2.2 billionaires per million people, Saudi Arabia is ranked at No. 9 in the world in terms of billionaire density although the number of ultra-wealthy individuals it hosts is 64, who together have a combined wealth of $204 billion between them.

The report shows that there are 157 billionaires among the 5,300 UHNW individuals (defined as those with net assets of $30 million and above) in the Middle East. This makes the Middle East the region with the fourth most billionaires – after Europe (766), North America (552) and Asia (508), but ahead of Latin America (111), Africa (42) and Oceania (34). Middle Eastern billionaires increased their wealth in the last year by $39 billion (12.4 per cent) with five additional billionaires (3.3 per cent).

The Wealth-X and UBS Billionaire Census reveals that, as of 2013, there are 2,170 billionaires globally, with a combined net worth of $6.5 trillion. The billionaire population has increased by 60 per cent from its size during the global financial crisis in 2009. Their total combined wealth rose to $6.5 trillion in 2013 from $3.1 trillion in 2009.

The UAE has the second largest billionaire population in the Middle East, after Saudi Arabia. The country’s billionaires belong to finance, banking, investment and real estate, the report points out, highlighting that it “not oil & gas” that is responsible for the UAE billionaires’ wealth.

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