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Sharjah has world’s second-largest growth of millionaires

Sharjah is the third most populous city in the United Arab Emirates, after Dubai and Abu Dhabi yet has a larger growing number of millionaires than any of the emirates Unsplash
Sharjah is the third most populous city in the United Arab Emirates, after Dubai and Abu Dhabi, yet has a larger growing number of millionaires than any of the emirates
  • City sees 20% increase in past six months
  • Five of top ten cities are in the Gulf
  • Riyadh tops list

Sharjah recorded the second-largest increase in millionaires in the first half of this year, as the Gulf claimed five of the top ten hotspots.

The total number of millionaires residing in the emirate is now 3,700, up 20 percent from December.

Riyadh, the Saudi Arabian capital, tops the list with 17,200, also up 20 percent.

The Wealthiest Cities in the World for 2022 report features data from global wealth intelligence firm New World Wealth and includes the five richest cities in each major region, as well as the 25 fastest growing cities in terms of millionaires – defined as all individuals with investable assets of $1 million or more.

Data shows that Sharjah, the capital city of one of the seven emirates that makes up the UAE, has recorded a steady increase in wealthy residents over the last couple of years.

The number of millionaires rose from 2,900 in December 2020 to 3,100 in December 2021, before climbing to its current number by the end of June 2022.

Dubai ranks fourth with an 18 percent rise to 67,900 and Abu Dhabi is sixth, recording a 16 percent increase to 23,800.

The Qatari capital Doha comes ninth with a 12 percent increase to 21,300 millionaires. 

Top 10 fastest-growing cities by millionaires

CityCountryMillionaires growth %No. of Millionaires (USD 1m+)
RiyadhSaudi Arabia2017,200
SharjahUAE203,700
LusakaZambia18500
DubaiUAE1867,900
LuandaAngola162,300
Abu DhabiUAE1623,800
LagosNigeria156,300
AustinUSA1415,800
DohaQatar1221,300
HangzhouChina1030,100

* Number of millionaires rounded to nearest 100
Data source: Wealthiest Cities in the World for 2022

“Cities with strong oil and gas industries are performing especially well this year, including the likes of Riyadh, Sharjah, Dubai, Luanda, Abu Dhabi, Doha and Lagos,” Andrew Amoils, who heads up research at New World Wealth from his base in Johannesburg, told AGBI. 

“Sharjah was always quite far behind Dubai and Abu Dhabi in terms of the number of wealthy people. Maybe those emirates are reaching saturation which is why they are starting to move to Sharjah.

“The oil and gas industry will have had an effect but [Sharjah’s] growth in millionaires is probably also a product of the growth of the surrounding cities.

“Obviously, it’s growing from a much lower base than Dubai and Abu Dhabi, but Sharjah is working hard to make itself an attractive destination and the UAE is now trying to push the growth of some of the other emirates.”

Sharjah’s key sectors

A report published on September 6 by Invest in Sharjah, the emirate’s foreign direct investment (FDI) body, identified seven high-potential sectors that are driving both qualitative and sustainable strategic investments, and strengthening its competitiveness on the global economic and investment landscape.

They are: health and wellbeing, mobility and logistics, culture and tourism, agri-food technology, greentech, human capital and innovation, and advanced manufacturing.

Sultan Abdullah bin Hadda Al Suwaidi, chairman of the Sharjah Economic Development Department, said: “Sharjah is working to stimulate various economic sectors, especially those in the knowledge-based and digital economy, where various sectors are witnessing a large influx of investments.”

The real estate market is another area that is benefiting Sharjah from an expanding pool of investors.

“As Sharjah’s largest developer we are seeing first-hand how investor patterns in local real estate are changing as the sector matures and finds an evermore widespread audience,” Ahmed Alkhoshaibi, group CEO of Sharjah real estate developer Arada, said.

“After launching in 2017, we initially saw a very high percentage of Emirati buyers who were already familiar with investing in Sharjah’s property market, which has a track record of stable growth.

“Since then the growth of contemporary, integrated communities of the type that you see in neighbouring markets, coupled with government regulations to make it easier for all nationalities to buy homes, has resulted in an explosion of interest from outside the UAE.

“It’s no exaggeration to say that we see buyer interest from all over the world.”

Arada posted a 38 percent annual increase in sales to AED2.41 billion ($660 million) during 2021 as buyers continued to invest in higher-value apartments and villas.

While around 90 percent of buyers were Emiratis when Arada launched its first projects in early 2017, the composition of purchasers had changed to a respective 75/25 percentage split between UAE/non-UAE nationalities by the end of the year, and a subsequent 51/49 percentage split by the end of 2021.

Arada’s goal is to hit a 30/70 percentage of UAE/non-UAE nationality buyer composition by 2026.

“We’re seeing a high percentage of investment from South Asia, particularly India, plus the rest of the Middle East, with good buyer interest from Western markets such as the UK, the US and Canada,” noted Alkhoshaibi.

Corridor, Person, Human
There are many reasons why the rich are turning to Sharjah, not least its cultural heritage. Picture: Unsplash

Eyeing future FDI growth

“One of Arada’s strategic goals is to be a prime mover in the drive to attract more foreign direct investment and economic prosperity into Sharjah,” Alkhoshaibi added.

“This is both in terms of hard infrastructure – such as the development of a new commercial hub for the Emirate, which we’re announcing in the coming weeks – as well as a soft approach that will aim to streamline processes in order to convince corporates, entrepreneurs and high net worth individuals that Sharjah is an ideal base from which to conduct business.”

Alkhoshaibi said Arada is already one of a number of major private sector organisations working with the federal government to actively attract advanced technology companies from around the world to come and set up shop in Sharjah.

“As a result, and thanks to the coordinated efforts between both the public sector and the private sector, I think you can expect to see more and more corporates from a wide range of sectors both regionally and from further afield choose Sharjah as a base due to its strong location, excellent transport links, record government spending on infrastructure and competitive cost environment,” he said.  

The Wealthiest Cities in the World report also shines a spotlight on Dubai, predicting that the emirate’s millionaire population will break into the Top 20 wealthiest cities by the end of this decade. 

Dubai currently ranks 23rd globally and is home to 67,900 millionaires, 202 centi-millionaires (those with net assets of $100 million or more), and 13 billionaires.

“There are so many well-established affluent cities in Europe – although quite a few of them haven’t grown much in wealth over the last decade – and then there are a number of wealthy US cities that are continuing to grow,” said Amoils.

“Dubai will probably overtake some of the European cities or some of the Asian cities that have stagnated.”

Top 20 wealthiest cities

  • The USA dominates the world’s top 20 cities with the most millionaires. New York takes the crown with 345,600, and five other American cities – San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, and Dallas – are also on the list.
  • Tokyo is in second place with 304,900 resident high net worth individuals worth over $1 million, and London, the wealthiest city in the world for many years, drops to fourth place below the San Francisco Bay Area with just 272,400 millionaires. Singapore is in fifth place, while two Chinese cities, Beijing (ninth) and Shanghai (10th), also make it into the top 10.