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Saudi Arabia tops regional billionaires list

The Middle East placed behind the US, Europe and Asia for the number of billionaires Shutterstock
The Middle East placed behind the US, Europe and Asia for the number of billionaires
  • Saudi Arabia is only Gulf country in global top 10 of billionaires
  • Cumulative wealth of region’s billionaires is $556bn
  • More than half owe at least some of wealth to family money

Saudi Arabia’s growing community of billionaires is the biggest in the Middle East, despite a drop in the number of super-rich across the region as a whole, the latest industry data shows.

There are 71 billionaires living in the kingdom, with a combined wealth of $205 billion, a year-on-year increase of 6.6 percent, according to the Billionaire Census 2023 from New York-based consultancy Wealth-X, an Altrata company.

Saudi places ninth globally in terms of those with wealth in the 10-digit and above range.

The UAE is placed close behind in 15th with 45 billionaires worth $200 billion – a 10.8 percent hike compared with 2021.

The two biggest players in the Gulf retained their respective positions from the 2022 report.

Dubai is the 11th most populous city in the world for billionaires, boasting 38 in the emirate.

Overall, the Middle East was named the fourth-largest billionaire region in the world behind the US, Europe and Asia. 

Although the number of billionaires dropped 2.1 percent to 187, there was a 7.2 percent rise in cumulative wealth to $556 billion.

Maeen Shaban, director of research and analytics at Altrata, said the increase in wealth was driven by portfolio gains in the energy sector, as surging commodity prices boosted revenue for hydrocarbon-exporting countries.

However, explaining the overall drop in billionaires, he said: “Pressure on regional capital markets increased in the face of rising risk aversion in relation to emerging-market assets, which contributed to depreciation for those currencies not pegged to the US dollar.”

The 10th edition of the census revealed that the global billionaire population fell by 3.5 percent to 3,194 individuals. 

The US had the most billionaires at 1,011 individuals, despite a year-on-year decline of 2.3 percent. Net worth dropped by just over 5 percent to $4.3 trillion.

The gap between male and female billionaires in the Middle East remains substantial, with women making up just 4.5 percent of the total. This is up from 1.8 percent in 2021. 

Globally, women account for a 12.5 percent share.

“In line with global patterns, there is a discernible trend of increasing female representation in wealth creation within the region," Shaban said.

"Nevertheless, this trend becomes less pronounced as we ascend to higher wealth tiers."

Additional data supplied to AGBI revealed the average age of the region’s billionaire community is 67 years old.

The data also showed that 46 percent of billionaires were self-made. For the rest, some or all of their wealth was accumulated through inheritance.

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