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Saudi slips and UAE soars as millionaires seek new homes

Bulgari villa Bulgari
A villa with a view of Dubai's skyline at the Bulgari, one of the developments attracting the world's wealthy
  • Saudi Arabia is forecast to lose 600 high net worth individuals this year
  • The UAE is tipped to gain 4,000, including some of those leaving Saudi
  • Researchers said Riyadh need not be concerned, given oil prices

Saudi Arabia is forecast to lose 600 millionaire residents this year, with most moving to Europe or the UAE, according to a study that tracks migration trends among the wealthy.

By contrast, the UAE will record the largest net inflow of millionaires in 2022, said the Henley Global Citizens Report.

Riyadh’s Gulf rival is expected to gain 4,000 high net worth individuals or HNWIs – those classed as having wealth of more than $1 million – overtaking traditional havens such as the US and UK.

After the UAE in the No 1 spot, the rest of the net inflow top 10 for 2022 is Australia, Singapore, Israel, Switzerland, the US, Portugal, Greece, Canada and New Zealand. 

Russia tops the list of countries expected to see a net outflow of millionaires in 2022. It is followed by China, India, Hong Kong, Ukraine, Brazil, the UK, Mexico, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia.

The Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine in February has already led to the departure of many HNWIs from Russia. The Henley report is predicting an exodus of 15,000 for the year – 15 percent of the total in the country.

Projected net outflows of HNWI 2022

Plot, Map, Diagram

Projected net inflows of HNWI 2022

Plot, Map, Diagram
Source: Henley & Partners

The UAE is forecast to be the biggest recipient of rich Russians migrating and its 4,000 inflow figure is a 208 percent rise on the 1,300 recorded in 2019.

Some of the HNWIs moving to the UAE will be coming from Saudi Arabia, according to Andrew Amoils, head of research at New World Wealth, a South African wealth intelligence firm that compiled the data for the Henley report.

“There’s been consistent outflows from Saudi Arabia for quite a while now,” Amoils told AGBI. “Obviously, there’s a lot of HNWIs there, so it’s not necessarily that concerning. It’s sort of a steady number.”

Looking forward, he said, the number of millionaires in Saudi “might grow organically”, boosted by rising oil prices and government investment.

The kingdom recorded net outflows of 1,000 or more millionaires for each year from 2013 to 2019.  

“The outflows from Saudi Arabia peaked at around just under 2,000 in 2017. So that was the biggest outflow. So, this outflow [of 600] actually is quite moderate,” Amoils said. 

He added that the data did not show if the HNWIs leaving Saudi Arabia were Saudi nationals or expats, but he predicted that they were foreigners. 

“In terms of where they’re going, it’s mainly places in Europe and the UAE is also popular, but mainly Europe.”

Naim Maadad, CEO of Gates Hospitality and a board member of UAE Restaurants Group, said the influx of wealthy individuals to the emirates was not a surprise.

“Absolutely, there has been a change for the better, fuelled by political stability and economic success stories in the country,” he said.

“These factors along with the lifestyle, ease of conducting business, limited taxes, short distance to Europe, Asia and airlift accessibility, geographical location and all the services on offer make the UAE –Dubai specifically – a very attractive place to conduct business,” he said.

Saudi Arabia has 42,700 HNWIs, according to the report. They include 2,060 people with wealth over $10 million and 102 with more than $100 million.

The UAE has 92,600 HNWIs. Around 4,000 of these have more than $10 million and 251 are worth more than $100 million.

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