Number of ultra rich in Middle East to boom in coming years

24 March 2021 3 min. read
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Global real estate consultancy Knight Frank has issued the latest edition of its Wealth Report, with the number of wealthy individuals in the Middle East region tipped to strongly rebound after sliding over the past year.

The Middle East lost a tenth of its mega-millionaires over the course of a Covid-ravaged 2020, or more precisely, 3,350-odd individuals across the region saw their personal wealth dip below $30 million. Nearly 142,000 local denizens – around 11 percent of the so-called HNWI club (high net wealth individuals) – also lost their status as millionaires during the past year, including nearly 40,000 in the UAE alone.

Yet, in the coming years there will be more mega-rich than ever. This is according to global real estate consultancy Knight Frank’s latest Wealth Report, which forecasts a near 25 percent rise in Ultra-HNWIs (those with personal wealth exceeding $30 million) in the Middle East over the next five years, and a near 30 percent jump in regional millionaires across that period, with an additional 10,000 HNWI members added on average in the UAE each year.

Regional round-up

Meanwhile, the number of regional billionaires is also tipped to increase, by 36 percent.

While the Middle East was one of three regions together with Latin America and Russia & CIS which saw a decline in its UHNWI numbers (with the lower demand and price for oil offered elsewhere as one factor), notable in the figures was the mixed fortunes of the region’s two leading economies, with Saudi Arabia last year recording the 10th fastest growth rate worldwide in the category, up 10 percent, while the UAE was one of the biggest sliders with a 22 percent decline.

Indeed, Saudi Arabia’s UHNWI population has grown by 227 percent over the last five years, the fastest rate globally over that period. The UAE however is predicted to partially take back the torch, with a 22 percent rise in UHNWIs expected over the forecast period, regionally behind only Turkey which is tipped for a 40 percent jump. Altogether, the total UHNWI population in the Middle East is forecast to eclipse 37,000 people in 2025, up from less than 23,000 only the five years ago.

“As the region continues its various economic diversification programs, we expect that there will continue to be significant growth in the number of UHNWIs and billionaires residing in the region,” said Knight Frank Middle East research head Taimur Khan, who further stated that the greater, diversification-borne levels of entrepreneurship are likely to underpin wealth growth. As for the UAE, Khan points to a coming net migration figure of ~740,000, a portion of that being wealthy arrivals.

Rise of the mass affluent

Not only were nations impacted in different ways last year, but, as per different industries, there were individual winners and losers stemming from the pandemic. As part of the report, Knight Frank conducted a survey among private bankers and wealth advisers in the Middle East, and more than two thirds of the respondents stated that their clients’ wealth had remained the same or had in fact increased last year. Either way, sixty-nine percent are expecting gains this year.

This is in line with global projections. Knight Frank forecasts the number of mega-wealthy worldwide will grow by 27 percent in the next five years to more than 660,000 people, driven by an ongoing boom in Asia, while the global growth figure for new and returning millionaires is predicted at above 40 percent.

The Middle East is expected to remain the world’s fourth largest wealth hub overall, described “as a globally significant centre for wealthy individuals looking ahead.”