The number of super rich people – valued at more than US$30m – in the Middle East will soar to more than 7,300, including 203 billionaires, by 2022, according to a global report.
There were 4,675 high net worth individuals (HNWIs) in the region last year, an increase of 7 percent on 2011, according to real estate consultancy firm Knight Frank’s Wealth Report 2013.
The number of billionaires in the region grew by 12 to 140 last year.
The report says the number of HNWIs in the Middle East will grow by 58 percent between 2012 and 2022, faster than the global average of 50 percent but well behind the emerging economic regions of Asia (88 percent), Latin America (88 percent) and Africa (69 percent).
Iraq will lead the growth, increasing its number of HNWIs from 162 to 365, the report says.
The UAE will see the second highest increase, 828 HNWIs to 1270, followed by Saudi Arabia (1289 HNWIs to 1917).
While the UAE is home to fewer HNWIs than many other countries, Dubai and Abu Dhabi are ranked among the most important cities according to the wealthiest investors, coming in at 29 and 37, respectively, in terms of investment opportunities and influence on global business leaders and decision makers.
Dubai was ranked 18th in the world for the importance of economic activity and political power.
Dubai is expected to be one of the greatest beneficiaries of the global economic recovery in terms of both trade and tourism.
“It is an aviation hub, with almost every major global city within reach,” Joseph Morris of Knight Frank’s UAE office said. “The time zone bridges East and West.
“Dubai’s free zones, such as the Dubai International Financial Centre, allow 100 percent foreign ownership, full repatriation of profits, a zero tax environment and even a Western-style legal structure.”
Morris said Dubai’s economic regulations had created a relatively transparent off-shore centre with a significant head start over rivals in the region.
“We are also starting to see institutional investment into the local real estate markets with the emergence of investment vehicles such as the National Bank of Abu Dhabi’s real estate investment trust (REIT).”
Globally, the number of people with US$30m or more in net assets (HNWIs) rose by 5 percent, or nearly 8700 people, in 2012 compared to 2011, the report says.
The combined wealth held by HNWIs also grew by 2 percent, or US$566bn, to more than US$26 trillion in 2012.
Over the next 10 years, 95,000 people are forecast to break the US$30m wealth barrier – up 50 percent - which will take the total number of HNWIs across the globe to about 285,665, according to the report.
Knight Frank predicts Asia will overtake North America and Europe to become the continent with the highest number of dollar billionaires by 2022.
Currently it estimates that 543 billionaires live in Asia, compared with 708 in Europe and 586 in North America. However, it estimates that in 2022 the number will grow to 1191 in Asia, 1115 in Europe and 1146 in North America.