Unlike other parts of the world, this region isn’t shy when it comes to showing off its wealth: it’s on display everywhere in the lavish yachts, sports cars, clothes and accessories.
Just for good measure, The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) has laid it out plainly in its latest report looking at global wealth.
In it, Qatar comes out on top with 175 households out of every 1,000 boasting private wealth of at least $1m. Kuwait is fifth with nine per cent, or 90 households out of every 1,000 millionaires, Bahrain sixth with a 5.9 per cent millionaire density, while Oman, the UAE and Saudi Arabia rank 10th, 12th and 13th, respectively.
The entire GCC is in the world’s top 15 richest by this measure, while on a regional level, the report reveals that private financial wealth grew by 11.6 percent to reach $5.2 trillion in 2013.
But, just how much of this wealth is going to others in need?
According to the BNP Paribas Individual Philanthropy Index 2014, not much. While the Middle East, or certainly the GCC, is cash rich, the region, based on the 400 individuals worth at least $5m assessed, is ranked the lowest in the world for sharing that fortune with others.
Of a total maximum index score of 100, the Middle East received a dismal 29.4. The US was ranked highest at 53.2 while Europe scored 46.3 and Asia 42.4. As bad as the score is, it also doesn’t look likely to change anytime soon, as while the Middle East’s current giving was 7.4 out of a index score of 30, its projected giving also scrapes the barrel at 5.1 out of an index score of 20.
The compares to 18.8 and 11.5 respectively in the US.
Of course, there are always exceptions. Forbes Insights, which partnered with BNP to produce the index, points out that 30 of the region’s richest (or about 43 percent), including Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Alsaud, have charitable foundations. For others, it is also a case of not knowing, with the mega-rich not so ostentatious when it comes to revealing details of their charitable causes.
Looking at another measure the results are mixed. Qatar was ranked ninth in the World Giving Index 2013 with a participation score of 51 percent, though that same index also ranked Saudi a dismal 57th with 33 percent. The other GCC countries didn’t even rate a mention, presumably because of a lack of data.
Going back to BCG’s millionaires’ rich list and the US had the highest number of millionaire households (7.1 million), as well as the highest number of new millionaires (1.1 million).
The US also topped the World Giving Index with 61 percent, though research shows Americans, too, are lagging in the philanthropy stakes with the country’s wealthiest contributed just 1.3 percent of their income to charity compared to 3.2 percent of ordinary folk.
So, yes, it turns out the GCC, and the world, is full of millionaires. It’s just a shame its not millions of them that are more generous.