A new survey by Wealth-X, a US-based consultancy firm, revealed that the number of Billionaires in the region rose by 12% in 2017 but found that both Saudi and the UAE are on opposite sides when it came to the combined wealth of billionaires residing in each country.
The combined wealth of those in the UAE grew by 4.3%, while Saudi billionaires’ wealth declined by 4.4%, according to Wealth-X’s Billionaire Census survey.
Last year, the billionaire population of those residing in Saudi Arabia took a hit following the November 2017 corruption crackdown aimed at high ranking business and private sector individuals.
This year, when Forbes was evaluating the top 100 richest people in the world, Saudi’s billionaires were excluded because of the country’s silence on how much was taken from individuals in the corruption crackdown.
Regional money tree
The survey found that the number of billionaires in the Middle East and North Africa grew to 189, or by 12% in 2017, and that the wealth these individuals possess also grew by 2.1%, or collectively to $474 billion.
Dubai was one of the world’s top cities where billionaires reside ranking 8th, above Mumbai but below Singapore.
However, Wealth-X said that: “While economics may largely trump geopolitics at a global level when examining the impact on billionaire wealth, political developments at a localized level can still have a notable effect on a country’s billionaire population and the conditions for wealth preservation”, citing the kingdom’s rounding-up of more than 200 individuals as an example.
“Not surprisingly, the latest estimate of combined billionaire wealth in the country took a tumble in 2017,” it added.
Despite the decline in the combined wealth of Saudi billionaires, the number of billionaires increased by 8.8% last year.
A report by the New World Wealth’s AfrAsia Bank named the Global Wealth Migration Review expects that the UAE will have another 20 billionaires by 2027.
The report credited the expected increase in (Ultra-high-Net-Worth-Individuals) UHNWIs to a rapid population increase of 76% in the decade to 2016, as well as an additional 15% increase expected by 2026.
Additionally, significant infrastructure projects and new neighborhoods associated with Expo 2020 Dubai have made the emirate an increasingly attractive destination for investors.