In the early weeks after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, stories spread quickly about Russian capital making a sharp exit from its homeland and seeking safe havens in far-flung cities, including Dubai.

There were several accounts of Russians moving their investments to Middle Eastern countries they believed were safe from sanctions by the US, Europe and the UK, and S&P said demand for Dubai property could be boosted by demand from the country’s wealthier citizens.

Additionally, data from ForwardKeys shows a surge in Russians planning flights to Middle Eastern countries, including the UAE, this summer.

 Zawya spoke to three of the emirate’s top real-estate agents, all of whom say that the number of Russian buyers has at least doubled in 2022 compared with the same period in 2021.

For Morgan’s Realty, the increase in Russian buyers in the period from January to June 2022 compared to January to June 2021 was a whopping 180 percent. Elias Hannoush, its co-founder and managing director, said there had been an increase across all nationalities, but the Russian increase was the most pronounced.

There had also been a significant increase in interest from British nationals, up 50 percent, he said, and from German nationals, with more entering the market for the first time than ever before.

According to Hannoush, some Russian buyers have said that they have come to the emirate to set up a business, open a bank account or establish a regional base. “The fact that there are direct flights to Dubai from Russia helps,” he said. “Those who are connected to Europe – they have businesses there – are using to Dubai to connect.”

Russian buyers were interested across all levels of property, he said, but the most popular were beachfront properties valued at AED 3 million ($817,000) and upwards.

For Better Homes LLC, the increase in Russian buyers was 111 percent for the first five months of 2022, compared to the same period in 2021. There was a slight swing towards end users over investors, with 42 percent buying for investment purposes in 2022 compared with 35 percent in 2021.

 Mira Estate, which recently revealed that it had racked up property sales worth $270 million in total in the first quarter of 2022, said sales and enquiries from buyers from Russian and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) had doubled, totalling more than 20 percent of its enquiries and sales so far in 2022.

CEO and partner Tamara Getigezheva said, “Eastern Europe is witnessing an unprecedented level of geopolitical instability, which has led to an influx of investors and families entering Dubai not only from Russia, but more so from other CIS countries.”

“Non-Russian CIS customers now make up more than 10 percent of property leads in Dubai,” she said. She added the average ticket size was AED 2.5 million, and the average deal for a high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) was AED 25 million.

The CIS currently consists of 11 states: Russia, Ukraine, Armenia, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.

(Reporting by Imogen Lillywhite; editing by Seban Scaria)