COVID-19 strikes the wealthy: Fortunes of 12,000 UAE millionaires affected

Country's millionaire population shrinks as pandemic wipes off wealth

  
Dubai skyline. Image courtesy Dubai Media Office Twitter handle.

Dubai skyline. Image courtesy Dubai Media Office Twitter handle.

The UAE’s millionaire population has shrunk this year as the coronavirus pandemic eroded the fortunes of thousands of residents, according to the latest data.

An estimated 12,000 people fell off the list of millionaires (in US dollars) in the UAE between January and June 2020, bringing the total population of high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs), or those with net assets of more than $1 million, down to 79,000, a fall of 13.2 percent from 91,000 last year, New World Wealth said.

Their total wealth as of June is estimated to be around $825 billion, more than half of which ($490 billion) is owned by Dubai’s millionaires.

The decline in the number of HNWIs, however, doesn’t mean that thousands of the wealthy have left the country since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The number has dropped in [the first half of] 2020… It is linked to the decline in global and regional stock market indices and a decline in prime (top-end) property price,” Andrew Amoils, wealth analyst of New World Wealth, told Zawya.

Millionaires’ haven

The new figures were included in the 2020 Global Wealth Migration Review by AfrAsia Bank and New World Wealth.

Over the past two decades, the UAE has been one of the most preferred destinations for the wealthy to migrate into. During the period, more than 25,000 HNWIs moved to the UAE from countries like India and the neighbouring states in the Middle East and Africa.

According to Amoils, rich people have been attracted to the UAE because of the country’s low tax rates, first-class healthcare system, top-end apartments and villas, yachting facilities, beaches and good international schools. The UAE is also known for being a safe haven in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, a high-income economy and international business hub.

A similar trend was earlier observed in other markets, including the United States, which saw dozens of people knocked off the list of billionaires in the early months after the outbreak.

In the four months since the outbreak, at least 11 of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs lost billions of US dollars due to COVID-19.

The biggest losers were French businessman Bernard Arnault and American billionaire Warren Buffet, who lost $18 billion each, according to Hurun, a Chinese firm that tracks the wealth of the world’s richest people.

(Reporting by Cleofe Maceda; editing by Seban Scaria)

Cleofe.maceda@refinitiv.com

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© ZAWYA 2020

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