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|20 September, 2018

Sustainable investments in UAE gaining more traction

93% in survey believe they are not giving up performance by choosing a sustainable investment

Arab businessman marking new locations for a new investment, corporate Business In The Middle East.

Arab businessman marking new locations for a new investment, corporate Business In The Middle East.

Getty Images/GCShutter

UAE - Investors in the UAE are ahead of many of their peers in Europe and Asia when it comes to investing sustainably, a UBS Investor Watch study reveals.

Investors in the UAE have a clear focus on sustainability. Eight in 10 say a priority for them is to create a better planet, the study of High Net Worth Investors said.

The vast majority - 93 per cent - of investors in the UAE believe they are not giving up performance by choosing a sustainable investment, compared to the global average of 82 per cent. Furthermore, 66 per cent of UAE investors expect sustainable investments to outperform traditional investments, compared with 50 per cent of investors surveyed globally.

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The study also reveals stark differences in the sustainable investing landscape.

Emerging economies, such as China, Brazil and the UAE, indicate they have the highest rates of adoption of sustainable investing (60 per cent, 53 per cent and 53 per cent, respectiely), while investors in the US and the UK lag far behind (12 per cent and 20 per cent, respectively). The global average stands at just 39 per cent.

The Swiss bank's report said the UAE investors expect sustainable investing to grow from 53 per cent of investors to 66 per cent over the next five years, compared to 39 per cent to 48 per cent globally, respectively. Three-quarters of investors (75 per cent) expect it to become the norm in a decade, well above the global average of 58 per cent.

The study found that investors in the UAE are also very interested in acting sustainably in daily life, and 80 per cent feel strongly about using their time and resources to help protect the environment, against the global average of 65 per cent.

UAE investors are some of the most passionate when it comes to philanthropy, with over nine in 10 (92 per cent) believing it is their responsibility to give back and that doing good is more important than having more money.

Ali Janoudi, head of wealth management for Central and Eastern Europe and the Middle East and Africa at UBS, said the findings of the study are very encouraging for the future of sustainable investing but it also uncovered some clear barriers that the financial industry can help break.

"Investors say that they would like to better appraise what impact their sustainable investments will have and need guidance where to find the best partners and options."

Niels Zilkens, head of wealth management for the Arabian Gulf and NRI at UBS, said the results show that UAE investors are ahead of many of their peers in Europe and Asia when it comes to investing sustainably.

"They do not believe they are sacrificing returns, rather they feel that the steps many are now taking will become normal practice in the future. The priority in the medium term will be for them to continue feeling able to align their personal priorities with their investment needs."

Rachel Whittaker, sustainable investing strategist at the chief investment office of UBS Global Wealth Management, said it is encouraging to see how many investors in the Middle East translate their personal convictions, particularly when it comes to protecting the environment, into sustainable investments.

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