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Covid-19 unlocks more wealth, millionaires in Middle East

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The number of ultra-high net worth individuals (UHNWIs) – those with more than $30 million (Dh110 million) in net worth – in the Middle East increased during the five months mired in the coronavirus pandemic to 9,290 at the end of August compared to 8,790 by the end of March, according to the latest report from Wealth-X released on Wednesday.

Similarly, the wealth of the region’s UHNWIs also grew during the period from $1.242 trillion to $1.406 trillion.

Globally, the number of millionaires increased from 238,060 to 280,670 as while their wealth jumped from $25.4 trillion to $32.24 trillion during those five months.

Between the end of March and the end of August, North America recorded much stronger growth in its UHNWI population than all other regions – a rise of 29  per cent over the five-month period compared with the average global growth of 18 per cent. This lifted the number of ultra-wealthy individuals in the region to 104,440, only just below its level at the end of 2019.

Having experienced a smaller initial decline, Asia also recouped almost all of its lost ground, with its end-August UHNWI population of 82,660 individuals just 1 per cent lower than it was at the end of 2019. UHNWIs rose by 0.7 per cent to 9,780 while their wealth grew 1.9 per cent to $1.553 trillion in 2019, it said.

The Middle East retained its position as the fourth-largest UHNWI region in 2019 but the negligible growth of its ultra-wealthy population was the weakest in all regions. This contrasted with and was partly a consequence of the region’s standout performance a year earlier, when it recorded the strongest growth in population.

“Given the subdued demand for oil through most of 2019, wealth portfolios received limited support from domestic stock markets and local currencies generally weakened against the US dollar. Wealth creation was also hindered by heightened political instability in Lebanon and Iraq, rising geopolitical tensions involving Syria and Iran, and a further fracturing of relations within the Gulf region,” the report added.

Globally, the number of UHNWIs rose by 9.5 per cent to 290,720 in 2019, while their combined wealth grew by 9.7 per cent to $35.4 trillion.
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