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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 September 2018

Ultra-rich in the Middle East to rise 28% by 2022

The number of demi-billionaires in the Middle East - defined as those individuals with wealth of more than $500 million in assets - is set to increase by 28 per cent in the next four years, according to a new report.

The number of demi-billionaires in the region is expected to grow to 500 individuals by 2022 from 390 last year, according to the Knight Frank Wealth Report released on Sunday. Saudi Arabia is leading the way, with the number of demi-billionaires forecast to increase 17 per cent by 2022 to reach 140 people.

“There has been a stabilisation in the growth of ultra-wealthy individuals,” said Winston Chesterfield, director of custom research at wealth data specialist Wealth-X. “Market volatility has decreased, and the equity and bond performance seen in 2017 has created a sense of confidence. This has augmented the trend towards more entrepreneurial spending among the ultra-wealthy, especially in emerging economies.”

In four years, there will be more demi-billionaires in Asia than North America. Wealth-X predicts that there will be almost 3,000 people based in Asia who have more than $500m in assets by 2022, highlighting the increasing power of Asia as a wealth hub.

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Despite Asia’s growth, the US will remain the country with the biggest overall population of demi-billionaires, expected to rise from 1,830 to nearly 2,500 by 2022, the report said.

Greater protectionism, the role of technology in promoting political division and rising levels of debt all pose the biggest risks to growth and stability.

“It is too early to say how Ultra-High Networth [UNHWIs] individuals will react to the political events of 2018 so far – but our data show that they tend to take a longer view,” Mr Chesterfield said. “The vast majority of UHNWIs are entrepreneurs and, as such, have dealt with adverse business conditions before. As a result, they are prepared to take a more balanced view in periods of uncertainty or ambiguity.”

So far, 2018 has been rocky, with increasing tension between the US and China on trade wars, political uncertainty in the UK and some parts of the EU and interest rates either already rising or set to do so.

However, the global economy continues to gain strength, with the International Monetary Fund forecasting 3.9 per cent growth this year and next, up from 3.8 per cent in 2017.

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