DUBAI // The UAE is home to 37 of the 157 billionaires who live in the Middle East, according to a new study.
This group of super rich individuals have a total net worth of US$354 billion (Dh1.4 trillion) and hold 40 per cent of the region’s wealth compared to Europe where 28 per cent of wealth is held by billionaires, 22 per cent in North America and 18 per cent in Asia, according to the inaugural Wealth-X and UBS Billionaire Census 2013.
Billionaires in the UAE hold 24 per cent of the country’s wealth, while those in Saudi Arabia control more than 70 per cent, the report says.
The Middle East’s 157 billionaires are among 5,300 ultra high net worth individuals in the region with net assets of $30 million and more.
Saudi Arabia, with 64 billionaires, leads the region with 25 of these based in the capital Riyadh.
The UAE is second with 37 billionaires who hold a total of $45bn with an average net worth of $1.2bn per ultra-wealthy person in the country.
The report says the total wealth of Saudi billionaires amounts to $204bn and comprises more than half of the combined net worth of billionaires across the Middle East.
Billionaires are defined as individuals with a net worth of at least $1bn after accounting for shares in public and private companies, investments in real estate, art and planes.
Middle Eastern billionaires are described as big spenders with the value of real estate, yachts and planes they own the highest in the world.
Among those trailing after Saudi Arabia and the UAE are Kuwait and Israel who tie at 17 billionaires for the third spot in the region. They are followed by Qatar with nine and Lebanon with eight.
The major industries in the UAE are identified as finance, banking, investment and real estate with 48 per cent of billionaires described as self-made.
The United States has the highest number of billionaires at 515, way ahead of China in second with 157 and Germany with 148 in third place. Saudi Arabia is number nine.
Globally, there are 2,170 billionaires with a combined net worth of $6.5tn, more than the GDP of most countries apart from the US and China.
The number of billionaires has increased by 60 per cent since the 2009 financial crisis, the report said.