Mideast ultra-rich projected to grow by almost 25%

Eudore R. Chand

DUBAI 28 February 2021: The number of UHNWIs (ultra high net worth individuals) in the Middle East is projected to increase by 24.6% in the next five years, with the region expected to remain the fourth largest wealth hub in the world.

Knight Frank Wealth Report predicts that Asia is likely to see the largest rise in the number of UHNWIs with growth of 39%, led by Indonesia (67%) and India (63%).

Europe will retain its crown as the second largest wealth hub with expected growth of 23%, bringing the total number of UHNWIs to 185,860. The biggest rises in Europe are forecast in Poland (61%) and Sweden (59%).

According to the Wealth Report, the number of UHNWIs, those with US$30 million or more, around the world is predicted to grow by 27% in the next five years taking the population to 663,483. Over the same period, the number of millionaires globally is set to rise by 41%.

“The pandemic has impacted the fortunes of many in the Middle East, and Middle Eastern HNWIs and UHNWIs were not spared, with the total number of each decreasing by 11.3% and 10.1% in 2020 respectively,” said Taimur Khan, Head of Research at Knight Frank Middle East.

“However, this decline was not uniform across all countries, In Saudi Arabia over this period, the number of UHNWIs increased by 9.6%, the 10th fastest growth rate globally. In fact, its UHNW population has grown by 227% over the last five years, the fastest growth rate globally over this period,” Khan pointed out.

He said as the region continues its various economic diversification programs we expect that there will continue to be significant growth in the number of HNWI, UHNWI and billionaires residing in the region.

Asia: The key wealth story

Liam Bailey, Global Head of Research at Knight Frank said: “Asia is the key wealth story. The US is, and will remain, the world’s dominant wealth hub over our forecast period, but Asia will see the fastest growth in UHNWIs over the next five years, 39% compared to the 27% global average.

“By 2025, Asia will host 24% of all UHNWIs, up from 17% a decade earlier. The region is already home to more billionaires than any other (36% of the global total). China is the key to this phenomenon with 246% forecast growth in very wealthy residents in the decade to 2025.”

Africa is expected to see the second biggest regional five-year UHNWI growth rate of 33%, led by Zambia (40%) and South Africa (32%). The outlook for households earning of US$100,000 a year is even more positive according to Oxford Economics, which is forecasting growth of 139%.

Pandemic Year

Looking back at 2020, Knight Frank’s wealth sizing model reveals that the number of UHNWIs globally increased by 2.4%, one-third of the growth rate in 2019 bringing the total to more than 520,000. China saw the largest increase in its UHNW population (9,594 additional UHNWIs) followed by the US (6,080) and Japan (1,199).


• Global UHNWI population to grow by 27% over the next five years according to Knight Frank
• Number of millionaires globally forecast to rise by 41% in next five years
• In the five years to 2025 almost 330,000 Dollar millionaires will be created in the Middle East, an estimated increase of 29.4% from 2020 levels
• Saudi Arabia’s UHNW population grew by 227% over the last five years, the fastest growth rate globally
• Asia to outperform with the number of UHNWIs set to increase by 39% over next five years


According to the Knight Frank Attitudes Survey, a survey conducted amongst leading private bankers and wealth advisers, half said their clients’ wealth had increased in 2020. Those with North American clients were most optimistic with 73% citing an increase and a further 23% seeing stability. North America’s UHNWI population sits 4% higher than 2019. The regions which were seemingly able to control the Covid-19 pandemic best, Asia and Australia, were the strongest performers with growth of 12% and 10% respectively. In the Middle East 67% of respondents cited that their clients’ wealth either remained the same or increased. These advisors are confident of their clients future fortunes with 69% expecting their clients’ total wealth to increase in 2021.

Among the survey respondents who said their UHNWI clients’ wealth had increased, three key themes emerged as to why: diversification, equities and property.

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