Rocketing oil prices have been the main contributor to creating a new class of millionaires across the Middle East, according to the latest annual World Wealth Report. The study, conducted by Merill Lynchand the Capgemini Group, claims that the region has become the fastest growing globally in terms of assets worth more than $1 million.
According to the report, assets of high net worth individuals (HNWIs) across the region grew by 28.6 per cent in 2004 to $1 trillion, up from $800,000 million in 2002. The region also saw the number of millionaires increase by 9.5 per cent to 300,000. The UAE was singled out as one of the top performers with high oil prices and strong results from the financial markets contributing to the 12.3 per cent rise in new millionaires. The report added that the UAE now has about 53,000 millionaires, up from 47,000 in 2003 and 45,000 in 2002, representing about 1 per cent of the population. The trend is unlikely to stop. Forecasting a 6.5 per cent growth over the next five years, the report concluded that the number of millionaires throughout the region is expected to grow by about 9 per cent a year until 2009, resulting in the Middle East's HNWI possessing about $1.5 trillion. Globally, there were an estimated 8.3 million HNWIs at the end of 2004, an increase of 600,000 worldwide. North America witnessed an almost 10 per cent growth rate to 2.7 million HNWIs, surpassing the 2.6 million in Europe. Asia-Pacific's growth rate of more than 8 per cent to 2.3 million HNWIs was double Europe's, which was up 7.5 per cent on the previous year.