In a landmark shift reshaping the global landscape of wealth protection, Abu Dhabi has swiftly risen to prominence as the latest sanctuary for billionaires seeking secure asset protection. This marks a significant departure from the traditional offshore locales, as an increasing number of the world’s wealthiest individuals opt for the safety of the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM).
According to a report by Bloomberg, thousands of high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) have established special-purpose vehicles (SPVs) in ADGM in recent years, solidifying Abu Dhabi as the newest hub for billionaires looking to safeguard their assets — the financial center now boasts over 5,000 SPVs, a substantial increase from a mere 46 in 2016.
Billionaire influx includes Egypt’s richest man, crypto industry leader and hedge fund tycoon
Recent corporate filings in the UAE have disclosed that, in the current year alone, dozens of HNWIs, including notable figures such as Chagpeng “CZ” Zhao, the richest person in the crypto industry, India’s Adani family, hedge fund billionaire Ray Dalio, Russian steel magnate Vladimir Lisin, and Egypt’s wealthiest individual Nassef Sawiris, have set up SPVs in Abu Dhabi.
Last week, Sawiris, recognized as Egypt and North Africa’s wealthiest individual, made headlines by announcing the relocation of his family office to Abu Dhabi — this strategic decision emphasizes the growing allure of the Emirati metropolis as an exclusive haven for the world’s financial elite, positioning Abu Dhabi at the forefront of the global billionaire landscape.
Nassef Sawiris’ strategic move signals broader trend
Sawiris’ move to Abu Dhabi is not only a personal decision but also a strategic one, aligning with his focus on exploring new opportunities in the Middle East, Africa, and beyond. The relocation positions him strategically for future growth and investment in these regions.
Like many billionaires, Sawiris’ decision to relocate his family office comes amid a surge in his net worth in 2023, solidifying his standing among the world’s wealthiest individuals. The move also coincides with Fertiglobe, a partnership between OCI N.V. (founded by Sawiris) and the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, completing its listing in Abu Dhabi with an implied market capitalization of $5.8 billion in October 2021.
UAE’s attraction of high-net-worth individuals
The UAE, with its safe-haven status, diverse economy, low taxes, top-tier healthcare, prime real estate, and exceptional amenities, has become a focal point for high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) since the pandemic.
According to Henley & Partners, it ranks among the top five destinations for HNWIs in 2023, alongside Australia, Singapore, the United States, and Switzerland. The UAE anticipates a record-breaking influx of 4,500 millionaires this year, a substantial rise from the pre-pandemic average of 1,000 per year.
Primarily from India, the UK, Russia, Lebanon, Pakistan, Turkey, Egypt, South Africa, Nigeria, Hong Kong, and China, migrating millionaires signal Abu Dhabi’s rise as the premier global haven for safeguarding assets.