DUBAI, (AFP) — The number of millionaires in the Middle East rose 7.1 percent to some 400,000 last year, returning to levels last seen in 2007 before the global economic meltdown, a report said Wednesday.
The annual World Wealth Report said the combined wealth of the Middle East tycoons stands at around 1.5 trillion dollars.
It said the number of millionaires rose in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain but declined sharply in the United Arab Emirates due to the Dubai debt crisis.
The report on high net worth individuals (HNWIs) — defined as anyone with investable assets of at least one million US dollars — was released by Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management and consultancy firm Capgemini.
The number of Middle East millionaires is just a fraction of the world’s 10 million HNWIs who boasted a total wealth of 39 trillion dollars at the end of 2009.
OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia had 104,700 HNWIs at the end of 2009, an increase of 14.3 percent from the previous year.
In contrast, the HNWI population in the UAE declined by 18.8 percent to 54,500 due to unprecedented market conditions and the Dubai debt crisis, said the report.
The Middle East holds around three quarters of the global proven crude reserves and under half of the world’s natural gas resources.