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Leading the global one percent

Arab countries among most densely populated with millionaires

by Thomas Schellen

If you are lucky enough to be able to wander around Qatari households, in every seventh you will find a millionaire — at least that’s what the 2013 Global Wealth Report says.

Just released by advisory firm Boston Consulting Group (BCG), the report rates the Gulf state at the top of the world for density of households where at least one person has assets of $1 million, at 14.3 percent. Comparatively, if you want to get close to an American millionaire it will take an average of 20 house visits while for Canada the number rises to 35.

There is only one conclusion from the 2013 Global Wealth Report: the Middle East isn’t short on blessed folks. Five Arab countries rank among the top 15 nations for the share of millionaire households in the national population in 2012.  

Related article: Not enough Arab Billionaires?

Qatar (1), Kuwait (3), Bahrain (7), the United Arab Emirates (9) and Oman (11) rank among the countries with highest density of millionaire households in percent of the population. Switzerland (2), Hong Kong (4), and Singapore (5) complete the top five and the United States comes in the sixth position — the first country with a large population. In terms of millionaire density, the US is at 4.9 percent, but it remains the country with the most millionaires — 5.9 million, followed by Japan and China. The global community of millionaire households comes to 13.8 million, or about 0.9 percent of all households.

No Arab or Middle Eastern country is among the world’s top 15 countries by measure of total number of millionaire households — but there is no need to despair. Wealth held by private households in a “Middle East and Africa” region – comprising most Arab countries, plus Turkey, Iran, Israel, and South Africa – reached $4.8 trillion in 2012. This represents a growth rate of 9.1 percent from the $4.4 trillion in 2011 and BCG named wealth in equities as a main driver of the gains.

“Globally, private financial wealth grew by 7.8 percent in 2012 to a total of $135.5 trillion. The rise was stronger than in 2011 and 2010, when global wealth grew by 3.6 percent and 7.3 percent” BCG said.

The 9.1 percent rate of wealth expansion put the MEA region in a solid position after Asian, Eastern European and Latin American growth rates. And the outlook for the region in the coming years also looks good. The report predicts private wealth in MEA will grow to an estimated $6.5 trillion by the end of 2017, an average growth rate of 6.2 percent. The majority of this wealth will remain in oil-rich countries, it added.


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Thomas Schellen

Thomas Schellen is Executive's editor-at-large. He has been reporting on Middle Eastern business and economy for over 20 years. Send mail

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