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doha aerial view

An aerial view of Doha, capital of the State of Qatar. Photo – Royal Dutch Shell Media Library

Qatar’s ultra-high-net-worth population rose 3% this year despite a 2% fall in the nation’s total wealth, a study said on Tuesday.

The report, issued by research company Wealth-X, said the total number of ultra high net worth individuals in Qatar stood at 300 this year compared to 290 during the previous year while their total wealth was $45bn against $46bn.

Qatar got a boost from its 6% gross domestic product (GDP) growth, which offset the 1% decline in equity markets, the World Ultra Wealth Report 2012-13 said, adding that the Qatari riyal was stable during the measuring period.

Within the Gulf region, Saudi Arabia had the highest number of ultra-high-net-worth individuals at 1,265 (1,230 in the previous year) with their total wealth stable at $230bn. In the case of the UAE, the extremely wealthy population was 810 (775) with their total wealth almost flat at $120bn.

Kuwait had 735 multi-billionires this year (720 a year-ago) and their total wealth was again flat at $125bn and in Oman, the extremely rich population was flat at 140 with total wealth at $18bn.

In the Middle East, there are 4,595 ultra-high-net-worth individuals this year (compared to 4,495 in the previous year) with their combined total wealth at $710bn ($720bn).

The Middle East saw an increase of 2.2 % in its ultra wealthy population. Overall, combined wealth for the Middle East multi-billionaire population saw a decrease of 1.3%.

“The combined wealth of the Middle declined slightly, driven by declines in Israel and Qatar,” the report said, adding Iraq reported the fastest rate of ultra-high-net-worth population growth at 6.7%, followed by the UAE at 4.5% and Qatar at 3.4%.

The Middle East and Africa are home to at least 7,130 multi-billion individuals with a combined net worth of at least $1tn.

“The steady pace of increase in the population of ultra-high-net-worth individuals reflects the tremendous potential of the two regions despite the political uncertainty that overshadows them,” it said.

Highlighting that the Middle East faces fiscal sustainability and structural issues, the report said the region’s growing population of youths would increase the demand for jobs in the future and the limited supply of oil pointed towards the increasingly important need to accelerate economic diversification.

“The petrodollar liquidity flush that the region is experiencing should be channelled into avenues that boost sustainable economic growth. This requires an expansion of financial markets in the region,” it said.

The gloom in Europe may prove to be the drag on economic expansion in Africa and the Middle East through the reduced demand for oil and an increase in risk aversion amongst investors, it cautioned.

Amidst the spike in oil prices, increasing tensions in the Middle East and Africa, both regions may see political uncertainty hampering growth potential, it said.

The report said that many millionaires got poorer during the last year, but billionaires did just fine, using their heavyweight money management teams to ride out market and economic turmoil that hit the lesser rich.

The ranks of people with at least $30mn edged up to 187,380 but their total wealth fell 1.8% to $25.8tn – still a sum bigger than the combined size of the US and Chinese economies, Wealth-X said in its World Ultra Wealth Report. Hardest hit globally were those in the $200mn-$499mn range, whose numbers dropped 9.9% and whose fortunes shrank 11.4%, the report said.

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