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UAE life 'surpasses expectations' for millionaires relocating to the country

The UAE is exceeding the expectations of high-net-worth individuals who are moving to the country, new residents have told The National.

A record 6,700 millionaires are expected to call the UAE home by the end of this year, according to a recent survey by international investment migration advisory firm Henley & Partners, which named the country the world's top wealth magnet for a third year in a row.

The country is poised to attract nearly twice as many millionaires as its nearest rival, the US, which is forecast to open its doors to 3,800 millionaires by the end of 2024.

'Nothing LA can offer that Dubai couldn't'

“Our social life is better than it has ever been anywhere else in the world,” said multimillionaire celebrity therapist Marisa Peer, who recently moved to the UAE after living in London and Los Angeles.

Ms Peer, a well-known speaker and bestselling author, moved to Dubai after visiting for the first time in February 2023.

“We had no intention of moving here at the time … but we pretty much fell in love with Dubai,” she told The National. “It felt like just wrapped its arms around us and made it so easy.

“We were given so many work opportunities, and I now find it one of the most exciting cities in the world.”

Within a few months of her first visit, Ms Peer had bought two adjoining properties in Al Barari and said she can now see herself living there for the rest of her life.

“There is nothing LA can offer that Dubai couldn't and very little London can offer, other than my family, the history and cuteness,” she added.

“There are many things I love about Dubai, but I would list them as the people, the tremendous help we've had in making our business thrive here and the safety. You can't put a price on that.”

'My favourite city I've ever lived in'

Ben Harvey, chief executive of digital and creative solutions company Zuru Group, who moved to the UAE in 2021, echoed these sentiments.

“The UAE has surpassed my expectations,” he told The National.

“I’ve lived in London, I’ve lived in New York and I did wonder whether Dubai could live up to those great cities because of the legacy and history, but what the UAE has been able to do in the past 50 or so years is build an incredible community,” said Mr Harvey, who moved to Dubai after selling his first company.

“We have the best hotels, the best restaurants, some of the best facilities in the world. It's fair to say, this is probably my favourite city I've ever lived in.”

Mr Harvey cites the “second-to-none” lifestyle, expat community and progressive business culture among the main reasons he loves living in the UAE.

“It's amazing to see how quickly and how progressive the UAE has been just in the past four years I’ve been here, and I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like in the next 10,” he said.

“One of the obvious challenges is summer, it's incredibly hot, but I look at it in contrast to living in London or New York where during the winter months it’s down to minus and raining, you’re always stuck indoors.

“So, during the summer, we just adapt our lifestyle and because Dubai has so many facilities, whether I want to go skiing or to one of the incredible gyms or amazing restaurants, we always have something to do.”

In business, Mr Harvey said there is an openness to collaboration that is hard to find elsewhere.

“In the US and UK you find more doors are closed on you. In the UAE, it feels like all doors are open. You just have to have initiative, a good work ethic and, most importantly, you need to execute.

“You do that, you can build an amazing reputation, an amazing business and a truly incredible life.”

A rise in western wealth

Joanne Doran, founder of JGD Luxury Lifestyle Operations, said her clients, who include high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth individuals, love the UAE as every aspect of their lives can be managed like a global business.

“It's unmatched,” she said. “If you look at how this converges, it is the ultimate destination for where their families want to come and preserve their legacies.”

Ms Doran started her business five years ago, after 15 years of working in the hospitality field within Jumeirah Group. She began with personal consulting and executive estate management services, which grew to also encompass concierge and private lifestyle operations because of the demand.

While historically many of the millionaires moving to the UAE came from Russia, China, Britain and India, she said she is now also seeing an influx from Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, South Korea and Japan.

“You can notice the change in the type of people coming and their motivations. For people from Japan, South Korea and Russia, it's all about investment.

“Europeans, the Germans, Swiss, British and also Americans, they're more family orientated. Husbands have come here on business and now they're going back home and convincing their families to move here.”

Zarah Evans, owner and managing partner of real estate broker Exclusive Links, said she has also seen an increase in people moving from western countries over the past 12 months, as well as younger people, entrepreneurs and technology professionals.

The company's luxury brand, The Elite Collection, has noted a 20 per cent increase in inquiries and clientele from wealthy individuals over the past year.

“The reasons for moving to the UAE vary,” she said. “Western high-net-worth individuals often seek tax benefits and a high standard of living, while those from Asia and the Middle East are attracted by business opportunities and the city's cosmopolitan environment.

“Entrepreneurs and younger professionals are particularly drawn to Dubai's vibrant economy and because it’s the place to be and to be seen.”

Luxury real estate a major draw

While many still view the UAE as an ideal location for secondary or third homes, Ms Evans said they are seeing more of their clients making it their permanent base.

This is thanks to government initiatives such as the golden visa residency programme, she added.

Earlier this year, the UAE also cancelled the Dh1 million ($272,294) minimum down payment required for people to qualify for a golden visa through real estate investment, making it easier for more residents and investors to establish deeper roots in the country.

Ryan Almond, senior private client adviser at Maria Morris Real Estate, said decisions like this will ensure the trend continues.

“Improved regulatory frameworks are likely to also further secure investments among ultra-high-net-worth individuals moving to the UAE, through initiatives such as the golden and nomad visas with favourable tax conditions always at the forefront of Dubai's appeal, reconfirming its position as a global city of choice for wealthy individuals.”

The luxury real estate market, newly launched branded residences and privileged services offered to this affluent group also play significant roles in drawing wealthy families to the region, said Ms Evans.

For both Ms Peer and Mr Harvey, however, it's the people they've met since moving here that have turned this country into a “forever home”.

“It is such a big expat community and everybody has the same thing in common,” said Mr Harvey. “They’ve all been brave enough to move to another country, building a career or business and setting up a new life. As a result, you find people are way more open, willing to make friends, to talk, to communicate.

“It is the most friendly [country] I've ever lived in,” he said.

To Read full article at The National News Here

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