Qatar has seen the number of millionaires living in the country grow at a faster pace than anywhere else in the region, thanks to a booming economy and a lack of political turmoil, a new report has found.
According to the report from New World Wealth, the number of rich people – which it terms “high net worth individuals,” or those with more than US$1 million (QR3.64 million) in net assets – in Qatar has increased by 80 percent since 2007.
There were approximately 28,000 such individuals in Qatar last year, the financial research firm said in a summary of its Middle East 2016 Wealth Report.
In absolute terms, Qatar trails several more heavily populated countries in the region, including Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the UAE. Israel tops the list, with 75,000 millionaires.
But no other country in the region has seen its share of rich residents increase so quickly. The report’s authors said this stems from strong growth in Qatar’s construction, real estate, financial services, telecom and media sectors.
It also noted that a large number of wealthy individuals have moved to Qatar in recent years.
Among them are several people from Turkey, where the number of millionaires – measured in US dollars – has tumbled over the last year, according to New World Wealth.
This is in part due to the declining value of the lira relative to the US dollar. However, the report’s authors said there are other factors at play:
“Turkey is suffering from serious political and economic problems. It is also being negatively impacted by terrorism and a rising level of religious violence. We expect a large number of millionaires to leave Turkey.”
In contrast, the number of millionaires in Qatar is projected to jump an additional 45 percent over the next decade, despite lower oil prices and general belt-tightening across the country.
New World Wealth measures an individual’s wealth in terms of their net assets. This involves adding up the value of one’s property, cash, bonds, equities and business interests before subtracting their liabilities.
While the report summary doesn’t delve into the issue of debt, separate research has suggested that the number of millionaires in Qatar could be even higher if more residents lived within their means.
A 2014 report by Samba Financial Group stated that the average household debt, excluding mortgages, in Qatar had more than tripled between 2004 and 2013, from QR145,628 ($40,000) to nearly QR520,620 ($143,000).
And earlier this year, Qatar University (QU) researchers said that social pressures to “keep up” with peers, in terms of buying what is perceived to be the appropriate car, handbag or watch, is saddling many nationals of all incomes with significant debt.
In March, Marie Dieres-Monplaisir, of QU’s Social and Economic Survey Research Institute (SESRI), told Doha News:
“Many foreigners looking at Qataris think that everyone is rich. But for some, it’s just an appearance of wealth that they are trying to keep up with, with all the sacrifices that entails.”