Despite Brexit, UK still key destination for wealthy Gulf expats

Despite Brexit, UK still key destination for wealthy Gulf expats
Saudis and Emiratis make up the bulk of those residing in the UK, with 6,943 and 1,342 people respectively having chosen to call Britain, and predominantly London, their home. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 10 November 2020

Despite Brexit, UK still key destination for wealthy Gulf expats

Despite Brexit, UK still key destination for wealthy Gulf expats
  • The number of High Net Worth Gulf expats living in the UK has increased by 28 percent in five years
  • Saudi expats see London’s technology, cultural and hotel sectors as strategic long term investments

LONDON: The number of wealthy Gulf nationals living in the UK has reached a five-year high, as the appeal of the country’s investment, education and entertainment sectors continue to outweigh Brexit’s economic uncertainty.

According to a study by Boodle Hatfield, a leading private wealth law firm, the number of High Net Worth (HNW) individuals — those who hold over $1 million in liquid assets — living in the UK from the Gulf this year reached 11,742; a 28 percent increase compared to five years ago.

Saudis and Emiratis make up the bulk of those residing in the UK, with 6,943 and 1,342 people respectively having chosen to call Britain, and predominantly London, their home.

Boodle Hatfield said historic ties between the UK and Gulf countries had made Britain a popular destination for internationally mobile people, and the favorable investment opportunities in the UK capital had only added to this appeal.

Gulf nationals have traditionally been key investors in prime and super prime property in London, and Kyra Motley, a partner at Boodle Hatfield, told Arab News that the hotel and cultural sectors, in particular, had also seen significant interest from Saudi HNWs.

“Saudi investors have played an important role in investing in and upgrading key assets in the UK’s hotel sector — for example funding the refurbishment of landmark assets like the Savoy hotel,” she said.

“Both Saudi individuals and companies are also regular sponsors of art exhibits in the UK, and initiatives like The Edge of Arabia have sought to introduce the work of Saudi artists to a UK audience.”

Boodle Hatfield’s report also found that the UK’s reputation as being Europe’s leading hub for innovation in technology, particularly fintech, has acted as an additional draw to invest in the country for wealthy nationals keen to diversify their interests away from purely oil and gas.

“These investors are taking a long-term view,” Motley said, “and have decided that despite any short-term instability, the UK remains one of the most stable jurisdictions in which to invest capital.”

Furthermore, she said, “due to its multicultural nature, Gulf nationals feel very at home in London. The more moderate climate and multitude of dining and shopping options are also appealing to the younger cosmopolitan generation.”

Motley added: “There’s no indication that this upward trend will reverse anytime soon.”