The Middle East’s billionaires, with a combined net worth of $354 billion, hold a higher percentage of total wealth than in any other region in the world, according to findings from the Wealth-X and UBS Billionaire Census 2013.

Forty percent of the Middle East’s ultra high net worth (UHNW) wealth is being held by the region’s 157 billionaires, compared to 28 percent in Europe, 22 percent in North America and 18 percent in Asia.

Billionaires in Saudi Arabia control more than 70 percent of the country’s wealth, while their counterparts in the UAE hold 24 percent.

Saudi Arabia leads the region with the most billionaires (64), and 25 of these individuals are based in the country’s capital, Riyadh, according to the report.

The total wealth of Saudi billionaires ($204 billion) is more than half the combined net worth of their counterparts in the Middle East, according to data from the Wealth-X and UBS Billionaire Census 2013, the first-ever global study on the billionaire population.

The report shows that there are 157 billionaires among the 5,300 UHNW individuals (defined as those with net assets of $30 million and above) in the Middle East.

This makes the Middle East the region with the fourth most billionaires – after Europe (766), North America (552) and Asia (508), but ahead of Latin America (111), Africa (42) and Oceania (34).

Middle Eastern billionaires increased their wealth in the last year by $39 billion (12.4 percent) with five additional billionaires (3.3 percent).

Last month, a report by WealthInsight said the number of millionaires in the UAE is predicted to grow by 13.5 percent by the end of 2013.

The study forecasts that the country will boast a total of 54,600 millionaires by year-end, erasing the declines of the past five years.

The report said that by 2017 the number of millionaires will increase 34 percent to 69,000, with their wealth rising 48 percent to $269bn.

In 2012, the UAE had 48,300 millionaires, excluding their primary residence, WealthInsight said, as well as 625 multi-millionaires.

source: arabianbussiness