The UAE has emerged as the most preferred investment destination by a majority of the region’s millionaires, beating other high-growth markets, new research reveals.In a study commissioned by Emirates Investment Bank (EIB) , nearly a third (28 per cent) of the global investors voted the UAE as the number one place to invest in. China came second on the list, with 21 per cent of the votes, followed by Europe (21 per cent), US (17 per cent) and India (17 per cent).The survey results were published in EIB’s Wealth Insight Report 2014.  The survey, which was conducted between November 2013 and January 2014, gathered the views of HNWIs (high net-worth individuals) with $2 million (Dh7.3 million) or more in investable assets from the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Bahrain.Industry experts said it is not surprising to see the majority of the wealthy choosing to put their money in the UAE, considering that the country has been outpacing other global economies, thanks to its growing services, retail, tourism, transportation, logistics and real estate sectors.Dubai’s real gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated to have grown at an annual rate of 4.5 per cent in 2013, compared to 2.4 per cent in the US and 0.30 per cent in the European Union countries.
“When you’re in Europe, you hear problems, crisis, unemployment. What you hear in the UAE is the opposite. You hear about projects, vision and development. And people see this,” Jean-Paul Petoud, chief investment officer for private banking at EIB, told Gulf News. “If you make a huge investor live here for one year, he will start saying I’m going to invest in this market because I can feel something,” he added.
Speaking at a press conference, Khaled Sifri, chief executive officer of EIB, said the UAE’s pro-investment policies, growing population and “fantastic” infrastructure are luring wealthy individuals to invest in the country.
“The UAE seems to be the most attractive. It has a greater level of facilitations for these [investment] activities. Investors and entrepreneurs are encouraged. The licensing process is smooth. Opportunities are more readily available,” he said.
Sifri, however, clarified that the respondents in the study did not say that most of their assets are in the UAE. “They only said they have a preference to invest here,” he said.
The majority of the HNWIs surveyed (87 per cent) are also optimistic on the prospects for the Gulf region over the next five years. More than half (56 per cent) said they think the economic situation in the region is improving.
The global downturn, however, has affected the banking and investment decisions of (66 per cent) of the wealthy. Among those who have been affected, 38 per cent are now more conscious and cautious of the risks related to their investments, while 21 per cent have restricted or reduced their global investment activities.