Wealthy Russian investors are snapping up luxury properties in Dubai amid Western sanctions - report

Business Insider US
Palm Jumeirah in the Gulf emirate of Dubai on January 10, 2022.
  • Wealthy Russians are showing a growing interest in properties in Dubai, The Observer reported.
  • People are purchasing properties and leases mostly with cryptocurrencies, the outlet said.
  • The United Arab Emirates, unlike Western countries, has not imposed financial sanctions against Russia.
  • For more stories visit Business Insider.

Wealthy Russians are flocking to Dubai's real estate market as Western sanctions prompt them to look at alternative destinations for their luxury property purchases, The Observer reported on Saturday.

Individuals with money tied to Russian financial institutions have been purchasing properties and leasing apartments in Dubai, which has not imposed financial sanctions against Russia in the weeks following the attack on Ukraine. 

Real estate brokers in Dubai are now reporting a surge in interest among Russian investors for property, with some paying one year in rent in advance, according to the paper. 

The purchases are made mostly through cryptocurrencies, but some have also been made via transfers from financial institutions linked to sanctioned individuals, a regional intelligence official told the publication.

"A radical amount of Russian investors are purchasing units. Even tenants; we've had a huge amount of calls. They transfer their funds via crypto. They have an intermediary who will do that for them and then the cash is passed to the landlords," a Dubai-based leasing consultant told the paper. 

Wealthy Russians have been moving their money to Dubai as Western countries have imposed financial sanctions on Russia designed to cripple the Russian economy and pressurize President Vladimir Putin to halt the invasion.

But the United Arab Emirates, which includes the Emirate of Dubai, has not imposed sanctions on Russia.

George Hojeige, the founder and CEO of VirtuZone, which helps people settle in Dubai, recently told Insider that the company was reporting a rise in Russian interest. 

"They see the big instability coming and need to move their families somewhere else," he said. "They're looking for a place where they can move their businesses so they don't have to shut them down."

A number of sanctioned individuals have also been moving their assets — including mega yachts — to Dubai, to escape potential impounding in Europe and other Western countries, who have already seized a number of yachts. 

The sanctioned Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich has been looking for properties on Dubai's Palm Jumeirah, Bloomberg reported.

Studios on the luxury palm-shaped island start at $204,193, while five-bed apartments can reach $11 million, Insider previously reported.

The billionaire, who also owns Chelsea Football Club, is worth about $13.5 billion, according to Bloomberg. He was sanctioned by the UK on March 10 and the EU on March 15. A British MP previously said the billionaire was looking to sell some of his London assets before he was sanctioned.

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