As the dust settles on COP28 held in the UAE, its impact resonates profoundly, especially among the region's ultra-high-net-worth individuals (UHNWIs). The conference, a watershed moment in global climate discussions, laid bare the stark realities of climate change – realities that the UAE's affluent must urgently reckon with.
In the ever-evolving landscape of the Middle East, the effects of climate change are becoming increasingly tangible. With phenomena like heavier rainfall and prolonged drought periods, the risk to valuable assets is more pronounced than ever. These climate challenges bring to the forefront the necessity for robust protective measures.
As governments grapple with the impact of climate change, communities are having to adapt to the increased frequency of extreme weather events. Heavier rainfall is becoming more commonplace in GCC countries, where flash floods can overwhelm drainage systems and devastate personal property.
Climate change is also changing the face of business, with companies being forced to invest in cleaner technologies and mitigate risk by changing their risk management and risk insurance strategies. Yet, it seems that many consumers are yet to fully wake up to the threat of devastating weather events on their homes and personal property. This is especially so for the UAE’s fast-growing ‘mega-rich’ population.
A millionaires’ playground
Despite owning billions of dollars in luxury watches, rare artifacts, and collections of classic cars, less than 3 per cent of high-net-worth individuals in the UAE are properly protecting their homes and home contents.
Analysis reveals that in 2023, the UAE continued to make a significant contribution to global luxury spending, maintaining a rate similar to its more than 1 per cent share in 2021. This is particularly notable given that the UAE only constitutes about 0.1 per cent of the global population.
According to a recent report by Henley & Partners, the UAE is home to 210 ‘centi’-millionaires (those with investable assets in excess of $100 million) and 15 billionaires. Because of this, it is suggested that the luxury market will grow by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.82 per cent between 2022-27.
The onus is, of course, on the individual to ensure that they are adequately protected – but many may not even realize that specialized home insurance products for UHNWIs exist.
This lack of awareness may be because the ultra-high-net-worth insurance marketplace in the GCC is comparatively small compared to other world regions. In the UK, it is a market worth 671 million pound that is forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of over 6 per cent.
Yet, in the UAE, there are currently only a handful insurance companies with dedicated teams for the ultra-rich.
Our specialists believe that many UHNWIs have a misconception that ordinary home insurance products are adequate to protect their assets. Yet a standard all-risk insurance policy typically will not cover all assets such as fine art, luxury watch collections, rare artifacts, or fleets of classic cars. A specialist team of UHNWI insurance consultants can.
Mega-rich or otherwise, we now live in a world – and a region – threatened by extreme weather events that threaten both national security and our day-to-day lives.
For those lucky enough to fall into the UHNWI category, the risks are significant and rising in severity.
As we reflect on the lessons of COP28, the message is loud and clear: protecting your wealth is not a luxury; it is a necessity. The world is unpredictable – and our wealth is only as secure as the measures we put in place to protect it. For the millionaires amongst us, the time for action is now.