The Dubai Marina Walk Image Credit: Abdel-Krim Kallouche/XPRESS

Dubai: Millionaires are no longer just busy setting up businesses, acquiring properties, or investing in stocks to get richer, they are making big changes in their spending and lifestyle habits because of one thing – they expect to live to 100 years old.

In a study of more than 400 individuals in the UAE who have at least $1 million (Dh3.6 million) investable assets, it was found that the super-rich are now paying more attention to their health, and they’re even willing to sacrifice their wealth just to live longer. In fact, nine out of ten (91 per cent) admitted that health is more important to them than wealth.

They now set aside time and money to go to the gym and invest in fitness coaches, supplements, insurance premiums and doctors’ consultations, just to ensure they’re delaying ageing and prolonging their life expectancy.

Living up to a century

Nearly half (45 per cent) of high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) in the UAE said they believe they will live to 100.

This is markedly above current national life expectancy forecasts in most developed countries, according to UBS Investor Watch, the largest recurring global study of rich people worldwide.

“In fact, the very wealthiest investors expect to live the longest – and they are the  most willing to sacrifice wealth for better health,” UBS said.

“Not only do they spend on doctors’ visits and insurance premiums, but preventive services are also popular. Investors spend significantly on gyms, coaches, supplements and other lifestyle expenses.”

And when it comes to the amount of time they spend at work, it looks like wealthy people are scaling back, as eight in 10 of them believe that too much work is bad for their health.

They now make sure they don’t work on weekends and their mobile phones and emails are turned off when they’re on holiday.

“There’s no doubt that living extended lives is changing financial and investment behaviour. Even among the wealthiest people, the prospect of living as long as 100 years means taking a different approach to financial plans,” said Ali Janoudi, head of wealth management for Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa at UBS.

Giving wealth away

The study also found that  nearly 70 per cent of the country's wealthy plan to give away more of their wealth while they are alive, or set aside more of their fortune to charities, foundations and good causes.

“Health clearly takes precedent over wealth in the UAE, based on our latest data. In fact, nowhere else in the world would investors give up so much of their wealth in exchange for a longer, healthier life, ” said Niels Zilkens, head of wealth management for Arabia Gulf and non-resident Indians at UBS. 

“Lots of investors in the UAE also want to use their wealth to improve the health of others. We’re seeing a very strong desire to invest in health-related causes that will have a positive social impact. Already, over half of investors are telling us they want to commit more of their wealth to impact investing projects in the future.”