According to a new report, the Middle East is creating new billionaires at a faster rate than most of the rest of the global economy.

The specialist wealth research and consultancy firm Wealth-X, said that the number of billionaires in the region increased by almost 8% last year to 166 and the country is now home to 6.7% of the world’s billionaires, which is more than South and Central America.

The Middle East had the second-fastest growing population of billionaires, behind Asia Paci­fic. The number of billionaires in Asia grew by 15% to 645, and their total holdings increased by almost 20% to nearly $1.7tn.

Gautam Duggal, the head of wealth management at Standard Chartered Bank for the Middle East, Africa and Europe, said that he was not surprised that the number of billionaires in the region grew.

“This region, on the whole, if you look at it from a wealth point of view, is growing stead­ily. Oil prices have impacted and if oil prices had not gone the way they had, this percentage would have been higher,” he said.

 Despite this, he said that ­money flowing in from other countries was contributing towards greater wealth.
The dynamic and ever-expanding economies in the Gulf were contributing factors to the rise in the region’s billionaires. The investment behavior of the region’s richest people was not too different from other parts of the world but added that the commercial and trading history and culture of the UAE and wider region, as well as the diversity of the population, tends to cultivate and accelerate the entrepreneurial spirit.