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Tuesday, September 26, 2023

UAE banks targeting rich Russians – WSJ

The Gulf state is cashing in on wealthy clients from the sanctions-hit country, the news outlet claims

Emirati banking majors are trying to capitalize on economic opportunities arising from Western sanctions imposed on Russia, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday, citing people familiar with the matter.

According to the sources, Emirates NBD, Dubai’s key government-controlled financial institution, “poached” bankers from Russian lenders to launch a local subsidiary for dealing with money from wealthy clients.

Meanwhile, First Abu Dhabi Bank, the country’s largest lender, is launching a department focused on “wealthy” Russians, sources told the media outlet.

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Local banks have reportedly opened thousands of accounts for Russians, though it often takes weeks to arrange paperwork that confirms proof of funds, and shows that applicants are not politically exposed.

According to UAE officials, as cited by the media, local lenders avoid servicing sanctioned individuals in order to maintain correspondent relationships with US banks that clear dollars.

Tens of thousands of immigrants have reportedly relocated to the Gulf state over the past year, turning the Russian-speaking community into one of the most visible among the country’s population of almost nine million people.

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Russia-UAE trade ‘skyrocketing’ – Bloomberg

Most Russians who moved to the UAE are reportedly not sanctioned, but the country’s sanctioned elite have also found themselves welcome there, the media outlet claimed.

In the second quarter of 2023, Russians became the third-largest property buyers in Dubai, having been the ninth biggest in 2021, according to data from real-estate agent Betterhomes, as cited by the WSJ.

Meanwhile, inflows of foreign currency to the UAE have increased by about 20% each month since May 2022 compared with the months before, according to London-based Capital Economics.

“The ongoing global climate has led to financial and investment inflows to the UAE, given the country’s reputation as a stable global investment hub,” an unnamed government official told the media. “We will continue to take these responsibilities extremely seriously, especially given the current geopolitical landscape.”

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August 21, 2023 at 09:53PM
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