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How Dubai is becoming a haven for Russian oligarchs

Palm Jumeirah, a famosa ilha artificial em forma de palmeira em Dubai: corretores relatam aumento vertiginoso na procura por imóveis no emirado por parte de milionários russos

Palm Jumeirah, the famous artificial palm-shaped island in Dubai: Realtors report a dizzying increase in demand for real estate in the emirate by Russian millionaires| Photo: EFE/EPA/ALI HAIDER

18214243 18214243 A report published this month by the Wall Street Journal describes a phenomenon that is the tip of the iceberg of one of the many consequences of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, triggered in 24 of February.

According to the American newspaper, more than one hundred private jets belonging to Russian oligarchs are in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, so that they are not seized by countries that have imposed sanctions since the beginning of the war – which has already happened with yachts owned by some millionaires (that is why these vessels are also being moved to the emirate: one of them, valued at US$ 71 million and owned by Russian oligarch and lawmaker Andrei Skoch, targeted by sanctions, was seen in Dubai ).

Although, in practice, the use of these aircraft is quite restricted precisely because of the sanctions, the displacement of the jets to Dubai protects theof these oligarchs and reveals a trend: as the UAE is not sanctioning Russia or persecuting oligarchs linked to President Vladimir Putin, the country, and especially its most famous emirate, has become a refuge for them.

Recently, the New York Times, citing data compiled by the Center for Advanced Defense Studies, informed that at least 10 businessmen or senior officials linked to Putin, several of them targets of sanctions from the United States and the European Union, own properties in Dubai whose values ​​add up to more than US$ 480 million.

Interest in the emirate has been growing since the war in Ukraine started: Abdullah Alajaji, CEO of a Dubai real estate brokerage, reported to Forbes magazine that his company recorded an increase of 71% in the value of properties purchased by Russians in the first quarter of 1280, compared to the same period last year.

18214243In addition to the objective of protecting his assets from sanctions – billionaire Roman Abramovich, former Chelsea owner, has been looking for a home in Palm Jumeirah, the famous artificial palm-shaped island in Dubai, in recent weeks – another interest of the oligarchs is the advantages offered by the local government.

A “Golden Visa” program of the United Arab Emirates offers long-term residency to foreigners who apply at least 10 million dirhams (about US$2.7 million) in local companies or investment funds. The government also allows foreigners to obtain local citizenship through property investment.

18214243 “It’s effectively a lifetime residence that you get from the Dubai government and it’s very affordable for many of these wealthy Russians,” Alajaji told Forbes. “Many people we work with were living in London, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Israel, and are now looking to settle in Dubai, either due to their business, or bringing their families and making the decision to reside in Dubai.”

“Investors are looking for both capital protection and the opportunity to receive a residential visa in United Arab Emirates for temporary relocation”, confirmed to Reuters the real estate broker Elena Milishenkova, which focuses on Russians who buy properties abroad.

She reported to the agency that her company received nearly three times as many requests for apartments in Dubai in the first three months of 2022 compared to the first quarter of 2021.

18214243Dubai’s ability to make gains when there are problems in other parts of the world is mocked by those who know the reality of the emirate.

“In Dubai, there is an old saying that goes: ‘When the region goes well, we do well, but when there is a crisis, we do very well,’” said Chirag Shah, founder of consultancy 1 International FinCentre Associates, in an interview with Bloomberg.

There are risks, however: in early March, the Financial Action Task Force, the global watchdog on financial crimes , placed the United Arab Emirates on the so-called gray list, which indicates that it is subject to stricter anti-money laundering monitoring. The local government claims that it has evolved in the regulation of capital flows directed to the country.

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