The Russian invasion of Ukraine led to multiple rounds of Western sanctions against Russian businesses and billionaires. With that, many Russian oligarchs are trying to flee these measures, finding a home in the UAE because the region has neither denounced the invasion nor has it put sanctions on these individuals. But it’s not just oligarchs – hundreds of thousands of Russian business owners, workers and everyday nationals have fled, worried about the country’s economic situation and future.
Because the UAE is also providing visas to non-sanctioned Russians, an estimated few hundred thousand have left the country over the last two months. Property purchases in Dubai, for example, surged by 67% in the first quarter of this year, according to Dubai-based Betterhomes, with some real estate agencies hiring Russian-speaking agents to cater to their new market.
“Russians who are coming down are not buying just for investment, they are looking at Dubai as a second home," said CEO of real estate agency Modern Living, Thiago Caldas. He added that many Russian nationals were wanting to relocate ASAP.
“We are receiving five times more enquiries from Russians since the war began," said CEO George Hojeige of Virtuzone, which helps businesses set up operations in Dubai. “They are worried about an economic meltdown that’s coming. That is why they are moving here to secure their wealth."