Global nations have been punishing Vladimir Putin and Russia for the war in Ukraine but the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has so far not imposed any sanctions. The huge economic impact on Russians has quickly become apparent, with new research showing more than 5,000 Russian nationals own more than 9,700 properties in Dubai. This is according to research by the Munich-based newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, working in collaboration with 20 international partners. The research group has evaluated a data set on ownership in the Dubai real estate market.
In total, the findings include 800,000 ownership of real estate shares in the cash-rich UAE city, as well as 274,000 individuals, companies and organisers from 197 countries and territories.
Of those who own real estate in Dubai, less then a third actually live in the UAE and the remainder come from the rest of the world – with Russia at the very top of the list.
Among the real estate owners in the desert state are around 100 members of Russia’s political elite, officials and Russian businessmen – many of whom have close links to the Kremlin.
Ruslan Baysarov is a long-time confidant of Chechen strongman and Putin aide Ramzan Kadyrov.
He has so far not been hit by any international sanctions, but owns five flats and a large beach villa on Palm Island off Dubai.
The 53-year-old is one of Russia’s richest businessman and in 2019 was listed among Forbes Magazine’s 200 Richest Businessmen in the country, with a fortune estimated at £400million.
Roman Lyabikhov, a member of the Communist Party, is another homeowner in Dubai and has already been sanctioned by several Western countries, but is safe in the desert state.
Alexander Borodai, a Duma deputy, also owns a flat on Palm Island, and has so far been sanctioned by the UK, European Union and US.
In recent weeks, it has been reported several Russian oligarchs have been trying to get rid of properties they own in London and exchange them for real estate in Dubai.
The primary aim is to avoid the crippling sanctions from the UK because even if wealthy Russian are not on any sanctions list, this can soon change with Britain releasing a new round of punishments almost weekly.
Earlier today, Britain announced a ban on all service sector exports to Russia and imposed sanctions on a further 63 individuals and organisations.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been a vocal supporter of Ukraine since it was invaded by Russia on February 24.
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The Government said the measures would cut off Russia’s access to the UK’s management consulting, accounting and PR services, hammering home a move several had already taken for themselves.
These include the so-called Big Four accounting and consultancy firms – Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC.
Swathes of other services companies such as advertising groups have also tried to sell or close their Russian operations, while some law firms are refusing to take on new clients.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said in a statement: “Doing business with Putin’s regime is morally bankrupt and helps fund a war machine that is causing untold suffering across Ukraine.
“Cutting Russia’s access to British services will put more pressure on the Kremlin and ultimately help ensure Putin fails in Ukraine.”
Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg.