Pakistanis own $10.6b property in Dubai – more than SBP’s dollar reserves

While Pakistan's economy continues to scare away foreign investments, data suggests the country's super-rich owns over 38,000 properties worth $10.6 billion in Dubai's offshore real estate market, which is more than Pakistan's State Bank dollar reserves.


As per the State Bank of Pakistan’s (SBP) data, the foreign currency reserves held by the SBP were recorded at $9,722.9 million on May 27, down $366 million compared with $10,088.6 million on May 20. The central bank attributed the decrease in reserves to external debt repayment. Analysts estimate the central bank’s latest reserves can cover imports for 1.54 months. The falling reserves put pressure on the currency as it plunged to an all-time low of Rs. 202.56 per dollar on May 26, 2022, in the interbank market.


According to a research paper, “Who Owns Offshore Real Estate? Evidence from Dubai”, about half of the offshore Dubai real estate is owned by individuals from India, the UK, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Iran.

The main owners of Dubai real estate in absolute terms are large neighboring countries such as India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Russia, and several large, often English-speaking economies like the UK, US, Canada, China, Germany, and France.

The paper notes that offshore real estate in Dubai is massive, with at least $146 billion in foreign wealth invested in the property market.

Read more: Pakistan meets IMF to get funds with toughest conditions

A deeper breakdown of the data suggests that the total market value of properties in Dubai at $533 billion in 2020, of which about 27 percent is foreign-owned.

About 35,000 Indians own Dubai properties worth almost $30 billion (20 percent of total offshore Dubai real estate). The UK comes next (23,000 unique owners, with properties worth $15 billion, 10 percent of the total).

By aggregate values, the remaining top countries include countries in the broader Middle Eastern and Central Asia region (e.g., Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Jordan, and Russia) and large economies (e.g., Canada, US, and China).

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