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  • Detained in Dubai

UAE provides a risky haven for Russian money

The general principle by which the UAE operates is that any money that enters the country should never leave it.

As the first private jets from Moscow were landing in the UAE, Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai and Due Process International, warned that the Emirates would quickly become Russian oligarchs’ preferred sanctions-avoidance destination for their targeted riches. “Whenever EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announces a new raft of sanctions against Russia, Dubai hears cash registers ringing,” Stirling said, commenting on the latest economic news from the UAE.

Russians have become the biggest investors in Dubai’s real estate market since the onset of sanctions after the beginning of the war in Ukraine. Property sales have skyrocketed by 80%, with nearly $60 billion pouring into the Emirates by the end of 2022, breaking all previous records. Most of that money is coming from Russia and it is not difficult to deduce why. A significant portion of property sales in Dubai involve developments that have yet to be built, meaning Russians who may find their assets frozen or seized under the sanctions regime can park their money in the UAE very quickly and either hold onto the planned development, resell it, redirect their investments to other potential properties, or theoretically simply withdraw from the deal at a later date. The Dubai real estate market provides sanctioned oligarchs with an ideal safe haven for their assets where they can both secure their money and launder it at the same time.