I am a real estate broker from Dubai with huge interest from wealthy Russians. A billionaire client seemed in a frenzy when he visited more than 10 properties in one day.

This say-to-say essay is based on a conversation with Hamid Jaafri, CEO of An investment, an international real estate agency for properties in London and Dubai, United Arab Emirates. It has been edited for length and clarity.

I run a real estate agency with offices in London, New York and Dubai. We are an international agency that helps clients invest in real estate in London and Dubai. Most of our customers are from Europe and the United States.

We expanded our operations to Dubai in 2017. Most people buying property in Dubai are international investors operating in unfamiliar territory. We help them understand local legalities and process multi-million dollar real estate transactions.

Of all our clients looking to invest in real estate in Dubai, Russians are always in the top 10. Over the past two weeks, they have climbed into the top three due to a recent surge in Russian demand of real estate in Dubai.

Over the past few days, I have personally met several Russian clients who are Forbes rich list billionaires. For me, it’s unique.

Typically, an average buyer visits Dubai several times and views one or two properties a day. We rarely deal with our most exclusive clients in person, and most often we communicate through their managers.

“We probably visited more than 10 properties in one day”

Last Friday, I received a call asking me to organize a large number of visits the next day for a Russian billionaire who wanted to close a property quickly.

The Russian billionaire client I met on Saturday seemed delirious. We probably visited more than 10 properties in one day. The most expensive property I showed him was worth $40 million.

People are usually trying to find the ideal property. I felt like this customer wanted to get in and out, to complete the transaction as quickly as possible.

I rarely go to viewings myself, but these ultra-rich Russians come in person and want to deal with the owner or the most senior person in the company. This shows you the urgency with which they are looking to invest and establish a base in Dubai.

I meet the clients and only show the properties if they wish to invest beyond a certain threshold. I must have had more views this week than in the last three months, and those customers were almost entirely Russian.

Less than a week after Russia invaded Ukraine, one of the private developers we work with in Dubai changed its policy to welcome potential Russian investors.

If a Russian investor wanted to hire his company to start a development project, he would have had to pay a higher down payment to start building. Now it’s back to its normal policies, where everyone pays a 19% deposit and then a percentage each time part of the building is completed.

2 types of potential Russian buyers

We see two groups of Russians looking to buy property.

One group consists of super rich Russian clients who are looking to establish a base in Dubai but whose liquidity is in Russia, so they must be on the ground in Russia. Dubai is a base at the moment. The other group includes people under the age of 35 who are looking to settle permanently in Dubai.

Many of those under 35 are still very wealthy. They are looking to buy property for up to $10 million and register new businesses in Dubai to relocate their operations here.

Since June 2021, foreigners are allowed to set up their own business in order to obtain residency. Before this decision, expatriates had to either set up a business with an Emirati or be employed by an Emirati company.

Our incorporation staff member helps our international clients to set up companies in Dubai. She has seen an increase in the number of Russians under the age of 35 setting up new businesses in Dubai with the intention of permanently moving to the UAE to scale their business.

I have seen cases in recent weeks where these Russians under 35 hire staff in Dubai and rent offices. They also seem to be moving their families here.

I asked a few of the Russian clients I spoke to about their views on the war in Ukraine and international sanctions. Few people like to talk about it. But if they do, they say the situation is horrible.

Western sanctions affect Russians in Dubai

A client’s son told me he couldn’t withdraw money unless he was in Russia or transfer money from his Russian bank accounts to accounts outside of Russia.

We have buyers who have deposited deposits, but we also have buyers who are experiencing fund transfer delays. Over the past few weeks, many Russian clients I have worked with have tried to convert their cryptocurrency to cash.

In Dubai, you can buy property with cryptocurrency and cash. But the more expensive the good, the more complicated the processing of the transaction will be. These transactions take place and Russian clients buy properties.

The influx of Russian investment in real estate in Dubai has affected me because I have to work as fast as our clients want. If they need to make decisions quickly, I have to make things happen even faster.

We also had to launch a new recruitment campaign for Russian personnel. We already have Russian speakers in our team, but I think what we are seeing is only the beginning, so we are looking to recruit more Russian speakers.

I think Russian and international investors now see Dubai as a place where their assets will be safe and accessible during economic and political turmoil.