LONDON: Russian billionaires fleeing Western sanctions stemming from the war in Ukraine are arriving in the UAE in “unprecedented numbers,” say business leaders.

One report said property purchases in Dubai by Russians rose 67 percent in the first three months of 2022.

Virtuzone, which helps companies set up in Dubai, has seen a “huge surge” in its number of Russian clients, its CEO George Hojiege told the BBC. “We’re receiving five times more enquiries from Russians since the war began,” he said.

This influx of wealth has stimulated the city’s property market, with real estate agency Betterhomes saying Russian demand for luxury villas and apartments had generated a two-thirds jump in new purchases during the first quarter of the year.

Modern Living, another real estate agency, told the BBC it had hired a plethora of Russian-speaking agents to cater to the rising demand.

It is not just individuals hitching their wagon to the UAE, as numerous multinationals and startups have relocated their employees to the country.

Faud Fatullev, co-founder of blockchain company WeWay, said he and his partners have moved hundreds of employees to Dubai.

“The war had a massive impact on our operations,” he added. “We couldn’t continue (as we were) as we had to move hundreds of people outside of Ukraine and Russia.”

Similarly, the likes of Goldman Sachs, Google and JP Morgan shut down Russian operations and shifted some of their employees to Dubai.