What does it cost to live a millionaire life in the UAE?

There is increasing demand for travel butlers, house managers, nannies, private chefs and concierge services as ultra-wealthy flock to the Emirates

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Have you ever wondered about the lifestyles of the ultra-wealthy? How much do they spend and who takes care of their needs?

Those with an ultra-high net worth are willing to spend money on hiring specialists to avoid the inconveniences of daily life, experts say.

Think private jets to whisk you away to a favourite destination, personal chefs to create meals adhering to your diet, helicopter rides to beat the traffic, butlers at your beck and call and a concierge service to make restaurant reservations and book yacht parties.

“There is high demand for travel butlers, house managers and nannies among HNWIs,” says Zahra Clark, head of the Middle East and North Africa region at Tiger Recruitment.

“A travel butler would be required to pack and unpack suitcases, organise the wardrobe on the client’s arrival, manage day-to-day errands such as bringing them food and drinks, making sure the beds are prepared, picking up purchases, making sure garments’ humidity and temperature are correct, and waiting on the clients.

“House managers need to oversee staff. Recently, we had a house manager role to oversee an 18-bedroom property with 12 staff that included housemaids, chefs, drivers and nannies. House managers would need to manage laundry, silver service, make sure food is served on time, menus are curated and adhere to any regimes the clients are going through.”

You need a net worth of $1.6 million to join the UAE’s richest 1 per cent, according to a report in May by global property consultancy Knight Frank.

Financial wealth in the UAE grew an annual 20 per cent in 2021, compared with 11 per cent globally, with the Emirates recording a net inflow of more than 2,000 millionaires, which helped the country account for 30 per cent of the total financial wealth in the GCC, according to a 2022 report by management consultancy Boston Consulting Group.

About 41 per cent of the UAE’s wealth was derived from UHNWIs in 2021 and this is expected to grow to 43 per cent by 2026, BCG estimates.

You’d need to pay a travel butler a monthly salary of up to Dh25,000 ($6,807), while a junior house butler can be hired for Dh10,000 per month, Ms Clark says.

They need to have ease to travel with European or US passports and most families prefer candidates with English language skills, she adds.

Families can employ a house manager in a salary range of Dh25,000 to Dh45,000 per month. They will need to pay a premium to hire Norland nannies, who command a monthly salary of between Dh25,000 and Dh35,000.

General nannies can be hired from Dh5,000 to Dh15,000 per month, Ms Clark adds.

The wealthy also utilise the services of chefs, sous chefs and pastry chefs, depending on the size of the household.

“Higher-end chefs can command from Dh25,000 up to Dh40,000 a month. Clients usually want chefs with Michelin-star experience or worked in a five-star hotel, or somewhere like a Nobu or Zuma so they can produce top-end, quality food,” Ms Clark says.

“They also want candidates to have experience working with an ultra-wealthy family because the experience of working for a commercial establishment to a private premises is very different,” she adds.

“Pastry chefs need to be paid between Dh18,000 to Dh20,000, but they command more if they are from Paris.”

Employees who work for the ultra-wealthy typically receive 30 days of annual leave, medical insurance and “generous” yearly bonuses.

“One of our clients sends money home to a junior butler’s family every month as a form of bonus,” according to Ms Clark.

Meanwhile, the wealthy can opt for an at-home doctor consultation for Dh500 to Dh600 in Dubai, depending on the area. In Abu Dhabi, this costs up to Dh700 for a night visit by a doctor and a nurse, says Nadine Khabbaz, business development and marketing manager at VIP Doc Service, a home healthcare company.

However, this service is not covered by insurance, she adds.

The company even performs blood tests at home and sends the samples to labs.

Customers also receive IV treatments at home for hair loss or skin boosters, among other reasons. On average, the cost is between Dh1,200 and Dh2,500, but could go up to Dh5,000, according to Ms Khabbaz.

The company employs multinational doctors and nurses, so they can cater to all patients.

“Sometimes, our paramedics accompany the patient on a flight to their home country. The cost includes the flight ticket, number of hours a day to look after the patient and accommodation,” Ms Khabbaz says.

UHNWIs also want one point of contact to arrange everything, so concierge services are in demand, according to Shilpa Mahtani, chief operating officer of bnbme Holiday Homes.

“We have booked lunch, dinner, beach clubs and private rooms at Top Golf for our wealthy clients. We have booked out half of restaurants and created specialised menus for them at restaurants like Coya and Clap,” she says.

We arrange private butlers, nannies, yacht parties with full-fledged catering, salsa dancing classes and masseurs for UHNWIs staying with us
Shilpa Mahtani, chief operating officer, bnbme Holiday Homes

“We also arrange private butlers, nannies, yacht parties with full-fledged catering, salsa dancing classes and masseurs for UHNWIs staying with us.

“One of our customers required a private jet to India within a few hours. It costs around Dh100,000 to charter a private eight-seater flight one way to Mumbai.”

The company has also arranged tickets for guests who want to go skydiving or rent the Dubai Helicopter from the Atlantis Hotel.

The former costs between Dh1,800 and D1,900, while the helicopter costs about Dh3,145 for a trip of up to six people for a 12-minute flight, according to Falcon Tours.

It would cost upwards of Dh10,000 to rent a small yacht for seven to eight people with finger food and champagne, according to Ms Mahtani.

The company also arranges limousine airport pickups for Dh600, but the service needs to be booked for a minimum of four hours, she says.

“All UHNWIs prefer to remain very private, so reservations are not made in their name,” Ms Mahtani says.

“They also like to have services delivered super quick. They prefer to have private dining areas with preset menus in restaurants. The price starts from Dh700 per head.

“They also hire a private butler, whose price starts from Dh150 per hour, while for a chef, it starts from Dh500 to Dh600 per head, depending on how many courses.”

Those with deep pockets can hire a private helicopter to skip the Dubai-Abu Dhabi traffic. A ride for four people between the two cities costs Dh35,000 on average, according to booking platform Online-Dubai.

Meanwhile, the super-rich with a net worth of $1 billion could consider signing up for the Billionaire Card.

The card was recently launched by luxury hospitality and entertainment group Majestas’s Billionaire nightclub-turned-theatre restaurant brand, payment card issuer and luxury lifestyle management group Insignia and luxury jewellery and watch company Jacob & Co.

The Billionaire Card contains a range of VIP perks tailored for its billionaire holders.

“Each cardholder will have a personal assistant who can support them with all their needs, from booking private jets, villas, yachts, hotels to the acquisition of rare pieces of art or fashion that the client is passionate about,” says Nada Rouviere, vice president of Insignia.

“Billionaire card members can also enjoy VIP entry to concerts, fashion shows, international sporting events such as the Super Bowl or the F1 Paddock Club Privé or even Oscar night, Coachella in California and New York Fashion Week, among others.”

Other partners such as luxury sports car manufacturer Aston Martin, US private members’ club Spring Place and Ginori 1735, a bespoke homeware brand, have also joined the Billionaire Card programme.

However, the Billionaire Card offers membership by invitation only, either by Flavio Briatore, founder and owner of Billionaire, or Jacob Arabo, founder and chairman of Jacob & Co, and is capped at a maximum of 150 clients to preserve the exclusivity and premium services offered.

“The membership is valid for one year and renewable. It’s a charge card that can be used to pay for transactions,” Ms Rouviere says.

“It’s like any payment instrument that you’d use. It’s a full-fledged payment card.”

The Billionaire metal card has an annual fee of $6,990, while its bejewelled variant, encrusted with 1,490 diamonds, can be purchased for upwards of $100,000.

Cardholders will receive preferential rates with the Luxury Hotel Collection, a curated collection of hotels, privileged access to Majestas venues such as Billionaire and Twiga and an annual invitation to a holiday at the Billionaire Resort & Retreat in Malindi, Kenya.

Neera Private Members Club in Dubai’s Al Habtoor City also offers its patrons special access and rates to VIP events.

Spanning 18,000 square feet over two floors with six restaurants and business capabilities, members can engage in “bespoke” events and networking opportunities, according to Gary Holliday, managing director of Accenture Investment Group, the management company overseeing the concept.

“Our community is open to titans and tastemakers of the business, cultural and creative industries, but is highly curated towards luxury connoisseurs and those seeking exclusive, refined experiences,” he says.

“Anyone can apply for membership but applicants should be over 21. Our membership committee will have the final say on approval.”

Members will receive exclusive invites to a curated annual programme, spanning cultural, sports, entrepreneurship, networking, retreats and brand experiences.

They can also benefit from special rates, access and upgrades with luxury partners, including 14 five-star hotels globally, Al Habtoor Sports Hub, Al Habtoor Polo Club, Polo Academy, Riding School and La Perle.

The first phase of Neera opened in November, with the next phase set to open in mid-December. The official opening is at the end of January 2024.

The standard membership fee is Dh15,000 per person, Dh25,000 for couples and Dh10,000 for individuals under 32, Mr Holliday says.

There will be a joining fee of Dh15,000 from January 1, 2024, he adds.

Updated: December 14, 2023, 5:00 AM