Dubai’s new millionaires’ club

One of the things that tickles me about Dubai is the lack of the “tall poppy syndrome” that’s so common in the UK. If people do well for themselves here – and I mean really well – they don’t have to make any attempt to hide their success for fear of upsetting those less fortunate, less tenacious or, dare I say it, less hard-working.

Wealth and success, especially the type that’s been earned through sweat and tears, are celebrated here. Although there’s clearly a huge divide between the haves and have-nots, the bitter jealousy that you often see on the streets of the UK is absent. If you see, for example, a rare supercar parked outside the supermarket, the knee-jerk reaction among most people here is to admire it or even grab a quick photo of yourself leaning against it – not to key it.

And it made me smile to read this week about a new business networking club that recently launched here in Dubai. It’s called the Millionaires Business Club. Only in Dubai, right? Chief Executive Tareq bin Juma launched the club, he says, because “you’re only as powerful as your network” and he wanted to be able to exchange ideas with others on a par with himself. “Most of the other business clubs,” he told The National, “don’t have an attractive level of quality and good business people.”

The Millionaires Business Club will provide both formal and informal events at which millionaires can make suitable networking contacts with like-minded people and presumably generate ways to make even more money. It’s also keen to encourage and enhance international trade relations. But it’s not all work-work-work: At the inaugural meeting on May 30, 300 members networked over cocktails and took home gift hampers (I’d love to know what was in those).

So what are the criteria for those wanting to join? Are we talking a million dollars (£646,266) or a million Dirhams (£175,960)? There’s a big difference – but if you have to ask, I suppose, you probably don’t cut the mustard.

Surprisingly, though, despite the UAE being home to one of the densest populations of millionaires in the world, you don’t actually have to be a millionaire to join. According to bin Juma, a “million-dollar idea” is good enough, although the club is actually geared towards business leaders – CEOs, CFOs, Presidents, VPs, directors, decision-makers, business owners, investors and consultants as well as innovators. Applications are screened by a committee – of millionaires, presumably – in order that the club accepts only “that quality person.” I wasn’t able to find any information on fees. Again, if you have to ask…

With 300 members signed up already, Bin Juma plans to expand to 50 more cities in the next six years. But will it be an international success? That’s the million-dollar question.

Annabel Kantaria is a journalist who moved to Dubai long before most people knew where it was. She doesn’t ride a camel to work; has never seen a gold-plated golf buggy and only rarely has pink champagne for breakfast. Follow her on Twitter: @BellaKay