Why do the rich people in the Middle East seem to “shout” or show off their wealth more than the rich in Europe, who are more relaxed and less ostentatious?

I often write on Quora.com, where I am the most viewed writer on financial matters, with over 348.1 million views in recent years.

In the answers below I focused on the following topics and issues:

  • Why do the rich people in the Middle East seem to “shout” or show off their wealth more than the rich in Europe, who are more relaxed and less ostentatious? Or is it a false assumption?
  • What do British expats overseas miss the most?
  • What should beginners do before investing?

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Source for all answers – Adam Fayed’s Quora page.

Why do the rich people in the Middle East seem to “shout” or show off their wealth more than the rich in Europe, who are more relaxed and less ostentatious?

It isn’t just in “rich” Middle Eastern cities like Dubai that we see this kind of behaviour.

It most certainly exists in Singapore:

Shanghai and beyond:

When I lived in Shanghai in 2013, somebody in the office spoke about his night out the previous evening.

There was a young Chinese man, who locally would be referred to as a Fuerdai, or second generation rich.

They became infamous locally:

This guy got a table and stacked up his bottles of champagne – maybe there were 40–50 bottles in total!

His group were clearly not going to drink that much in one night, and it was used as a status symbol.

The point is:

  1. The first, and especially second-generation of wealthy people act different to the third generation. Wealth seldom lasts three or more generations, and there are many old proverbs to that effect. When it does, such as in the case of European royalty, behaviour has changed.
  2. In terms of behaviour changing, there becomes an inverse snobbery. Consuming too much, in a very tacky way, is looked down on.
  3. Many societies as a whole stay developed for two and especially three generations, even the first and second generation rich tend to act differently compared to when everybody has got used to new money. In plenty of developed countries, wealthier people are less likely to spend as much money on some luxury products.

We also have to remember that a lot of old wealth in Europe isn’t liquid. Having millions in land and other assets isn’t the same as being more liquid through a company sale.

What do British expats miss the most?

The commonalities tend to be:

  1. Some food stuff. This is getting less prevalent due to the internet though.
  2. Access to an international environment and believe it or not, less prejudice. I once shared a house with a British guy in Jakarta who is black. He said he complained about the UK police and all kinds of issues…until he emigrated. He then realised that the UK has a long way to go but is less racist than many places
  3. Family and long-term friends
  4. Familiarity. On the other hand, the loss of adventure if you repatriate is also a big issue for many.
  5. Ease of travel to continental Europe. As a continent, you can travel around Europe easily and cheaply compared to almost every other region.
  6. Living in a house if you are based in a place where apartments are the norm. In fact, the countryside and space in general.

The things people tend to not miss is the island mentality that can sometimes exist, especially in some parts of the countryside, the high taxes and rents (especially in London).

What should I do if I want to learn to invest as a beginner?

From 1975 until 1990, Peter Lynch had a fund which beat the S&P500 hands down:

Yet……the average investor in the fund actually lost money!

More recently Cathie Wood’s ARK fund did very well – beating the S&P500 hands down last year before disappointing in 2022:

The fund has still done well though. Despite that, the average investor has only made about 5% per year from the fund.

How can this be the case? The first example, in particular, is amazing. How can it possibly be the case that somebody has lost money when the fund itself has done so well for a decade and a half?

The issue is this:

  • When the fund did well, investors pilled in, chasing performance. Few were interested in ARK or Peter Lynch’s fund when it was up-and-coming
  • When it disappointed, many people pilled out, rather than staying the course.

You see this with the general market. Even people who don’t buy actively managed funds tend to get affected by these emotions.

Vanguard said their passive funds, which are supposed to be buy-and-hold instruments, saw their biggest inflows during the 1999 bull market.

They saw huge outflows during the 2008 meltdown. So, don’t buy high and sell low:

Stay the course, and control your emotions.

Pained by financial indecision? Want to invest with Adam?

Financial Planner - Adam Fayed

Adam is an internationally recognised author on financial matters, with over 440.2 million answers views on Quora.com and a widely sold book on Amazon

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