Russia Emerges as Biggest Gold Supplier to the UAE
In 2022, Russia assumed the role of the United Arab Emirates’ primary gold provider, surpassing previous leaders such as Mali, Zimbabwe, and Ghana, according to a report by Bloomberg.
This shift can be primarily attributed to the Western sanctions imposed on Russia due to its involvement in the Ukraine conflict, prompting Russia to seek out new gold buyers. The UAE stepped in to seize a portion of the available gold supply.
Based on data from the United Nations Comtrade database, the UAE imported 96.4 metric tons of gold from Russia in 2022, equivalent to approximately one-third of Russia’s annual gold production. Notably, this figure stands in stark contrast to the UAE’s gold imports from Russia in 2021, which were over 15 times lower.
In the preceding year, 2021, Mali held the top position as the UAE’s primary gold supplier, with gold exports valued at $7.3 billion. Other significant contributors included Zimbabwe (7.62%), Sudan (6.13%), Niger (5.82%), Uganda (4.32%), and Ghana (3.7%).
The UAE’s gold imports from Russia experienced a dramatic surge in the year following the Russian-Ukraine conflict, rising from 1.3 tons in 2021 to 75.7 tons between February 24, 2022, and March 3, 2023. This remarkable increase can largely be attributed to Western sanctions on Russia, which disrupted its conventional gold export markets.
China and Turkey also substantially increased their purchases of Russian gold after the conflict, each acquiring approximately 20 tons. Collectively, the UAE, China, and Turkey accounted for nearly all (99.8%) of Russian gold exports during this timeframe.
Before the imposition of sanctions in 2022, a substantial portion of Russia’s gold made its way to London. In 2021, the UK imported Russian gold with an estimated value of $15.4 billion, as reported by Statista.
The gold trade plays a pivotal role in the UAE’s economy. In 2021, the UAE ranked as the world’s fourth-largest gold importer, with total imports amounting to $46 billion. Additionally, it held the position of the second-largest global exporter of gold, with major buyers including Switzerland, India, Hong Kong, and Saudi Arabia.