Russia became the UAE’s top gold supplier in 2022, overtaking previous leaders like Mali, Zimbabwe, and Ghana, reported Bloomberg.
This was mainly due to Western sanctions on Russia over its conflict with Ukraine, which forced it to find new buyers for its gold. The UAE stepped in to grab some of the available gold supply.
According to data from the United Nations Comtrade database, the UAE imported 96.4 tons of gold from Russia in 2022. This is equivalent to about one-third of Russia’s annual gold production. Notably, this figure is over 15 times higher than the UAE’s gold imports from Russia in 2021.
Previously in 2021, Mali held the top position as the UAE’s primary gold supplier, with gold exports valued at $7.3 billion.
Other major 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 surged in the year following the Russian conflict with Ukraine, increasing from 1.3 tons in 2021 to 75.7 tons between 24 February 2022 and 3 March 2023.
This remarkable increase is likely due to Western sanctions on Russia, which have disrupted its traditional gold export markets.
China and Turkey also significantly increased their imports of Russian gold after the conflict, each buying around 20 tons. Together, the UAE, China, and Turkey accounted for nearly all (99.8%) of Russian gold exports during this period.
Prior to the 2022 sanctions, a substantial portion of Russia’s gold found its way to London. The UK, in 2021, imported Russian gold worth an estimated $15.4 billion, as per Statista.
Gold trade is a key driver of the UAE’s economy. In 2021, the UAE was the world’s fourth-largest gold importer, with imports totaling $46 billion. It was also the second-largest global exporter of gold, with major buyers including Switzerland, India, Hong Kong, and Saudi Arabia.