PETALING JAYA: Over 300 Malaysians have been identified as owners of more than 500 properties at the gulf city of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) according to recently leaked data to a journalism consortium.

According to Malaysiakini, who is part of the Dubai Unlocked consortium, the Malaysians involved have purchased properties in the world’s tallest structure, the Burj Khalifa, and at least six properties located on the iconic Palm Jumeirah artificial islands.

The artificial islands are known to be where the Beckhams as well as Indian actor Shah Rukh Khan have been reported to own holiday homes.

The online portal has also identified the Malaysians as notable individuals who were prominent business owners or corporate players, and noted that no politician or known proxy was in the list.

However, Malaysiakini is currently withholding the identities of notable owners pending their comments due to legal purposes.

It is learnt from the 500 properties linked to Malaysians, more than 300 are classified as residential properties by economists at the EU Tax Observatory and Norway’s Centre for Tax Research, who worked on the leaked data separately.

Furthermore, economists reportedly estimated the residential properties owned by Malaysians alone as per the leaked data would be worth US$160.9 million (RM710 million) in 2022.

The economists’ analysis notably omitted non-residential properties such as shops, offices and labour camps, due to data quality concerns for non-residential properties.

As such, when taking into account other properties not included in the leaked data, the economists estimated that Malaysian-owned residential properties are worth a total of US$320 million (RM1.5 billion) city-wide.

It is learnt that the property data leaked was derived from more than 100 datasets, the majority derived from the Dubai Land Department as well as publicly owned utility companies, between 2020 and 2022.

The report further stated that the data was obtained by the Center for Advanced Defense Studies (C4ADS), a non-profit organisation based in Washington, DC that researches international crime and conflict.

The data includes the listed owner of each property, as well as other identifying information such as date of birth, passport number and nationality. In some cases, the data captured renters instead of owners.

It was then shared with Norwegian financial outlet E24 and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), which coordinated an investigative project with dozens of media outlets from around the world.

The Dubai Unlocked collaboration includes 74 media outlets in 58 countries, including Malaysiakini.