In the lobby of the Four Seasons Abu Dhabi, steps away from the offices of billionaires Ray Dalio and Changpeng "CZ” Zhao, men in white thobes and tailored suits cluster in hushed conversation around low tables strewn with tiny cups of Arabic coffee. Seats in the hotel’s lounge pit are limited, and for good reason: It’s become the region’s nerve center for the obscure world of private capital.

"Every Tom, Dick and Harry around the world is trying to come here,” said Ryan Lemand, co-founder and chief executive officer of Abu Dhabi-based Neovision Wealth Management. "It’s like the gold rush.”

Some 138 kilometers up the Persian Gulf coast in Dubai, the scene could hardly be more different.