Spread over a small geographical area, Kuwait is nevertheless a wealthy and comparatively open economy. More than 90% of Kuwait’s government income and export revenues stem from the nation’s petroleum reserves which are also responsible for nearly half of Kuwait’s GDP. No wonder then that the richest Kuwaitis have mostly made their money in oil and energy sectors and then moved on to diversified interests. Here are some of the richest men in Kuwait and how much they are worth.
With a net worth of $1.6 billion1, Bassam Al-Ghanim is one of the richest Kuwaitis on the planet. The main source of his wealth is composed of assets inherited from his father’s vast conglomerate Alghanim Industries as well as a stake in Gulf Bank. The family holdings sell General Motors vehicles, among other things. However Al-Ghanim is no longer involved in the running of the companies, after being locked in a nasty fight with his brother Kutayba over the division of assets inherited from their father.
Currently the 61 year old billionaire lives in Los Angeles and has even sued his brother in the US alleging that Kutayba and his son Omar have hacked into his email to gain insight into his affairs. However a US court has put the case on hold, pending arbitration in Kuwait.
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Like his younger brother, Kutabaya Al-Ghanim also has a net worth of $1.6 billion, which he owes to an inheritance from their father which included a share in the conglomerate Al-Ghanim industries and a stake in the Gulf Bank. However the fortunes of both brothers have been overshadowed by an ugly dispute over the division of assets. The fight intensified when Kutabaya’s son, Omar took over the running of the family holding company which apart from other things, sells General Motors vehicles.
Unlike his younger brother who has moved to Los Angeles, Kutabaya continues to live in Kuwait. He is married and has three children.
Al kharafi Family
After the death of Nasser Al-Kharafi, the running of the MAK Group, one of the Middle East's biggest holding companies has passed on to his three surviving brothers, Fawzi, Jessaim and Muhannad, each of who are now worth $1.2 billion. Fawzi Al-Kharafi is currently the Vice-Chairman of the MAK Group and is supervising the restructuring of the Group. Jassim Al Kharafi is the eldest brother of Nasser Al Kharafi who has mainly figured in the politics of the country and has pursued his passion for politics, and served for thirteen years as speaker of the National Assembly. After the Kuwaiti Emir dissolved the assembly in December, Jassim announced he was no longer seeking the post. Muhannad Al-Kharafi was the younger brother of Nasser who like his remaining siblings lives in Kuwait.
At one time Nasser was thought to be the richest private individual in Kuwait with a fortune worth $8.2 billion. Nasser and his siblings inherited from their father Mohammed the Kharafi Group, one of the Middle East's biggest holding companies; Nasser ran the business and though he started out with a construction firm, the national company for mechanical and electrical works eventually he went on to lead the multi-billion-dollar conglomerate. Kharafi also owned a 30% stake in Atheer telecom which allows him access to a lucrative mobile operation in southern Iraq. He was also a major shareholder in and director of the National Bank of Kuwait.
Even though the Kharafi group has minor presence in the western countries, it has considerable influence in Albania where it owns two luxury hotels and other real estate and also the Albanian Airlines. Its other interests are located in the middle east particularly Egypt, where the Kharafi Group has over €2bn in investments besides owning the chain of American fast food outlets like KFC, Pizza Hut, Hardee’s. Recently it has also built Marsa Alam international airport and the nearby 13,000-room red sea resort community of Port Ghalib.
Mohammad alshaya of Kuwait heads one of the country’s wealthiest business conglomerates the Alshaya group which is believed to be worth $6.50 billion. The Alshaya group oversees a wide range of interests including real estate, construction, hospitality, advertising and IT in the Middle East. It is also the regional franchisee of a number of international companies including Starbucks, H&m, Foot Locker, mothercare, Debenhams, River Island, Topshop, Office Depot and PF Chang’s. In recent times, the Alshaya Group has been on a growth spree, extending out of the Middle East into central Europe as well. With the addition of the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia, M.H. Alshaya now operates in 16 markets including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Cyprus, Turkey, Poland and Russia2.
Fawaz Al Hasawi and Family
Fawaz like his brothers Abdulaziz and Omar Al-Hasawi belongs to one of the wealthiest families in Kuwait whose business interests are in property, hotels and air conditioning. Recently Fawaz Al Hasawi was in news for his takeover of Nottingham Forest Football Club which currently plays in the Football League Championship. Though no public estimation of the Al Hasawi wealth exists, Fawaz’s personal fortune is estimated to be around £1.4 billion3.
Fawaz has been the president of Kuwaiti club Qadsia which has won the past four domestic championships. He resigned from Qadsia in early 2012 and then became actively involved in the acquisition of the tier-II English soccer club – the deal was completed in July 2012.