Vast oil reserves in the Arabian peninsula have ensured that some of the world’s biggest billionaires have always come from the ranks of Arabs. Apart from having access to petroleum deposits, these billionaires have also profited from access to ruling establishments in the Arabian countries. However in recent times, oil is no longer the sole plank of their wealth and they have increasingly been profiting from private as well public investments in other countries. Here are ten of the richest Arab billionaires in the world.
- Prince Alwaleed bin talal al Saud
This member of the royal family of Saudi Arabia is currently believed to be the richest Arab in the world. He is estimated to be worth around $20.4 billion. Alwaleed started out by making a fortune in the Saudi construction sector and then hit the big time when he bought into struggling Citibank in 1990. He invested $209m for a 4.9% stake, the biggest holding allowed without being legally required to reveal his identity. Now his interests are global, spanning the middle east, Asia, Africa, Europe and the US where he has invested in sectors as widely ranging as media, technology, banking, hotels, real estate and agriculture sectors. He has a stake in the Time Warner company besides owning Paris’s leading hotel, the George V as well as 100,000 hectares of reclaimed desert in Egypt.
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- Mohammad bin Isa al jabar
Also belonging to Saudi Arabia, is Mohammad bin Isa al Jabar a businessman who in 2010 was ranked number 93 with a net worth of 7.5 billion according to Forbes list of billionaires. Al Jabar owns the MBI international group which in turn includes companies like luxury JJW hotels & resorts in Austria, France, Portugal and the United Kingdom, amarante 4-star hotels in France, Portugal and Egypt as well as median 3-star hotels in and stars budget hotels in France, AJWA group for food industries, an agri-food processing company, Jadawel international, a company developing residential compounds for expatriates in Saudi Arabia, and Continentoil.
- Mohammad al amoudi
Despite being a citizen of Saudi Arabia, Mohammad al amoudi was born to in Ethiopia to a Yemeni father and an Ethiopian mother. Presently thought to be worth $10 billion, he is yet another product of the Saudi construction boom from which he went on to diversify and buy up oil refineries in morocco and Sweden, where he is one of the country’s biggest foreign investors. Al amoudi also Ethiopia’s largest private employer with a payroll of 30,000 and has business interests in the UK and the US.
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- The Olayan family
This wealthy business family from Saudi Arabia is believed to have interests worth $11.9 billion. The Olayan patriarch Suleiman Olayan who died in 2002 found the family fortunes with a trucking company in 1947 but which eventually went on to expand into a multi-billion-dollar conglomerate with interests in the Middle East, Europe and the US. Today the Olayan group together with car manufacturer VW and Abu Dhabi government investment fund Mubadala, owns Leaseplan, a leading vehicle management and leasing provider. The Olayans are also owners of a 26% stake in Peel holdings, a leading UK property developer, which in turn owns Liverpool’s John Lennon airport, the Trafford centre shopping complex, the Manchester ship canal, Glasgow harbor and the Mersey docks.
- The Bin Laden family
This Saudi Arabian family, best known for its outlaw son Osama Bin Laden, who masterminded some of the worst terrorist attacks in history, it is one of the richest Arabian families with a net worth of $9.8 billion. In fact it was a share in the Bin Laden family’s construction fortune that provided Osama with the means to set up Al Qaeda and fund the terrorist attacks. The Bin Laden group continues to be one of the busiest builders in the Gulf’s booming markets; with 35,000 employees, the Jeddah-based company is currently involved in construction of the €19.6bn king Abdullah economic city in Saudi Arabia. However the family’s interests outside the Gulf are not fully known.
- Nasser el kharafi
This private entrepreneur from Kuwait is thought to have a fortune worth $8.2 billion. Kharafi started out with a construction firm, the national company for mechanical and electrical works while today he heads a multi-billion-dollar conglomerate. Kharafi also possesses a 30% stake in Atheer telecom which allows him access to a lucrative mobile operation in southern Iraq. He is 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.
- Said Khoury
Though hailing from the beleaguered land of Palestine, Khoury was born to a wealthy landowner father who held fishing rights for the sea of Galilee. Today Khoury owns a fortune of $7 billion which he primarily owes to the Consolidated Contractors Company founded in the early 1950s with cousin and brother-in-law Hasib Sabbagh, the CCC went on built landmark projects in the Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington DC, in Iraq, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Africa and the countries of the Gulf. Along with being the chairman of CCC and involved in widespread philanthropic work in the Palestinian territories, Khoury is or has held several important appointments like the Governor of Arab Monetary Ffund, chairman of the Palestinian Businessmen Organization, and has been on the board of numerous prestigious institutions.
- The Bugshan family
Based in Jeddah, the Bugshan family is worth at least $7 billion. The family owns vast interests plethora of business sectors, ranging from automobiles, luxury cosmetics and watches to real estate and electronics. As one of biggest entrepreneurial families in the Arabian peninsula, they also maintain a strong presence in Morocco, Yemen, Algeria and the United Arab Emirates.
- Abdul Aziz al ghurair
Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair the visible face of the immensely wealthy Al Ghurair family whose fortunes are estimated to be worth $6.52 billion. Abdul Aziz is also the CEO of Mashreq bank, the fourth largest bank of UAE by assets, and was one of the founders of construction giant Emaar. Today the Al Ghurair group owns and manages Burjuman mall in Dubai, as well as al Reef mall in the same city. Abdul Aziz’s uncle Saif is chairman of the Al Ghurair group, which has been in business for over 40 years with expertise in retail, industry and manufacturing. Abdul’s brother Essa operates the second-largest flour milling company in the Middle East.
- Muhammad alshaya
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.