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The world's richest Arabs 2013
December 16, 2013, 9:41 am
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Prince Alwaleed tops Rich List with $31.2bn

Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Al Saud $31.2 billion ($25.9 billion in 2012) Saudi Arabia


Whatever he touches generally turns to gold, and 2013 was no exception. In 2011, Alwaleed and Kingdom Holding Company (KHC) spent $300 million on a stake in Twitter they said was worth more than 3 percent. When Twitter went public last month, the value of the prince's stake soared by 200 percent to $900 million, after a 70 percent rise in the share price. Things have also been pretty impressive at Kingdom Holding in which the prince has a 95 percent share stake: the one year return on the stock had crossed a remarkable 35 percent by last Sunday. All this means that the prince is once again – for the 10th year running – the world’s richest Arab, with a personal fortune of $31.2billion. This figure has been verified by his private office. But the real strength of the overall KHC portfolio lies in sector diversity. It has major interests in investment categories ranging from luxury hotels and real estate to media and publishing, entertainment, finance and investment services, social media and technology, consumer and retail, petrochemicals, education, private equities, health care, aviation – even agriculture. KHC is among the world’s largest and most diverse investors, with regional and international holdings in many key industries. It is recognised as one of the largest foreign investors in the United States. The question in the past few years has been whether anyone else on the rich list could ever topple the prince from pole position. Based on the latest figures, the answer is a resounding no.

Mohamed Bin Issa Al Jaber $12.66 ($7 billion) Saudi Arabia 


Prominent Arab philanthropist and businessman Sheikh Mohamed Bin Issa Al Jaber has spent the last 33 years building the MBI International Holding Group Inc into an established collection of major international companies. Following a steady stream of investments into existing businesses during 2012, the group saw 2013 as the perfect time to invest in new acquisitions and expand: JJW Hotels & Resorts, established in 1989, has - amongst other major investments for the year - recently taken over control of the Penina Hotel & Golf Resort from the Starwood Group. This latest addition to the 60 hotels already in JJW’s portfolio is set to be added to throughout the course of 2014. At the start of December 2013, MBI International Holding Group Inc also increased their interest in Austrian ski & sports equipment company, Kneissl to 100 percent - making it the sole owner. Established in 1861, this marquee brand is set to bring another dimension to an already diverse portfolio. Sheikh Mohamed is also an active philanthropist, funding scholarship programmes at some of the world’s top educational institutions through his own MBI Al Jaber Foundation.

The Olayan family $12.5 billion ($12.9 billion) Saudi Arabia

 In third place this year is the Olayan family. This year marked the family business' 66th year of operations. It has come a long way since the summer of 1947 when Suleiman S. Olayan launched his first business in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. While still private and closely held, the group he founded has blossomed over the decades into a multinational enterprise with offices on three continents, and 50,000 people employed by 50 affiliated companies. Its main investment portfolio covers public and private equities, real estate, fixed income securities and other specialised assets. Suleiman is survived by his son Khaled and his three daughters - Hayat, Hutham and Lubilliona. This year, the group has partnered with the world's largest snack food company, Mondelez International to distribute its products in the kingdom.

Mohammed Al Amoudi $12 billion ($11.5 billion) Saudi Arabia 


One of Arab world’s most successful businessmen, Al Amoudi’s father is Hadhrami Yemeni and his mother is Ethiopian. He immigrated to Saudi Arabia in 1965 and became a Saudi citizen, and is said to be the largest foreign investor in both Sweden and Ethiopia. Al Amoudi made his first fortune in construction and real estate before branching out into buying oil refineries in Morocco and Sweden and his native Ethiopia. His holding and operating companies, Corral Group and the Midroc Group, employ more than 40,000 people. Corral Group has an investment portfolio in Europe and the Middle East that includes Preem Petroleum, the largest integrated petroleum firm in Sweden, Svenska Petroleum & Exploration, SAMIR, Naft Services Company (Saudi Arabia) and Fortuna Holdings (Lebanon).

The Sawiris family $10 billion ($11.2 billion) Egypt 


There is no stopping this family. Just last week Naguib Sawiris announced plans to invest $1billion in Egypt next year, focusing on construction, real estate, agriculture and microfinance. Indeed ever since Onsi, the patriarch of the family handed over the reins to Naguib, his eldest son and two brothers Nassef and Samih, their fortunes have rocketed. They took over and expanded the Orascom conglomerate into a telecommunications, construction, hotel and development business. Naguib, 58, launched the first mobile operator in Egypt, Mobinil in 1998, was chairman of the telecoms firms Wind Telecom and Orascom and launched Koryolink, the first mobile operator in North Korea in 2008. Naguib turned to politics as a wave of protests swept Egypt overthrowing former president Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

The Kharafi family $8.5 billion ($8.6 billion) Kuwait 


Kuwaiti family conglomerate the Kharafi Group, which has an annual turnover of around $5 billion and is already active in 25 countries, is looking to Asia as its next target for investment, a senior family member told Arabian Business this year. “Asia is a growing market but it is high risk... We are looking at a couple of opportunities there,” Bader Al Kharafi, a member of the executive council, told Arabian Business in an interview in the company’s headquarters in Kuwait City. “You can be an investor or run and manage the company. We are looking at investments, maybe some private equity funds, those types of products where they have a good team... Transport, renewable energy and with what is happening in China we would definitely look at renewable energy. These are the sectors we think we could [invest].” The Kharafi Group has operations in 25 countries around the world, from Senegal to Botswana to Kazakhstan and The Maldives, and has more than 120,000 employees. The family business has always had strong connections with Egypt, from power stations along the Nile Delta to contracts at Marsa Alam International Airport and the Red Sea’s Port Ghalib, one of the biggest marina resorts in the Middle East.

The Bin Laden family $7.5 billion ($8.1 billion) Saudi Arabia 


Two years ago, the Binladin Group won deals to construct Prince Alwaleed’s Kingdom Tower and the expansion of the King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah. Between then the contracts are worth over $20 billion. Adding to those deals was a bumper contract to help build the first phase of the Haramain railway link. The family fortune is based on a construction business that paid immense dividends when decades ago it was awarded contracts for major renovations in Makkah and other religious buildings in Saudi Arabia and abroad. Founded by Mohammed Binladin, the family also built several palaces in Riyadh and Jeddah for the royal family and carried out restoration work following an arson attack on Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa Mosque in 1969. Salem, Mohammed’s eldest son, ran the empire left behind by his father upon his death in 1968 until he died when his private plane crashed in Texas in 1988. Thirteen of Mohammed's sons sit on the board of the family’s firm — the most prominent being Bakr, Hassan, Islam and Yehya.

Said Khoury $7 billion ($7.2 billion) Palestine 


With cousin Hasib Sabbagh, in 1952 Said Khoury founded Consolidated Contractors International Company (CCC), one of the first Arab construction companies. The company sees sales of $4billion a year and manages projects in 40 countries, with a focus on Middle East and North Africa. Born in Safad, Palestine, Khoury moved to Lebanon in 1948 after the Arab-Israeli war and got his first job helping to build Tripoli Airport. He is now based in Athens. CCC has built landmark projects in everything from Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison (built in 1969, before the ascent of Saddam Hussein to the presidency of the country), to the Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington, DC. The company has undertaken major projects in Azerbaijan, Turkey, Africa and the Gulf. The success of CCC is rooted in the early 1960s, with Sabbagh and Khoury securing a contract related to oil pipe storage facilities for the Iraq Petroleum Company, which entailed working with the Bechtel Group, the world’s largest construction company. That deal cemented a long and lasting relationship between CCC and Bechtel and it defined CCC’s scale of operations across the world.

The Al Ghurair family$6.3 billion ($6.4 billion) UAE 


The highest placed UAE entry comes in at number 12 thanks to the huge Al Ghurair family. The family legacy can be traced back to Ahmad Al Ghurair who founded Al Ghurair Group in 1960. The family name has been a fixture within the UAE business community ever since. Ahmad Al Ghurair passed on his legacy to his sons Saif, Abdulla, Majid, Marwan and Jomaa. Until the 1990s Al Ghurair Group was led by Saif Ahmad Al Ghurair. This corporation was formed in 1960. In the 1990s, Saif Ahmad Al Ghurair and Abdulla Al Ghurair embarked upon creating two unique yet complementing diversified industrial groups. This decision led to the creation of Saif Ahmad Al Ghurair Group (now the Al Ghurair Group) and Abdulla Al Ghurair Group. Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair is CEO of Mashreq bank, which he started from scratch with $1.6m of capital during the oil boom in the 1960s, and which is the country’s fourth-largest by assets.

The Kanoo family $6.1 billion ($6.26 billion) UAE (Bahrain)


The biggest family firm in Bahrain, the Kanoo Group has now been in existence for over 120 years. Established in Bahrain in 1890 by Haji Yusuf Bin Ahmed Kanoo, it has grown from its early trading and shipping business to become one of the most diversified and highly regarded business houses in the Gulf region and beyond. After the death of chairman and CEO Abdulla Ali Kanoo, Yusuf Ahmed Kanoo has stepped up to take the top role in the organization. Mishal Kanoo, one of the region’s most recognizable executives, remains as deputy chairman. It now has fourteen divisions in total, and employs 4,000 staff, with another 6,000 employed in its various joint venture operations. The company’s joint venture division was established over 25 years ago and has been linked to high profile names such as Axa Insurance, Norwich Union, Maersk and BASF.

The Al Rajhi family $4.3 billion Saudi Arabia


Sulaiman Al Rajhi, chairman of Al Rajhi Bank — Saudi Arabia’s largest Islamic bank, established by royal decree in 1988 — began transferring his assets to family members in July 2010. His bank’s origins date back to the 1940s, when it began operating as a money changer in the kingdom. Today, its operations include retail, corporate and investment banking. Sulaiman owns the largest cut of the institution’s shares. With an established base in Riyadh, Al Rajhi Bank has a network of over 550 branches, over 100 dedicated ladies branches and more than 2,600 ATMs. A philanthropist, Al Rajhi founded the SAAR Foundation, a flagship corporation representing charities, think tanks and business entities. Al Rajhi also oversees stakes in a number of Saudi firms — 24.9 percent of Al Rajhi Bank, 23.7 percent of Yanbu Cement and a 19.7 percent stake in Nadec.

The Gargash family $3.7 billion ($3.9 billion) UAE 


The Emirates-based Gargash clan is well known in the business world. In the automobile sector, the Gargash family is the sole agent for Mercedes Benz in Dubai through Gargash Enterprises, whilst elsewhere, it is also involved in electronics, real estate, insurance, industrial development and construction. Founded in the last decade of the 19th century, the firm, which was built on the back of Abdul Gafour and his nephews, quickly emerged from a small body led by the late Ali Haji Abdulla Awazi Gargash, to one of the region’s leading trading houses today. Shehab Gargash has been particularly successful running Daman Investments, founded in 2000. Gargash received his college education in the US, earning an MBA in International Business (1988) and a BBA in Marketing (1987), both from the George Washington University in Washington, DC.

Adel Aujan $3.56 billion ($3.42 billion) Saudi Arabia 


In 2011 Aujan announced a colossal deal to sell a minority stake in his firm to Coca Cola for a sliver under $1billion. Not content with leading the Gulf’s biggest privately owned beverage company, Aujan Industries, the chairman of the firm has been aggressively growing his offerings to different markets. Aujan’s juice brand, Rani, is Iran’s best-selling beverage and is planning to add to its three factories by putting a facility in Iraq, politics permitting. In 2008, Aujan Industries nailed a target to deliver $500m in revenue 12 months ahead of its five-year schedule. The firm has tripled its sales since 2004 and is on track to double them again by 2014. Vimto, just one of its brands, has been a leading fixture on Gulf dining tables.

Najib Mikati $3.4 billion ($3 billion) Lebanon 


Najib Mikati may no longer be Lebanon’s prime minister, but he is still his country’s richest man. Mikati, 57, who entered Lebanon’s fractious political scene in 1998 as minister of public works and transport, before then becoming a member of parliament representing his native northern port city of Tripoli, later served as a caretaker premier once in 2005 in the aftermath of the assassination of former premier Rafiq Hariri. He helped steer the country towards parliamentary elections in the wake of the killing before returning in 2011 to serve as premier after the government of Saad Hariri was toppled by Hezbollah and its allies. Mikati, a graduate of the American University of Beirut, helped co-found Investcom along with his brother Taha in 1982 and was later listed on both the London and Dubai stock exchanges in 2006, in what was at the time the largest international listing of a Middle Eastern company. MTN Group Ltd, Africa’s largest mobile phone operator, bought the company in 2006 for $5.5 billion. M1 Group, which the two brothers run, became its second-largest shareholder. The company’s holdings include real estate investments in the US, Europe and the Middle East, as well as the Geneva-based Baboo airline and French retailer Faconnable.

Saad Hariri $3.3 billion ($3.7 billion) Lebanon 


Married with three children, Saudi-born businessman and politician Hariri is the wealthiest in his family, and a huge achiever in the Arab world. After graduating from the McDonough School of Business, he continued to meet the family’s high expectations, and in November 2009, at the age of 40, was sworn in as Lebanon’s prime minister. Raised in Saudi Arabia, Saad managed part of Rafiq Hariri’s business until his father’s assassination in 2005, when he returned home to follow him into politics and became an elected Member of Parliament (MP). As the general manager of Saudi Oger — the family’s $9billion construction company — he had huge success winning large projects, and helping build the company up to what it is today. But never one to put all his eggs in one basket, Hariri currently holds large stakes in a number of large firms. Solidere, for example, has rebuilt much of Beirut. Following the downturn, he admitted to revising the value of his construction portfolio, but has continued to push forward with a view to emerging from the recession successfully.

The Hayek family $3.2 billion ($3.4 billion) Switzerland (Lebanon) 


If you’re a fan of ultra-expansive watches, then your hobby is likely to be lining the pockets of the Hayek family, who run by far the world’s largest watch making company. Sales at Swatch are predicted to come in at over $9 billion for the first time this year. The firm is led by chairwoman Nayla and CEO Nick (pictured), who took over the publicly traded firm after the recent death of their father, Nicolas. And, if their latest move pays off, it looks like the group’s revenues could be about to get even larger. Aside from sales of its own brands, which include Longines, Tissot, Omega and Breguet, Swatch also devotes significant investment to mechanical movements and components, which it has until now sold off to rival manufacturers. This year, Swatch spent $1billion buying the Harry Winston brand, which it plans to use to get even greater access into markets like the US and China.

Bahaa Hariri $3.1 billion ($3.65 billion) Switzerland (Saudi Arabia) 


Rafiq Hariri’s ledest son, Bahaa, chose not to follow his father’s path into politics and instead forged his own career in business. He currently resides in Geneva, and derives the bulk of his fortune from investment management. Other sectors include real estate development and logistics. His real estate arm, Horizon Development, focuses on commercial projects in Jordan and Lebanon. Horizon Development is a major shareholder in the Abdali Investment and Development Company, responsible for the development of a 20 million sq ft mixed-use project in Amman, worth about $5 billion. As the eldest son of the late Lebanese premier, Rafiq Hariri, Bahaa has made considerable efforts to continue his father’s legacy. Part of that drive has included sponsorship of the Atlantic Council’s Rafiq Hariri Centre for the Middle East, a body that seeks to bind the region’s political and economic ties with the transatlantic nations.

Munib Masri $3 billion ($3 billion) Palestine 


Often described as the Duke of Nablus or Palestine’s Rothschild, Masri is known as the patriarch of a prominent Palestinian family that has produced bankers, consultants and politicians. Masri, a geologist, hails from the West Bank town of Nablus from where he resides at his Palestine House, a palace of limestone resembling the Palladian style Villa La Rotonda in Vicenza, Italy. Masri, who was once a close confidant of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat (who offered him the premiership three times), made his fortune in oil and gas working in the Gulf region, North Africa and elsewhere. When the Oslo peace process kicked off Masri helped set up the Palestine Development and Investment Ltd. (PADICO), the largest private investor by initial investment in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which he chairs. The holding group controls over 30 companies across various industries that include telecommunications, construction, tourism, energy, environment, banking, finance and agriculture. He also founded the Edgo group (industry, commerce, health, education, distribution), which oversees 29 companies across the Middle East, Africa, Europe and North America. Masri, who is a member of the Palestine Central Council, is also a philanthropist.

 the Zamil family $2.9 billion($2.7 billion) Saudi Arabia 


The Zamil family is leading the way in the diversification of the Saudi economy, and are clearly reaping the rewards as they go. Zamil Group Holding Company was founded by the late Abdullah Al Hamad Al Zamil, a Saudi entrepreneur who established a modest trading entity selling food items and textiles in Bahrain in the 1930s. Today, its activities span industrial and commercial interests, making its mark on everything from air-conditioning manufacturing to food processing, steel fabrication and travel services. Zamil began investing in the plastics industry over 30 years ago, and today the group can count on a 12,000- strong workforce in more than 60 countries, vast manufacturing facilities and strong affiliations with international partners. The family also has a significant stake in Bahrain-based Energy Central Company, which could prove a huge windfall given the region’s growing power demands.

Mansour Ojjeh $2.8 billion ($3.1 billion) France (Saudi Arabia) 


It’s been a tough year for Mansour Ojjeh, who is currently recovering from a double lung transplant. He is the French-Saudi-born entrepreneur who heads up Techniques d’Avant Garde (TAG), a Luxembourg-based holding company. The firm owns 21 percent of the McLaren Group, the most important asset of which is the McLaren Formula One team. Ojjeh’s passion for motor racing is renowned. His interest was first sparked by a visit to the Monaco Grand Prix in 1978 and TAG quickly became the William’s team principal sponsor a year later. In 1981, Ojjeh invested $5m in a Porsche built turbo engine for McLaren and the two firms went on to establish TAG Turbo Engines. In 1983, Ojjeh became a majority shareholder in McLaren, although details of the deal were not made public until 1985. Ojjeh’s father is the Saudi-born businessman, Akram Ojjeh, founder of TAG. The firm was famous as an intermediary in deals between Saudi Arabia and France, particularly arms sales. Ojjeh was involved in the marketing of the French Mirage 2000 fighter jet to Saudi Arabia in competition with the British Tornado. TAG Group’s interests also include TAG Aviation, a corporate jet firm which has Europe and Asia as its main growth areas and which runs a fleet of more than 100 aircraft.

Ayman Asfari $2.7 billion ($3 billion) UK (Syria) 


Many of the names on our list have had their fortunes handed down by their families. Not Ayman Asfari. The boss of oil services giant Petrofac, Asfari sits at the helm of one of the fastest growing FTSE 100 businesses. By any measure, Asfari is a success story. He took his first role in construction in Oman in his early 20s in a bid to fund an MBA at Wharton. It turned out to be unnecessary; less than a decade later, he was a millionaire with his own firm. Since buying out Petrofac in 2001, Asfari has turned it into one of the leading players in the oil market. It listed in 2005 and today employs more than 17,000 people worldwide, with bases spanning the UK, Sharjah, India and Malaysia. In 2006, Asfari launched his eponymous foundation, which funds education for young people.

Wafic Said $2.6 billion ($2.5 billion) UK (Syria) 


Wafic Said may be a few millions worse off after the wedding of his daughter in Paris’ Palace of Versailles last year, but it’s unlikely that the nuptials will have made too much of a dent in the Syrian-born billionaire' s pocket. Said, who has Saudi nationality but lives in London - is still best-known for Al Yamamah — the colossal Saudi fighter jets contract that is Britain’s biggest ever export deal. Said is the chairman of Said Holding Limited, a Bermuda-based holding company with investments in Europe, North America and the Far East. The firm has a diverse portfolio of investments including fixed income, quoted equities, hedge funds, private equity and real estate. Said, who now splits his time between the UK, Paris and Monaco, started his career at UBS in 1963 before establishing a project development and construction management business in Saudi Arabia in 1969. Over the next two decades his group took on some of the largest public sector projects in the kingdom and he became a billionaire through his connections with Saudi’s royal family, acting as an advisor and consultant on many major infrastructure projects. In 1996, he donated £23m ($35.85m) to help establish the Said Business School at the University of Oxford.

Nadhmi Auchi $2.2 billion ($2.3 billion) UK (Iraq) 


Nadhmi Auchi is a British-Iraqi businessman, who moved to the UK in the 1980s, an d is chairman of the Anglo-Arab Organisation with stakes in construction and trading companies in Iraq. Auchi founded Luxembourg-based General Mediterranean Holdings, which has business segments in banking and finance, real estate, construction, hotel and leisure, industrial, trading and pharmaceuticals, communications, IT and aviation. Its interests today span across the Mediterranean and beyond with over 120 companies employing some 11,000 staff with representation in the Middle East, Northern Africa, Europe, the Americas, the Caribbean, the Asia subcontinent and the Pacific Rim. The group’s consolidated assets now exceed $4billion. Hotel holdings include Le Royal in Luxembourg, Amman, Beirut, Tangier and Tunis. He has been honoured for his services to the business community by the Queen, and Pope John Paul II, among others.

Miloud Chaabi $2.1 billion ($2.4 billion) Morocco 


84-year-old Miloud Chaabi is Morocco’s richest man, beating out the likes of Othman Benjelloun and Anas Sefrioui to take the top spot. He is the founder of Ynna Holding and the owner of Ryad Mogador hotel chain and group of supermarkets Aswak Assalam. He might be one of Morocco’s wealthiest businessmen today but Chaabi’s career started in very modest surroundings. At just 15 years old he taught in a mosque and worked as a goat herder before saving up enough money to move to Kenitra where he started his first construction company. Chaabi established his own ceramic company in 1964 and started to look for investment opportunities. He acquired the Yeyeena Group, which became one of the most powerful groups in Morocco. Chaabi is renowned for his philanthropic and charity work. He is the operator of one of the largest charity organisations in Morocco, the Miloud Chaabi Foundation, and donated 10 percent of his fortune to build the first American university in Morocco in conjunction with the University of Maryland.

Mohammed Ibrahim $2.15 billion ($2.4 billion) UK (Sudan) 


Another example of a self-made man, Mohammed ‘Mo’ Ibrahim is putting his money to good effect in Africa, where he has set up the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, to encourage better governance in Africa, as well as creating the Mo Ibrahim Index, to evaluate nations’ performance. Ibrahim is a member of the Africa Regional Advisory Board of London Business School. Ibrahim is a British Sudanese mobile communications entrepreneur and billionaire. He was born in north Sudan and started out working at the African country’s postal service. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Alexandria before going off to the UK to get his master’s degree and PhD, and ended up as an academic with a specialisation in mobile communications. When British Telecommunications was about to launch the first mobile service in the UK the company invited him to come on board as a technical director and engineer. Ibrahim left his job with the support of his wife to become a consultant and eventually forming his own company with $50,000 in savings. With the help of 450 engineers the company designed networks around the world. He then sold his first company a few years later for about $1 billion.


 

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