You may have heard the saying “the rich get richer” and in every other year that we have published the list — bar one — that has certainly been the case. However, it was a close call in 2012. The combined largesse of the planet’s wealthiest Arabs amounts to $257.21bn this year, a sliver above 2011’s $256.67bn. The only other time we have seen a year-on-year decline was in 2008, the first year of the global economic recession.
The rise would undoubtedly have become a drop if it weren’t for the efforts of the top player on the list. For the ninth year running, Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Al Saud is the Arab world’s richest man. This year, canny investments have seen his Kingdom Holding Company’s share price sent sky-high, and the prince has seen his wealth rise by a whopping 22 percent.
Elsewhere, Saudi Arabia’s Olayan family rises to second place, from third last year, and Mohammed Al Amoudi rises to third, from fifth place in 2012. Once again, Saudi Arabia plays host to the largest number of entries on the list, helped not only by its obvious oil wealth but also by virtue of the fact that the kingdom is by far the biggest economy in the Arab world. Even so, only 23 entries on the list hailed from Saudi Arabia, compared to 30 last year.
Some previous entries have been dropped from this year's Rich List, for various reasons, including freezing of assets, stepping down from executive positions or the relinquishing of key roles from organisations, which has made it increasingly difficult to accurately ascertain their wealth.
Others not included previously have been added either because their net worth has obviously increased, or by virtue of enlarging the group to include prominent figures of Arab descent that reside abroad. We’ve also decided to group certain individual family members who are part of the same business. This is particularly relevant where we look at merchant and family businesses and scions of trading houses, and it also explains why our highest new entry — the Sawiris family — are placed so highly in fourth. Previously, the Sawiris clan were considered separately.
And if you’re thinking that you can make the grade next year, then you’re going to need to work hard. The lowest entry on our list, Iraq’s Namir Al Akabi, is sitting on a cool $2bn. So who made the cut?