2.The Olayan Family
This year marks the 65th anniversary of one of the most well-respected firms in the Gulf. The Olayan Group owns more than 50 companies, with hefty stakes in various multinationals and blue-chip names such as Credit Suisse, in which it upped its stake from 3.4 percent to 3.6 percent in 2009 Its multi-billion-dollar portfolio is spread over continents including North America, Europe, Asia and, of course, the Middle East.
Established in 1947, the Olayan Group began as a trucking concern. In 1954 its founder, Suleiman Olayan, launched General Trading Company (GTC), the group’s food and consumer distribution business and was instrumental in bringing commercial insurance to Saudi, founding Arab Commercial Enterprises — which went on to become the region’s largest insurance and reinsurance broker.
Suleiman, who died in 2002, played a key role in developing Saudi Arabia's earliest electrical power companies, and also founded the country's first public utility, the National Gas Company.In the 1960s, Suleiman extended his business empire, adding interests in paper, cold storage and meat processing, and the manufacturing of pipes and fittings. Suleiman is survived by his son Khaled and his three daughters - Hayat, Hutham and Lubna.
This year, the Olayan Group put its faith in the King Abdullah Economic City project by purchasing four plots of land on the gigantic site just north of Jeddah.
Willie Walsh has always been one of the most outspoken chief executives in the aviation industry but now having steered British Airways and Iberia back into the black, the Irishman is proving there is metal behind his words.