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Sun 7 Dec 2014 08:25 AM

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Arabian Business Rich List: How we did it

Welcome to the eleventh edition of the Arabian Business Rich List,  our annual countdown of the world’s richest Arabs.

Arabian Business Rich List: How we did it
Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal holds a press conference in Kuwait City on April 24, 2011 to announce an agreement has been reached on returning most of his disputed agricultural land in Egypt back to the government. (AFP/Getty Images)

Our first ever Rich List was published in 2004, and at the time caused considerable controversy. No magazine had ever attempted to assess the wealth of the world’s richest Arabs, and nobody had ever come close to publishing it in such detail.

Over the past 11 years, the list has not only become a major fixture in the global publishing calendar, but a far more refined process. Whilst our first list in 2004 raised many eyebrows, a number of individuals on the list soon approached us to clarify what they felt was a more accurate reflection of their wealth, while others we had not included came forward to provide detailed figures of their wealth.

As has become customary, a significant number of names on the list have this year assisted us in assessing their wealth. Of course, not everyone has been this helpful, and once again our team of researchers has conducted a widespread assessment of Arab wealth. We initially looked at the names of nearly 500 companies and individuals, and began with a valuation of their assets.

In each case, a family or individual’s stake in a company has been obtained. We have then assessed the value of that company. Where this information is publicly available through stock exchanges, an exact figure has been obtained.

Where not, we have judged a company’s value in comparison to that of a similar but publicly-listed company in the same country, based on an equivalent price/earnings. Where no comparison is available, we have estimated the total value of all assets in a company, including those of its subsidiary operations that could in theory be separately sold.

Where sales and profit figures are available, we have assumed a very conservative price/earnings ratio of 10 in order to obtain a company’s valuation. All individual assets, such as property, cars and yachts have been estimated separately and added to an individual’s total.

Where an individual’s wealth is held largely in cash, we have assumed an annual increase based on the average interest rate for the past five years in the individual’s country of residence (though we accept funds may be held offshore — if anything therefore the estimate is likely to be conservative).

We have also added all share sales to the final figure, based on official stock exchange releases between 1999 and 2014. The value of land owned by individuals has been estimated based on average market values between December 2013 and November 2014.

We should state that the figures are purely our assessment of wealth. As always, our list does not include members of royal families or politicians. However, we have made an exception in cases where we believe the wealth has been amassed purely through business achievements (such as for Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal).

SOURCES OF INFORMATION:

Bloomberg; Dow Jones; Factiva.com; Reuters Business Briefing; Economic Intelligence Unit; Stock Exchanges from 21 countries; Forbes; Bloomberg Businessweek; Sunday Times (UK); Fortune; The Economist; World Country Fact Book; Yahoo Finance; MSN; Google; UK Land Registry Records; US Land Registry; Ministry of Information (twelve countries); Hoovers Company Reports ; Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report; Associated Press; Financial Times (UK); Los Angeles Times (USA); USA Today (USA); Global Stock Markets Factbook (Standard & Poor’s); Mena Development Reports (World Bank); Capgemini World Wealth Report.

Rich list researchers:

Anil Bhoyrul, Ed Attwood, Shane McGinley, Courtney Trenwith, Neil Halligan, Neil King, Edward Liamzon, Anees Dayoub, Bilal Hejawi, Hana El Mourad, Samer Batter.