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Sun 8 May 2011 01:42 PM

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Ex-UAE ambassador named UK's wealthiest Arab

Former ambassador Mahdi al Tajir in at No.38, India’s Lakshmi Mittal tops Rich List

Ex-UAE ambassador named UK's wealthiest Arab
(Getty Images)

The former UAE ambassador to Britain has been named as the top-ranked Arab in a Sunday Times list of the 1,000 wealthiest people in the UK.

Mahdi al Tajir, the owner of bottled water supplier Highland Spring, saw his wealth leap £50m ($81m) over 12 months to £1.5bn, making him the 38th richest person in the UK.

The 79-year-old, whose companies include Park Hotels and Drift Properties, also topped the list of Scotland’s richest residents, the rankings showed.

The title of richest UK resident was taken by steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal, who took the top slot for a seventh year with an estimated net wealth of £17.5bn. Alisher Usmanov, the billionaire shareholder of Russian iron-ore producer Metalloinvest, came in second after adding £7.7bn to his net worth in a year. [To see the top 5 wealthiest people in the UK, click here.]

The cumulative wealth of the UK’s 1,000 richest families and individuals rose to £395.76bn during the year. The total fell short of the record £413bn reached in 2008, according to the rankings compiled each year by Philip Beresford.

The number of billionaires on the list rose 20 to 73, two short of the record of 75 set in 2008.

The list has been compiled for the past 22 years and is based on identifiable wealth, including property, art, racehorses and shares in publicly-held companies. It excludes bank-account balances.

The year before, the net worth of those on the list had risen at a record pace, rising 30 percent to £333.5bn as the country’s richest residents recovered from the global financial crisis.

Also named in the rankings was Egyptian-born Mohamed Al Fayed, the retail billionaire who sold his London department store Harrods to Qatar Holdings in a deal estimated at £1.5bn.

The 82-year-old chairman of Fulham Football Club has added £650m to his net worth over the last 12 months, leapfrogging him 48 places to No.46 with an estimated wealth of £1.3bn.

Holding his rank of No.67 for a second year is Nadhmi Auchi, the Bagdad-born head of General Mediterranean Holding.  The 73-year-old has an estimated net worth of £1bn, bolstered by GMH’s widespread interests in the Middle East. The businessman has seen £200m wiped off his wealth this year, as regional unrest takes a toll on his interests. 

Also sharing the No.67 spot with a $1bn net worth is Syrian-born Wafic Said. The former financier sold a collection of the Duchess of Windsor's jewels for nearly £8m last year, and counts houses in London, Paris, Marbella and Monaco among his assets. A philanthropist, he has donated more than £36m to Said Business School in Oxford.

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