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Sun 14 Dec 2008 04:00 AM

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How we compiled this year’s Rich List

As anyone in business knows, the Arab world is not exactly forthcoming when it comes to revealing details on wealth. Many private companies do not publish accounts, and those that do often only give a limited insight into their activities.

As anyone in business knows, the Arab world is not exactly forthcoming when it comes to revealing details on wealth. Many private companies do not publish accounts, and those that do often only give a limited insight into their activities.

Even publicly quoted companies are restrictive as regards to the amount of information they publish.

Which makes publishing a Rich List in this part of the world an enormously complicated task, one which takes our researchers the best part of six months.

So the big question is, how did we do it? Six months ago we assembled the names of over 450 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 2008. The value of land owned by individuals has been estimated based on average market values between December 2, 2007 and December 1, 2008.

Sources of information

Bloomberg; Dow Jones; Factiva.com; Reuters Business Briefing; Economic Intelligence Unit; Stock Exchanges from 21 countries; Forbes; Business Week; News Week; Sunday Times (UK); Fortune; BusinessAge; EuroBusiness; The Economist; World Country Fact Book; Yahoo Finance; MSN; Google; UK Land Registry Records; US Land Registry; Ministry of Information (11 countries); Hoovers Company Reports (228); Merrill Lynch Global Reports (86); Associated Press; Financial Times (UK); Los Angeles Times (USA); USA Today (USA); Gulf News (Dubai); Global Stock Markets Factbook (Standard & Poors); Mena Development Report (Trade Investment and Development in the Middle East); Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Report; Sunday Express (UK).

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