Revealed: The World's Richest Arabs 2016 - Banking and finance
Welcome to the 12th edition of the Arabian Business Rich List, our annual countdown of the 50 wealthiest Arabs.
1. HRH Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Al Saud
\nBanking and finance
\nNow aged 60, the career of Saudi Arabia’s most famous businessman, Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Al Saud, has been built on making money — plenty of it. But last year, he made global headlines for very different reasons. In July, at a press conference in Kingdom Tower in Riyadh, the prince told reporters that he would be giving his entire fortune to charity. “It is a commitment without boundaries. A commitment to all mankind,” he said. The sum will go to the Alwaleed Foundation over an indefinite period of time. Meanwhile, the prince has said that he now has an added incentive to get back to doing what he does best — racking up the profits.
\nThat being said, it hasn’t been the easiest year for the world’s richest people, with six out of the top ten losing money during the course of 2015. Prince Alwaleed has seen the value of his wealth decline over the last 12 months, to $25.1bn. As ever, our assessment of Prince Alwaleed’s net worth has been verified by his private office.
\nBut he is certainly been busy. Earlier this month, Prince Alwaleed invested $100m in US ride-sharing app Lyft, just the latest in a series of investments in the technology sphere that include stakes in Apple. And in December, the prince exchanged a stake in Fairmont Hotels for a 5.8 percent slice of French hotel \ngiant Accor.
\nThe majority of the prince’s wealth comes from his 95 percent stake in Kingdom Holding Company (KHC), which is valued at $12.79bn as per January 11. KHC’s investments include stakes in American lender Citigroup, Canary Wharf London developer Songbird Estates, Jeddah Economic Company (which is developing the 1km tower in Jeddah that will be the tallest in the world), Mövenpick Hotels and Resorts, New York’s The Plaza Hotel, London’s Savoy Hotel, Paris’ Four Seasons George V Hotel, Saudi carrier flynas, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp and Disneyland Paris.
\nHowever, he also has other sources of wealth, including his media arm (which includes Rotana), as well as his many private investments and privately held assets. His real estate portfolio has also increased in value over the course of the last year.
2. Joseph Safra
\nBanking and finance
\nWidely regarded as the world’s richest banker, 77-year-old Joseph Safra’s appetite for deal-making remains undiminished. Recent purchases include 'The Gherkin’ tower in the City of London and fruit giant Chiquita. The former adds to the impressive real estate portfolio held by Safra’s eponymously titled group, which includes the 660 Madison Avenue building in New York, prime locations in SoHo and about 100 other prime locations around the planet. The Lebanese-born banker runs the Brazilian banking and investment empire, Safra Group. Born into a wealthy banking family, the Safra history originated with the camel trade between Aleppo, Alexandria and Istanbul during the days of the Ottoman empire. The Beirut family decided to move to Brazil in 1952, and in 1955, Joseph’s brother and father began financing assets in Sao Paulo. Joseph Safra founded Banco Safra in 1955, and it remains one of the largest private banks in Brazil, with nearly $60bn in assets. He also oversees Switzerland-based J Safra Sarasin, which oversees $141bn in assets.
3. The Olayan family
\nDropping down a spot this year is the Olayan family, which runs the huge Saudi conglomerate Olayan Group. One of the largest shareholders in Credit Suisse, the group has cut its holdings in the Swiss investment banking giant over the course of the last year to 4.95 percent. It also has stakes in the UK’s National Grid and an estimated $700m property portfolio in Paris. But its overseas interests only form part of the family’s colossal portfolio — much of which is based back home in Saudi Arabia. Olayan Group oversees about 50 affiliated companies, with offices on three continents and a workforce of 15,000, and it also manages over $4bn in Saudi equities. The firm has a joint venture with the Weir Group to manufacture oilfield equipment, and it also has the franchise rights for Burger King in the Middle East and North Africa region. Olayan Group was founded by Suleiman Olayan in 1947. Suleiman is survived by son Khaled and his three daughters, Lubna (pictured), Hutham and Hayat.
9. The Al Ghurair family
\nBanking and finance
\nThe highest entry in the UAE comes in the form of the Al Ghurair family, which has seen its fortunes rise alongside the growth of Dubai. Abdulla Al Ghurair, the founder/owner of Mashreq Bank and the head of the family firm, announced last year that he will be donating $1bn over the next five years to an educational fund set up in his name. The family legacy can be traced back to Ahmad Al Ghurair who founded Al Ghurair Group in 1960. Ahmad passed on his legacy to his sons Saif, Abdulla, Majid, Marwan and Jomaa. Until the 1990s Al Ghurair Group was led by Saif Ahmad Al Ghurair. This corporation was formed in 1960. In the 1990s, Saif Ahmad Al Ghurair and Abdulla Al Ghurair embarked upon creating two unique yet complementing diversified industrial groups. This decision led to the creation of Saif Ahmad Al Ghurair Group (now the Al Ghurair Group) and Abdulla Al Ghurair Group. Perhaps the most prominent family member today is Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair (pictured), the CEO of Mashreq Bank, which was started from scratch with $1.6m of capital during the oil boom in the 1960s, and which is the country’s fourth-largest by assets. Mashreq has a strong hold in its home market of the UAE (where one in every two households bank with the lender) but it also operates in a number of other countries in the region, including Egypt, Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain. Abdul Aziz is also chairman of the UAE Banking Federation.
31. Saleh Kamel
\nSaleh Kamel is the founder and chairman of Dallah Albaraka Group, a conglomerate with interests in Islamic banking, real estate development and food production. Despite a humble start to life, Kamel’s astute business style has seen him become one of the pioneers of Islamic finance. Dallah Albaraka Group now has operations in 40 countries around the world.
\nBorn in Taif, Saudi Arabia, Kamel grew up in Makkah and attended Riyadh University and went on to work at the kingdom’s Ministry of Finance. He left public office to start Dallah Establishment in the early 1960s. By the early 1980s he established the AI Baraka Investment & Development conglomerate, a holding company for many Islamic banks and financial Institutions operating according to Islamic principles in various diversified business activities all over the world.
\nOver the course of the last half-century, Kamel has helped set up some of the Arab world’s most influential Islamic banks, including Faisal Islamic Bank in Egypt and Sudan, Dubai Islamic Bank and Jordan Islamic Bank. Kamel took subsidiary Dallah Health public in late 2012, keeping a 52 percent stake. The company raised $143m to fund its expansion plans.
35. Othman Benjelloun
\nBanking and finance
\nBusinessman Othman Benjelloun, who made much of his wealth from his banking enterprise, is CEO of BMCE Bank or Banque Marocaine du Commerce Extérieur, which has over 500 branches in Morocco and an active presence in 20 African countries. Benjelloun received an education in engineering at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland. During the 1960s and 1970s, Othman would make strategic alliances with global automobile manufacturers Volvo and General Motors.
\nBenjelloun’s father was a large shareholder in an insurance company that he would take over in 1988, turning it into RMA Watanya. After purchasing the insurance company, Benjelloun expanded the business venture into the banking industry. Through his holding company FinanceCom, Benjelloun also the majority shareholder of insurance company RMA Watanya, and has a minority stake in Meditelecom, Morocco's second largest mobile phone operator.
\nHis FinanceCom Asset Management firm has invested in companies in Nigeria, South Africa, and Ghana, among other countries. BMCE’s planned new headquarters in Casablanca Financial City is a 33-storey tower shaped like a rocket at a reported cost of $150m. Not only is Benjelloun his country’s richest person, but he is also Africa’s 12th richest.
36. Fayez Sarofim
\n$2.1bn (New entry)
\nBanking and finance
\nOctogenarian Sarofim is still very active in his role as the chairman and CEO of his money management firm, Fayez Sarofim & Co. The son of a wealthy Egyptian cotton grower, Sarofim earned his degrees from the University of California and Harvard (MBA). At the age of 30 he founded Fayez Sarofim & Co investment bank in 1958, with $1m capital from his father.
\nKnown as the ‘The Sphinx’ - reportedly for his quiet demeanour – he has said there’s a strict policy when it comes to amassing his $2.1bn fortune: buy stock in large companies and hold onto them through the good times and the bad. He believes that the top three companies in an industry will make the most money, therefore provide the best return. Sarofim bets on stocks of companies with long-term track records and solid visions for future growth. He made his fortune with long-term investments in Philip Morris, Coca-Cola, and Procter & Gamble.
\nToday the company manages investment portfolios for a wide range of clients including pension plans, foundations, endowments and individuals, with $30bn in assets under management. Sarofim is also known for his philanthropy, pledging $70m toward a $450m redevelopment of the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, as well as a number of health institutions in the Texan city. He also reportedly a supporter of US presidential candidate Jeb Bush. He got married in January 2015, at age of 85, to Susan Krohn.
37. Wafic Said
\n$2.2bn (New entry)
\nBanking and finance
\nSyrian-born Wafic Said arrived in London to help his brother run a kebab shop. His life was to change after he befriended two young Saudi princes, Bandar and Khalid, and later helped manage their financial affairs. He had started his financial career at UBS in 1963, before establishing a project development and construction management business in Saudi Arabia in 1969.
\nOver the next two decades his group took on some of the largest public sector projects in the kingdom and he became a billionaire through his connections with Saudi’s royal family, acting as an advisor and consultant on many major infrastructure projects.Said, who has Saudi nationality but lives in London, is still best-known for Al Yamamah — the colossal Saudi fighter jets contract that is Britain’s biggest ever export deal worth an estimated $60bn.
\nSaid, who now splits his time between the UK, Paris and Monaco, is the chairman of Said Holding Limited, a Bermuda-based holding company with investments in Europe, North America and the Far East. The firm has a diverse portfolio of investments including fixed income, quoted equities, hedge funds, private equity and real estate. In 1996, he donated £23m ($35m) to help establish the Said Business School at the University of Oxford and a further £50m ($73m) of support has followed since.
\nHe has also established Said Foundation in memory of his son Karim. It offers scholarships and training opportunities for talented young Syrians, Jordanians, Lebanese and Palestinians, mainly to study in the UK.
42. Nadmi Auchi
\nBritish-Iraqi businessman Nadmi Auchi is chairman of the Anglo-Arab Organisation and founder and chairman of Luxembourg-based General Mediterranean Holding (GMH), a conglomerate of 120 companies with global interests spanning banking and finance, real estate, construction, hotels, industrial, pharmaceuticals, communications, aviation and IT. The group’s consolidated assets now exceed $4bn, it says, and include hotel holdings in Luxembourg, Amman, Beirut, Tangier and Tunis. It has around 11,000 staff across the world.
\nAuchi was once a middleman for oil companies in the Gulf, but settled in Britain after fleeing Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in the 1980s. He owns Team Lebanon of the A1 Grand Prix Race series, and a stake in Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiri’s Orascom Telecom. He has been honoured for his services to the business community by the British Queen Elizabeth II, and Pope John Paul II, among others.