The World’s Richest Arabs 2014
Welcome to the eleventh edition of the Arabian Business Rich List, our annual countdown of the world’s richest Arabs.
1. Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Al Saud
\nBanking and finance
\nEleven years of the Arabian Business Rich List and eleven consecutive years at the very top for HRH Prince Alwaleed. A remarkable and consistent performance that we are unlikely to see repeated by anyone for generations to come.
\nThe majority of the prince’s wealth comes from his 95 percent stake in the publicly listed Kingdom Holding Company (KHC). The company’s share price has fallen by 20 percent over the past year, giving it a market capitalisation (on 2 December) of $17.48bn. However his total wealth in 2014 only fell slightly: this is largely down to the strong performances from the other sources of his wealth, primarily his media arm (which includes Rotana) and his many private investments and privately held assets. There has also been a significant rise in the value of his real estate. In total, his non-Kingdom Holding fortune now tops $11bn.
\nBut it is Kingdom Holding that the prince remains best known for on the business stage. Today the company has major interests in investment categories ranging from hotel management companies and real estate to media and publishing, entertainment, finance and investment services, social media and technology, consumer and retail, petrochemicals, education, private equities, healthcare, aviation — even agriculture. He has stakes in global brands such as Apple, Twitter, Citigroup, News Corp, Fox and PepsiCo, while this year he scored a huge hit with his stake in Chinese online retailer JD.com which listed on the NASDAQ.
\nNext year sees HRH turn 60, but all the signs are that one of the world’s most successful ever investors remains as active as ever, searching for the next mega-deal.
2. The Olayan family
\nIIn second place this year is the Olayan family, which runs the huge Saudi conglomerate, the Olayan Group. It has been a particularly active year for the company, which has acquired significant real estate assets in Europe and the US. Those include eight pieces of property in Paris and nine separate apartment communities in Maryland. In addition, the Olayan Group also bought a majority stake in Gulf Union Foods Company, a fruit juice maker. Elsewhere, the firm confirmed that it would also be taking a lead role in the development of King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) as a smart city.
\nNow in its 67th year of operations, the Olayan Group has come a long way since the summer of 1947 when Suleiman S Olayan launched his first business in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. While still private and closely held, the group he founded has blossomed over the decades into a multinational enterprise with offices on three continents, and 15, 000 people employed by 50 affiliated companies. Its main investment portfolio covers public and private equities, real estate, fixed income securities and other specialised assets. Suleiman is survived by his son Khaled and his three daughters — Hayat, Hutham and Lubna (pictured).
3. Joseph Safra
\nBanking and finance
\nJoseph Safra hit the headlines (again) last month when he bought the Gherkin tower, one of London’s most recognisable landmarks. The Lebanese-born banker currently runs the Brazilian banking and investment empire, Safra Group. Born in Beirut, Lebanon, into a wealthy banking family, the family’s history in banking originated with caravan trade between Aleppo, Alexandria and Istanbul during the days of the Ottoman Empire.
\nThe Lebanese family decided to move to Brazil in 1952. In 1955, Joseph’s 23-year-old brother, Edmond Safra, and his father, Jacob Safra, started working in Brazil by financing assets in São Paulo. Joseph Safra founded Banco Safra in 1955 and today it is reportedly the sixth largest private bank in Brazil. He remains the chairman of the Safra Group offering banking services throughout Europe, North and South America. Safra also owns the 660 Madison Avenue building in New York.
4. The Sawiris family
\nIt’s all go for the various members of Egypt’s richest family, who are putting their money where their collective mouths are in helping to redevelop their home country. Naguib Sawiris has announced plans to invest over $1bn in Egyptian construction, real estate, agriculture and microfinance. Not to be outdone, Nassef Sawiris announced last month that his Orascom Construction Industries (OCI) conglomerate would also be boosting investments in the country. Ever since Onsi, the patriarch of the family handed over the reins to Naguib, his eldest son and two brothers Nassef and Samih (pictured), their fortunes have rocketed. They took over and expanded the Orascom conglomerate into a telecommunications, construction, hotel and development business. Naguib launched the first mobile operator in Egypt, Mobinil in 1998.
6. Mohamed Bin Issa Al Jaber
\nUK (Saudi Arabia)
\nrominent Arab philanthropist and businessman Mohamed Bin Issa Al Jaber has spent the last 34 years building the MBI International Holding Group Inc into an established collection of major international companies. Following a steady stream of investments into existing businesses during 2012, the group saw 2013 as the perfect time to invest in a series of new acquisitions and expand its activities.
\nFor the last two decades, Mohamed Al Jaber has been an active philanthropist, funding scholarship programmes at some of the world’s finest educational institutions through his own MBI Al Jaber Foundation. Some of the projects run and supported by the Foundation are: the launch of the MBI Media Institute in Yemen; Human Rights Watch in the Arab World; and the provision of the MBI Al Jaber Building at SOAS for the London Middle East Institute.
7. Mohammed Al Amoudi
\nOne of the Arab world’s most successful businessmen, Mohammed Al Amoudi emigrated to Saudi Arabia in 1965 and became a Saudi citizen, and is said to be the largest foreign investor in both Sweden and Ethiopia. Al Amoudi made his first fortune in construction and real estate before branching out into buying oil refineries in Morocco and Sweden and his native Ethiopia. His holding and operating companies, Corral Group and the MIDROC Group, employ more than 760,000 people. Corral Group has an investment portfolio in Europe and the Middle East that includes Preem Petroleum, the largest integrated petroleum firm in Sweden, Svenska Petroleum & Exploration, SAMIR, Naft Services Company (Saudi Arabia) and Fortuna Holdings (Lebanon).
9. The Kharafi family
\nKuwaiti family conglomerate the Kharafi Group, which has an annual turnover of around $5bn and is already active in 25 countries, has been in the news recently over the potential sale of Americana, one of its most high-profile assets. The family is believed to be interested in selling off two thirds of the fast food giant, which has a market value of around $4bn. The Kharafi Group has operations in 25 countries around the world, from Senegal to Botswana to Kazakhstan and The Maldives, and has more than 120,000 employees. The family business has always had strong connections with Egypt, from power stations along the Nile Delta to contracts at Marsa Alam International Airport. Run by Jassem, Marzouk Badr and Faisal Al Kharafi, the company also has investments in a series of major Gulf blue-chips, including Zain.
11. The Al Ghurair family
\nThe name Al Ghurair has become synonymous with the growth of Dubai. Abdullah Al Ghurair runs one of the emirate’s largest family concerns, with interests in agricultural commodities, banking, real estate, malls and refineries. The family legacy can be traced back to Ahmad Al Ghurair who founded Al Ghurair Group in 1960. The family name has been a fixture within the UAE business community ever since. Ahmad Al Ghurair 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. Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair (pictured) is CEO of Mashreq Bank, which he 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.
12. The Bukhamseen family
\nJawad Ahmed Bukhamseen founded the Bukhamseen Group back in 1957, and the closely held family giant has gone from strength to strength ever since. From banking to hospitality, and from media to industry, the group has also introduced big-name western brands to the country. In 1977, the company signed the first Holiday Inn Hotel in the Middle East, and later signed Kuwait’s Crowne Plaza. Bukhamseen has plans to build a wholly-owned Grand Hyatt Hotel and Towers complex, which is designed to be a seven-star hotel. Today, Jawad’s sons Emad (pictured), Osama, Anwar and Raed all occupy senior management positions within the company. Bukhamseen Holding’s Kuwait National Cinema Company also established Al Sharqia Cinema, the first movie theatre in Kuwait, in 1954.
14. The Kanoo family
\nIt has been a sad year for the Kanoo Group, one of the largest and oldest family firms in the Gulf. In August, the group’s chairman, Yusuf Bin Ahmed Kanoo, passed away, aged 72. He had led the company since the death of Abdulla Ali Kanoo four years ago.
\nEstablished in Bahrain in 1890 by Haji Yusuf Bin Ahmed Kanoo, it has grown from its early trading and shipping business to become one of the most diversified and highly regarded business houses in the Gulf region and beyond. Mubarak Jassim Kanoo is now chairman of the firm, while Mishal Kanoo (above), one of the region’s most recognisable executives, remains as deputy chairman of the group’s UAE and Oman division. It now has 14 divisions in total, and employs 4,000 staff, with another 6,000 employed in its various joint venture operations. The company’s joint venture division was established over 25 years ago and has been linked to high profile names such as Axa Insurance, Norwich Union, Maersk and BASF.
17. The Mansour family
\nThe political situation in Egypt may have hit the Mansours hard over the last couple of years, but their business looks to be heading in the right direction again.
\nThe Mansour Group success story unfolded over three gradual phases: establishment and integration into the market; attracting international brands to build successful partnerships with while introducing its own brands to Egypt; and having its eye firmly on the future — fast tracking the group to further success with its strong balance sheets and structured investment strategy. It all began with one man; founder Loutfy Mansour who established the company. \nStarting out in the cotton industry in the late 1940s, Mansour had a sharp business acumen that laid the strong foundation on which his sons — Youssef Mansour (pictured), Mohamed Mansour, and Yasseen Mansour — have led the company to an even stronger position.
20. The Al Rajhi family
\nSulaiman Al Rajhi may have fulfilled the vow he made three years ago to donate the vast proportion of his family wealth to charity, but there’s still plenty in the pot left for his family. His brothers Abdullah, Mohammed and the late Saleh, were the founders of Al Rajhi Bank, the second-biggest bank in Saudi Arabia, which now has assets worth a colossal $73bn. The bank’s origins date back to the 1940s, when it began operating as a money changer in the kingdom. Today, its operations include retail, corporate and investment banking. With an established base in Riyadh, Al Rajhi Bank has a network of over 550 branches, over 100 dedicated ladies branches and more than 2,600 ATMs. As well as the controlling stakes in Al Rajhi Bank, the family also has interests in the Al Baraka Banking Group, as well as Yanbu Cement and NADEC.
22. Hussain Sajwani
\n$4bn (New entry)
\nHussain Sajwani is both the founder and CEO of Damac Group, the Middle East's largest private sector luxury property developer. Sajwani started his career in the oil and gas industry, but in his heart, he was an entrepreneur. He left his job after two years, and founded a conglomerate whose activities encompass property development, insurance, manufacturing, education, securities, investment and commercial trading. You may know Damac from its luxury property portfolio, but Damac Holding also operates the largest catering company in the Middle East and is one of the leading insurance providers in Bahrain. The true extent of Sajwani’s net worth has only really become evident via the recent listing of Damac Properties in London, which values the company at some $4bn. Sajwani’s 85 percent stake in that company, together with his other existing interests in Damac Group, put \nour estimate of his wealth at a conservative $4bn.
24. The Gargash family
\nThe Emirates-based Gargash clan is well known in the business world. In the automobile sector, the Gargash family is the sole agent for Mercedes Benz in Dubai through Gargash Enterprises, whilst elsewhere, it is also involved in electronics, real estate, insurance, industrial development and construction. Founded in the last decade of the 19th century, the firm, which was built on the back of Abdul Gafour and his nephews, quickly emerged from a small body led by the late Ali Haji Abdulla Awazi Gargash, to one of the region’s leading trading houses today. Shehab Gargash (above) has been particularly successful running Daman Investments, founded in 2000.
26. Adel Aujan
\nIn 2011 Aujan announced a colossal deal to sell a minority stake in his firm to Coca-Cola for a sliver under $1bn. Not content with leading the Gulf’s biggest privately owned beverage company, Aujan Industries, the chairman of the firm has been aggressively growing his offerings to different markets. Aujan’s juice brand, Rani, is Iran’s best-selling beverage and is planning to add to its three factories by putting a facility in Iraq, politics permitting.\nIn 2008, Aujan Industries nailed a target to deliver $500m in revenue 12 months ahead of its five-year schedule. The firm has tripled its sales since 2004 and is on track to double them again by the end of this year. Vimto, just one of its brands, has been a leading fixture on Gulf dining tables.
28. Najib Mikati
\nNajib Mikati, who entered Lebanon’s fractious political scene in 1998 as minister of public works and transport, before then becoming a member of parliament representing his native northern port city of Tripoli, later served as a caretaker premier once in 2005 in the aftermath of the assassination of former premier Rafiq Hariri. He helped steer the country towards parliamentary elections in the wake of the killing before returning in 2011 to serve as premier after the government of Saad Hariri was toppled by Hezbollah and its allies. Mikati helped co-found Investcom along with his brother Taha in 1982 and was later listed on both the London and Dubai stock exchanges in 2006, in what was at the time the largest international listing of a Middle Eastern company.
31. Abdulatif Al Fozan
\nThe big news for Abdulatif Al Fozan last year was the listing of one of his holding company’s firms, Saudi Bawan Holding. The company, which specialises in building materials, raised $144m by listing 30 percent of its shares on the Tadawul and was heavily over-subscribed.
\nAl Fozan is the chairman of Al Fozan Group, a 41-year-old company with interests in building materials, commercial and industrial steel, electrical and hardware items and accumulated technologies. It also holds equity stakes in several affiliate ventures, from banks and petrochemical firms, to recycling and consumer retail operations. These stakes are part of a long-term plan to diversify its revenue streams. In the kingdom, the group is also one of the largest importers of steel, wood, electrical and hardware material. Like many Gulf businessmen, Abdulatif Al Fozan took over the firm from his father.
32. Issad Rebrab
\n$3bn (New entry)
\nAself-made man, Issad Rebrab is currently celebrating his 70th birthday. He runs Algeria’s biggest conglomerate, Cevital, which manages not only one of the world’s largest sugar refineries, but also has interest in steel, cars, agriculture and refining. In 1998, Rebrab launched the project to create an industrial/ energy complex, Cap 2015, about 60km east of Algiers, together with a small town of 250,000 inhabitants with the ambition of generating 100,000 direct jobs and a further million indirect jobs.
33. The Hayek family
\nThe world’s biggest watchmaking company is going from strength to strength, raking in a whopping $9.7bn in sales during the course of 2013. While the market has been a bit tougher this year, due to the strength of the Swiss franc, but an expected strong performance in the US and Japan means that the outlook for Swatch is still glittering. The firm is led by chairwoman Nayla and CEO Nick (pictured), who took over the publicly traded firm after the recent death of their father, Nicolas. And, if their latest move pays off, it looks like the group’s revenues could be about to get even larger.\nAside from sales of its own brands, which include Longines, Tissot, Omega and Breguet, Swatch also devotes significant investment to mechanical movements and components, which it has until now sold off to rival manufacturers. Swatch recently spent $1bn buying the Harry Winston brand, which it plans to use to get even greater access into markets like the US and China.
34. Bahaa Hariri
\nSwitzerland (Saudi Arabia)
\nIt’s been a landmark year for Rafiq Hariri’s eldest son, Bahaa. In June, he opened the first phase of a $5bn mixed-used megaproject in Amman. His real estate arm, Horizon Development, focuses on commercial projects in Jordan and Lebanon and is a major shareholder in the Abdali Investment and Development Company. Hariri chose not to follow his father’s path into politics and instead forged his own career in business. \n He currently resides in Geneva, and derives the bulk of his fortune from investment management. Bahaa has made considerable efforts to continue his father’s legacy. Part of that drive has included sponsorship of the Atlantic Council’s Rafiq Hariri Centre for the Middle East, a body that seeks to bind the region’s political and economic ties with the transatlantic nations.
35. Saad Hariri
\nMarried with three children, Saudi-born businessman and politician Saad Hariri is a huge achiever in the Arab world. After graduating from the McDonough School of Business, he continued to meet the family’s high expectations, and in November 2009, at the age of 40, was sworn in as Lebanon’s prime minister. Raised in Saudi Arabia, Saad managed part of Rafiq Hariri’s business until his father’s assassination in 2005, when he returned home to follow him into politics and became an elected Member of Parliament (MP). As the general manager of Saudi Oger — the family’s $9bn construction company — he had huge success winning large projects, and helping build the company up to what it is today. Hariri currently holds large stakes in a number of large firms. Solidere, for example, has rebuilt much of Beirut. Following the downturn, he admitted to revising the value of his construction portfolio, but has continued to push forward with a view to emerging from the recession successfully.
36. Ziad Manasir
\nEarlier this year, Ziad Manasir sold off all his shares in Stroygazconsulting, the firm he built from scratch, to Chechen businessman Ruslan Baisarov. It marks a sea change for the Jordanian-born magnate, who travelled to Russia on a student exchange programme at just 19 years old before deciding to make the country his home. In 1996 he established Stroygazconsulting, which has grown from a small firm erecting single buildings and structures, to one of Russia’s largest construction holding companies. The firm employs over 63,000 people and operates around 30 production units that span the former Soviet countries, the Middle East and the Gulf. The firm has close ties with Russian energy giant Gazprom and has expanded into pipelines, roads and other infrastructure construction. Manasir, who tends to shun the limelight, was awarded the Order For Merit to the Fatherland last year by Russia, for his career achievements and work \non the Eastern Siberia-Pacific Ocean oil pipeline.
40. Mansour Ojjeh
\nFrance (Saudi Arabia)
\nIt has been a tough year for the French-Saudi entrepreneur, who has been recovering from a double lung transplant operation conducted in December last year. In January, he stepped down as a director at the McLaren Group.
\nOjjeh still heads up Techniques d’Avant Garde (TAG), a Luxembourg-based holding company. The firm owns 21 percent of the McLaren Group.
\nOjjeh’s passion for motor racing is renowned. His interest was first sparked by a visit to the Monaco Grand Prix in 1978 and TAG quickly became the Williams’ team principal sponsor a year later. In 1981, Ojjeh invested $5m in a Porsche built turbo engine for McLaren and the two firms went on to establish TAG Turbo Engines. In 1983, Ojjeh became a majority shareholder in McLaren, although details of the deal were not made public until 1985.
\nOjjeh’s father is the Saudi-born businessman, Akram Ojjeh, founder of TAG. The firm was famous as an intermediary in deals between Saudi Arabia and France, particularly arms sales. TAG Group’s interests also include TAG Aviation, a corporate jet firm which has Europe and Asia as its main growth areas and which runs a fleet of more than 100 aircraft.
41. Othman Benjelloun
\n$2.4bn (New entry)
\nBorn in Morocco, his father was a large shareholder in an insurance company that Othman would take over in 1988; turning it into RMA Watanya. After purchasing the insurance company, Benjelloun expanded the business venture into the banking industry. His banking enterprise, the BMCE Bank has its presence felt in at least 12 countries in Africa after it purchased the Mali-based Bank of Africa.
\nOthman 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. He is also the chairman of Meditelecom along with being associated with Telefónica and Portugal Telecom.
42. Ayman Asfari
\nThe boss of oil services giant Petrofac, Asfari sits at the helm of one of the fastest growing FTSE 100 businesses. By any measure, Asfari is a success story. He took his first role in construction in Oman in his early 20s in a bid to fund an MBA at Wharton. It turned out to be unnecessary; less than a decade later, he was a millionaire with his own firm.
\nSince buying out Petrofac in 2001, Asfari has turned it into one of the leading players in the oil market. It listed in 2005 and today employs more than 17,000 people worldwide, with bases spanning the UK, Sharjah, India and Malaysia. But just two weeks ago the company saw its shares plunge 26 percent after a profits warning — leading to a sharp fall in his wealth.
43. Mohammed Ibrahim
\nUK (North Sudan)
\nIbrahim is a British Sudanese mobile communications entrepreneur and billionaire. He was born in North Sudan and started out working at the African country’s postal service. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Alexandria before going off to the UK to get his master’s degree and PhD, and ended up as an academic with a specialisation in mobile communications.
\nWhen British Telecommunications was about to launch the first mobile service in the UK the company invited him to come on board as a technical director and engineer. Ibrahim left his job with the support of his wife to become a consultant and eventually forming his own company with $50,000 in savings. With the help of 450 engineers the company designed networks around the world. He then sold his first company a few years later for about $1bn.
45. Nadhmi Auchi
\nThe British Iraqi businessman moved to the UK in the 1980s, and is chairman of the Anglo-Arab Organisation with stakes in construction and trading companies in Iraq. Auchi founded Luxembourg-based General Mediterranean Holdings, which has business segments in banking and finance, real estate, construction, hotel and leisure, industrial, trading and pharmaceuticals, communications, IT and aviation.
\nIts interests today span across the Mediterranean and beyond with over 120 companies employing some 11,000 staff with representation in the Middle East, Northern Africa, Europe, the Americas, the Caribbean, the Asia subcontinent and the Pacific Rim. The group’s consolidated assets now exceed $4bn. Hotel holdings include Le Royal in Luxembourg, Amman, Beirut, Tangier and Tunis. He has been honoured for his services to the business community by the Queen, and Pope John Paul II, among others.
46. Saleh Kamel
\nSaleh Kamel may have had a humble start in life, but his business acumen and dedication have seen him rise to become one of the pioneers of Islamic finance. His Dallah Albaraka Group has operations in 40 countries around the world; as well as Islamic banking, it also has interests in real estate, construction and manufacturing.
\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. Over 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.
\nKamel’s workload includes heading up the Jeddah Chamber for Commerce and Industry, and he also oversees the Egyptian Saudi Business Council.
47. Hasan Abdullah Ismaik
\n$1.8bn (New entry)
\nJust 37 years old, he became Jordan’s first business billionaire in June this year after his stake in construction giant Arabtec was raised to 20.5 percent. Ismaik had taken over as the CEO after joining the company a year earlier, following the purchase of a 22 percent stake in Arabtec by Aabar Investments, which also resulted in the departure of founder Riad Kamal.
\nBut shortly after achieving billionaire status, Ismaik resigned from the company as its share price plunged – only to recover after Aabar increased its stake to 34.93 percent. Having earlier sold a huge chunk of shares to Aabar, Ismaik is still registered as the owner of 11.8 percent of Arabtec shares. According to Reuters he is looking to offload these in the new future, but for now at least, the shares — and their value — can be attributed to him.
48. Mohammed Al Fayed
\n$1.7bn (new entry)
\nAfter selling Harrods to Qatar Holding in 2010 for $2.4bn, the Egyptian-born tycoon moved into online retailing by taking over discount fashion website Cocosa and a stake in designer brand Issa. Back in 2013 he also sold Fulham Football Club for $300m, coming soon after the sale of his lease on 75 Rockefeller in New York City. Al Fayed still owns the Hotel Ritz in Paris. Now 85, his mega deals seem a thing of the past with his sons and daughter now starting to make an impact on the business world.