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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.
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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).
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.