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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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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.
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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.
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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.
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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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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.