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Wed 10 Dec 2008 05:41 PM

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Rich List-The Bin Laden Family

Rich List-The Bin Laden Family

A true giant of the Gulf construction industry, the Bin Laden family is pressing ahead with a series of high-profile projects through its Saudi Bin Laden Group (SBG).

In June the Middle East Development, the Dubai-based arm of the group, announced plans to raise $190bn to build two new cities in Djibouti and Yemen and a bridge linking them. Tarek Mohammad Bin Laden will provide at least $10bn of seed financing for the $200bn project.

Construction of the 28.5km bridge, which will link Yemen and Djibouti on the Horn of Africa, has already been nicknamed “bridge of the century” by the world’s press. Construction is due to start next year and will take around 15 years to compete. The project will cost a cool $20bn.

The privately-held group, which currently has assets under management of around $280m, has also begun to look outside of the Middle East and North Africa for growth.

In 2007 SBG and its partner, Malaysian infrastructure and energy group MMC Corporation Berhad, signed a $3.73bn contract with Aluminium Corporation of China to establish a second aluminium smelter at Jazan Economic City (JEC). The contract was approved by Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority governor Amr Al-Dabbagh, and signals the start of work in JEC, Saudi’s fourth economic city.

Founded by Mohammed Bin Laden, the family firm grew into one of the major companies in Saudi when it was entrusted by the royal court with the task of expanding Islamic holy sites in Mecca and Medina. It has also built several palaces in Riyadh and Jeddah for the royal family and carried out restoration work following an arson attack on Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque in 1969. Salem, Mohammed’s eldest son, ran the financial empire left behind by his father upon his death in 1968 until he himself died when his private plane crashed in Texas in 1988. Mohammed left 54 sons and daughters from several marriages. 13 of his sons sit on the board of the family’s firm — the most prominent being Baker, Hassan, Islam and Yehya. Baker, Mohammed’s second son, succeeded Salem at the head of the firm, which has extended its reach across the Arab world and employs tens of thousands of people.

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