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Wed 10 Dec 2008 07:06 PM

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Rich List-The Shoman Family

Rich List-The Shoman Family

The Shoman family roots can be traced back to the origins of Arab Bank, the largest privately-owned bank in the Middle East and one of the most influential financial institutions in the Arab world.

The bank's current CEO and deputy chairman is Abdul Hamid. The bank was established in Jerusalem in1930 by his grandfather, Abdul Hameed Shoman as he recorded, "not to make a profit but to serve the Arabs of Palestine and their national welfare".

Branches were established in all major towns in Palestine and in the capitals of neighbouring Arab countries. In the aftermath of the Second World War, the bank lost its branches in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Egypt, but still honoured its deposit obligations. After the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, Arab Bank moved its headquarters to the Jordanian capital, Amman, although a few branches remained open in the major cities of the West Bank until the Six-Day War in 1967.

It is a testament to the quality of the Shoman family's management and foresight - and particularly that of Abdul Majeed (deceased 2005), the founder's son, that Arab Bank not only survived the political and military turmoil of the Middle East, but also thrived. His actions during the 1989 economic collapse, and his support of the Jordanian dinar after the death of King Hussein, are now thought to have saved the country from crisis.

On the death of his father in 1974, Abdul Majed Shoman became chairman of the bank. During his career at the helm, he opened 378 branches in 27 countries across the Americas, Europe, Asia and Africa, and made Arab Bank one of the most widespread Arab-owned financial institutions in the world.

Listed in Amman, Arab Bank's shareholders include the governments of Jordan and Saudi Arabia and the heirs of the late Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri.

Today, Arab Bank is one of the largest banks in the MENA region, with a shareholders' equity base of $6.9bn and a total balance sheet size of $54.8bn at the end of 2007. It has received an A- rating from Fitch, A- from Standard & Poor's and A3 from Moody's.

The bank has more than 500 branches in 30 countries, spanning five continents and employs approximately 12,000 people.

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