Industry: Travel & Hospitality
Company: MBI International
Country: Saudi Arabia
Wealth: 8.5 Billion
One of the most successful Arab businessmen, Mohamed Al Jaber has in fact made a name for himself by avoiding the speculative stock market of the Arab world. Speaking to Arabian Business in his office in Paris last April, he warned that a disastrous property crash was on the way:
“Either people will leave the cities — in which case the entire demand will crash — or the price of developments has to be corrected. (It will happen) in 12 months from now, maybe before. If the correction begins it will lead to ten bad years.”
So far, the MBI International boss has made accurate predictions: when he speaks, people listen.
The MBI International group of companies today holds an asset value of over $8bn and boasts operations in Europe, the Middle East and the US. It includes real estate giant Jadawel International, JJW Hotels & Resorts, and the AJWA Group, one of the largest food companies in the Middle East. It also incorporates Continentoil, an international oilfield services and petroleum resource management company with offices in the US and UK.
Both Jadawel and Ajwa remain profitable companies, but Al Jaber’s interests seem to be gravitating more towards his hotel portfolio, which he expanded significantly in 2008, snapping up resorts in Portugal and unveiling plans for an ambitious string of projects in Austria, France and the UK.
Al Jaber’s hotel hunt began back in 1986 when he acquired a major resort in southern Portugal, which was to become the most exclusive golf resort of the Algarve. The aquisition of four hotels in France followed in 1988.
When he’s not charging from foyer to foyer, Al Jaber is also well known for his philanthropy. He would undoubtedly be far richer but for the cash he has given to various charities over the years; Al Jaber has funded scholarship programmes at some of the world’s finest educational institutions through his own MBI Al Jaber Foundation.
Founding Sponsor of London’s Middle East Institute and endower of a chair at the London-based School of African and Oriental Studies, he has given generous donations to a new building at the Jeddah-based Dar El Hekmah College and Effat University. In the UK, Corpus Christi College has a building in his name, along with auditoriums at UCL.
He has also been a supporter of educational reform and transparent governments in the Arab world and conflict resolution, through the Olive Tree Educational Trust at City University.