Industry: Construction & Industry
Company: Saudi Bin Laden Group
Country: Saudi Arabia
Wealth: 7 Billion
Titans 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)
Last year 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, according to the plans.
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 later this year and will take around 15 years to compete. The project will cost a cool $20bn.
Construction in the Gulf has undoubtedly taken a downturn since the start of the year, but
has smartly spread itself across a wide geography. The privately-held group, which currently has assets under management of around $300m, has begun to look outside of the Middle East and North Africa for growth.
China in particular is on the company’s radar, and firm steps have been made to establish ties with key Chinese companies and government initiatives — moves that are likely to boost the group’s bottom line in the medium and long-term.
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 died when his private plane crashed in Texas in 1988.
Mohammed left 54 sons and daughters from several marriages. Thirteen 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 employs tens of thousands of people across the region.