Company: Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries - OPEC
Country: Saudi Arabia
Wealth: 550 Million
Ahmed Zaki Yamani was Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Oil and Mineral Resources from 1962 until 1986, and a minister in OPEC for 25 years. He is perhaps best known for his role in the 1973 oil embargo, when he pushed OPEC to quadruple the price of crude oil, prompting an international outcry but firmly underlining the power of the petrochemicals cartel.
In March 1975 Yamani witnessed the assassination of King Faisal, his mentor and friend, at the hands of the king’s nephew. And then in December of that year, Yamani and several other OPEC ministers were taken hostage by notorious terrorist Carlos ‘The Jackal’ in Vienna, Austria.
He was later released after Carlos spent two days riding an airplane across the Middle East, even though Carlos had been ordered by his superiors to execute Yamani.
Despite these incidents, Yamani always insisted he remained unaffected by politics. “I’m a very pragmatic man,” he once remarked. “I know little about ideologies.”
Dismissed in October 1986 by King Fahd, Yamani has been far from inactive over the two decades since. In 1988 Yamani established the Al Furqan Islamic Heritage Foundation under The Yamani Cultural and Charitable Foundation, which endeavours to preserve and publish historically important Islamic works.
And in 1990 Yamani founded the Centre for Global Energy Studies, a London-based market analysis group claiming to provide objective information on energy issues.
The centre’s main objective is to provide independent and objective information and analysis on the key energy issues of the day. Its analysis, views and commentary on oil and gas developments have gained worldwide recognition, and the centre is widely quoted in the international press. Board members have included Edward Heath, Valéry Giscard d’Estaing and Denis Healey, all friends of Yamani.
Yamani was born in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, in 1930. His father, Hassan Yamani, was a scholar of Islamic law and a qadhi, or religious judge, whose patience, wisdom, and quiet sense of humour is said to have inspired his son as he grew up in Islam’s holiest city. The Cairo University, New York University and Harvard Law School graduate is fluent in Arabic, English and French.