Forbes magazine’s latest listing of the world’s richest people counted plenty of individuals and families based in the Gulf. GSN lists the wealthiest Gulfis giving Forbes’ Arab rich list ranking, along with our own take on the players and their recent activity.

 

Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Al-SaudPrince Alwaleed Bin Talal Al-Saud(1st – $21bn)
Prince Alwaleed Bin TalalPrince Alwaleed Bin Talalfirst registered in 1988 when he bought a stake in United Saudi Commercial Bank for $10m. He turned global scale investor in 1991, when coming in as a ‘white knight’ he invested $797m in Citicorp, making him the bank’s largest individual shareholder. AlwaleedAlwaleed has close links across the Saudi establishment (but not necessarily with his outspoken father), from Prince Sultan Bin Abdelaziz to Islamic banker Saleh Kamel, in whose Arab Radio Television (ART)Arab Radio Television (ART) network he is an investor (he is thought to hold around 30%). AlwaleedAlwaleed is chairman and CEO of his Riyadh based Kingdom Holding CompanyKingdom Holding Company. His up and coming son Prince Khalid and recently married daughter Princess Reem are thought to hold small stakes. AlwaleedAlwaleed is constantly on the move in March he visited Turkmenistan and Tajikistan – and recently announced his plans for a ‘flying palace’, his version of the new double-decker Airbus A380, which he has bought. He has numerous investments across the world. His father, Prince Talal Bin Abdelaziz, led the so-called ‘free princes’ during an early 1960s Al-Saud family power struggle and spent a short period in exile in Cairo. Last September,Talal generated headlines by announcing plans to set up a new political party.

HH Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud
Age:  53
Nationality:  Lebanon, Saudi Arabia
Current Position:  Director of Consolidated Contractors Company – Saudi Arabia
» View Biography & Positions

Nasser Al-KharafiNasser Al-Kharafi and family (2nd – $14bn)
Nasser, in his mid-60s is the son of the late Mohammed Al-Kharafi, a key player in Kuwaiti politics and business. Mohammed Al-Kharafi was a founding member of National Bank of Kuwait (NBK)National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) and he chaired Kuwait’s largest bank for 13 years. Until recently the family was thought to retain a significant stake in the bank. Nasser’s older brother is the prominent National Assembly speaker and former minister Jassim Mohammed Al-Kharafi. Nasser’s sister Faiza is the former president of Kuwait University. Nasser is president of the family company Mohammed Abdulmuhsin Al-Kharafi and Sons (MAK)Mohammed Abdulmuhsin Al-Kharafi and Sons (MAK), founded in the mid-1950s (also called Kharafi GroupKharafi Group); his siblings and children – he has three sons,Marzouk, Badr and Faisal – are also involved in the company. Although the Al-Kharafi do not appear to rank alongside Kuwait’s Al-Ghanim as a very old merchant family (there are records of them as being involved in the pearl trade), one report from the 1990s said the Kharafi business family started life in the 19th century with a fleet of dhows trading pearls and other goods between the Gulf and India.

Mohamed Abdulmohsin Al Kharafi and Sons Company
Al Kharafi
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MAKMAK made its fortune from the Gulf construction boom of the 1970s, and the group’s other interests include manufacturing, air transport, insurance, food, agency trading, banking and hotels. In post-Gulf War Kuwait, MAKMAK was responsible for restoring the fire-damaged parliament. MAKMAK continues to build large construction projects like roads, airports, pipelines, office blocks, bridges and industrial plants and performs engineering tasks such as land reclamation. MAKMAK has the franchise for global names including KFC, Pizza Hut, Hardee’s and Baskin Robbins, and in 2006 bought a stake in doughnut giant Krispy Kreme. In March,MAKMAK bought a 3% stake in Sudan’s BritishVirgin Islands-incorporated, Khartoum-based Petrodar Operating CompanyPetrodar Operating Company Ltd, from Dubai-based Al-Thani InvestmentsAl-Thani Investments. PetrodarPetrodar is a consortium involved in Blocks 3 and 7 in Sudan’s southern region other consortium members are China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), Malaysia’s Petronas, China’s Sinopec and the governmentowned Sudan Petroleum Company (Sudapet)Sudan Petroleum Company (Sudapet), which took a 2% stake fromAl-ThaniAl-Thani, and now holds 10% . Al-ThaniAl-Thani sold its 5% for $500m.

 

MAKMAK has a heavy presence in Africa, especially in Egypt through its Egypt-Kuwait Holding Company (EKH)Egypt-Kuwait Holding Company (EKH) which is majority owner of Tri-Ocean Energy, set up in early 2006 to focus on oil exploration and production in Egypt and abroad. In February,Tri-Ocean said it had made a light oil discovery in its North Shadwan concession which will be capable of producing 10,000 b/d of oil. EKHEKH also has stakes in Fayum Gas CompanyFayum Gas Company,which says it has a 20-year concession to design, construct and operate a gas transmission and distribution network in Fayum governorate. With ShellShell and India’s GAIL it is an investor in NatgasNatgas,which has a similar concession to design, construct and operate urban gas transmission and distribution networks. Elsewhere, the Kharafi GroupKharafi Group does construction work in Tanzania, owns hotels in Gambia (the Kairaba Beach Hotel and Sheraton Gambia resort), and has offices in Lesothov Botswana,Mozambique, Kenya, Senegal, Niger and Eritrea.

The Sawiris family (3rd-5th and 17th)
All four most prominent members – NaguibNaguib (3rd – $12.7bn),Nassef (4th – $11bn), Onsi (5th – $9.1bn) and Samih (17th – $2.9bn) – of the Sawiris family have made it into the ArabTop 20. The Sawiris are often referred to as Egypt’s version of the Rockefellers. The ageing patriarch of the family, Onsi, set up a small contracting company in the early 1950s. In Cairo, his company was awarded several contracts by the Irrigation Ministry to dig waterways and basins, and later roadbuilding contracts but in 1961, under the new socialist Egypt of Gamal Abdel Nasser, the business was targeted for nationalisation.

 

Onsi was forced to work as a government employee in his own firm and was prevented from leaving Egypt. He eventually left in 1966 for Libya, again setting up a construction company. He returned in 1977 and encouraged by Anwar Sadat’s government, started a construction firm for the third time. Orascom quickly became a more diversified group, and won deals to represent top US companies like Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft, and also won financing and contracts from the US Agency for International Development. In the 1990s Orascom gradually diverged from construction into other businesses, and was split into three. Onsi has three sons: the eldest is NaguibNaguib, followed by Samih and then Nassef. NaguibNaguib is now responsible for the telecoms side (Orascom Telecom HoldingOrascom Telecom Holding), Samih for the family’s hotel and tourism business (Orascom Hotels & DevelopmentOrascom Hotels & Development) and Nassef on the industry/contracting and cement business (Orascom Construction IndustriesOrascom Construction Industries).
 

Mohammed Al-AmoudiMohammed Al-Amoudi (6th – $9bn)
Al-Amoudi is one of a group of Saudi businessmen born into non- Saudi or marginal Saudi communities, who have emerged as very significant business players, usually by being linked to senior Saudi princes; these men have often promoted business in their families’ countries of origin,while also become international magnates in their own right. Al-Amoudi is of Yemeni/Ethiopian origin, and at one time his sponsor was Saudi Crown Prince Sultan Bin Abdelaziz.

 

He has taken a big interest in Ethiopia, but his interests are much wider than that, having built upon his Swedish operations – he owns Corral Petroleum HoldingCorral Petroleum Holding there – and expanded via operations like buying Morocco’s Samir refinery company, in a privatisation sale. He is rapidly buying up African oil interests (GSN 821/10). In Saudi Arabia he owns Naft Services CompanyNaft Services Company, which operates petrol stations; he also holds a stake in Saudi Research and Marketing GroupSaudi Research and Marketing Group (which publishes Arab News and Asharq Al-Awsat), alongside Prince Alwaleed Bin TalalPrince Alwaleed Bin Talal‘s Kingdom Holding CompanyKingdom Holding Company, and grandchildren of Riyadh governor Prince Salman Bin Abdelaziz. Al-Amoudi’s other concerns include ABV Rock GroupABV Rock Group, which built the Saudi strategic oil reserve infrastructure.

Abdelaziz Al-GhurairAbdelaziz Al-Ghurairand family (7th – $8.9bn) and Saif Al- Ghurair and family (18th – $2.8bn)
Like many Gulf merchant families, theAl-Ghurair are thought to have made their initial fortune from the pearling industry. Saif Al-Ghurair began his career working on ships owned by his father, which traded dates for timber with the East African coast. According to one account, when the oil boom hit Dubai, Saif built warehouses and acquired transport equipment to take advantage of the new demand for modern products. He rapidly attained a prominent position in Dubai, which he consolidated by investing in real estate. Today, his branch of the family owns Al-Ghurair GroupAl-Ghurair Group, which he inherited from his father Ahmed. Among its many interests,Al-Ghurair GroupAl-Ghurair Group owns shopping malls and is heavily involved in manufacturing it owns Gulf ExtrusionsGulf Extrusions,which it says is the largest aluminium extrusion facility in the region. It also holds a stake in Shuaa CapitalShuaa Capital, chaired by Saif ‘s son Majid, who last year was named a World Economic Forum young global leader.

Abdulaziz Abdullah Al Ghurair
Nationality:  UAE
Current Position:  Vice Chairman of Al Ghurair Investment
» View Biography & Positions

 

Saif ‘s 54-year-old nephew Abdelaziz is vice chairman and managing director of Al-Ghurair InvestmentsAl-Ghurair Investments, which is majority-owned by his father Abdullah (Saif ‘s brother). This branch of the family founded Dubai-based MashreqbankMashreqbank, retaining a majority stake with Abdelaziz as CEO. Al-Ghurair InvestmentsAl-Ghurair Investments owns Masafi Mineral WaterMasafi Mineral Water.Abdelaziz is also chairman of RAK PetroleumRAK Petroleum (GSN 821/8) and sits on the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and IndustryDubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry board.

Maan Al-SaneaMaan Al-Sanea (9th – $8.1bn)
Low-profile Saudi/Kuwaiti investor Maan Al-SaneaMaan Al-Sanea has emerged into the international spotlight with a series of large investments.

Compared to other Saudi big spenders – such as the multi-billionaire Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Al-SaudPrince Alwaleed Bin Talal Al-SaudAl-Sanea’s investments have until recently been discreet. He recently emerged as the second biggest shareholder in HSBCHSBC, with a 3.1% stake worth £3.3bn. He also runs a large, diversified family conglomerate Saad GroupSaad Group. Al- Sanea is very prominent in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province and has ties through marriage to the hugely rich merchant family, the Al-Gosaibis. Saad has several subsidiaries, including Lombard Atlantic Bank in the Netherlands Antilles, and through his Saad Investments Company he has stakes in Bahrain’s Awal BankAwal Bank, the UK’s Berkeley Group and Bank of China.

Suleiman Al-RajhiSuleiman Al-Rajhi (8th – $8.4bn), Saleh Al-Rajhi (12th -$4.7bn) and Abdullah Al-RajhiAbdullah Al-Rajhi (14th – $3.2bn)
The Al Rajhi family business empire is one of the most established in Saudi Arabia with very many businesses owned by different branches of the family. Their fortune stems from a substantial money exchange business started in the 1930s. The family, originally from Qassim province, now numbers thousands, but the most important members are the descendants of Abdelaziz Bin Saleh Al-Rajhi.

HH Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud
Age:  53
Nationality:  Lebanon, Saudi Arabia
Current Position:  Director of Consolidated Contractors Company – Saudi Arabia
» View Biography & Positions

 

He had many sons, but the four most important are: Saleh, Abdullah, Suleiman and Mohammed. Saleh is in his 90s and has many children, with conservative estimates of 50-60 offspring. He owns Saleh Abdelaziz Al-Rajhi and Partners with his children and some seven wives. He has retired from business and his children are now the key players in the bank, and in Al-Rajhi business interests.

 

Abdullah is estimated to have some 40 children and has a large stake in Al-Rajhi BankAl-Rajhi Bank, as well as having other business interests. Suleiman is in his late 80s and has business interests including the huge Al- Watania Poultry CompanyAl- Watania Poultry Company, as well as being doyen of Islamic bankers.

Mohammed Bin Issa Al-JaberMohammed Bin Issa Al-Jaber (10th – $5.3bn)
MBI is chairman and CEO of MBI InternationalMBI International, a hotel and resort, real estate development and food industries conglomerate which says it has a net asset value of $6.6bn. In Saudi Arabia,MBI InternationalMBI International has a joint venture with Dubai’s NakheelNakheel to develop real estate projects. In March 2008,Austrian Airlines approved the sale of a 20% stake to Al-Jaber. MBI is another Hadramouti billionaire and now has a variety of interests; he has secured a Unesco honorary ambassadorship.

Saleh Kamel (11th – $5bn)
A pioneering player in the field of Islamic finance, Saleh Kamel is chairman and owner of Dallah Albaraka GroupDallah Albaraka Group, which has a vast range of investments. He is joint shareholder with Saudi investor Prince Alwaleed Bin TalalPrince Alwaleed Bin Talalin Arab Media Corporation HoldingArab Media Corporation Holding, which owns Arab Radio and Television Network (ART)Arab Radio and Television Network (ART). In December 2006, a NewYork judge dismissed a lawsuit against Kamel and his Albaraka Investment Bank. Accusations had been made that they had been involved in supporting Al-Qaeda. This was thrown out of court.

Saad HaririSaad Hariri (13th – $3.3bn)
The Saudi/Lebanese 37-year-old Saad is the second son of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri, who was assassinated in February 2005. Rafiq Hariri established Saudi OgerSaudi Oger in the late 1970s, developing the Riyadh-based company into a major construction conglomerate. Today it remains privately owned, and directed by the Hariri family. Saad is Saudi OgerSaudi Oger‘s chairman, his elder brother Bahaeddine is vice president. Saudi OgerSaudi Oger owns the Sheraton RiyadhSheraton Riyadh and holds stakes in Jordan’s Arab BankArab Bank and Saudi Investment BankSaudi Investment Bank.

 

Saad is a director of the Saudi Research and Publishing CompanySaudi Research and Publishing Company, and hence has good ties to the Bin Salman princes. Following his father’s assassination, Saad took up his political path and is head of the majority in Lebanon’s parliament. He has said it was not a job he wanted at first, “then we decided that what my father wanted to achieve had not been achieved.” Time magazine says he has a fondness for Partagas cigars and vintage roadsters.

Majid Al-FuttaimMajid Al-Futtaim (15th – $3bn)
Majid Al-Futtaim GroupMajid Al-Futtaim Group builds and owns shopping malls – it is behind the vast Mall of the Emirates (complete with ski slope) in Dubai, and has malls under construction in Bahrain, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. It has a joint venture with French supermarket chain Carrefour.

Suleiman Al-Gosaibi (16th – $3bn)
The Al-Gosaibi hold stakes in numerous Bahraini and Saudi companies. Originally from Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province (Hofuf in Al-Hasa oasis, the centre of Saudi agriculture), the family first made its fortune through trading dates to India, and became enormously wealthy during the Gulf ‘s pearling boom – famous for being Arabia’s first millionaires (in the 1920s and 30s they were the richest family in Arabia). Al-Gosaibis were particularly close to Saudi founder Ibn Saud. Suleiman is chairman of family company Ahmad Hamad Al- Gosaibi and Brothers (AHAG)Ahmad Hamad Al- Gosaibi and Brothers (AHAG), a largish conglomerate with interests in shipping, insurance, hotels, trading, transport, manufacturing and financial services. In Bahrain it owns International Banking Corporation. Suleiman is the uncle of Mann Al-Sanea’s wife Sanaa Al-Gosaibi.

Bassem Al-GhanimBassem Al-Ghanim (19th – $2.8bn) and Kutayba Al-Ghanim (20th – $2.8bn)
Bassem and Kutayba are brothers and come from the very well known Kuwaiti (and Gulfi) Al-Ghanim merchant family. Unlike some of Kuwait’s large merchant class who have their roots in Iran, the Al- Ghanim came from central Arabia and moved to Kuwait with the now ruling Al-Sabah clan in the early 18th century. Not surprisinggiven their aristocratic status, the Al-Ghanim have married into the Al-Sabah at the highest level – Bassam’s great aunt Sheikha Hussa married Ahmed Al-Jabir Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah, who ruled Kuwait from 1921-50. The Kuwaiti Al-Ghanim initially made their money from pearling and running dhows on the Basra-Bombay route. In the 1920s they lost boats in a storm and Bassem and Kutayba’s grandfather Ahmed was forced to embark on a new career, as a timber merchant. In what became a lucrative source of income,Ahmed was given the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (later BPBP) agency. His English-speaking son Yousef, helped Anglo-Persian in negotiations for an oil concession in Kuwait. Yousef (Bassem and Kutayba’s father) entered the quarrying business and gradually branched out taking the agency for Imperial Airways (later British Airways). In 1938,Yousef was the first Kuwaiti to visit Britain, and as a result, his sons – including Bassem – were sent to school in Scotland. Yousef picked up the agency for Chrysler in the late 1939s and afterWorldWar Two he became the agent in Kuwait for General Motors. Today, Al-Ghanim IndustriesAl-Ghanim Industries– where Bassem is president, Kutayba is chairman, and Kutayba’s son Omar is CEO – holds the agencies for Acer, Yamaha, Sony Ericsson, Samsonite, Samsung, Siemens,Nokia,Motorola,Kenwood, Fujitsu, IBM,Dell,Casio,Cannon, Daewoo, Electrolux, Compaq, Minolta, Philips, Toshiba,Whirlpool and Xerox (among others). An Al-Ghanim IndustriesAl-Ghanim Industriesaffiliate, the Gulf Trading and Refrigerating CompanyGulf Trading and Refrigerating Company (which Bassem is a director of) represents Mars,Kraft Foods and Colgate Palmolive. Outside of family business, Bassem is chairman and managing director of the Kuwait based Gulf BankGulf Bank, in which Al-Ghanim IndustriesAl-Ghanim Industriesholds a stake.

Alghanim Industries
Kuwait | Conglomerates
 News | ProfileOfficers

 

Alghanim Industries
Kuwait | Conglomerates
 News | ProfileOfficers

 

Alghanim Industries
Kuwait | Conglomerates
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© Gulf States Newsletter 2008

 

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