The Middle East is a place that is rife with billionaires. After all, oil and gas are abundant in the region, thereby allowing its owners to purchase the most expensive gadgets, the most rare exotic car, and just about any costly toy that catches their fancy. And they have got it made until practically the next generation, as their current reserves are enough to last them for the next several decades even if no new oil field is discovered.
But who exactly are the people who have earned the most money? Below is a list of the top ten richest people in the Middle East.
1. His Royal Highness Prince Al Waleed – $21.3 billion
A member of the Saudi Arabian royal family, Prince Al Waleed is the nephew of the Saudi Arabian King Abdullah. The Prince earned a master’s degree in Social Science from Syracuse University in 1985. He is the founder, Chief Executive Officer and majority owner of Kingdom Holding Company. In addition, another of his companies, the Kingdom Zephyr Africa Management, has made substantial new investments in Nigeria, with interests in various sectors, including oil, banking, hotels and cement production.
2. Mohamed Bin Issa Al Jaber – $12.75 billion
Mohamed Bin Issa Al Jaber built his wealth through real estate investments. He is the founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of MBI International. He also has significant interests in AJWA Group for Food Industries, Continentoil Oil and Gas Industries, JJW Hotel and Resorts and Jadawel International. He has also become a philanthropist committed to introducing reforms in education and promoting tolerance and peace.
3. Lubna Suliman Olayan – $11.9 billion
Lubna Olayan is the richest woman in the Middle East and is considered one of the most influential businesswomen in the world today. She is the Chief Executive Officer of the Olayan Financing Company, or OFC, the holding company that serves her company’s operations in Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Middle East. Her group has a significant interest in more than 40 companies, including in the bottling company of Coca Cola for the region and franchises of Burger King. She also has a significant number of shares in ABN AMRO, an international bank based in the Netherlands.
4. Issam Alzahid – $10.7 billion
Issam Alzahid built his wealth through the construction industry. The Alzahid Group of Companies that he chairs actually started out as Alzahid Construction way back in 1951. By 1958, the company was a major player in the industry, helping build up the country’s infrastructure. The group now has interests in a variety of industries, including food, information technology, logistics, manufacturing, mining, oil and gas, and the retail sectors.
5. Mohammed Al Amoudi – $10.4 billion
He is the richest black person in the world, building up his wealth through the construction and real estate industries. Eventually, he entered the oil industry, buying refineries in Morocco and Sweden. He has since diversified further, with interests in agriculture, finance, hospitals, hotels and mining. He has also taken a pioneering role in the automotive industry in his country, putting up about $275 million to help develop the first car to be built in Saudi Arabia. The car is to be named Gazal-1.
6. Al Kharafi family – $8.74 billion
The Al Kharafi group valued at $4.3 billion is now in the hands of the second generation after the passing away of the patriarch. The group has exclusive rights in the region for a variety of popular food items and fast food chains, including Cadbury’s, KFC, Pizza Hut, Saint Cinnamon and TGI Friday’s and Wimpy. The group is also the largest shareholder of Krispy Kreme.
7. Bukhamseen family – $7.25 billion
The Jawad Bukhamseen Commercial Corporation was established in 1957. Its main businesses are in banking and financial investment. The group also has significant interests in civil engineering, entertainment, industrial production, media and communication, travel and tourism, and urban planning.
8. Bin Ladin family – $ 7.2 billion
The Bin Ladin group is probably the most successful construction business in the country. It was responsible for the palaces built for the royal family in Jeddah and Riyadh. It was also tasked in the 1969 restoration work of the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem after it was damaged in an arson attack. Thirteen siblings from the family’s current generation now occupy positions in the Board of Directors of the family’s company.
9. Bugshan family – $7 billion
The family is the owner of the Ahmed Salem Bugshan Group, commonly called the ASB Group. The company actually started out as a manufacturer of steel products. It eventually diversified and now has significant shares and interests in a variety of sectors, including automobiles, electronics, luxury cosmetics, watches, and real estate. Companies under the ASB group also hold exclusive distribution rights in the region for products such as Christian Dior perfumes, Nivea, and Bridgestone tires.
10. Said Khoury – $6.5 billion
He started out in the construction industry in 1952, when Said Khoury established the Consolidated Contractors International Company, or CCC, with his cousin Hasib Sabbagh. The company was one of the very first Arab construction companies ever created. Khoury’s group was responsible for several big item projects, like the construction of the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and the Ronald Reagan International Airport in Washington, D.C. in the United States. Khoury has also not been averse to working with other big building companies, as proven when he collaborated with the Bechtel Group, the largest construction company in the world. The collaboration was for a contract Khoury signed with the Iraq Petroleum Company for the construction of oil pipe storage facilities. In addition, Khoury is widely known for his fervent assistance to the Palestinian cause in its struggle against Israel. He was actually born in Palestine before it became a Jewish state. He then moved to Beirut after they got driven out of their home, and got his first job as a construction worker helping build the airport in Tripoli in Lebanon.
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