Friday, December 21, 2007

The Middle East's 20 Richest People

Devon Pendleton, Forbes (US: New York)

Sky-high oil prices are good news for the region's 20 richest billionaires, who hail from six countries, made their money in nine industries and were worth $123 billion in March when we last locked in net worths, up about 10% from the previous year ... Interestingly, only one in the top 20, Mohammed Al Amoudi, actually makes his fortune from oil; the rest are merely beneficiaries from all the oil money sloshing through the region. That is especially true in Saudi Arabia, home to 25 % of the world's oil reserves and seven members of our top 20. Their wealthiest citizen, and also the region's richest, is prominent: Saudi investor Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Alsaud ranked 13th in the world in March, then worth $20.3 billion. In July, the prince took public his Kingdom Holding Co., a conglomerate of banking, media, real estate and hotel investments, raising $2.3 billion. He still has a substantial stake in U.S. financial giant Citigroup. Another Saudi investor, Maan Al-Sanea, made news in April when he disclosed a 3.1% stake in HSBC. The announcement propelled the former air force pilot -- and, until then, low-profile businessman -- into the limelight, and helped boost his fortune, which we estimated at $7.5 billion in March, to at least $10 billion ... Saudi Arabia's Al Rajhi family, whose eponymous bank manages the wealth of everyday Saudis, is perhaps the region's oldest banking family. Worth a collective $15.9 billion, the four aging Al Rajhi brothers (two of whom rank in the top 20) have controlled the bank since it began in the 1940s as a desert trading post.

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