Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, chairman of the Kingdom Holdings Company is the richest Saudi Arabian, according to a new survey.
There were few surprises on the list of Saudi Arabia’s 50 richest people, presented over the weekend with Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal claiming the number one position.
Bin Talal owns 95% of the Kingdom Holding Company which holds stakes in Citigroup, Apple and News Corp. He was ranked as the 19th richest person in the world by Forbes in 2008 with an estimated wealth of $20.1bn. Arabian Business who compiled the list, estimated Bin Talal’s current fortune at $16.3bn – the kind of wealth that places Saudis ahead of many of their neighbors in the Gulf region.
Despite losing one fifth of his wealth, Bin Talal is still almost twice as rich as the next wealthiest on the list, Mohammad Hussein Al Amoudi with a wealth of $8.8 billion. Al Amoudi was born in Ethiopia to a Yemeni father but was raised in Saudi Arabia. He made his money in real estate before moving on to oil refinement in such distant places as Sweden and Morocco.
Number three on the list is Sheikh Mohamed Bin Issa Al Jaber, the founder, Chairman & CEO of MBI International. Like others on the list, Al-Jaber’s MBI International is active in a number of fields such as real estate development, oil and gas, agro-industries, and tourism and resort management. If it were not for Al-Jaber’s charity work, some have claimed his fortune might be substantially larger. He sponsors a chair at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London and contributes extensively to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
Despite being one of the largest construction companies in the Middle East, and being involved in projects worth hundreds of billions of dollars, the fifth entry will undoubtedly attract the attention of readers due to the family name: Bin Laden. The Bin Laden family who own the company, though originally from Yemen, made their mark in Saudi by winning contracts from the Saudi Royal family ranging from expanding the religious site in the holy cities of Mecca and Medina to the construction of palaces.
The one exception to the male dominated list is the female headed Olayan family with an estimated net worth of $6.9bn. Today the group is lead by Mary Olayan the widow of the Suleiman Olayan, who in 1945 started the distribution company General Trading Company. From trucking, the conglomerate has grown to include stakes in MetLife, First Boston and American International Group. The family also holds a 3.6 share of Swiss banking giant Credit Suisse.
Journalists have been congratulated by some for the list which took four months to compile, while others have questioned the point of the list in the first place.
“No I haven’t seen the list” The blogger known as Saudi Jeans, told The Media Line. “Usually they are more about marketing than who is actually on the list, since some people don’t want others to know how much money they have.”