- Of 32 Arab billionaires, five are new.
- Aggregate net worth dropped $29.9 billion from one year ago to a recent $95.5 billion.
- FORBES MIDDLE EAST inaugurates its list of the Arab world’s Richest Families.
The past year was unkind to billionaires all over the world, including the Middle East, where Arab billionaires saw their net worth drop by 23.8% from a year ago. Still, FORBES MIDDLE EAST added five new billionaires, including Hussain Sajwani from the U.A.E., Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani of Qatar, and Oman’s Suhail Bahwan. Prince Alwaleed of Saudi Arabia remains the wealthiest Arab in the world, even though his net worth fell by more than 20% from a year ago.
At 7, Lebanon has the most billionaires, making it also one the countries with the highest number of billionaires per capita in the world. Saudi billionaires are the richest with a combined net worth of $34.6 billion. The second richest are from the U.A.E. with a combined net worth of $19.7 billion.
Families remain pillars of Arab economies, providing jobs and stability. Saudi Arabia again tops the rich list, with 12 of the 15 richest families. Nine out of the 15 families made a fortune owning licensing rights to foreign brands, mostly American.
Forbes Middle East traces the trajectory of the Alajlan family, from small shop owners, selling menswear in a Riyadh souk, to exclusive licensees of Versace, Ferrari, Kenzo and other luxury brands for shemaghs, the traditional Arab headdress.
Richest Arab billionaire
- Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Alsaud (Saudi Arabia)– No. 1, net worth $17.3 billion
The Prince owns stakes in private and public companies in the U.S., Europe and the Middle East through Kingdom Holding Co.
Youngest Arab billionaire
- Fahd Hariri (Lebanon) – No. 32, net worth $1.2 billion
Fahd Hariri is the youngest son of slain Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. While he currently lives in Paris, he develops residential buildings in Beirut.
New Arab billionaires
- Suhail Bahwan (Oman)– Ranked #7, net worth $3.4 billion
Bahwan started out as a small trader before diversifying into several industries.
- Hussain Sajwani (U.A.E.) – Ranked #8, net worth $3.2 billion
Sajwani founded residential real estate developer Damac Properties in 2002.
- Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani (Qatar) – Ranked #18, net worth $2 billion
At age 16, Al Thani started selling car parts in Doha, before establishing his eponymous holding company in 1964.
- Abdul Wahid Al Rostamani (U.A.E.) – Ranked #28, net worth $1.3 billion
Al Rostamani and his late brother, Abdullah, founded Dubai’s first bookshop in 1954.
- Mohammed Saud Bahwan (Oman) – Ranked #28, net worth $1.3 billion
Bahwan’s late father became Toyota’s agent in Oman in 1975 and built it into a market leader.
- Saudi Arabia – 6 billionaires worth $34.6 billion
- U.A.E. – 6 billionaires worth $19.7 billion
- Egypt – 6 billionaires, worth $14.2 billion
- Lebanon – 7 billionaires worth $12.5 billion
- Oman – 3 billionaires worth $6.2 billion
- Morocco – 2 billionaires with a new worth of $3.2 billion
- Algeria – 1 billionaire worth $3.1 billion
- Qatar – 1 billionaire worth $2 billion