Middle East & Africa




Cheaper oil means less patronage in the Middle East. Which in turn means entrepreneurs are looking beyond the sheikhs, emirs and kings for economic support. One proven route to riches: banking. All of the 11 billionaires and 2 of the heavy hitters from the region are bankers or own stakes in banks. For many, the banks serve as a jumping-off point for other businesses. Saudi Arabia’s Al Rajhi family started a money-changer, turned it into a bank and got into real estate and agribusiness. Not so in Africa, where the bigger fortunes are still in the making.

By Juliette Rossant and Luisa Kroll


Theodore Arison
Net worth: $4 billion
Claim to fame: Former head of Carnival Cruise Lines now busy investing in Israel. Last October bought 43% of state-owned Bank Hapoalim in a consortium with U.S. Healthcare founder Len Abramson and others.
Assets: Son, Micky, runs Carnival, but Ted, 74, still owns 16%, worth $3 billion. Also set up a joint venture with Teva Pharmaceuticals to invest in biomedical research.
Time off: His Arison Foundation gives to hospitals and education in Israel and U.S.


Nasser Al-Kharafi And Family
Net worth: $4.4 billion
Claim to fame: With brother Fawzi, runs $2.6 billion (revenues). Mohammed Abdulmohsin Al-Kharafi & Sons, the general trading and contracting group founded by their father. Now building hotels, restaurants and tourist villages in Egypt, Albania and South Africa.
Assets: All of M.A. Al-Kharafi & Sons; an estimated 20% of the National Bank of Kuwait and most of Kuwait Food Co. (Americana), which recently opened Damascus, Syria’s first Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant.


Edmond Safra
Net worth: $3.3 billion
Claim to fame: A long-term player in the world of finance. Last October his Safra Republic Holdings issued the first bonds that carry a maturity of 1,000 years.
Assets: 28% of Republic New York Corp., owner of Republic National Bank of New York, plus 21% of Safra Republic Holdings, a Luxembourg-based private banking firm.
Time off: Comparing notes on family businesses. Nephew Jacob owns Encyclopaedia Britannica;
brother Joseph has banks in Brazil and Israel.

Saudi Arabia

Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud
Net worth: $13.3 billion
One of FORBES’ top ten entrepreneurs. See page 190.

Suliman Olayan
Net worth: $7 billion
Claim to fame: Olayan, 79, is an international investor with a golden touch. His first trip to the U.S. in 1950 led to long-term relationships with General Foods, Pillsbury and Kimberly-Clark.
Assets: The Olayan Group’s 30 companies in Saudi Arabia span trading to contracting. Plus a nearly 20% stake in Saudi British Bank and significant minority shareholding in blue chips like Chase, Occidental and Credit Suisse First Boston. U.K. holdings include stakes in National Grid and Peel Holdings.

Saleh Bin Abdul Aziz Al Rajhi And Family
Net worth: $3.5 billion
Claim to fame: This press-shy clan runs the Al Rajhi Banking & Investment Corp., which operates on Islamic principle, paying no interest on deposits. With 25% return on equity, it’s Saudi Arabia’s most profitable bank.
Assets: The family’s 52% stake in the bank is worth $3.4 billion. Bank’s general manager, Abdullah Sulaiman Al Rajhi, Saleh’s nephew, 40, brought in AT Kearny to restructure the bank and integrate new computer systems.
Time off: Nephew Abdullah is an avid squash player.

Khalid Salim Bin Mahfouz And Family
Net worth: $2.6 billion
Claim to fame: Heads National Commercial Bank, the Middle East’s largest private bank. Last summer Bin Mahfouz, 51, bought Credit Libanaise, the tenth-largest bank in Lebanon, for $163 million.
Assets: 80% of National Commercial Bank, plus construction projects throughout the Middle East and Europe. Nimir Petroleum, run by Khalid’s two sons, has operations in Yemen, Colombia, Azerbaijan and Sakhalin Island.

Saleh Abdallah Kamel
Net worth: $1.8 billion
Claim to fame: Built an empire of Islamic banks, finance and leasing companies worth $12 billion (assets) throughout the Muslim world. His Dallah Albaraka is Saudi Arabia’s second-largest conglomerate, with real estate, manufacturing, construction and money-changing operations.
Assets: Owns majority of Dallah Albaraka. Purchased an 11% stake in tiny Saudi bank, Al-Jazira, and put son Abdullah on the board. Saudi monetary authorities have long denied him an Islamic banking license, but he may try to turn Al- Jazira into an Islamic bank.


Rahmi Koc And Family
Net worth: $5 billion
Claim to fame: Heads Turkey’s biggest conglomerate, with over 100 companies — from home appliance makers to automakers. Its 21 listed companies account for 18% of the country’s market cap.
Assets: 80% of publicly traded Ko Holding, worth $3 billion, a majority stake in listed supermarket chain Migros, and more. Ko Holding plans to sell another 10% to the public this month.
Time off: Its own brand of education: the family finances Ko University and Ko High School in Istanbul.

Sakip Sabanci And Family
Net worth: $5 billion
Claim to fame: The eponymous family holding company spans the Turkish economy — from banks and insurance to production of cars, tires and cigarettes. Sabanci, 65, and his family reportedly pay 5.3% of the country’s tax bill.
Assets: 89% of Haci mer Sabanci Holding, which listed its shares last summer. Plus 30% of $5.5 billion assets Akbank, also publicly traded.
Time off: Family philanthropy split between giving to social services and the new Sabanci University outside Istanbul.

Ayhan Sahenk And Family
Net worth: $2.2 billion
Claim to fame: Sahenk, 69, heads Turkey’s leading banking family. Their flagship Garanti Bank issued its own credit card last year, with an annual interest rate of about 200% — typical in Turkey.
Assets: 82% of Garanti Bank (worth $1.6 billion), plus three other banks, real estate and a construction company. Ferit, 34, manages family’s banking and finance holdings, while daughter, Filiz, 31, handles retail, tourism and food businesses.

South Africa

Nicky Oppenheimer And Family
Net worth: $2.4 billion
Claim to fame: Only son of Harry, 53-year-old Nicky became De Beers chairman in January, reclaiming the family spot atop the diamond and mining empire — after a 13-year hiatus.
Assets: Family-controlled conglomerate, Anglo American, being restructured into eight companies including Anglogold and Amcoal. Its dominance of South Africa’s economy has loosened from 41% of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange market cap in 1994 to a recent 19%.
Time off: Owns a cricket team, flies helicopters.

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