The Billionaires of Arabia

Do you recognize the people who matter most

It is not easy to identify all the billionaires of Arabia

The lists published by the likes of Forbes and Bloomberg grossly underestimate their total number, partly because the magazines focus on publicly available stock ownership data in listed companies, and also because they generally do not include members of the ruling and royal families, where most of the billionaires are found.

No one knows for sure how many billionaires live in Arabia or the GCC, which includes Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, and Bahrain. For one, there is a real ignorance of who’s who in the region especially by Western media. Then there is the taboo of revealing the net worth of individuals, particularly those who prefer to be discrete, not to mention the ‘legality’ of doing so given the strict media and censorship laws. Also, the similarity between names makes it easy to mix up people. As a real life example, everybody knows that there is a Saudi billionaire by the name Mohamed (Hussain) Al Amoudi, but hardly anyone knows that there is a Mohamed (Obood) AlAmoudi in this category.

The billionaire lists published by local magazines are at best inaccurate. One such magazine kept ranking the Vice Chairman and CEO of a major Kuwaiti group as a billionaire, only to realize several years later that the real billionaire behind the group was one of its shareholders. The same magazine repeatedly ranked the CEO of a major UAE bank as a billionaire but discovered after many years that his father owned most of the stock in the bank. Needless to say, they never explained those research blunders.

Generally, with the exception of Prince Alwalid bin Talal Al Saud, who once sued Forbes to force it to hike his billionaire ranking, most ultra-high net worth individuals in the GCC prefer a low profile and don’t like to boast about their wealth.

Dhow Net estimates that there are at least 250 billionaires in the six countries of the GCC. Obviously, we do not have exact figures for any of them and we are yet to include them all in our database. But based on our team’s experience and knowledge of the region, prominent families, and local corporate and financial markets, we are confident that we have captured a good chunk of this universe.

 

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