Bigger beard, bigger balance: Muslim Brotherhood's business moguls unmasked

Published August 23rd, 2013 - 09:13 GMT

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Khairat Al-Shater
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Image 1 of 8: Khairat Al Shater- Cairo's cream of the crop: Although the extent of his wealth and economic interests remains elusive, Shater is the Brotherhood’s top business tycoon. He’s made millions through his growing textile and furniture business and his influence is bound to boom following the launch of his new lower-income shopping enterprise, Zad.

Hassan Malek
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Image 1 of 8: Hassan Malek: Having gone into business with Shater in 1983, Malek’s prominence in the Brotherhood is undeniable - his venture into software has made him filthy rich and accordingly boosted his party position. He has import/export deals in 10 countries and has enlisted four of his seven children to help steer the Malek business ship.

Essam El haddad
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Image 1 of 8: Essam Al Haddad is an international high-flyer. After gaining his PhD, he founded Islamic Relief Worldwide, a Britain-based NGO. A member of every Arab development group under the sun, Al Haddad has his finger in a lot of pies and can promote Brotherhood causes in all his ventures, making him invaluable both as a businessman and party member.

Safwat Al-Thabet
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Image 1 of 8: Of all the Brotherhood’s notorious businessmen, Safwan Thabet comes closest to the manufacturing sector, traditionally associated with the upper military echelons. He quenched his thirst for business by establishing Juhayna Food Industries in 1983. He owns over six subsidiaries, and manufactures and sells milks, juices, and yoghurts globally.

Ahmed Al-Ezaby
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Image 1 of 8: In 1975, Ahmed Al Ezaby launched a chain of pharmacies with a delivery service that spread to six Egyptian cities. He was even expelled from the Egyptian Union of Pharmacology for owning too many pharmacies! His influence over the Egyptian health sector makes him a key tycoon in the Brotherhood.

 Samir Al-Naggar
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Image 1 of 8: With a PhD in agriculture, Al Naggar has certainly used his academic qualifications to dig into this field’s millions! Samir proved that he is no potatohead when his DALTEX cooperation became the first in Egypt to pack potatoes, soon expanding into exporting and importing all sorts of fruits to Europe and Africa.

Yusuf Al Qaradawi
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Image 1 of 8: Perhaps the most conspicuous Ikhwan fat-cat is Yousef Al Qaradawi and his his TV show Al Sharia wal Hayah (Sharia and Law), which has an audience of 60 million. He’s published over 120 books and is a consultant scholar on Islamic films and TV shows. With his media and Sharia know-how, Al Qaradawi certainly pulls his business weight in the MB.

Mohammad Momen
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Image 1 of 8: Pizza Hut? McDonald’s? Who cares! After invading the restaurant industry in 1988, Momen proved that fast-food is not necessarily an American trademark when his Momen (Arabic for “Believer”) Islamic chain reached 38 branches in Egypt, branching out to markets as diverse as Libya, Sudan, and the UAE.

For the past couple of years, the Muslim Brotherhood has dominated the political scene in Egypt and beyond.  But the extent of its involvement in business and economics is also worth investigating as many high-ranking Brotherhood members are millionaires in both their bank balance and their wasta.

As once was said, the Brotherhood has more in common with the Republican Party than Al-Qaeda. A keen eye for business and a sharp mind has allowed many Ikhwan members to dominate the healthcare, manufacturing and fast-food sectors in the Egyptian economy. That's a powerful monopoly for a country of over 80 million people!

The Brotherhood has consistently embraced free market capitalism, and there's nothing it loves more than privatization and foreign investment (...apart from protesting in Rabaa Al-Adawiya square).  Money has provided the Brotherhood with the power and will to embrace its long-awaited political aspirations. The Brotherhood’s wealth paved its way to power, and made it very difficult to shut them out from politics and business. News of  members’ arrests or the freezing of their assets makes it all the more important to understand how the organization has infiltrated Egyptian society.

It would be practically impossible to count every single business owned by the Brotherhood, let alone those belonging to individuals within the organization! If you take a quick look at the Egyptian stock market, it soon becomes clear: not one Muslim Brotherhood business is listed. The organization keeps its financial records completely under the radar. The only official record dates back to 2007, when a group of Brotherhood members were brought before a military court; at the time, only 72 companies were listed. Included were a number of  retail clothing shops, and a construction firm. Today, their publicly known properties include Turkish luxury furniture stores, clothing shops located in Cairo’s upscale malls, a fast food chain with branches in the Gulf, and supermarket franchises in Cairo’s more affluent neighborhoods.


Although many of the Brotherhood’s business dynasties remain hidden,  this slideshow picks the masterminds who have provided the monetary muscle behind the movement and are likely to continue doing so despite the challenges facing the Ikhwan now that Morsi is no longer in power.

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