The 5 Most Powerful Family Businesses in the Middle East

Published July 12th, 2020 - 03:00 GMT
The 5 Most Powerful Family Businesses in the Middle East
Many Arabs feel more at ease when they work with their parents or siblings. (Shutterstock: H1N1)

Having one of the strongest family ties in the world, Arab people have historically preferred working within family businesses because it's not only profitable but also a significant expression of loyalty and trust amongst family members.

Despite a greater tendency to prefer choosing work partners based on expertise and merit nowadays, many Arabs feel more at ease when they work with their parents or siblings, especially as it heightens their sense of devotion and commitment to the business, hence success.

Many Arab families have established some of the most successful businesses in the region over the last 100 years, making them rank among the most famous, wealthiest, and most powerful families in the Middle East.

A report published recently by Forbes Middle East included names of 100 Arab business families with at least 10 families having been known for their successful business activity for the last 100 years.

Forbes Middle East's report considered the date in which businesses were founded, wealth and business sizes for each family, the number of sectors each family is involved in, the number of countries they are represented in, and several other factors.

Leading the list with the biggest number of wealthy business families is Saudi Arabia with 36 families, followed by the UAE with 21 families. Kuwait came in third place with 10 families while Oman had 6.

Qatar and Bahrain each have 5 of the wealthiest Arab business families. In the 6th place came Jordan and Morocco each with 4 different families. While Lebanon, Egypt, and Algeria came in last with 3 wealthy families for each.

Amongst the 100 chairmen on the list, there were three women. Managing the 3rd, the 56th, and the 83rd companies were Hutham Olayan at the head of Saudi's Olayan group, Areej Mohsin Darwish heading Oman's Mohsin Haider Darwish's business, in addition to Morocco's Diana Holding run by Rita Maria Zniber.

And here are the 5 most powerful family empires in the Middle East:

1. Mansour Group - Egypt

The major distributor of General Motors and Caterpillar equipment worldwide who also runs over 100 McDonald’s outlets was founded in 1952. It is now headed by the brothers Mohamed, Youssef, Yasseen Mansour who are all worth $7.4 billion.

2.  Al-Futtaim Group - UAE

The group founded in the 1930s has over 200 businesses in automation, financial services, real estate, retail, and the health sector. It also runs dealerships for Toyota and Honda. Abdullah Al- Futtaim ranked #1001 on Forbes World’s Billionaires list 2020 with a net worth of $2.1 billion. His empire is run today by his Omar. 

3. Olayan Group - Saudi Arabia

The Saudi contracting and commerce firm which was founded in 1947 owns several shares in international banks and real estate businesses in New York, London, and Paris. Hutham Olayan, who's the group's chairperson, has also been a board member of IBM.

4. Majid Al Futtaim - UAE

Founded in 1992, Majid Al Futtaim Holding (MAF)'s $3.3 billion worth business in retailing and entertainment, currently owns and operates 27 shopping malls and 13 hotels. The business is now run by British businessman Michael Rake.

5. Rashed Abdul Rahman Al Rashed & Sons Group - Saudi Arabia

The group was founded in 1950, and today it is running 26 different companies in building materials, cement, and bulk materials, finishing materials, real estate, contracting, industrial products, automotive products, and food products in addition to several investments in Saudi banks.

It's worth mentioning that the 10 most powerful Arab families have a wealth of more than $31 billion!

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