How did Egypt's 16 richest businessmen get so rich?

Published January 22nd, 2014 - 03:55 GMT
With a net worth of $720m, Shafik Gabr is the richest known millionaire in Egypt.
With a net worth of $720m, Shafik Gabr is the richest known millionaire in Egypt.

The first Arab in the long list of the World’s Richest People list comes at place 26, with no other than Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Alsaud from Saudi Arabia. With a net worth of $20bn, the investor barely owns a third of Gates’ fortune.

The second Arab is Mohammed Al Amoudi, also known as one of Saudi Arabia’s “oil sheikhs”. Although he comes at place 65 with a wealth of $13.5bn, he still is richer than Mark Zuckerberg, founder and owner of infamous most used website worldwide – Facebook.

Yet it is not until further down that Egyptian businessmen earned a place in the list. In the long list of international billionaires and millionaires, Egypt has scored numerous times.  Names like Sawiris,  Sewedy,  Mansour  and  Ghabbour  first come  to mind. But to determine who is the richest of them all and who follows, one needs to carefully evaluate the wealth of each.

In this report, Egypt Business Directory brings you Egypt’s 16 Richest Men and tells you a little more about them.

Getting rich requires a lot of hard work – so what did Egypt’s rich-list do to get to where they are today?

With  a  net worth  of  $6.5bn  (in  2011 it was $4.75bn), Nassef Sawiris runs Orascom Construction  Industries,  Egypt’s most  valuable publicly-traded company, which was founded by father Onsi. The construction and fertiliser company’s shares fell almost one-third during the protests leading up to former president Hosni Mubarak’s resignation in February 2011. They later rallied to pre-revolution levels, but recently slipped again, due to the travel ban that was placed on Sawiris  and his  father.  Sawiris is the 4th richest man in Africa and also owns big stakes in cement giant Lafarge, and Texas Industries.

With  a  net  worth of $2.5bn (in 2011 it was $2.9 billion), Naguib Sawiris, the eldest  son of Egyptian billionaire Onsi Sawiris, built Orascom Telecom, then sold the family’s stake to Russian and emerging market telecom giant VimpelCom in April for $6.5bn in shares and cash, becoming one of VimpelCom’s  largest  shareholders  in  the  process.  Sawiris  is Africa’s  9th  richest man and also delved into Egyptian politics,  forming  the  Free Egyptians  Party in April 2011 to promote free  markets  and a  secular  platform. 

Africa’s 10th richest man, Mohamed Mansour  (net  worth  $2.2bn  in  2013 – $1.7 billion  in  2011)  and his brothers  are the biggest sellers of GM vehicles  in the world.  Strong sales in their Caterpillar business throughout Africa, Russia and Iraq are making up for a slump in Egypt. Other interests include the largest supermarket chain in Egypt (Metro), and the Philip Morris franchise. 

With a net worth of $2bn ($2.6 bn  in  2011),  Onsi  Sawiris is the patriarch of Egypt’s wealthiest family and shares the fourth and fifth  rank  with  Yasseen  Mansour  in this  list.  The Egyptian government nationalised his first construction business in 1971.  Undeterred, he rebuilt what became Orascom Construction Industries. His son Nassef took over in 1995. Another son, Naguib, built a separate telecom company, while son Samih went into hotels and real estate.  Onsi  Sawiris  now  owns  shares  in  Russian mobile operator VimpelCom, following its acquisition of the family stake in Orascom Telecom in April 2011. 

With a net worth of $2bn ($1.55bn in 2011), Yasseen Mansour, the youngest of Egypt’s three Mansour brothers, was put on the Interpol list on fraud charges in 2011, but was removed after being cleared of corruption charges over the misappropriation of state land for Palm Hills Developments. Yasseen, his brothers and cousin, the former housing minister who was also accused, but cleared on Palm Hills, are  the  largest  shareholders  in  the company—Egypt’s  second-biggest real  estate  developer.  Yasseen resigned as CEO, but remains chairman.  The majority of his fortune is tied up in the family business; it is the largest seller of GM vehicles in the world.

With net worth of $1.4bn, Mohamed Fayed is the last on the list of Egyptian billionaires. Back in the 50s, he set up a The General Navigation Company (Genavco), which was later nationalised by Gamal Abdel Nasser. Serving as the Chairman of Harrods in London for over 25 years, Fayed also bought British football team Fulham Football Club and even dined with Iron Woman Margret Thatcher at 10 Downing Street because he managed his finances in a way that was beneficial to the British economy. He was also granted the Medaille de Paris because he personally oversaw the renovation of France’s Hotel Ritz, spending about $1m per room. He bought it in1979. Fayed also turned Scottland’s Falls of Shin into a tourist attraction. 

With a net worth of $720m, Shafik Gabr is the richest known millionaire in Egypt. Gabr founded and built conglomerate ARTOC, a company with interests in steel fabrication and logistical services for oil and gas companies. Being a vivid art collector and with focus on Orientalist art, Gabr owns a foundation that promotes East-West dialogue through arts, science and business, aiming to reconstruct the relationship between governments on each side of the world.

With  a  net worth  of  $525m,  Samih  Sawiris  is the  chairman  of  board  of directors  of  Orascom  Development, mainly serving in the tourism sector.

With a net worth of $167.4m, Raouf Ghabbour is the chairman of the board of directors, CEO and founder of Ghabbour Auto.

With a net worth of $149m, Sadek Sewedy is the chairman of El Sewedy Industries Group, mainly active in the energy and lighting sector.

With a net worth of $149mn, Ahmed Sewedy is the CEO and Managing Director at El Sewedy electro-meter.

With a net worth of $136.7m, Soliman Abdel Mohsen is a shareholder in multiple companies, such as Citadel Capital, 6 October for Development and Investment and GB Auto.

With a net worth of $116.1m, Mohamed Farid Khamis is the founder of Oriental Weavers, Egypt’s leading textiles company.

With a net worth of $115.4m, Mohamed Ebeid ElMella is a shareholder in multiple companies, such as Unikai, United Foods, Dubai Insurance, Dubai Development and others.

With a net worth of $110.2m, Mohamed Sewedy is the Vice Chairman and Managing Director of El Sewedy Group.


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