Money, money, money: Where are the Middle East's billionaires from?

Published April 22nd, 2014 - 09:51 GMT

Forbes Middle East published it’s most up to date survey of the region’s billionaires. It reported that the combined fortunes of the Arab’s world richest 100 registered $166.07 billion. While it’s obvious which countries hold the most billions, the same cannot be said for individuals.

A country by country division based on each tycoons’ country of origin reveals that there a billions to be pocketed even in the region’s worst economic performers like Egypt, who, believe it or not, came second and just after Saudi Arabia (if we're not counting Israel).

Forbes has yet to find billionaires in Iraq, Jordan, Syria or Yemen, which should come as no surprise given that the latter three states’ entire GDP comes close to what Al-Waleed Bin Talal singlehandedly holds. But your jaw might drop when you hear that Forbes has failed to find a single billionaire in Qatar or Bahrain. In all fairness, they couldn’t even if they wanted to, given that it’s practically impossible to dig into their wealth of royal families. So it goes without saying that the wealth of royal families in the region was excluded from Forbes’ probe. We have a feeling their inclusion might’ve changed a thing or two about the rankings, for better or worse.

So, what is so Middle East-specific about this list? It’s about family!

First, it’s clear that in this region, more than any other part of the world, wealth stays in the family (take for example Egypt’s Al-Sawiris and Kuwait’s Al-Kharafi). In fact, one third of the billionaires in the Middle East are related to each other.

Forbes Middle only considered publicly held shares, audited documents, and official information disseminated in the public domain. And for those who know a thing or two about the Middle East, we can safely that there other “hidden” billionaires who could’ve tipped the balance.

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