The 10 richest people in the Middle East, ranked

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Time: 01 August 2020

Mustafa Yalcin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The Middle East, a region that encompasses many countries, including Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, is known for its oil-derived wealth.
Business Insider rounded up the richest people in the Middle East based on Forbes’ world billionaires ranking and the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
The wealth of many Middle Eastern individuals — particularly heads of state — is unknown, partially because nationals of many countries hide their wealth in tax havens, per Elena Ianchovichina, a World Bank economist.
The richest person in the Middle East — that we know of — is Alwaleed bin Talal Al Saud, a Saudi Arabian prince who’s worth an estimated $14.3 billion.
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The Middle East is a region known for its oil-derived wealth.

Some of the region’s richest people are familiar figures: Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who’s known for his lavish spending, and his involvement in human rights controversies, may come to mind.

Over the years, the 34-year-old has dropped $500 million on a yacht$300 million on a French chateau, and $450 million on a Leonardo da Vinci painting. He controls part of the royal family’s fortune that’s estimated at up to $1.4 trillion and includes Saudi Aramco, the most valuable company in the world.

Despite his apparently vast wealth, the prince is nowhere to be found on Forbes’ billionaires ranking — because nobody knows just how rich he is. In 2018, Forbes removed all of the Saudi billionaires that had previously made its 2017 list due to a lack of clarity about the extent of their wealth. There are no Saudis on Forbes’ 2020 billionaires list, but Bloomberg includes three Saudis on its Billionaires Index.

World Bank economist Elena Ianchovichina, who was formerly the lead economist for the Middle East and North Africa region, said in 2015 that such rankings don’t tell the whole story of wealth in the Middle East.

“In many cases, it appears the amount of wealth accumulated by heads of state in the region is not trivial …” Ianchovichina said. “When we include the wealth of heads of state we find that wealth concentration increases in a number of countries, although in some of the wealthiest countries like Qatar and even Kuwait, this particular adjustment doesn’t make much difference.”

She added that nationals of many countries hide their wealth in tax havens and pointed to a 2017 study which found that autocracies rich in resources like oil — like many Middle Eastern countries — have a much larger share of hidden wealth than other countries.

With these limitations in mind, Business Insider rounded up the wealthiest people in the Middle East based on both Forbes’ rankings and Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index.

We used Cambridge Dictionary’s definition for the region, which encompasses 16 countries: Syria, Jordan, Israel, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Yemen, Jordan, Oman, UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, and Egypt.

Here are the wealthiest people in the Middle East — that we know of.

10. Murat Ulker

Ulker runs Yildiz Holding, which produces a range of food products and non-alcoholic beverages.
Yildiz Holding/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Country: Turkey

Net worth: $5 billion

Age: 61

Source of wealth: food

9. M.A. Yusuff Ali

Yusuff Ali runs LuLu Group International, which operates supermarkets, shopping malls, and hotels in the Middle East, Asia, Africa and the UK. He also franchises the Famous Daves BBQ chain in the Middle East.
Schellhorn/ullstein bild via Getty Images

Country: United Arab Emirates

Net worth: $5.27

Age: 64

Source of wealth: food and beverage, hotels

8. Nassef Sawiris

Nassef Sawiris, CEO, Orascom Construction Industries S.A.E. at the annual Allen & Co.’s media summit in Sun Valley, Idaho, July 8, 2009.
AP Photo/Nati Harnik

Country: Egypt

Net worth: $5.58 billion

Age: 59

Source of wealth: industrial

7. Majid Al Futtaim

Al Futtaim’s Dubai-based real estate and retail company owns shopping malls and hotels in the Middle East, Pakistan, Georgia, and Armenia.
REUTERS/Jumana ElHeloueh

Country: United Arab Emirates

Net worth: $5.97 billion

Age: unknown

Source of wealth: real estate

6. Stef Wertheimer and family


Country: Israel

Net worth: $6.2 billion

Age: 94

Source of wealth: metalworking tools

5. Mohamed Al Jaber

Al Jaber is the founder of a London-based hotel, food, and real-estate company that owns more than 50 properties in the UK, France, Egypt, Austria, and Portugal.
Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Country: Saudi Arabia

Net worth: $7.19 billion

Age: unknown

Source of wealth: retail

4. John Fredriksen

Fredriksen, left, holds stakes in publicly traded shipping companies that operate a fleet of ships and oil tankers.
Nick Harvey/WireImage

Country: Cyprus

Net worth: $7.65 billion

Age: 75

Source of wealth: shipping

3. Mohammed Al-Amoudi

Al-Amoudi controls Preem, Sweden’s largest oil refiner.
Karol Serewis/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
: Saudi Arabia

Net worth: $8.95 billion

Age: 74

Source of wealth: energy

2. Eyal Ofer

Ofer controls a shipping and real estate empire through his Monaco-based Ofer Global.
Wikimedia Commons

Country: Israel

Net worth: $9.92 billion

Age: 70

Source of wealth: real estate, shipping

1. Alwaleed bin Talal Al Saud

The Saudi prince is the founder of Kingdom Holding, which has stakes in real estate, hotels, and equities.
Mustafa Yalcin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Country: Saudi Arabia

Net worth: $14.3 billion

Age: 65

Source of wealth: diversified

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