Here are 10 of the seasoned Arab business executives and up-in-comers, listed in no particular order of power or wealth, which you should know about.
The Arab world is heating up with new job opportunities and economic growth fueled by the area’s growing legion of powerful businessmen. ArabBusiness.com quoted a report by Elance-oDesk that found UAE companies achieved the fifth highest spend across the world in terms of recruiting talent online during 2014 and delivered a 15% increase in registered companies on the talent sourcing website.
Of the money spent, 74% was in search of technology talent to help expand the world focus on all types of technology. In trying to fill the gap in talent in the Middle East, these business leaders posted over 22,000 new jobs to continue their efforts to shape both the Arab and global economy. As the article explained, “With 60 percent of the UAE economy made up of SMEs and with a rapidly expanding pool of entrepreneurs, tech and start-up companies in region, a growing number of businesses in the UAE will benefit immensely from the access to global talent.”
Behind these SMEs and global companies are powerful Arab business men with vision, passion, and determination, not to mention significant capital.
Let’s meet 10 of the seasoned business executives and up-in-comers, listed in no particular order of power or wealth, which you should know about that would be crucial to your business expanding to the Arab countries:
- Alwaleed Bin Talal Al Saud is a Saudi prince that is known in the global banking, finance, and investment and is estimated to be worth $24.9 billion. He has stakes in many U.S., European, and Middle Eastern public and private companies as well as large real estate holdings through his company, Kingdom Holding Company (KHC), which is considered to be one of the largest international holding companies in the world. His social views and unique investment philosophy have set him apart from others plus garnered him incredible success.
- The Kharafi Family from Kuwait is estimated to be worth approximately $8.3 billion and consists of numerous powerful Arab businessmen that stand out in their own right but also work together to form one of the most powerful businesses in the world. The Kharafi Group operates in 25 countries and has over 120,000 employees in numerous industries around the world. This family of businessmen has also diversified into numerous Gulf blue-chip investments to add to their impressive fortune and influence.
- The Bukhamseen Family is another group of powerful Kuwaiti businessmen across multiple generations with an estimated fortune of approximately $6.4 billion. This includes the founding father, Jawad Ahmed Bukhamseen, who established the Bukhamseen Group in 1957. Diversifying into many areas, such as hospitality, banking, media and manufacturing, the tradition of powerful businessmen continues today with his sons, Emad, Osama, Anwar and Raed, who are all actively involved in leading the Bukhamseen Group.
- The Kanoo Family of Bahrain is estimated to be worth $6 billion and is considered to be one of the oldest and most powerful families in the Arab world. The Kanoo Group was started in Bahrain in 1890 and has evolved from a trading and shipping business into a diversified and admired conglomerate with 14 divisions and 10,000 employees across the Kanoo Group and its joint ventures with companies like Maersk, BASF, and Axa Insurance. Other Kanoo family members include Mishal and Mubarak Jassim who are actively involved in the organization’s leadership.
- Mohammed Al Amoudi has a Saudi father and Ethiopian mother, giving him a unique cultural perspective and a foundation for acquiring and building companies across both countries. While he has been a powerful man all the way back to the 1970s, he is still a force to be reckoned with across the construction, agriculture, energy, cement and gold mining industries. Estimated to be worth $10.9 billion, his agricultural company, Saudi Star, exports coffee beans to Starbucks and tea leaves to Lipton. While he has amassed a fortune, Al Amoudi has also been active in philanthropy.
- Nassef Sawiris is considered to be Egypt’s richest man with an estimated wealth of $5.7 billion. Despite having to contend with many rulings against him in relation to tax evasion, which have been removed or are expected to be, he has forged ahead with major investments throughout Egypt. This includes partnering with other powerful Arab businesses, including Abu Dhabi’s International Petroleum Investment Company. He has expanded his investments by reaching out globally and investing in Martin Marietta, which acquired Texas Instruments.
- The Al Rajhi Family of Saudi Arabia is estimated to be worth $5 billion and has a multi-generational history of powerful Arab businessmen. Sulaiman Al Rajhi has donated a significant amount of money to charity but continues to amass money through its interests in the family’s banking business. His three brothers, Abdullah, Mohammed, and Saleh founded Al Rajhi Bank, which is considered to be the second biggest bank in Saudia Arabia with a network of 550 branches. The family also has controlling stakes in other companies like Yanbu Cement, NADEC, and the Al Baraka Banking Group.
- Shaher Abdulhak is from Yemen and is considered one of the most famous individuals from there. Along with his family, he has gained a reputation as a successful Arab businessman through the multi-billion Shaher Trading Company as well as other ventures tied to brands like Mercedes and Coca-Cola. Besides being known as the “King of Sugar,” his enterprising nature has seen him involved in real estate, petroleum and tourism as well as local politics. This powerful man does not give interviews, preferring to let his powerful position and business acumen do the talking for him.
- Stef Wertheimer is part of a self-made family fortune that was built in the tools industry. In selling their stake in that family business in 2014, he and his family have moved on to other pursuits and interests designed around stimulating the economy of his homeland of Israel. This includes creating industrial parks where Israeli startups can work rent-free to build out their businesses as well as investing in Israel’s first luxury fashion line.
- Abdulla bin Ahmad Al Ghurair is also part of a wealthy family empire located in Dubai, UAE. In the 1960s, he founded Mashreqbank, which is now one of the top banks in the region. His sons have now taken on a larger role in the diversified family business, which includes real estate, food, and construction. He and his sons are also involved in the Family Business Network Gulf Cooperation Council, which is shaping the future of the family business structure in the UAE.