A new Forbes Middle East list published on Sunday announced 36 billionaires, with an accumulated wealth of more than $121bn, come from the Arab world.
According to the magazine’s rankings, the total wealth of region’s billionaires increased to $121.3bn from last year’s figure of $117.6bn.
Saudi Arabia’s Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Al Saud topped the ranking with an estimated fortune of $18bn, followed by Lebanese-Brazilian billionaire Joseph Safra with $13.8bn to his name.
Saudi Arabia and Lebanon lead the list with eight billionaires each while Egypt, despite recent political turmoil, trails with seven billionaires. The UAE is on the third position with a total of four.
This year’s major surprise is the emergence of Moroccan businessman Miloud Chaabi whom Forbes ranked 10th with a fortune of $2.9bn. Coming from a religious background, the young Moroccan started working at the age of 15 as a shepherd, then as a farmer, before moving into the construction industry. Today, Chaabi leads Moroccan billionaires working as the head of Ynna Holding, a company specialising in real estate development, hotels, retail and industry.
Kuwait ranked sixth with two billionaires, Bassam and Kutayba Alghanim.
Jordan, Syria, Iraq and Sudan also featured in the ranking with one billionaire each.
“The motivation behind publishing this list is to deliver the powerful message, that behind these billions lay wealthy individuals who have fought long and hard, and given generously,” Khuloud Al-Omian, Forbes Middle East’s editor-in-chief, said.
“These success stories present lessons to be learned that money cannot buy, and serve as an inspiration to us all.”
He added that one of the success stories this year was Sulaiman Al-Rajhi and family, which bagged the fifth position with a family net worth of $5.9bn.
The Saudi banking tycoon-turned-philanthropist attracted huge media attention when he announced his decision to relinquish much of his fortune and distribute wealth among family and donate a significant proportion to charity.
Dr Jamal Zarrouk, senior economist for the Arab Monetary Fund (AMF), said there are a lot of Arab wealthy personalities who are not on this list as they don’t like to be under the spotlight.