The Arab ‘A List’ has been published

29 Aug, '05

ITP Business, following in Forbes footsteps, has just published a list of top 10 billionaires of the Arab world. Knowing how secretive these families and individuals are, as well as the fact that their finances are closely guarded secrets, the absence of tax (and hence tax records and returns), I would call into question how they got their figures and would not regard them as accurate with any certainty.

With that in mind, let’s have a look at the top 10 compiled by ITP Business:

1. Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Al Saud
Saudi Arabia
US$26 billion (Last year: US$20.15 billion)

2. Nasser Al Kharafi
Kuwait
US$9.4billion (US$9.2 billion)

3. The Bin Laden family
Saudi Arabia
US$6.9 billion (US$6.5 billion)

4. The Olayan Family
Saudi Arabia
US$6.82 billion (US$6.8 billion)

5. The Hariri Family
Lebanon
US$5.4 billion ($5.2 billion)

6. Abdulaziz Al Ghurair
United Arab Emirates
US$5.2 billion (US$4 billion)

7. Sulaiman Bin Abdul Al Rajhi
Saudi Arabia
US$4.85 billion (US$3.35 billion)

8. The Kanoo Family
Bahrain
US$4.7 billion (US$4.5 billion)

9. Mahdi Al-Tajir
United Arab Emirates
US$4.3 billion (US$3.8 billion)

10. Abdullah Al Futtaim
United Arab Emirates
US$3.8 billion (US$2.2 billion)

Total wealth between the top 50 familias? US$139.4 billion!

A few more questions to ponder: (a) I would like to know what contribution to science and scientific discovery did these families contribute to? Almost all these families main revenue generating activity is property, and in the case of the Kanoo family which seems to be the exception, services.

(b) with all the wealth, do they contribute to charities and say sponsor their countrymen for scholarships etc? I know (again my experience is mostly Bahrain so I would appreciate input from the other countries mentioned above) the “big” families in Bahrain contribute quite a bit to the local charities, and in the case of the Kanoo, Al-Moay(y)ed and Al-A’ali families don’t limit their contribution to just giving cash, but manage their contribution so that the best good can come out of them. For instance both Kanoo and Al-Moay(y)ed have built hospitals and/or specialist hospital wings and schools while Al-A’ali has built whole villages giving away housing to needy families and offering full scholarships (I hear that scholarships have stopped now since the old man passed away?).

(c) Why is there only ONE royal in the list? I am sure that if a king or amir were considered he would eclipse the WHOLE list without lifting a finger!

Regardless, more power to them all. I wish them all the best of happiness with their wealth, and hope that they all would contribute some of that wealth to the good of their communities.

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Comments (24)

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  1. anonymous says:

    The Arab ‘A List’ has been published

    Mahdi Al-Tajir
    United Arab Emirates
    US$4.3 billion (US$3.8 billion)

    this dude in Bahraini too 😉

    silly bee

  2. anonymous says:

    Re: The Arab ‘A List’ has been published

    oops.. [b]in[/b] should read [b]IS[/b]

  3. anonymous says:

    Trackback :: Bahrain: Arab Top 10 Billionaires

    TrackBack from Global Voices Online

    Mahmood posts the names of the top 10 billionaires of the Arab world according to ITP Business. While Mahmood wishes them all the best, he asks, what contribution to science did they contribute? Do they contribute to charities? Why is there only one r…

  4. anonymous says:

    The Arab ‘A List’ has been published

    Thanks to God they stop at 10, so they I’m not shown on the list 😀

  5. anonymous says:

    The Arab ‘A List’ has been published

    Money knows no religion, no boundaries, no nationality, it exists primarily for itself and is loved around the planet more than the Creator
    Jack

  6. anonymous says:

    The Arab ‘A List’ has been published

    thanks Mahmood.

    “Why is there only ONE royal in the list? I am sure that if a king or amir were considered he would eclipse the WHOLE list without lifting a finger!”

    EXACTLY 😉

    silly bee

  7. anonymous says:

    The Arab ‘A List’ has been published

    wow no Omanis or Qatars!

    wicked

  8. anonymous says:

    The Arab ‘A List’ has been published

    Most wealthy people do donate to charities. They just may not be upfront about it.

    Aliandra

  9. mahmood says:

    Re: The Arab ‘A List’ has been published

    Hassan welcome to the Bahraini blogosphere! It’s good to see more voices on the internet. We might be a small country, not as rich as those around us, but we certainly are a vociferous lot! 🙂

  10. anonymous says:

    Re: The Arab ‘A List’ has been published

    You have an interesting point Hussain. Maybe it is about time that Bahrain starts taxing its citizens and residents.

    The pros:
    – more income for the govt
    – citizens will see it as their right (rather than a gift) that the state spend money for the people, and demand accountability of the spending. (In other words, the perceived role of the state/regime will shift from ‘benefactor’ to ‘servant’)

    The cons:
    – less cash in the pocket for people
    – businesses, and especially offshore banks, wont be pleased

    What else can we add to the list?

  11. kategirl says:

    Re(1): The Arab ‘A List’ has been published

    oops, that last comment was mine.. forgot to log in

  12. anonymous says:

    The Arab ‘A List’ has been published

    Chan’ad,

    It doesn’t have to be this way… Instead of taxing all, they may only tax those whose income exceeds a specific amount.

    Businesses (Especially those owned by Bahrainis):
    If they don’t recruit locals (or pay them the minimum wage) and if they pay no taxes then what positive role they play in this fucked up economy, other than the heavy burden they place on the infrastructure?!

    Regards,
    Hassan Alkhuzaei

  13. Alireza says:

    Re(2): The Arab ‘A List’ has been published

    I think everyone should pay tax as a matter of principle. Obviously the more you earn the greater the proportion of the salary.

    In addition to Chanad’s points one of the big downsides is that if one Gulf state introduces income tax and the other GCC states don’t, then the others will get an important competitive advantage in terms of attracting foreign businesses. This is a big consideration when you’ve got Bahrain, Dubai, Qatar and Kuwait battling it out for investment. There’s needs to be an agreement first among the smaller GCC countries – Saudi can wait, since they not going to attract anyone who isn’t interested in oil anyway.

    Probably another plus point is that it provides jobs and gets the money flowing round the economy – since you need tax inspectors to collect the money. Also aids transparency etc.

    Although no doubt Steve will give us the Rush Limbaugh summary why no one should face income tax.

  14. anonymous says:

    Re(3): The Arab ‘A List’ has been published

    [quote]Although no doubt Steve will give us the Rush Limbaugh summary why no one should face income tax.[/quote]

    Kind of a sleazy cheap shot of a comment don’t you think Scorpio. I have never heard Limbaugh speak on not paying taxes in the manner you imply. Taxes are a part of life. Death and Taxes. Even in Bahrain. You are paying taxes you just don’t see them in an up front manner. Think about it. Ever heard of DUTY? Time and time again it has been shown that the lower the tax rate the more money the economy has. Take a look at the FTA.

    The real issue isn’t that no one should pay taxes but rather that the taxes are fair and the money is used properly after it is collected. I will do whatever I can to legally reduce the amount of tax I pay. The money I save is used to reinvest in my business which in turn is money that is pumped back into the private sector and utilized and a much faster rate than a blanket give it to the all seeing all knowing Government. Which I think most will agree no matter what government it is, Government does not do a good job with the money it collects. So hold off on an income tax as long as you can. Once that can of worms is opened you will long for the days of yore. If you must have a tax a FLAT TAX is the best. No deductions. Everyone pays after a certain level of gross income.

  15. bedoon_esam says:

    The Arab ‘A List’ has been published

    As Mahmood said in absence of real economic data collection the list is not necessarily complete or accurate.

    One UAE gentleman listed in the 10 who is of Bahraini origin is certainly worth much more I know for sure as I have worked for him.

    Also a Bahraini/Saudi family of industrialists for whom I now work have companies listed on the Saudi Share Market the market capitalization of those companies easily puts them in this elite list, unfortunately they are not listed here so ITP Homework is not complete.

    Reading about the TO TAX OR NOT TO TAX comments was interesting. In my humble opinion out of the box thinking on TAX is the way to go around the world.

    Their is a school of thought in USA and lately also in INDIA who preach a very low rate say 0.5% to 1.0% as a TAX rate on the QUANTUM OF BANKING TRANSACTIONS in the economy, with some restrictions on the low value day to day savings transactions being exempted.

    This idea apparently makes TAX collection easier, the TAX rate burden is much lower and ensuring compliance even more easier through legislation/banking reforms for implementation.

    Of course the final question always remains how will these TAX collections be eventually utilised.

  16. forzaq8 says:

    The Arab ‘A List’ has been published

    just my 2 fils

    Nasser Al Kharafi is the guy running the family companies , since Jassim ( his brother ) is playing politic ( pre 1990 he was the finance minster , now he is the head of the parliment )

    they do contribute some of that wealth
    in many ways

    they contribute to sport , as in many championships named after their father Abdullmuhsin ( in soccer , basketball and many other sports )

    They donate to many charities ,i worked for a time with one and saw some figures of the Al Kharafi donations

    also they sponsered a prize for art i think and a quran contest

  17. anonymous says:

    The Arab ‘A List’ has been published

    I don’t think contributing to charities is what they should do… They should pay taxes as all rich families around the glob

    Regards,
    Hassan Alkhuzaei
    zarnooq.blogspot.com

  18. anonymous says:

    The Arab ‘A List’ has been published

    no taxation without representation ..

    JJ

  19. anonymous says:

    The Arab ‘A List’ has been published

    [quote]I would like to know what contribution to science and scientific discovery did these families contribute to? Almost all these families main revenue generating activity is property[/quote]

    I don’t know about the other families mentioned above, but I am very familiar with the Al-Ghurairs. And NO, their main revenue is not from property. They are not even Sheikhs. The Al-Ghurair Family runs a company called ETA (Emirates Trading Agency) which specialises in various fields like Constructions, Contracting, General Trading, Manufacturing, Maintenacne & Services, Automative, Retail & Property Development, Travel & Leisure, Shipping, Education & IT Services etc. They have a great reputaion in the Business World of the Middle East.

    And about charity, they have donated a huge sum of money for the Tsunami Hit Areas just recently. And a lot of other such donations have continously been made in the past as well. And yes they do have Scholarship Programmes in the Schools and Colleges that they run.

    Regarding scientific discovery… I would like to point out that UAE became an official country in 1971 and ETA has been functioning since 1973. It has, indeed, contributed to the development of the Economy here in the past three decades. They definitely have a hand in the Scientific Advancement and Modernistion of UAE. Eg- ETA has constructed Roads in various places in Dubai. The City Center, Deira, a landmark of Dubai, was also constructed by ETA. They have played a role in the Educational Zone by running various Schools (like The Dubai National School) and colleges (Al-Ghurair University, BITS Pilani, MAHE Manipal) in Dubai.

    IF you would lile to know more, visit the website [url]www.eta-ascon.com[/url]

  20. anonymous says:

    The Arab ‘A List’ has been published

    I am the same person who highlited the Al-Ghurairs. I just have a little more to add.

    [quote]ITP Business, following in Forbes footsteps, has just published a list of top 10 billionaires of the Arab world
    .
    .
    .
    Why is there only ONE royal in the list? I am sure that if a king or amir were considered he would eclipse the WHOLE list without lifting a finger![/quote]

    From what I understand, the list of the billionaires is in accordance with the business sector. So, the list, I believe, only includes those families who have excelled in the Business Field and have accuired the majortiy of their wealth through commerce, which is why the even richer Royal Families may not be listed. Hope I am not mistaken. My Sincere Apologies if there may be any errors in the information I have provided.

  21. anonymous says:

    The Arab ‘A List’ has been published

    Mahdi Al-Tajir is not bahraini, he used to be. he moved out with the oil discovery in uae and has been emirati since then. So i guess Bahraini in origin….

  22. mahmood says:

    Re: The Arab ‘A List’ has been published

    The way I heard it is that he was seconded by the Bahraini government’s Customs & Ports departments to start and then organise the Dubai ports. While doing that he was offered Emirati citizenship which he accepted and stayed there every since.

  23. anonymous says:

    The Arab ‘A List’ has been published

    It would be impossible for the governments of the Arabian Gulf to justify the enforcement of taxes because they aren’t democracies. If I pay taxes I will need to know that I have a say in how my taxes are spent. In the current situation a good percentage of government income is spent on supporting the economic well being of the royal family. Enforcing taxes on the people will only be fair after the proper controls are placed on government spending.

    Mo Fakhro

  24. anonymous says:

    The Arab ‘A List’ has been published

    Hear hear..

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