Complex Made Simple

Which nations and individuals garner the most wealth in the region?

Here we look at GCC's cumulative wealth, at statistics for the number of people in the GCC whose wealth exceeds $1 million as well as regional investors whose wealth exceeds $1 billion

Saudi has seen 4.1% growth since 2015 and its wealth will reach $1.2 trn by 2025 Egypt and Lebanon are the homes of the wealthiest Arab billionaires for 2021 Mohamed Mansour established General Motors dealerships in Egypt in 1975

The Middle East’s wealth grew 8% to $11 trillion. Here we look at GCC’s cumulative wealth, at statistics for the number of people in the GCC whose wealth exceeds $1 million as well as regional investors whose wealth exceeds $1 billion.  

GCC Nations’ cumulative wealth

Bahrain’s wealth is a fraction of Saudi’s $1 trillion, but the smaller kingdom has seen the GCC’s fastest wealth growth since 2015, according to a new report by Boston Consulting Group (BCG).

While Bahrain has seen the fastest compound annual growth rate of 4.9% since 2015 to $66 bn, much larger growth is expected in Oman going forward, according to BCG.

Saudi has seen 4.1% growth since 2015 and its wealth will reach $1.2 trn by 2025. Oman’s CAGR was 3.8% and its wealth reached $64 bn, while Qatar’s CAGR was at 3.6% and its total wealth stood at $263 bn.

The UAE saw the smallest CAGR but has the second largest pool of wealth after Saudi at $600 bn.

BCG identified an opportunity for wealth managers in the Middle East, saying there are 4.5 million individuals who have wealth of between 500,000 dirhams and 10 million dirhams ($2.7 mn) who are currently not served well.

GCC’s wealthy individuals

Around 34% of the UAE’s wealth is held by individuals who are worth $100 million or more, while another 26% is held by those worth between $1 to $100 mn, according to data from Boston Consulting Group.

In the GCC, 115 individuals are worth $100 mn or more, while around 145,000 individuals are worth between $1 mn and $100 mn. Their combined financial wealth in 2020 amounted to $2.2 trn and is expected to grow to $2.7 trn by 2025.

Saudi and the UAE together account for 71% of the financial wealth within the GCC, with Saudi accounting for 45%, followed by the UAE with 26%, and 11% each by Qatar and Kuwait.

Egypt and Lebanon’s billionaires

Forbes Magazine revealed that Egypt and Lebanon are the homes of the wealthiest Arab billionaires for 2021.

The magazine’s annual report noted that the total wealth of the richest Arab families increased to $55 bn this year, as compared to $47.3 bn in 2020.

This year’s list includes 22 Arab billionaires including ten who belong to four families. They are the Sawiris and Mansour families from Egypt and the Mikati and Hariri families from Lebanon. The combined fortunes of the four families amount to $29 bn.

Egypt’s Nassef Sawiris topped the list of Egyptian and Arab billionaires, with a net wealth estimated by Forbes at about $9.1 bn, while the combined wealth of his family is about $14 bn.

The two Lebanese brothers, Taha and Najib Mikati, have a fortune of $5.4 bn, while the Mansour family is worth $5.1 bn. The total wealth of the sons of late Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri is $4.5 bn.

Sawiris in focus

According to Forbes, the Sawiris family is the richest in Egypt, with a net worth estimated at about $14 billion, most of which is from Nassef Sawiris, who owns $9.1 bn, as he owns a 6% percent stake in Adidas and a 5% stake in Madison Square Garden Sports, listed in New York. He is also the owner of the NBA’s Knicks and the NHL’s Rangers.

In addition, Nassef manages OCI, one of the largest producers of nitrogen fertilizers in the world, with factories in Texas and Iowa and has a 33% stake in it. Nassef also owns various investments, including shares in cement giant Lafarge and Orascom Construction.

He is followed by his brother Naguib Sawiris, who made his fortune from investing in the telecommunications sector, as he sold Orascom Telecom to the Russian telecommunications company VimpelCom, currently renamed VEON, in a deal that included shares and billions of dollars in liquidity in 2011.  

The third brother, Samih Sawiris, is rooted in the tourism sector. He developed the Red Sea tourist city of Gouna and has stakes in several companies, including 5.62% in OCI NV, 65% in Orascom Development Holding, and 6.3% in Orascom Construction. The combined value of these stakes is about $680 million. The fortune of the father, Onsi Sawiris, who passed away recently, was about $997 mn.  

The Mikatis in focus

The two brothers Taha and Najib Mikati founded the (M1) Holding Group in the Lebanese capital, Beirut.

The group’s investments include stakes in South African Telecom (MTN), fashion retailers such as Pepe Jeans, and luxury properties in New York, London, and Monaco.

Image courtesy of Forbes- Taha Mikati

Najib and his brother Taha founded Investcom in 1982, which specialized in the sale of satellite phones, at the height of the civil war in Lebanon. The brothers expanded into Africa, building cell phone towers in Ghana, Liberia, and Benin, among other countries. Investcom became a public company listed on the London Stock Exchange in 2005. In 2009, South Africa’s MTN bought the shares of the two Mikati brothers for $3.6 bn.

Najib Mikati served as the Prime Minister of Lebanon from 2011 to 2013 and is now serving as PM-designate after Saad Hariri stepped down in July.

The fortune of the two brothers grew from $4.3 bn in April 2020 to $5.4 bn on July 17, 2021, according to Forbes.

The Mansour family in focus

The three brothers, Mohamed, Youssef, and Yassin Mansour, gathered their wealth through the huge Mansour family group, which was founded by their late father Lotfi Mansour in 1952 and currently has about 60,000 employees, Forbes reported.

Mohamed Mansour established General Motors dealerships in Egypt in 1975, becoming one of the largest distributors of its cars in the world. The group also has exclusive distribution rights for Caterpillar equipment in Egypt and seven other African countries. Mohamed Mansour was Minister of Transport under the Hosni Mubarak regime between 2006 and 2009.

As for Youssef Mansour, he supervises the consumer products department, which includes the supermarket chain “Metro”, as well as individual distribution rights for “L’Oreal” products in Egypt.

Yassin Mansour chairs the board of directors of Palm Hills Development, one of the largest real estate developers in Egypt. The Mansour Group owns the exclusive rights to franchise the famous brand in the ready-to-eat food sector McDonald’s in Egypt and is the exclusive distributor for the cigarette brand Gauloises.

The Hariri family in focus

Bahaa, Ayman, and Fahd Hariri are the children of the late Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri. They inherited their fortunes from their father.

Forbes said Bahaa Hariri founded and headed the Horizon Group, a real estate holding company with investments in Amman and Beirut. He also owns the majority stake in Globe Express Services, a company that provides logistics services in more than 100 countries.

Meanwhile, Ayman Hariri invests in startups through the New York-based company Red Sea Ventures. Among its investments is Nest, which is now part of Google. He is also the co-founder and CEO of Vero, an ad-free social e-platform that allows users to share music, videos, and photos.

As for Fahd Hariri, the youngest son of the late billionaire Rafic Hariri, he invested part of his money in the real estate sector in New York, Paris, and Monte Carlo, and is currently investing in the besieged Lebanese banks, as well as developing residential properties in Beirut.