Jun 01, 2020

Top 10 billionaires in the Middle East and Africa

Top 10
Georgia Wilson
5 min
Top 10 billionaires in the Middle East and Africa

Business Chief Africa, counts down the top 10 billionaires from the Middle East and Africa (MEA) based on Forbes' 2019 ranking

10.Mohed Altrad 

Mohed Altrad is the president of Altrad Group, which provides construction and maintenance services. Altrad is originally from Syria and after winning a scholarship to study in France, earning an undergraduate degree in physics and maths, as well as a Ph.D in computer science, he began working at technology firms and Abu Dhabi National Oil Company. In 1985 he bought a bankrupt scaffolding manufacturer in France. 

Age - 71

Source of wealth - Scaffolding and Cement mixers (self made)

Networth - US$2.7bn

Country of Origin - Syria

9. Naguib Sawiris

Naguib Sawiris, built his fortune in the telecommunication sector, when he sold Orascom Telecom in 2011 to a Russian telecom company VimpelCom, in a multi-billion dollar deal. Sawiris is currently the chairman of Orascom Telecom Media and Technology, which was renamed to Orascom Investment Holding to reflect its investment in other sectors. 

Sawiris is one of the largest foreign investors in North Korea, as well as being one of the largest investors in Italy.

Age - 64

Source of wealth - Telecom

Networth - US$2.9bn

Country of Origin - Egypt

8. Suhail Bahwan

Suhail Bahwan is the founder and current chairman of Suhail Bahwan Group - a large conglomerate in Oman. Suhail Bahwan Group, is a producer of fertiliser and is the owner of NIssan and BMW dealerships. 

Bahwan’s career roots date back to 1965, when he first went into business with his brother - Saud - selling fishing nets and building material, before they acquired a Toyota dealership in 1975. In 2002, the brothers split with Saud keeping the Toyota dealership.

Age - 80 

Source of wealth - Diverse (self made)

Networth - US$3.2bn

Country of Origin - Oman

7. Issad Rebrab & family

Self-made billionaire Issad Rebrab, is the founder and CEO of Cevital - one of the biggest privately held companies in Algeria. With the capacity to produce 2mn tons of sugar a year, Cevital owns one of the largest refineries in the world.

In addition to producing sugar, Cevital owns multiple European companies including a French home appliance maker, an Italian steel mill and a German water purification company. 

Rebrab has additional plans to build a steel mill in Brazil for the production of train tracks and to improve the transportation of sugar, corn and soy flour exports. 

Age - 75

Source of wealth - Food (self made)

Networth - US$3.7bn

Country of Origin - Algeria

6. Abdulla bin Ahmed Al Ghurair & family

Abdulla bin Ahmed Al Ghurair is the founder of Mashreqbank in 1967. The bank is one of the UAE’s leaders within the industry. Currently his son - Abdul Aziz - is the CEO of the bank, while he remains chairman. Currently his holding company has interests in food, construction and real estate.

Age - unknown

Source of wealth - diverse

Networth - US$4.6bn

Country of Origin - United Arab Emirates


5. Majid Al Futtaim & family

In 1992, Majid Al Futtaim founded Majid Al Futtaim Holding, the company owns and operates 12 hotels and 22 malls. Majid Al Futtaim Holding also has an exclusive licence to operate a hypermarket for Carrefour within the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia.

Age - Unknown

Source of wealth - Real estate and  retail

Networth - US$5.1bn

Country of Origin - United Arab Emirates

4. Nassef Sawiris

Nassef Sawiris is the brother of Naguid Sawiris. In 2015, Orascom Construction Industries was split into two entities, OCI and Orascom Construction.  Nassef runs OCI, one of the largest nitrogen fertiliser producers in the world. 

Age - 58

Source - Construction and Chemicals

Networth - US$6.4bn

Country of Origin - Egypt

3. Patrick Drahi

Patrick Drahi is the founder of Altice NV of which he holds 60% of the stock. With more than 20 acquisitions of lagging cable and mobile operators, Drahi built Altice NV, expanding the company with highly leveraged deals.

In the Netherlands Drahi owns 75% of Numericable - France’s largest cable operator - he also brought 70% of Suddenlink for US$9bn and brought Cablevision for US$17.7bn. These two entities became Altice USA which went public in 2017.

Age - 55

Source of wealth - Telecoms (self made)

Networth - US$7.7bn

Country of Origin - Morocco

2. Joseph Safra

Joseph Safra, one of the world’s richest bankers from Syria. In Brazil, Safra owns Banco Safra, the eighth largest bank in France. In Switzerland he owns J. Safra Sarasin and in the US he owns Safra National Bank of New York, as well as real estate holdings across America.

Age - 80

Source of wealth - Banking (self made)

Networth - US$25.2bn

Country of Origin - Syria

1. Carlos Slim Helu & family

Carlos Slim Helu and his family control America Movil, the biggest mobile telecoms firm in America. In 1990, Helu also bought a stake in Telmex which is now a part of the America Movil company.

In addition to telecoms, he also owns stakes in Mexican construction, consumer goods, mining and real estate, as well as 17% of the New York TImes.

Age - 79

Source of wealth - Telecom (self made)

Networth - US$64bn

Country of Origin - Lebanon

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