SHAFAQNA – For only the second time that Arabian Business has attempted to assess the wealth of the world’s richest Arabs, the combined total of their net worth actually dropped during the course of the last 12 months. It has been no small drop, either, with the sum dropping by 3.9 percent to $255.86bn, the lowest total since 2010.
The last time this figure fell was back in 2008, largely as a result of the credit crunch in the US. So what’s driving the drop this time? Well, yet again, it appears that forces outside the Gulf are to blame. For our number-one entry, it has again been a strong year, but the performance of the US stock markets – in which Prince Alwaleed is a major investor – have resulted in a $3.1bn hit to his net worth. That decline accounts for roughly a third of the total drop in the fortunes of the Arab world’s wealthiest people.
However, Prince Alwaleed still remains by far and away the wealthiest figure on the list, with Saudi Arabia’s Olayan family placing second with $12bn. The prince may be approaching his 60th birthday next year, but it is hard to see him being overtaken any time in the next decade.
Elsewhere, many of the usual suspects have had a strong year, with particular gains coming from the UAE’s Majid Al Futtaim and Brazilian-Lebanese banker Joseph Safra.
Our highest new entry this year is Hussein Sajwani, the man behind Damac Group. The listing of Damac Properties in the London Stock Exchange earlier this year has allowed us to finally gain a true assessment of his wealth – which we conservatively estimate at $4bn.
As with previous years, some entries have dropped out of the 2013 list for various reasons, including the relinquishing of key roles from organisations, which has made it increasingly difficult to keep track of their wealth.