Arab billionaires’ wealth rises to $121bn in 2011

The Arab world boasts 36 billionaires with an accumulated wealth of more than $121bn, according to a new rich list published by Forbes Middle East on Sunday.

According to its Arab billionaires rankings, the total wealth of the region’s billionaires rose to $121.3bn from last year’s figure of $117.6bn.

Alwaleed's fortune is US$21.3bn, according to his private office.

Topping the ranking was Saudi Arabia’s Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Al Saud with an estimated fortune of $18bn, although figures verified by his private office to Arabian Business said Alwaleed’s fortune was estimated at $21.3bn.

Prince Alwaleed was followed in second place by Lebanese-Brazilian billionaire Joseph Safra with $13.8bn to his name.

Both Saudi Arabia and Lebanon led the way on the list with eight billionaires each.

Despite recent political turmoil, Egypt was runner up with seven billionaires, followed by the UAE with a total of four.

However, this year’s major headline was newcomer to the billionaires club, Morocco, which entered the ranking with three billionaires – Miloud Chaabi, Othman Benjelloun and Anas Sefrioui.

Kuwait ranked sixth with two billionaires, Bassam and Kutayba Alghanim, although the wealthy Al-Kharafi family was removed from the ranking following a formal request from the Kharafi Group.

Jordan, Syria, Iraq and Sudan also featured in the ranking with one billionaire each.

One of the success stories this year was Sulaiman Al-Rajhi & family, ranked in fifth place with a family net worth of $5.9bn.

The Saudi banking tycoon-turned-philanthropist made headlines last year with an unprecedented decision to relinquish much of his fortune; distributing his wealth among family and donating a significant proportion to charity.

Also highlighted was Moroccan frontrunner Miloud Chaabi, ranked 10th with a fortune of $2.9bn.

Following a religious education, he started working at the age of 15 as a shepherd, then as a farmer, before moving into the construction industry. Today, he leads the Moroccan billionaires as head of Ynna Holding, a company specialising in real estate development, hotels, retail and industry.

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