5 Powerful Middle Eastern Businessmen You Should Know About
Nov 02, 2017

It might surprise you to learn that the Arab world is growing at an alarming rate. According to a 2014 report from Elance/oDesk (the leading freelancing site), UAE companies were responsible for the 5th largest spending budgets. Technology was a leading focus, with almost three quarters of the spending going towards improving technology outcomes.

The UAE business sector is comprised of SMEs (60% share) with a vibrant startup community and ready pool of entrepreneurs starting new businesses and investing in others too. Companies in the UAE are keen to take advantage of an affordable global workforce.

Here are five notable Arab businessmen who bring capital, fresh ideas and vision to their business ambitions.

Eyal Ofer

Both Eyal Ofer and his brother Idan complete in the wealth stakes and are active businessmen. Heir to Sammy Ofer, Eyal has produced his own $8.8bn fortune. Originally from Israel but now based in Monaco, he continues to invest in real estate, shipping, cruises including a piece of Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, and Mizrahi Tefahot Bank too. He is also a prodigious collector of art.

Fahad Al Rajaan

Up until 2015, Fahad Al Rajaan was the Chairman of the Al Ahli United Bank which is the largest lender in Bahrain but also operates in the UK, Qatar, Egypt, Oman, Kuwait and Iraq. The bank offers commercial and investment advisory services to businesses. They cover corporate, retail, offshore services, wealth management, treasury and private banking to select clientele.

Fahad Alrajaan is now the Chairman of the Wafra Investment Advisory group operating out of New York, and the Director General of the Public Institution for Social Security out of Kuwait. He has been named as one of the top 500 influential Arabs in the world.

Alwaleed Bin Talal Al Saud

The Saudi prince, Alwaleed Bin Talal Al Saud, is a well-known figure in global investment circles, having invested in many prominent businesses over the years. His net worth is thought to be close to $17bn. He has holdings across the world spread between banking and retail, which are held in the Kingdom Holding Company (the largest of its kind). His approach to socially minded investment along with his investing principals set him apart from other wealthy investors. His results have supported his views of what the right approach should be.

Mohammed Al Amoudi

Mohammed Al Amoudi was born with both Ethiopian and Saudi heritage, providing him with a different lens with which to view his culture and surroundings. He moved quickly into building and buying up companies in both Ethiopia and Saudi Arabia. He is involved in many industries including coffee beans, cement, energy, construction and gold. Among the notables, he sells tea leaves to Lipton and beans to Starbucks. He’s also very involved with philanthropy too.

Hayek Family

The Hayek Family which is based in Lebanon has acquired the Swatch brand of watches. The Swatch Group also owns the Tissot, Omega (of James Bond fame), Breguet and Longines watch brands too. The Swatch company is still based in Switzerland post-acquisition, as one would expect from a great watchmaker. The business is valued at just under $2.9bn, but that will need to be adjusted upward since it bought prestigious Hollywood jeweller to the stars, Harry Winston.

The leading businessmen in the UAE continue to grow in wealth and influence. No longer is investment limited to oil fields & development, with most large investors now extremely well diversified across regions and industries.