Link Copied

The 10 richest people in the Middle East, ranked

The 10 richest people in the Middle East, ranked

The Middle East is a region known for its oil-derived wealth.

Some of the region's richest people are familiar figures: Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who's known for his lavish spending, and his involvement in human rights controversies, may come to mind.

Over the years, the 34-year-old has dropped $500 million on a yacht, $300 million on a French chateau, and $450 million on a Leonardo da Vinci painting. He controls part of the royal family's fortune that's estimated at up to $1.4 trillion and includes Saudi Aramco, the most valuable company in the world.

Despite his apparently vast wealth, the prince is nowhere to be found on Forbes' billionaires ranking — because nobody knows just how rich he is. In 2018, Forbes removed all of the Saudi billionaires that had previously made its 2017 list due to a lack of clarity about the extent of their wealth. There are no Saudis on Forbes' 2020 billionaires list, but Bloomberg includes three Saudis on its Billionaires Index.

World Bank economist Elena Ianchovichina, who was formerly the lead economist for the Middle East and North Africa region, said in 2015 that such rankings don't tell the whole story of wealth in the Middle East.

"In many cases, it appears the amount of wealth accumulated by heads of state in the region is not trivial ..." Ianchovichina said. "When we include the wealth of heads of state we find that wealth concentration increases in a number of countries, although in some of the wealthiest countries like Qatar and even Kuwait, this particular adjustment doesn't make much difference."

She added that nationals of many countries hide their wealth in tax havens and pointed to a 2017 study which found that autocracies rich in resources like oil — like many Middle Eastern countries — have a much larger share of hidden wealth than other countries.

With these limitations in mind, Business Insider rounded up the wealthiest people in the Middle East based on both Forbes' rankings and Bloomberg's Billionaires Index.

We used Cambridge Dictionary's definition for the region, which encompasses 16 countries: Syria, Jordan, Israel, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Yemen, Jordan, Oman, UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, and Egypt.

Here are the wealthiest people in the Middle East — that we know of.

10. Murat Ulker

10. Murat Ulker
Ulker runs Yildiz Holding, which produces a range of food products and non-alcoholic beverages. Yildiz Holding/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Country: Turkey

Net worth: $5 billion

Age: 61

Source of wealth: food

Advertisement

9. M.A. Yusuff Ali

9. M.A. Yusuff Ali
Yusuff Ali runs LuLu Group International, which operates supermarkets, shopping malls, and hotels in the Middle East, Asia, Africa and the UK. He also franchises the Famous Daves BBQ chain in the Middle East. Schellhorn/ullstein bild via Getty Images

Country: United Arab Emirates

Net worth: $5.27

Age: 64

Source of wealth: food and beverage, hotels

Advertisement

8. Nassef Sawiris

8. Nassef Sawiris
Nassef Sawiris, CEO, Orascom Construction Industries S.A.E. at the annual Allen & Co.'s media summit in Sun Valley, Idaho, July 8, 2009. AP Photo/Nati Harnik

Country: Egypt

Net worth: $5.58 billion

Age: 59

Source of wealth: industrial

Advertisement
Advertisement

7. Majid Al Futtaim

7. Majid Al Futtaim
Al Futtaim's Dubai-based real estate and retail company owns shopping malls and hotels in the Middle East, Pakistan, Georgia, and Armenia. REUTERS/Jumana ElHeloueh

Country: United Arab Emirates

Net worth: $5.97 billion

Age: unknown

Source of wealth: real estate

Advertisement

6. Stef Wertheimer and family

6. Stef Wertheimer and family
REUTERS/Nir Elias

Country: Israel

Net worth: $6.2 billion

Age: 94

Source of wealth: metalworking tools

Advertisement

5. Mohamed Al Jaber

5. Mohamed Al Jaber
Al Jaber is the founder of a London-based hotel, food, and real-estate company that owns more than 50 properties in the UK, France, Egypt, Austria, and Portugal. Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Country: Saudi Arabia

Net worth: $7.19 billion

Age: unknown

Source of wealth: retail

Advertisement

4. John Fredriksen

4. John Fredriksen
Fredriksen, left, holds stakes in publicly traded shipping companies that operate a fleet of ships and oil tankers. Nick Harvey/WireImage

Country: Cyprus

Net worth: $7.65 billion

Age: 75

Source of wealth: shipping

Advertisement

3. Mohammed Al-Amoudi

3. Mohammed Al-Amoudi
Al-Amoudi controls Preem, Sweden's largest oil refiner. Karol Serewis/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Country: Saudi Arabia

Net worth: $8.95 billion

Age: 74

Source of wealth: energy

Advertisement

2. Eyal Ofer

2. Eyal Ofer
Ofer controls a shipping and real estate empire through his Monaco-based Ofer Global. Wikimedia Commons

Country: Israel

Net worth: $9.92 billion

Age: 70

Source of wealth: real estate, shipping

Advertisement

1. Alwaleed bin Talal Al Saud

1. Alwaleed bin Talal Al Saud
The Saudi prince is the founder of Kingdom Holding, which has stakes in real estate, hotels, and equities. Mustafa Yalcin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Country: Saudi Arabia

Net worth: $14.3 billion

Age: 65

Source of wealth: diversified

Advertisement