Forbes Middle East has just revealed the Arab billionaires ranking, composed of 36 distinctive billionaires from across the Arab world with a combined total net worth of $121.3 billion, improving on last year's figure of $117.6 billion.
Topping the ranking for the second year running is Prince Alwaleed bin Talal with a fortune of $18 billion, followed in second place by Lebanese-Brazilian billionaire Joseph Safra with $13.8 billion to his name. Through this prestigious ranking, Forbes Middle East aims to highlight the inspirational stories of the region's Arab billionaires, as well as the challenges and obstacles overcome on the road to success.
Both Saudi Arabia and Lebanon led the way on this ranking with eight billionaires each. Despite recent political turmoil, Egypt was runner up with seven billionaires, followed by the stable 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. Kuwait's wealthy Al-Kharafi family were 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.
Forbes Middle East's Editor in Chief Khuloud Al-Omian said: "The motivation behind publishing this list is to deliver the powerful message, that behind these billions lay wealthy individuals who have fought long and hard, and given generously. These success stories present lessons to be learned that money cannot buy, and serve as an inspiration to us all."
Al-Omian added: "Inheritance is becoming the fastest and easiest way to enter the billionaires club. This begs the question: Can the new generation in the Arab world advance their inherited companies or family businesses? Statistically speaking, the Arab world's wealthiest young people are still in the beginning stages but we hope that they can take inspiration from the brilliant minds that preceded them and the region's key figures who still dominate the scene."
Standing out among the success stories featured in the Forbes Middle East billionaires issue is Sulaiman Al-Rajhi & family, ranked in 5th place with a family net worth of $5.9 billion. 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 standing out is Moroccan frontrunner Miloud Chaabi, ranked 10th with a fortune of $2.9 billion.
Following a religious education, this inspirational man 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 specialized in real estate development, hotels, retail and industry.