In April Forbes revealed its ranking of the richest people in the world with its Billionaires 2019 list. Although it uncovered 2,153 billionaires, it was clear that 2019 was another hard year even for the wealthiest of people due to tough economic conditions and weaker stock markets. This caused both the number of billionaires and their total wealth to shrink.
The ripple effects of this have been felt by the Middle East’s Billionaires 2019, with their aggregate net worth shrinking by nearly 5% to reach $191.3 billion compared with $201.4 billion in 2018. Only seven out of the 42 billionaires in the Middle East managed to raise their fortunes.
Jeff Bezos was named the richest person on earth for a second consecutive year with a record wealth of $131 billion. Carlos Slim Helu bagged the top spot in the Middle East ranking with $64 billion compared with $67.1 billion last year. Based in Mexico with Lebanese origins, Slim Helu controls America Movil—Latin America's biggest mobile telecom firm.
Forbes didn’t include Saudi Arabian billionaires on its list for the second year running, making Egyptian Nassef Sawiris the richest Arab in the Arab world, with $6.4 billion compared with $6.6 billion last year.
Eight Indian billionaires reside in the Middle East with a total fortune of $22.9 billion compared with $24.3 billion last year. Retail giant, M.A. Yusuff Ali, is the richest among them with $4.7 billion compared with $5 billion last year.
The Middle East’s Billionaires 2019 ranking introduces Ghassan Aboud as the newest billionaire in the region. With a net worth of $1.75 billion, he is the chairman of the Ghassan Aboud Group, which has diversified interests in automobile trading, hospitality, retail, real estate and media.
Joseph Safra is the richest man in Brazil. He hails from a banking family in Syria and as the world’s richest banker is the top gainer in the Middle East. He managed to add $1.7 billion to his net worth last year to hit $25.2 billion.
The Middle East’s billionaires have accumulated their fortunes through a wide range of sectors, with the diversified sector topping the list, followed by telecoms and banking.
Four of the Arab world’s super wealthy lost their billionaires status as they saw their net worth fall below the $1 billion mark: Saad Hariri; Bassam Alghanim; Fawzi Al-Kharafi; and Mohannad Al-Kharafi