BY OUR BUSINESS BUREAU
DUBAI: Forbes Arabia Magazine, the Arabic edition of the world-renowned Forbes business magazine, has unveiled its "Arab Billionaires List for 2009" in its April issue. The line-up includes 34 Arabs with a combined wealth of around $115.8 billion, 35 per cent lower than last year's $177.6 billion.
In terms of the total wealth of the billionaires, the UAE with a combined wealth of $21.4 billion of its six billionaires is ranked second in the Arab World behind Saudi Arabia.
The new entrant to the billionaire list from the UAE is Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who with a personal wealth of $4.9 billion ranks second in the UAE, 8th among Arab billionaires and 104th globally.
Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair, CEO of Mashreq Bank, one of the largest retail banks in the UAE, is ranked first in the UAE, fourth in the Arab World and 57th globally, with an estimated wealth of $7.8 billion.
This is seen as a noteworthy achievement since the economic downturn has affected the banking sector and has led to an 18 per cent decline in the value of Mashreq Bank's shares from June 2008 to present.
Placed third in the UAE is Majid Al Futtaim, founder and president of the Majid Al Futtaim Group, with a wealth valued at $3 billion. He ranks 12th in the Arab World and 205th globally.
Al Futtaim invests mainly in the real estate and retail sectors, and is known for introducing snowboarding to the deserts of Dubai.
Further, he is currently working to expand his investments in Bahrain, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.
Taking the fourth rank in the UAE is the family of Saif Al Ghurair with a total wealth of $2.8 billion, resulting in a ranking of 16th in the Arab World and 224th globally.
The Al Ghurair family has a leading reputation in the retail sector through the Al Ghurair Group, which comprises prime shopping malls in Dubai. In the wake of the global financial crisis, the Group introduced a promotional campaign to overcome the repercussions of the crisis in the UAE market and to attract more customers to Dubai.
Placed fifth in the UAE is Abdullah Al Futtaim with a wealth of $1.8 billion, resulting in a ranking of 22nd in the Arab World and 397th globally.
Abdullah Al Futtaim specialises in the area of automobile trading, with exclusive distribution rights for Toyota and other automobile brands. The Group also owns the franchise of top brands such as Ikea and IBM.
Taking the sixth place in the UAE is the businessman Khalaf Al Habtoor, Chairman of Al Habtoor Group, who with a wealth of $1.1 billion is placed 29th in the Arab World and 647th globally.
Al Habtoor's investments in the area of luxury hotels and hospitals have contributed greatly in enhancing his position in the construction sector, in addition to his activities in automobile trade. The firm is the exclusive distributor in the UAE for Aston Martin, Bentley and Mitsubishi.