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50 The Richest Arabs in the World

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50. Ayman Hariri -$1.95bn; Country: Saudi Arabia

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The third son of Rafiq Hariri to make our list, Ayman Hariri is one of the drivers behind Saudi construction giant Saudi Oger. Hariri has played an important role in leading his multidisciplinary specialists to provide the talent, expertise and positive attitude that advance the company’s reputation for excellence. His passionate and visionary style has helped Saudi Oger prosper in a variety of geographical regions and demanding business environments. He is currently handling the construction and facilities management of several multi-billion-dollar mega projects such Princess Noura Bint Abdulrahman University for Women; King Abdullah Financial District; King Abdulaziz Centre for World Culture and many others. His direct involvement and dedication helped in the execution and handing over the state-of-the-art academic and administration buildings of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in record time.
49. Fawaz Al Hokair $1.98bn; Country: Saudi Arabia

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Dr Fawaz Al Hokair, a graduate of Loughborough University in the UK, is chairman of the Fawaz Al Hokair Group and a retail magnate credited with changing the face of fashion in Saudi Arabia. Established in 1989, the group deploys more than 1,200 staff across 5 million sq ft of prime retail estate. Al Hokair is today the single largest owner and operator of shopping malls in the kingdom with 11 centres, including the vast Mall of Dhahran.

In total, Al Hokair now boasts more than 50 international fashion brands in 750 stores. Alhokair Fashion Retail also recently completed the acquisition of NESK Group of Trading Projects LLC, which operates world-class brands including Mango, Stradivarius, Okaidi and Woman’s Secret.

48. Saleh Kamel-$2bn; Country- Saudi Arabia

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Saleh Kamel’s name is synonymous with Islamic banking and finance. Born in Taif, Saudi Arabia, Kamel, 71, grew up in Makkah and attended Riyadh University and went on to work at the kingdom’s Ministry of Finance. He left public office to start Dallah Establishment in the early 1960s. By the early 1980s he established the AI Baraka Investment & Development conglomerate, a holding company for many Islamic banks and financial Institutions operating according to Islamic principles in various diversified business activities all over the world.

Kamel built an empire through his government contracting ventures in Saudi Arabia. Kamel owns a majority stake in Dallah Albaraka Group, a holding company that has various Islamic banking operations, with real estate, construction and manufacturing business segments.

47. Mohammed Ibrahim -$2.15bn; Country-Sudan

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Another example of a self-made man, Mohammed ‘Mo’ Ibrahim is putting his money to good effect in Africa, where he has set up the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, to encourage better governance in Africa, as well as creating the Mo Ibrahim Index, to evaluate nations’ performance. Ibrahim is a member of the Africa Regional Advisory Board of London Business School.

Ibrahim is a British Sudanese mobile communications entrepreneur and billionaire. He was born in north Sudan and started out working at the African country’s postal service. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Alexandria before going off to the UK to get his master’s degree and PhD, and ended up as an academic with a specialisation in mobile communications.

When British Telecommunications was about to launch the first mobile service in the UK the company invited him to come on board as a technical director and engineer. Ibrahim left his job with the support of his wife to become a consultant and eventually forming his own company with $50,000 in savings. With the help of 450 engineers the company designed networks around the world. He then sold his first company a few years later for about $1bn.

46. Miloud Chaabi-$2.17bn; Country: Morocco

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84-year-old Miloud Chaâbi is Morocco’s richest man, beating out the likes of Othman Benjelloun and Anas Sefrioui to take the top spot. He is the founder of Ynna Holding and the owner of Ryad Mogador hotel chain and group of supermarkets Aswak Assalam. He might be one of Morocco’s wealthiest businessmen today but Chaâbi’s career started in very modest surroundings. At just 15 years old he taught in a mosque and worked as a goat herder before saving up enough money to move to Kenitra where he started his first construction company. Chaâbi established his own ceramic company in 1964 and started to look for investment opportunities. He acquired the Yeyeena Group, which became one of the most powerful groups in Morocco.

Chaâbi is renowned for his philanthropic and charity work. He is the operator of one of the largest charity organisations in Morocco, the Miloud Chaâbi Foundation, and donated ten percent of his fortune to build the first American university in Morocco in conjunction with the University of Maryland.

45. Nadhmi Auchi $2.2bn; Country: Iraq

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Nadhmi Auchi is a British Iraqi businessman, who moved to the UK in the 1980s, an d is chairman of the Anglo-Arab Organisation with stakes in construction and trading companies in Iraq. Auchi founded Luxembourg-based General Mediterranean Holdings, which has business segments in banking and finance, real estate, construction, hotel and leisure, industrial, trading and pharmaceuticals, communications, IT and aviation.

Its interests today span across the Mediterranean and beyond with over 120 companies employing some 11,000 staff with representation in the Middle East, Northern Africa, Europe, the Americas, the Caribbean, the Asia subcontinent and the Pacific Rim. The group’s consolidated assets now exceed $4bn. Hotel holdings include Le Royal in Luxembourg, Amman, Beirut, Tangier and Tunis. He has been honoured for his services to the business community by the Queen, and Pope John Paul II, among others.

44.Mohammed Al Barwani -$2.6bn; Country: Oman

 

Many of the names on our list keep a low profile, but not many of them fly as far under the radar as Oman’s Mohammed Al Barwani. He is the founder and chairman of the MB Group, which he launched as MB Trading in 1982.

The firm is now operational in 20 countries, with more than 6,000 staff. MB Holding’s subsidiaries are mainly focused on the energy sector, with interests in integrated oilfield services, exploration and production of oil and gas, engineering and mining and trading. The group’s investment portfolio includes stakes in many of Oman’s biggest companies, including banking, risk management, insurance, hospitality and mining outfits. Al Barwani has sat on the board of several companies, including National Bank of Oman, Taageer Investment & Leasing and Shell Oman Marketing.

43.Mohammed Al Issa-$2.38bn; Country: Saudi Arabia

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Mohammed Al Issa is one of the largest private investors in Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul-listed equities, owning sizeable stakes in some of the kingdom’s blue-chip firms. In 2005, Al Issa sold his 94 percent stake in the Saudi Construction Company, which he founded in the early 1970s — and pocketed a couple of billion dollars for his troubles. The money didn’t sit idle for long.

Al Issa is today has colossal stakes in the Savola Group, as well as Banque Saudi Fransi — making him one of the biggest players on the Saudi stock market, the Tadawul. Meanwhile, Mohammed Al Issa and Sons (MASC), a holding company created by its founder more than 35 years ago, is active in the financial, industrial, food and real estate sectors.

It recently entered the hospitality business and Al Issa has taken a strategic decision to invest directly in several hotels in the Saudi market and internationally. MASC today has a string of five and four-star hotels on its drawing board, some of which have already started construction and some of which will soon be in operation. These include collaborations with the Kempinski group of hotels, and the Rocco Forte Collection

42. Ziyad Manasir -$2.58bn; Country: Jordan

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To say Ziad Manasir has made a name for himself in Russia — not a traditional destination for Arab expatriates — is something of an understatement. Jordanian-born Manasir travelled to Russia on a student exchange programme at just 19 years old before deciding to make the country his home. In 1996 he established Stroygazconsulting, which has grown from a small firm erecting single buildings and structures, to one of Russia’s largest construction holding companies.

The firm employs over 63,000 people and operates around 30 production units that span the former Soviet countries, the Middle East and the Gulf. The firm has close ties with Russian energy giant Gazprom and has expanded into pipelines, roads and other infrastructure construction. Manasir, who tends to shun the limelight, was awarded the Order For Merit to the Fatherland this year by Russia, for his career achievements and work on the Eastern Siberia-Pacific Ocean oil pipeline.

41.Wafic Said-$2.6bn; Country: Syria

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Wafic Said may be a few millions worse off after the wedding of his daughter in Paris’ Palace of Versailles last year, but it’s unlikely that the nuptials will have made too much of a dent in the Syrian-born billionaire’ s pocket. Said, who has Saudi nationality but lives in London – is still best-known for Al Yamamah — the colossal Saudi fighter jets contract that is Britain’s biggest ever export deal.

Said is the chairman of Said Holding Limited, a Bermuda-based holding company with investments in Europe, North America and the Far East. The firm has a diverse portfolio of investments including fixed income, quoted equities, hedge funds, private equity and real estate.

Said, who now splits his time between the UK, Paris and Monaco, started his career at UBS in 1963 before establishing a project development and construction management business in Saudi Arabia in 1969. Over the next two decades his group took on some of the largest public sector projects in the kingdom and he became a billionaire through his connections with Saudi’s royal family, acting as an advisor and consultant on many major infrastructure projects. In 1996, he donated £23m ($35.85m) to help establish the Said Business School at the University of Oxford.

40. Osama Abu Dawood-$2.68bn; Country: Saudi Arabia

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Osama Abudawood has served as president of the Saudi Chambers of Commerce, as well as president of the Arab Chamber of Commerce. Abudawood heads up the Ismail Ali Abudawood Trading Company (IATCO), one of the kingdom’s largest distribution operations and a leading distributor of fast moving consumer goods (FMCG). Abudawood took over the reins of the company in 2005 following the death of his father, Sheikh Ismail Abudawood. IATCO is at the heart of the Abudawood Group, founded in 1935 as a small wholesale business by Mohammed and Ismail Abudawood.

Parent company Abudawood Group is a diversified international conglomerate incorporating investments in the Middle East, Europe and US, and covering a wide range of sectors including sales and distribution, trading, real estate, financial investments and education. IATCO is the preferred distributor for some of the world’s most prestigious companies, including Procter & Gamble, Clorox, Quaker, Ferrero and Fonterra.

Its sophisticated distribution network of 20 warehouse and distribution facilities and a fleet of over 200 modern delivery vans ensure timely delivery to over 20,000 retail outlets in more than 140 cities and rural areas.

39.Mohammed Sharbatly -$2.69bn; Country: Saudi Arabia

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One of the Sharbatly family’s most prominent members, Mohammed Sharbatly’s wealth comes in at $2.69bn. Originating with Sayed Abbas Sharbatly’s involvement in Jeddah’s food trade, the company grew from a small trader to a huge supplier. Following in his ancestors’ footsteps, Mohammed Sharbatly has been responsible for growing the company to what it is today. Under his leadership, Sharbatly Fruit has more than ten branches in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as well as branches in Bahrain and Dubai.

The company now owns farms in Chile and South Africa as well as a citrus fruit packaging station in Egypt. It has expanded its product scope to include all manner of imported fresh and frozen foods, and continues to expand to this day. Given the success of the diversified business, members of the Sharbatly family have participated in the growth of some of Saudi Arabia’s biggest companies, including the Savola Group.

38.Ayman Asfari-$2.7bn; Country: Syria

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Many of the names on our list have had their fortunes handed down by their families. Not Ayman Asfari. The boss of oil services giant Petrofac, Asfari sits at the helm of one of the fastest growing FTSE 100 businesses. By any measure, Asfari is a success story. He took his first role in construction in Oman in his early 20s in a bid to fund an MBA at Wharton. It turned out to be unnecessary; less than a decade later, he was a millionaire with his own firm.

Since buying out Petrofac in 2001, Asfari has turned it into one of the leading players in the oil market. It listed in 2005 and today employs more than 17,000 people worldwide, with bases spanning the UK, Sharjah, India and Malaysia. In 2006, Asfari launched his eponymous foundation, which funds education for young people.

37.Mohammed Elkhereiji -$2.73bn; Country: Saudi Arabia

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Now back living in Switzerland, Mohammed Elkhereiji heads up the Bahrain-based Elkhereiji Group of companies, a conglomerate with interests in finance, construction, trading and real estate. The firm was founded by Abdul Karim Elkhereiji in 1978. Among the firm’s many clients are several government ministries, all of Saudi Arabia’s major banks, Saudi Arabian Airlines and several of the kingdom’s top universities.

Its largest customer is state oil behemoth Saudi Aramco. Elkhereiji’s finance arm is known as ACE Arabia, which has recently expanded into the insurance sector. ACE MENA, one of ACE Arabia’s joint ventures, is headquartered in Bahrain and is one of the Gulf’s largest insurance players.

One of the “unsung” heroes of Saudi business, the chairman has quietly but successfully turned the company into one of the most important players in the kingdom. Elkhereiji Company’s wide portfolio means that it is not over exposed in any one field, and so has grown rapidly.

36.Mansour Ojjeh -$2.8bn; Country: Saudi Arabia

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It’s been a tough year for Mansour Ojjeh, who is currently recovering from a double lung transplant. He is the French-Saudi-born entrepreneur who heads up Techniques d’Avant Garde (TAG), a Luxembourg-based holding company. The firm owns 21 percent of the McLaren Group, the most important asset of which is the McLaren Formula One team.

Ojjeh’s passion for motor racing is renowned. His interest was first sparked by a visit to the Monaco Grand Prix in 1978 and TAG quickly became the William’s team principal sponsor a year later. In 1981, Ojjeh invested $5m in a Porsche built turbo engine for McLaren and the two firms went on to establish TAG Turbo Engines. In 1983, Ojjeh became a majority shareholder in McLaren, although details of the deal were not made public until 1985.

Ojjeh’s father is the Saudi-born businessman, Akram Ojjeh, founder of TAG. The firm was famous as an intermediary in deals between Saudi Arabia and France, particularly arms sales. Ojjeh was involved in the marketing of the French Mirage 2000 fighter jet to Saudi Arabia in competition with the British Tornado. TAG Group’s interests also include TAG Aviation, a corporate jet firm which has Europe and Asia as its main growth areas and which runs a fleet of more than 100 aircraft.
35. SALMAN ALHOKAIR-$2.9bn, Country:Saudi Arabi

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34.Munib Masri -$3bn; Country: Palestine

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Often described as the Duke of Nablus or Palestine’s Rothschild, Masri is known as the patriarch of a prominent Palestinian family that has produced bankers, consultants and politicians. Masri, a geologist, hails from the West Bank town of Nablus from where he resides at his Palestine House, a palace of limestone resembling the Palladian-style Villa La Rotonda in Vicenza, Italy. Masri, who was once a close confidant of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat (who offered him the premiership three times), made his fortune in oil and gas working in the Gulf region, North Africa and elsewhere.

When the Oslo peace process kicked off Masri helped set up the Palestine Development and Investment Ltd. (PADICO), the largest private investor by initial investment in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which he chairs. The holding group controls over 30 companies across various industries that include telecommunications, construction, tourism, energy, environment, banking, finance and agriculture. He also founded the Edgo group (industry, commerce, health, education, distribution), which oversees 29 companies across the Middle East, Africa, Europe and North America. Masri, who is a member of the Palestine Central Council, is also a philanthropist.

33.Bahaa Hariri -$3.1bn; Country: Saudi Arabia

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Rafiq Hariri’s eldest son, Bahaa, chose not to follow his father’s path into politics and instead forged his own career in business. He currently resides in Geneva, and derives the bulk of his fortune from investment management. Other sectors include real estate development and logistics. His real estate arm, Horizon Development, focuses on commercial projects in Jordan and Lebanon. Horizon Development is a major shareholder in the Abdali Investment and Development Company, responsible for the development of a 20 million sq ft mixed-use project in Amman, worth about $5bn.

As the eldest son of the late Lebanese premier, Rafiq Hariri, Bahaa has made considerable efforts to continue his father’s legacy. Part of that drive has included sponsorship of the Atlantic Council’s Rafiq Hariri Centre for the Middle East, a body that seeks to bind the region’s political and economic ties with the transatlantic nations.

32.The Hayek Family -$3.2bn; Country: Lebanon

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If you’re a fan of ultra-expensive watches, then your hobby is likely to be lining the pockets of the Hayek family, who run by far the world’s largest watchmaking company. Sales at Swatch are predicted to come in at over $9bn for the first time this year. The firm is led by chairwoman Nayla and CEO Nick (pictured), who took over the publicly traded firm after the recent death of their father, Nicolas. And, if their latest move pays off, it looks like the group’s revenues could be about to get even larger.

Aside from sales of its own brands, which include Longines, Tissot, Omega and Breguet, Swatch also devotes significant investment to mechanical movements and components, which it has until now sold off to rival manufacturers. This year, Swatch spent $1bn buying the Harry Winston brand, which it plans to use to get even greater access into markets like the US and China.

31.Abdulatif Al Fozan -$3.25bn; Country: Saudi Arabia

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Abdulatif Al Fozan is the chairman of Al Fozan Group, a 41-year-old company with interests in building materials, commercial and industrial steel, electrical and hardware items and accumulated technologies. It also holds equity stakes in several affiliate ventures, from banks and petrochemical firms, to recycling and consumer retail operations. These stakes are part of a long-term plan to diversify its revenue streams. In the kingdom, the group is also one of the largest importers of steel, wood, electrical and hardware material. Like many Gulf businessmen, Abdulatif Al Fozan took over the firm from his father.

Among the Al Fozan Group’s most recent moves has been the construction of a rebar production facility in Jeddah, while the firm has also won work on the King Abdullah Financial Centre in Riyadh and the King Abdulaziz International Airport in the same city. Al Fozan has seen his family group grow from a small base to over 20 different companies with a number of joint ventures including Bawan Holding in 2006 and Atheel Holding. Earlier this year, Bawan Holding — which specialises in building materials — announced its intention to list 30 percent of its shares on the Tadawul by the end of this year.

30.Sulaiman Al Muhaidib -$3.3bn; Country: Saudi Arabia

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Sulaiman Al Muhaidib is the chairman of the Savola Group, by far Saudi Arabia’s biggest food producer. After a share transaction earlier this year, Al Muhaidib’s family firm now controls just over 14 percent of Savola.

Al Muhaidib Group was founded in 1946 by the late Abdulkadir Al Muhaidib, who concentrated on the trading of steel and cement. Today, under the stewardship of chairman Sulaiman, Abdulkadir’s son, the group is one of the most prominent diversified conglomerates in the region.

The group entered into the food products industry in 1959, marketing and distributing rice. And although this sector has remained the fastest-growing within the group, allowing the company to expand its portfolio to include other grains and eventually leading to the establishment of a retail outlet chain, Giant Stores, the group relates its overall success to diversification. By maintaining a presence in various independent economic sectors, the company is banking on the fact that poorly performing sectors will be boosted by more robustly performing ones.

And it has certainly diversified in the 63 years since its inception. With over 200 companies and investments in its portfolio, AMG covers sectors including financial and investment services, industrial goods and services, consumer goods and services, real estate, energy and utilities, among others. Among AMG’s portfolio companies and investments are flagship Saudi firms including Amwal Al Khaleej.

29. Saad Hariri -$3.3bn; Country: Saudi Arabia

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Married with three children, Saudi-born businessman and politician Hariri is the wealthiest in his family, and a huge achiever in the Arab world. After graduating from the McDonough School of Business, he continued to meet the family’s high expectations, and in November 2009, at the age of 40, was sworn in as Lebanon’s prime minister.

Raised in Saudi Arabia, Saad managed part of Rafiq Hariri’s business until his father’s assassination in 2005, when he returned home to follow him into politics and became an elected Member of Parliament (MP). As the general manager of Saudi Oger — the family’s $9bn construction company — he had huge success winning large projects, and helping build the company up to what it is today. But never one to put all his eggs in one basket, Hariri currently holds large stakes in a number of large firms. Solidere, for example, has rebuilt much of Beirut. Following the downturn, he admitted to revising the value of his construction portfolio, but has continued to push forward with a view to emerging from the recession successfully.

28.The Alghanim Family-$3.4bn; Country: Kuwait

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Last year, we ranked the various members of Kuwait’s Alghanim family together for the first time. Among the members are Bassam, who is reportedly splitting from the rest of the family’s business interests, plus Kutayba and Omar. Alghanim Industries was launched in its modern format by Yusuf Ahmed Alghanim, who returned to Kuwait in 1932 after studying overseas. Yusuf completely revitalised the firm, signing a deal with General Motors to bring the brand into Kuwait.

Further deals have been signed with some of the world’s biggest companies, including Samsung, Nokia, Toshiba, Xerox and Hitachi. Outside the family business, Alghanim Industries also holds a sizeable stake in Gulf Bank, one of the country’s biggest lenders, and on whose board Omar Alghanim sits as chairman.

27. Najib Mikati-$3.4bn; Country: Lebanon

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Najib Mikati may no longer be Lebanon’s prime minister, but he is still his country’s richest man. Mikati, 57, who entered Lebanon’s fractious political scene in 1998 as minister of public works and transport, before then becoming a member of parliament representing his native northern port city of Tripoli, later served as a caretaker premier once in 2005 in the aftermath of the assassination of former premier Rafiq Hariri.

He helped steer the country towards parliamentary elections in the wake of the killing before returning in 2011 to serve as premier after the government of Saad Hariri was toppled by Hezbollah and its allies. Mikati, a graduate of the American University of Beirut, helped co-found Investcom along with his brother Taha in 1982 and was later listed on both the London and Dubai stock exchanges in 2006, in what was at the time the largest international listing of a Middle Eastern company. MTN Group Ltd, Africa’s largest mobile phone operator, bought the company in 2006 for $5.5bn. M1 Group, which the two brothers run, became its second-largest shareholder. The company’s holdings include real estate investments in the US, Europe and the Middle East, as well as the Geneva-based Baboo airline and French retailer Faconnable.

26.Mohammad Jamjoom-$3.4bn; Country: Saudi Arabia

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Saudi-based Mohammad Kamal Jamjoom is the head of the Jamjoom Group, and one of many business pioneers to carry the Jamjoom name. Under his leadership, the family firm continues to strive ahead, not only as one of the wealthiest, but also as one of the most well-respected business conglomerates in the kingdom.

With over a hundred years of history, the group’s shiniest beacon is the Jeddah Trident Hotel, an associate of Oberoi Hotels. Its subsidiaries include Jamjoom Vehicles and Equipment, Jamjoom Metal Industries, Jamjoom Motors, Jamjoom General Agencies, Depot Pharmaceutique du Moyen Orient, Jamjoom Medicine Store and Jamjoom Pharma, many of which have been pillars of Saudi industry for longer than 40 years.

25.Taha Mikati -$3.5bn; Country: Lebanon

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Maha A Mikati is founder and chairman of M1 Group. His wealth is rooted in his early delving into construction and engineering in the UAE in the 1960s, where he developed a diversified business along various industries including telecommunications, retail, energy, fashion, real estate and aviation.

Mikati, 68, was born and raised in Beirut attending International College, and later the American University of Beirut where he studied engineering after which he founded Arabian Construction Company.

ACC carried out contracting and engineering projects in the UAE growing to become one of the largest construction companies in the Middle East. In 1978 he moved back to Lebanon with his family, to run his business from there. In the midst of the country’s civil war he along with his younger brother Najib set up Investcom and entered into the telecommunications industry installing and operating satellite communications systems in the country for businesses to get around the country’s dilapidated infrastructure. Investcom went on to become the first privately owned company to install a mobile network in the Middle East. In 2005, the company listed its shares on the London Stock Exchange, and on the Dubai International Financial Exchange.
24. Adel Aujan-$3.56bn; Country: Saudi Arabia

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In 2011 Aujan announced a colossal deal to sell a minority stake in his firm to Coca Cola for a sliver under $1bn. Not content with leading the Gulf’s biggest privately owned beverage company, Aujan Industries, the chairman of the firm has been aggressively growing his offerings to different markets. Aujan’s juice brand, Rani, is Iran’s best-selling beverage and is planning to add to its three factories by putting a facility in Iraq, politics permitting.

In 2008, Aujan Industries nailed a target to deliver $500m in revenue 12 months ahead of its five-year schedule. The firm has tripled its sales since 2004 and is on track to double them again by 2014. Vimto, just one of its brands, has been a leading fixture on Gulf dining tables.

23.The Gargash Family-$3.7bn; Country: UAE

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The Emirates-based Gargash clan is well known in the business world. In the automobile sector, the Gargash family is the sole agent for Mercedes Benz in Dubai through Gargash Enterprises, whilst elsewhere, it is also involved in electronics, real estate, insurance, industrial development and construction. Founded in the last decade of the 19th century, the firm, which was built on the back of Abdul Gafour and his nephews, quickly emerged from a small body led by the late Ali Haji Abdulla Awazi Gargash, to one of the region’s leading trading houses today. Shehab Gargash has been particularly successful running Daman Investments, founded in 2000.

Gargash received his college education in the US, earning an MBA in International Business (1988) and a BBA in Marketing (1987), both from the George Washington University in Washington, DC.

22. The Al Rajhi Family -$4.3bn; Country: Saudi Arabia

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Sulaiman Al Rajhi, chairman of Al Rajhi Bank — Saudi Arabia’s largest Islamic bank, established by royal decree in 1988 — began transferring his assets to family members in July 2010. His bank’s origins date back to the 1940s, when it began operating as a money changer in the kingdom. Today, its operations include retail, corporate and investment banking. Sulaiman owns the largest cut of the institution’s shares. With an established base in Riyadh, Al Rajhi Bank has a network of over 550 branches, over 100 dedicated ladies branches and more than 2,600 ATMs.

A philanthropist, Al Rajhi founded the SAAR Foundation, a flagship corporation representing charities, think tanks and business entities. Al Rajhi also oversees stakes in a number of Saudi firms — 24.9 percent of Al Rajhi Bank, 23.7 percent of Yanbu Cement and a 19.7 percent stake in Nadec.

21.Mubarak Al Suweiket -$4.5bn; Country: Saudi Arabia

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Al Suweiket and his Trading and Contracting Company have become a leading force in the kingdom’s construction industry, as well as other sectors. With its vast experience in the building industry, Al Suweiket has been credited with a number of high-profile projects in Saudi Arabia.

The last decade has seen the company broaden its business base, namely the establishing of the oil, gas and pipelines services division, educational services, legal consultations and the establishment of many industrial ventures. The conglomerate has offices in Al Khobar, Riyadh, Jeddah, across the Middle East region and in Europe. Its expansion outside the kingdom has seen it undertake international interests in different sectors such as education, energy, general trading, travel and transportation, catering and life support, agriculture, family and labour.

20.Abdullah Al Rushaid -$4.6bn; Country: Saudi Arabia

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Founded in 1978, Al Rushaid’s firm deals in a range of sectors from real estate and construction, to internet technology and oil and gas, and in 2009, it was granted the awards for Best Oil and Gas Solutions and Service Provider in the Middle East and the Best Joint Venture Company in the region by London-based World Finance magazine.

Its biggest projects are in the fields of petrochemical, pharmaceutical, chemical processing and power-generating industries, and among its long list of partners are international firms such as Foster Wheeler, Baker Hughes, Dresser Industries, Weatherford (Left), Cleveland Bridge and Intercontinental Hotels and Resorts. Partnering with global firms has been vital in securing new concepts for the firm. An example is Arabian Rockbits — the region’s largest manufacturer of rockbits — which was born out of an Al Rushaid partnership with Halliburton subsidiary Security DBS.

19.Mohamed Abdul Latif Jameel-$5bn; Country: Saudi Arabia

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Mohamed Abdul Latif Jameel may be most famous for running the world’s largest independent Toyota dealership, but it is in the issue of employment where he is really making a difference in Saudi Arabia. Via the Bab Rizq Jameel (BRJ) initiative, Jameel has helped create over 230,000 job opportunities, and is planning to create 500,000 jobs a year in the Arab countries and Turkey. Nine years ago, BRJ started out with just two job creation officers — one of whom was Jameel himself — who trained ten unemployed Saudis to become taxi drivers. But, of course, it’s his business success that has enabled him to set up BRJ.

Jameel’s self-titled group (ALJ) sells Toyota vehicles in the Middle East, UK, Central Asia and China. Jameel’s father first signed the partnership deal with Toyota in 1955 — and it wasn’t an auspicious start. The firm sold only ten Land Cruisers in a single year, all of which were later returned by dissatisfied customers. ALJ is also active in the fields of real estate, financing, software solutions, advertising, media, and distribution and sales of electronics and appliances. It employs more than 10,000 people worldwide with around 2,000 in the UK alone, and the group also operates Saudi Arabia’s largest consumer finance company.

18.The Mansour Family -$5.1bn; Country: Egypt

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The company’s operations span internationally across several major industrial sectors and can be summarised into five main business divisions: automotive, capital markets, consumer and retail, industrial equipment, and services.

The Mansour success story unfolded over three gradual phases: establishment and integration into the market; attracting international brands to build successful partnerships with while introducing its own brands to Egypt; and having its eye firmly on the future — fast tracking the group to further success with its strong balance sheets and structured investment strategy.

It all began with one man; founder Loutfy Mansour who established the company. Starting out in the cotton industry in the late 1940s, Mansour had a sharp business acumen that laid the strong foundation on which his sons have lead the company to even further heights of success.

The Mansours capitalised on this advantage and established companies such as Mansour Automotive Company (MAC) and Mantrac, attracting large international dealerships and making a name for Mansour in both Egypt and abroad. Nearly 70 years after their father’s first steps into the business world, three brothers — Youssef Mansour, Mohamed Mansour, and Yasseen Mansour; Mansour’s second-generation entrepreneurs — have led the company to consolidated revenues of over $4bn and a workforce of 38,000 employees.

17.Toufic Aboukhater-$5.8bn; Country: Palestine

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Self-made businessman Toufiq Aboukhater lives in Monaco and has stakes in oil, transport and manufacturing companies. The reclusive businessman started out working for Royal Dutch Shell, before going on to develop strong relationships in the Gulf and UAE, building one of the first cement factories in Ras Al Khaimah.

In early 2011, Aboukhater, who previously owned the Grand Hotel in Monte Carlo and the Dorchester in London (pictured), purchased, through his company Mansion Services, seven hotels branded by InterContinental Hotels Group Plc, including the Carlton Hotel on the Croisette boulevard in the French Riviera town of Cannes for about €450m. The seven hotels had changed hands several times before the purchase and had a valuation at one point of as much as €634m. Aboukhater sold the Carlton at the end of 2011 for €450m to a Qatari investor.

16.The Bugshan Family-$6bn; Country: Saudi Arabia

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Whether it’s projects, pipes or Pepsi, the Saudi family seems to have a hand in most industries. Based in Jeddah, they are associated with a plethora of business sectors, including automobiles, luxury cosmetics and watches, real estate and electronics. As regional entrepreneurs, they also maintain a strong presence in Morocco, Yemen, Algeria and the UAE. Founded in 1923, the Ahmed Salem Bugshan Group (referred to as ASB) started as a steel manufacturer.

Since then it has developed into a huge conglomerate by establishing alliances, dealerships and licence agreements with leading global brands. In Saudi Arabia, ASB companies hold sole distribution rights for Bridgestone tyres, Nivea, and Christian Dior perfumes. With the opening of a Canadian curriculum school in 2009 in Saudi Arabia, education can be added to the group’s ever growing portfolio.

15.Tareq Al Qahtani -$6bn; Country: Saudi Arabia

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Originally founded by Sheikh Abdel Hadi Abdullah Al Qahtani in the 1940s as a wholesaler and supplier of food products and materials, the Abdel Hadi Abdullah Al Qahtani Group of Companies has been expanded to cover various sectors and considered to be one of the largest and most reputable privately owned companies in Saudi Arabia with excellent relationships in both government and commercial sectors. Its chairman, Tareq Abdel Hadi Al Qahtani, has grown and diversified the company into supplying other industries including petrochemicals and the oil and gas sectors.

As the need grew for local manufacturing and local products, the group diversified its activities in the 1950s to include manufacturing, contracting and services. Other sectors targeted by the group include insurance, travel, tourism, transportation and custom clearance. In the 1970s, in a bid to diversify its investment portfolio outside its headquarters in Dammam, the group established an office in Texas, USA, and it has subsequently established other offices in Europe and other major international locations.

14.Majid Al Futtaim-$6.1bn; Country: UAE

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An attempt to buy Egypt’s biggest supermarket chain Mansour Group fell through last month — but that hasn’t dented Al Futtaim’s empire and finances. The man who introduced shopping malls and hypermarkets to the region, Majid Al Futtaim has built an empire that is growing in line with the current boom in Gulf retail. Having established his company in 1992, Al Futtaim is most famous for building some of the emirate’s largest shopping malls, which have acted as a magnet for both consumers and retail businesses, and attract over 120 million visitors each year. Al Futtaim opened his first shopping mall in 1995, City Centre in Dubai, and in September 2005 he opened the jewel in the company’s crown, the Mall of the Emirates (above). One of the largest shopping resorts outside North America, it is home to the five-star Kempinski and one of the world’s first indoor ski resorts.

13.The Kanoo Family-$6.1bn; Country: UAE

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The biggest family firm in Bahrain, the Kanoo Group has now been in existence for over 120 years. Established in Bahrain in 1890 by Haji Yusuf Bin Ahmed Kanoo, it has grown from its early trading and shipping business to become one of the most diversified and highly regarded business houses in the Gulf region and beyond. After the death of chairman and CEO Abdulla Ali Kanoo, Yusuf Ahmed Kanoo has stepped up to take the top role in the organisation.

Mishal Kanoo, one of the region’s most recognisable executives, remains as deputy chairman. It now has fourteen divisions in total, and employs 4,000 staff, with another 6,000 employed in its various joint venture operations. The company’s joint venture division was established over 25 years ago and has been linked to high profile names such as Axa Insurance, Norwich Union, Maersk and BASF.

12.The Al Ghurair Family-$6.3bn; Country UAE

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The highest placed UAE entry comes in at number 12 thanks to the huge Al Ghurair family. The family legacy can be traced back to Ahmad Al Ghurair who founded Al Ghurair Group in 1960. The family name has been a fixture within the UAE business community ever since.

Ahmad Al Ghurair passed on his legacy to his sons Saif, Abdulla, Majid, Marwan and Jomaa. Until the 1990s Al Ghurair Group was led by Saif Ahmad Al Ghurair. This corporation was formed in 1960. In the 1990s, Saif Ahmad Al Ghurair and Abdulla Al Ghurair embarked upon creating two unique yet complementing diversified industrial groups. This decision led to the creation of Saif Ahmad Al Ghurair Group (now the Al Ghurair Group) and Abdulla Al Ghurair Group.

Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair is CEO of Mashreq bank, which he started from scratch with $1.6m of capital during the oil boom in the 1960s, and which is the country’s fourth-largest by assets.

11.The Bukhamseen Family-$6.8bn; Country: Kuwait

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Bukhamseen Group was launched half a century ago as the vision of one man, Jawad Ahmed Bukhamseen. He founded the Jawad Bukhamseen Commercial Corporation in 1957, and under his able leadership the company grew and diversified, ultimately evolving in status from a small family business to a fully-fledged institution with interests across several economic sectors. As well as a primary interest in financial investment and banking, the firm has concerns in hospitality, travel and tourism, industrial production, media and communication work, consultancy services in urban planning, civil engineering, and major development projects in Kuwait.

Today, Jawad’s sons Emad, Osama, Anwar and Raed all occupy senior management positions within the company. Bukhamseen Holding’s Kuwait National Cinema Company also established Al Sharqia Cinema, the first movie theatre in Kuwait, in 1954.

10.Said Khoury-$7bn; Country-Palestine

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With cousin Hasib Sabbagh, in 1952 Said Khoury(right) founded Consolidated Contractors International Company (CCC), one of the first Arab construction companies.

The company sees sales of $4bn a year and manages projects in 40 countries, with a focus on Middle East and North Africa. Born in Safad, Palestine, Khoury moved to Lebanon in 1948 after the Arab-Israeli war and got his first job helping to build Tripoli Airport. He is now based in Athens. CCC has built landmark projects in everything from Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison (built in 1969, before the ascent of Saddam Hussein to the presidency of the country), to the Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington, DC.

The company has undertaken major projects in Azerbaijan, Turkey, Africa and the Gulf. The success of CCC is rooted in the early 1960s, with Sabbagh and Khoury securing a contract related to oil pipe storage facilities for the Iraq Petroleum Company, which entailed working with the Bechtel Group, the world’s largest construction company. That deal cemented a long and lasting relationship between CCC and Bechtel and it defined CCC’s scale of operations across the world.

9.The Binladin Family-$7.5bn; Country: Saudi Arabia
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Two years ago, the Binladin Group won deals to construct Prince Alwaleed’s Kingdom Tower and the expansion of the King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah. Between then the contracts are worth over $20bn. Adding to those deals was a bumper contract to help build the first phase of the Haramain railway link.

The family fortune is based on a construction business that paid immense dividends when decades ago it was awarded contracts for major renovations in Makkah and other religious buildings in Saudi Arabia and abroad. Founded by Mohammed Binladin, the family also built several palaces in Riyadh and Jeddah for the royal family and carried out restoration work following an arson attack on Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa Mosque in 1969. Salem, Mohammed’s eldest son, ran the empire left behind by his father upon his death in 1968 until he died when his private plane crashed in Texas in 1988.

Thirteen of Mohammed’s sons sit on the board of the family’s firm — the most prominent being Bakr, Hassan, Islam and Yehya.

8.Joseph Safra-$7.5bn; Country: Lebanon

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Lebanese-born Brazilian banker, Joseph Safra currently runs the Brazilian banking and investment empire, Safra Group. Born in Beirut, Lebanon, into a wealthy banking family, the family’s history in banking originated with caravan trade between Aleppo, Alexandria and Istanbul during the days of the Ottoman Empire.

The Lebanese family decided to move to Brazil in 1952. In 1955, Joseph’s 23-year-old brother, Edmond Safra, and his father, Jacob Safra, started working in Brazil by financing assets in São Paulo. Later on, Edmond Safra separated from his brothers Joseph and Moise and headed to New York where he founded the Republic National Bank of New York (which he later sold to HSBC in 1999 and donated most of his money to the Edmond Safra Foundation). Joseph Safra founded Banco Safra in 1955 and today it is reportedly the sixth largest private bank in Brazil. He remains the chairman of the Safra Group offering banking services throughout Europe, North and South America. Last year, Safra bought Switzerland’s Bank Sarasin for $2bn, creating Bank J Safra Sarasin. Safra owns the 660 Madison Avenue building in New York.

7.The Kharafi Family-$8.5bn; Country: Kuwait

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Kuwaiti family conglomerate the Kharafi Group, which has an annual turnover of around $5bn and is already active in 25 countries, is looking to Asia as its next target for investment, a senior family member told Arabian Business this year.

“Asia is a growing market but it is high risk… We are looking at a couple of opportunities there,” Bader Al Kharafi, a member of the executive council, told Arabian Business in an interview in the company’s headquarters in Kuwait City.

“You can be an investor or run and manage the company. We are looking at investments, maybe some private equity funds, those types of products where they have a good team… Transport, renewable energy and with what is happening in China we would definitely look at renewable energy. These are the sectors we think we could [invest].”

The Kharafi Group has operations in 25 countries around the world, from Senegal to Botswana to Kazakhstan and The Maldives, and has more than 120,000 employees.

The family business has always had strong connections with Egypt, from power stations along the Nile Delta to contracts at Marsa Alam International Airport and the Red Sea’s Port Ghalib, one of the biggest marina resorts in the Middle East.

6.The Sawiris Family-$10bn; Country:Egypt

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There is no stopping this family. Just last week Naguib Sawiris announced plans to invest $1bn in Egypt next year, focusing on construction, real estate, agriculture and microfinance. Indeed ever since Onsi, the patriarch of the family handed over the reins to Naguib, his eldest son and two brothers Nassef and Samih, their fortunes have rocketed. They took over and expanded the Orascom conglomerate into a telecommunications, construction, hotel and development business. Naguib, 58, launched the first mobile operator in Egypt, Mobinil in 1998, was chairman of the telecoms firms Wind Telecom and Orascom and launched Koryolink, the first mobile operator in North Korea in 2008. Naguib turned to politics as a wave of protests swept Egypt overthrowing former president Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

5.Issam Al Zahid-$11.6bn; Country: Saudi Arabia

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Issam Al Zahid is the chairman of the Alzahid Group of Companies. It got its start in 1951 under the banner Alzahid Construction, when it had a hand in smaller-scale planning of roads and other city infrastructure. Later it would be tapped to build the kingdom’s first coast guard stations.

By 1958 the company was in full swing, building everything from bridges to tunnels and flyovers — indeed much of the basic transport infrastructure upon which the kingdom still relies. Today, with offices located in Al Khobar, the diversified conglomerate has over 41,000 employees and has significant interests in mining, logistics, oil and gas, manufacturing, information technology, foodstuffs, retail and many other sectors.

Over the course of the last five years, it has set up further subsidiaries in areas as diverse as agriculture, aviation and medicine.

The group is planning to invest heavily in the oil and gas sector over the course of next year and 2014. Our assessment of Issam Al Zahid’s wealth has been verified by his private office.

4.Mohammed Al Amoudi-$12bn; Country:Saudi Arabia

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One of the Arab world’s most successful businessmen, Al Amoudi’s father is Hadhrami Yemeni and his mother is Ethiopian. He immigrated to Saudi Arabia in 1965 and became a Saudi citizen, and is said to be the largest foreign investor in both Sweden and Ethiopia. Al Amoudi made his first fortune in construction and real estate before branching out into buying oil refineries in Morocco and Sweden nd his native Ethiopia. His holding and operating companies, Corral Group and the Midroc Group, employ more than 40,000 people. Corral Group has an investment portfolio in Europe and the Middle East that includes Preem Petroleum, the largest integrated petroleum firm in Sweden, Svenska Petroleum & Exploration, SAMIR, Naft Services Company (Saudi Arabia) and Fortuna Holdings (Lebanon).

3.The Olayan Family-$12.5bn; Country: Saudi Arabia

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In third place this year is the Olayan family. This year marked the family business is 66th year of operations. It has come a long way since the summer of 1947 when Suleiman S. Olayan launched his first business in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. While still private and closely held, the group he founded has blossomed over the decades into a multinational enterprise with offices on three continents, and 50,000 people employed by 50 affiliated companies. Its main investment portfolio covers public and private equities, real estate, fixed income securities and other specialised assets. Suleiman is survived by his son Khaled and his three daughters – Hayat, Hutham and Lubna. This year, the group has partnered with the world’s largest snack food company, Mondelez International to distribute its products in the kingdo

2.Mohamed Al Jaber-$12.66bn; Country: Saudi Arabia
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Prominent Arab philanthropist and businessman Sheikh Mohamed Bin Issa Al Jaber has spent the last 33 years building the MBI International Holding Group Inc into an established collection of major international companies. Following a steady stream of investments into existing businesses during 2012, the group saw 2013 as the perfect time to invest in new acquisitions and expand: JJW Hotels & Resorts, established in 1989, has – amongst other major investments for the year – recently taken over control of the Penina Hotel & Golf Resort from the Starwood Group. This latest addition to the 60 hotels already in JJW’s portfolio is set to be added to throughout the course of 2014. At the start of December 2013, MBI International Holding Group Inc also increased their interest in Austrian ski & sports equipment company, Kneissl to 100 percent – making it the sole owner. Established in 1861, this marquee brand is set to bring another dimension to an already diverse portfolio. Sheikh Mohamed is also an active philanthropist, funding scholarship programmes at some of the world’s top educational institutions through his own MBI Al Jaber Foundation.

1.Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Al Saud-$31.2bn; Country: Saudi Arabia

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Whatever the prince touches generally turns to gold, and 2013 was no exception. In 2011, Alwaleed and Kingdom Holding Company (KHC) spent $300m on a stake in Twitter they said was worth more than 3 percent. When Twitter went public last month, the value of the prince’s stake soared by 200 percent to $900m, after a 70 percent rise in the share price.

Things have also been pretty impressive at Kingdom Holding in which the prince has a 95 percent share stake: the one year return on the stock had crossed a remarkable 35 percent by last Sunday. All this means that the prince is once again – for the 10th year running – the world’s richest Arab, with a personal fortune of $31.2bn. This figure has been verified by his private office.

But the real strength of the overall KHC portfolio lies in sector diversity. It has major interests in investment categories ranging from luxury hotels and real estate to media and publishing, entertainment, finance and investment services, social media and technology, consumer and retail, petrochemicals, education, private equities, health care, aviation – even agriculture. KHC is among the world’s largest and most diverse investors, with regional and international holdings in many key industries. It is recognised as one of the largest foreign investors in the United States.

The question in the past few years has been whether anyone else on the rich list could ever topple the prince from pole position. Based on the latest figures, the answer is a resounding no.


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