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.
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.