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.
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