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.
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.