Tuesday, 2 March 2010

World's Richest People

World's Richest People
Sultan Qaboos bin Said, Oman
Fortune: $700 million (down $400 million)
Age: 68

Ascended throne in 1970 after overthrowing his father in a coup d'etat. With oil revenues down, promoting tourism and maritime sectors; more than 700 homes are currently under construction at the Wave, a $2.5 billion mixed-use beachfront development in the country's capital, Muscat. Meanwhile, the giant port and ship-repair yard complex on the sultanate's southeastern coast continues to expand. Avid classical music fan; personally financed restoration of mosques across the country. Graduate of Britain's Sandhurst Military Academy, served in British Infantry before returning to Oman. Divorced, has no children and has not yet named a successor.

World's Richest People
Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al Sabah, Kuwait
Fortune: $400 million (down $100 million)
Age: 80

Managing simultaneous political and economic crises in the kingdom: one of the country's biggest banks, Gulf Bank, was the first in the region to need a bailout; the Emir's cabinet resigned in March after five Islamist members of parliament alleged Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser had mismanaged public funds, charges he denied. Sabah dissolved parliament; after new elections, he re-appointed Sheikh Nasser (his nephew) as prime minister. Wealth based on annual stipend actually set by Emir; unique among Gulf states as wealth is not tied to state oil funds.

World's Richest People
Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahayan, United Arab Emirates
Fortune: $18 billion (down $5 billion)
Age: 61

President of the UAE and hereditary ruler of its capital emirate, Abu Dhabi. Tanking oil prices and a 50% decline in the country's nascent stock market helped shave $5 billion from the king's fortune. Forced to bail out neighbor Dubai to the tune of $10 billion. Efforts to transform Abu Dhabi into Middle East's cultural epicenter with outposts of the Louvre and Guggenheim museums overshadowed by allegations that the king's half-brother was involved in the torture of an Afghan expat. The Emir has since kicked the accused off his cabinet.

World's Richest People
Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai
Fortune: $12 billion (down $6 billion)
Age: 59

Ruler of Dubai, an emirate of the United Arab Emirates, was forced to ask for a handout from neighbor Abu Dhabi when credit markets tanked. State-owned Dubai World owns DP World Ltd., the third-largest international port operator; Istithmar World, a private equity firm that acquired Barney's New York in 2007; and Nakheel PJSC, builder of palm-shaped islands in the Persian Gulf. Growth of such assets required high level of borrowing; when credit markets contracted, concerns arose about its $80 billion combined government and state-owned company debt. After months of bickering, Abu Dhabi bought $10 billion worth of five-year bonds; a permanent fix is still being hammered out. One of the largest racehorse owners in the world, his Darley Stud owns 68 stallions and operates stables in six countries, including Japan, Australia and the U.S.

World's Richest People King Abdullah bin Abul Aziz, Saudi Arabia
Fortune: $17 billion (down $4 billion)
Age: 85
In June, put together lavish reception for U.S. President Barack Obama, presenting him with a gold medallion, Saudi Arabia's highest honor. The pomp overshadowed the country's slumping economy, which has trimmed royal net worth by $4 billion this year. Supports the $27 billion King Abdullah Economic City, a massive 20-year development started in 2006 that the government hopes will become the new industrial hub of the Middle East and a way for the nation to diversify its economy beyond oil. Proactive on peace: last year hosted interfaith dialogues between major political and religious leaders in New York, Mecca and Madrid.

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