Meet MENA’s Most Inspiring Self-Made Billionaires

How can one become a billionaire? It seems like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, two of the richest men in the world, have a secret recipe for cash, and the rest of the world didn’t purchase the cooking book. Is there a guidebook for wealth? Or is it pure luck? Maybe billionaires have a booming family business, making them wealthy by birth. Well, mi amigo, the answer is simple: it all ties back to hard work. The two words, two syllables, and nine characters can do the magic. I know you are not fully convinced, yet. So, here is a compilation of the most inspiring stories of self-made billionaires in the region.

  • Issad Rebrab and his family- Algeria

The world’s second-richest Arab, Issad Rebrab, and his partners (aka Issad and his family) have currently a net worth of $5.1 billion, according to Forbes. Algeria’s only billionaires own the country’s largest private conglomerate, Cevital. The business came to light in 1971, with the launch of the family’s metal construction business. The family-run group owns many subsidiaries and is invested in diversified sectors, including food processing, media services, electronic appliances, the automobile industry, and much more. Starting as a business law teacher, Rebrab was one of the pioneers in Algeria’s entrepreneurship scene, even before they coined the term.

  • Majid Al Futtaim Family- United Arab Emirates (UAE)

When the name ‘Futtaim’ is brought up in a conversation, we often think of modernistic malls, including Cairo Festival City (CFC) Mall and Mall of Egypt, and money-of course. Yet, we forget the inspiring story of how the leading pioneer in shopping malls and leisure came to being. In 1992, Majid Al Futtaim founded the giant corporation, Majid Al Futtaim Holding (MAF), operating many world-renowned hotels and malls across the Middle East. The Emirati-based Group also owns an exclusive franchise of operating Carrefour, the well-known French chain of hypermarkets in the MENA region. Futtaim’s vision has greatly influenced the shopping experience and the leisure industry in the Arab world. Although the Emirati businessman passed away last year, he is still considered the world’s third-richest Arab, with a net worth of $3.6 billion, according to Forbes Middle East

  • The Mansour Family- Egypt

Mansour Group is most well-known as General Motors dealers in Egypt. The surprise is the group owns more than you think, including the national franchise of McDonald’s, Metro Market, and Egypt’s Crédit Agricole bank. The family-owned business has grown over three generations. To grasp the journey of the Egyptian group, we should go back to 1952 when Loutfy Mansour founded Mansour & Sons company, an Egyptian-based cotton company. The firm later exported cotton, becoming the country’s second-largest cotton exporter in the world. In the early 60s, President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s decision to nationalize private businesses led to the confiscation of family assets, which made Mansour move his business to Geneva. In 1975, the family moved back to Egypt, and they founded the automotive company we know today. Almost five decades later, Mansour’s great-grandchildren, Mohamed and Yasseen oversee the family-run group and have a net worth of $3.6 billion combined.

  • Suhail Bahwan- Oman

Starting as a humble merchant selling fishing nets in Muscat’s Souq, Suhail Bahwan is currently an Omani billionaire, with a net worth of $3.5 billion, according to Forbes. Before founding his group, one of the country’s largest privately-owned conglomerates, the 82-year-old was working with his brother, Saud. In 1965, the Bahwan brothers opened a shop trading fishing nets and construction materials. In 2002, the two brothers split, accordingly the business was divided into two. From automobiles to construction and healthcare, Suhail’s Group is extremely diversified. In recent years, the Omani businessman started to hand over the business to his second eldest daughter, Amal.

“Don’t put all your eggs in one basket,” they say. This English proverb couldn’t be more accurate, and the proof is the stories of Arab self-made billionaires. They climbed up the ladder by diversifying their business and investing in different sectors.

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