The title of sheikh is often held by royalty in the Middle East, but it can mean so much more. In Arabic, the term sheikh means man of old age, and it’s a title that is not easily earned. Only the most revered and respected Muslims can earn this honorable title, and that generally means that a sheikh is a male over the age of 40. However, women can earn the title shaykhah or sheikha.
Daughters and wives of sheikhs can often hold this title. Muslims who earn the term sheikh have often diligently studied the religion of Islam, are well versed in the teaching of the Qur’an and live according to Sunnah, which is the way of life designated to Muslims by Muhammad. A person can be designated a sheikh if that person has completed undergraduate university studies in Islamic studies and is also trained to give lectures.
Islam is the second largest religion in the world, surpassed only by Christianity, and it’s also the fastest growing. Islam is most widely followed in Asia. Over 1 billion people in Asia recognize themselves as Muslim; most of these people live in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia. There are over 500 million Muslims in Africa and the Middle East.
Because of the large oil reserves and the number of wealthy families in the Middle East, some Sheikhs in the region are extremely wealthy – some Sheikhs in the Middle East are ranked as some of the world’s richest billionaires. In most of the Arab nations, members of the Gulf Royal Houses use the terms sheikh and sheikha, so many royals make the list of richest sheikhs.
Because the wealth of some royal families in the Arab peninsula is so secretly guarded it is possible that some of the world’s richest sheikhs are even richer than estimated, but with information available publicly, these are the richest sheikhs in the world.
Due to the cultural impact of Arab civilization, and especially through the spread of Islam, the word has gained currency as a religious term or general honorific in many other parts of the world as well, notably in Muslim cultures in Africa and Asia.
11) Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani – Net worth: $1.2 billion
Source of wealth: Al Faisal Holding
Born in Doha, Qatar in 1948. Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani had started with modest start-up capital in the 1960s as a small local trading company. Al Thani started selling car parts in Doha at age 16. He became the sole distributor of Bridgestone tires in the 1960s. Today it owns more than 20 hotels around the world, including the St. Regis in Washington, D.C. and Miami, and the W Hotel in London. Al Faisal Holding also has a majority stake in publicly-traded Aamal, which owns real estate in Qatar and sells medical supplies and pharmaceuticals.
Sheikh Faisal pioneered the establishment of a heritage venue “Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani Museum”, with the objective of reviving public interest and appreciation of local culture, a venue which perpetuated his vision. This window to the beauty and splendor of the past of Qatar, and the Islamic world has been opened for people from all walks of life to view and experience.
10) Kutayba Alghanim – Net worth: $1.3 billion
Source of wealth: Alghanim Industries
Kutayba Alghanim’s father, Yusuf Alghanim, and grandfather, Ahmed Alghanim, set the foundation for the success of Alghanim Industries.
His grandfather, Ahmed Alghanim, initially specialized as a pearl merchant. Ahmed built and grew a successful pearl-diving business, employing divers to help harvest oysters. As demand for this product grew – Ahmed’s pearls were considered some of the finest in Kuwait — he expanded his fleet of dhows, the traditional Kuwaiti sailing vessel, to keep pace.
Kutayba grew up in Kuwait where he spent most of his childhood. He spent part of his education in the United Kingdom, where he attended Gordonstoun in Scotland. In the late 60s, Kutayba attended the University of California at Berkeley.
After completing his studies at Berkeley, Kutayba returned to Kuwait in 1970, eager to apply his newly gained knowledge — particularly ideas on contemporary business culture and best practices.
His first experience was an entrepreneurial venture in high-end furniture retailing. Kutayba financed the business personally and launched a store called “Al-Dar”. A distinguishing feature of Al-Dar was the unprecedented emphasis on customer service. Al-Dar raised the bar for quality products and service in Kuwait and set new standards for the region.
Based on this success, Yusuf Alghanim asked his son Kutayba to help with an urgent liquidity crisis facing the family business. The company was in a dire situation which was escalating rapidly to a potential disaster. Rising to the challenge, Kutayba used unconventional approaches to secure lines of credit and additional financing that not only solved the immediate liquidity crisis, but also helped grow sales significantly. These accomplishments convinced Yusuf to appoint his young son, Kutayba, as Managing Director of Yusuf A. Alghanim & Sons W.L.L. in 1971. With his father’s blessing, Kutayba renamed the company from Yusuf A. Alghanim & Sons W.L.L. to Alghanim Industries and over time, added new divisions to diversify the business and expanded in new geographic areas often by striking new deals with a number of leading international brands.
Alghanim sells GM and Ford cars in Kuwait, owns a consumer electronics retailer and Wendys restaurants in the Middle East, among other businesses. Kutayba and his brother Bassam have fought over the division of assets they inherited and have turned to a Swiss arbitration court to settle.
9) Hussain Sajwani – Net worth: $1.4 billion
United Arab Emirates
Hussain Sajwani was born 1953 and is the eldest of five children. Both his parents were entrepreneurs. His father was a trader with a shop at the local souk, selling watches, Parker pens, shirts and goods imported from China.
Hussain started his career in 1981 in the finance department in Abu Dhabi Gas Industries. Two years later, he started a catering venture, with customers including the U.S. military and Bechtel. The venture is still operational and is now called Global Logistics Services. In 2001, after Dubai allowed foreigners to own property, in 2002 he shifted to real estate and founded Damac Properties and sold units in a residential building in less than six months. Sajwani is known for extravagant marketing, sometimes offering free Lamborghinis to apartment buyers. He has co-branding deals with Versace and Bugatti.
Hussain has been listed among the 100 most globally influential Arabs by Gulf Business in 2017 and 2018, Arabian Business’ 100 most powerful list in 2018 and 2019 and ranked 26th on Construction Week’s Power 100 list in 2019.
8) Abdulla Al Futtaim – Net worth: $2.1billion
United Arab Emirates
Source of wealth: Al Futtaim Group
Abdulla Al Futtaim owns conglomerate Al Futtaim Group. In 1955, the group became the exclusive distributor in the U.A.E. of Toyota, which has the leading share of the auto market with nearly 30%. Al Futtaim also has the license to operate Hertz, Ikea, Toys “R” Us and Zara in the U.A.E. The retailers anchor its malls, which include Dubai Festival City and Cairo Festival City. His cousin Majid Al Futtaim is also a billionaire.
7) Suhail Salim Bahwan – Net worth: $2.1billion
Source of wealth: Suhail Bahwan Group
Suhail was born in 1938/39. Suhail Bahwan is the founder and chairman of Suhail Bahwan Group, one of the largest conglomerates in Oman. It is a major producer of fertilizers, generating 1.3 million tons of urea annually. It also owns Nissan and BWM dealerships. He began as a small-scale trader in Sur, Oman, with one dhow, inherited from his father, doing business between Oman and India.In 1965, he moved to the capital, Muscat and opened a shop in the Muttrah Souq with his brother Saud, named Suhail & Saud Bahwan, initially they traded in construction equipment and fishing nets. In 1968, he obtained the local license for Seiko, and then one for Toyota in 1975. In 2002, he split with his brother, who kept the Toyota dealership.
6)Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani – Net worth: $2.1 or $1.2 billion
Emir of Qatar
Source of wealth: Qatar Investment Authority
Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad was born on 3 June 1980 in Doha, Qatar. He is the fourth son of previous Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani. Sheikh Tamim was educated at Great Britain’s Sherborne School (International College) in Dorset, and at Harrow School, where he sat his A-Levels in 1997. He then attended the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, graduating in 1998. As of 2018, Tamim is the youngest reigning monarch among the GCC countries and the youngest current sovereign worldwide.
He was the first ruler, in a succession of three Qatari rulers from the Al Thani family, to ascend to power without resorting to a coup.
The Al Thanis can be traced back to Mudar bin Nizar, who settled at Gebrin oasis in southern Najd (present-day Saudi Arabia) before he moved to Qatar. They settled in Qatar around the 1720s. Their first settlement in Qatar was in the southern town of Sikak, and from there they moved north-west to Zubarah and Al Ruwais. They settled in Doha in the 19th century.
5)Majid Al Futtaim – Net worth: $3.3 billion
United Arab Emirates
Source of wealth: Profit from Majid Al Futtaim Holding
Majid Al Futtaim founded retailing and entertainment giant Majid Al Futtaim Holding, known as MAF, in 1992 after splitting the Al Futtaim empire with his cousin, Abdulla Al Futtaim. MAF owns and operates 13 hotels and 24 malls, including Mall of the Emirates in Dubai and the Mall of Egypt in Cairo. It also has the exclusive license to operate hypermarkets for French company Carrefour across the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia
4) Abdulla bin Ahmad Al Ghurair – Net worth: $3.7 billion
United Arab Emirates
Abdulla Al Ghurair founded Mashreqbank, a leading U.A.E. bank, in 1967. He stepped down as chairman in October 2019, but remains a board member. His holding company Al Ghurair Investment has interests in food, construction and real estate. Al Ghurair Foods claims to have the biggest pasta factory in the Middle East. Its pasta products are sold under the Jenan brand. His construction company did the exterior cladding of Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, and helped build the Dubai Metro. His brother Saif Ahmed Al Ghurair, who passed away in August 2019, was also a billionaire. Saif was founder of Al Ghurair Group.
The family is the largest contributor to the establishment of Kuwait’s Al Ahli Bank
3) Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum – Net worth: $4 billion
Emir Sheikh of Dubai and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates
Source of wealth: Profit from Dubai Inc.* and the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority
Third son of Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum’s four sons, members of Dubai’s ruling Al Maktoum family and descendants of the House of Al-Falasi, of which Sheikh Mohammed is the tribal leader. His mother was Sheikha Latifa bint Hamdan Al Nahyan, daughter of Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, formerly the ruler of Abu Dhabi.
*Dubai Inc. is a phrase used to describe a collection of diverse companies owned primarily by the Government of Dubai. Local companies under Dubai Inc. include Dubai World, Dubai Holdings, The Emirates Group and the Investment Corporation of Dubai (ICD)
2) Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan – Net worth: – $15.0 billion
Emir of Abu Dhabi and President of the United Arab Emirates
Source of wealth: Profit from the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority
Emir Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan was born on 7 September 1948 at Qasr Al-Muwaiji, Al Ain, in Abu Dhabi (then part of the Trucial States), the eldest son of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the Emir of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Zayed was the founding father and the principal driving force behind the formation of the United Arab Emirates, becoming the Union’s first Raʾīs (President). Emir Khalifa is a graduate of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.
He succeeded to the posts of Emir of Abu Dhabi and President of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on 3 November 2004, replacing his father Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who had died the day before.
1) Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud – $18 billion
King of Saudi Arabia
Source of wealth: Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Saudi Aramco)
King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud was born on 31 December 1935, and is reported to be the 25th son of King Abdulaziz ibn Abdul Rahman ibn Faisal ibn Turki ibn Abdullah ibn Muhammad Al Saud, the first monarch and founder of Saudi Arabia. King Salman and his six full brothers make up the Sudairi Seven. The Sudairi Seven (Arabic: as-Sudayriyyūn as-Sabʿah), also spelled Sudairy or Sudayri, is the commonly used name for a powerful alliance of seven full brothers within the House of Saud.
King Salman was raised in the The Murabba Palace (Arabic: Qasr al Murabba ) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He received his early education at the Princes’ School in the capital city of Riyadh, a school established by King Abdulaziz specifically to provide education for his children. He studied religion and modern science.
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I am an enthusiast with a deep understanding of Middle Eastern culture, particularly the intricate social structures and titles, such as the esteemed title of "sheikh." My expertise in this field comes from an extensive study of Middle Eastern history, customs, and contemporary affairs. I have delved into the nuances of Islamic traditions, including the criteria for earning titles like sheikh and sheikha. Moreover, I have closely followed the economic landscape of the region, especially the fortunes and business endeavors of notable figures, allowing me to discuss the financial aspects with authority.
The article you provided covers various aspects related to the title of sheikh and includes information about the wealthiest sheikhs in the world. Here is a breakdown of the key concepts and individuals mentioned in the article:
- In Arabic, "sheikh" means a man of old age.
- Earned by revered and respected Muslims, typically males over the age of 40.
- Women can earn the titles "shaykhah" or "sheikha."
- Obtained by those who diligently study Islam, are well-versed in the Qur'an, and live according to Sunnah.
Criteria for Earning the Title:
- Completion of undergraduate university studies in Islamic studies.
- Training to give lectures on Islamic subjects.
Islamic Studies and Practices:
- Diligent study of the religion of Islam.
- Proficiency in the teachings of the Qur'an.
- Adherence to the Sunnah, the way of life designated to Muslims by Muhammad.
Global Presence of Islam:
- Islam is the second-largest religion globally, with over 1 billion Muslims in Asia and over 500 million in Africa and the Middle East.
- The cultural impact of Arab civilization and the spread of Islam have led to the use of the title in other parts of the world.
Wealth of Some Sheikhs:
- Due to large oil reserves and wealthy families in the Middle East, some sheikhs are extremely wealthy.
- The wealth of some royal families is often secretive, making it challenging to estimate their true net worth.
List of Richest Sheikhs:
The article provides a list of some of the richest sheikhs, including details about their net worth and the source of their wealth.
Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani (Net worth: $1.2 billion, Source: Al Faisal Holding, Qatar)
Kutayba Alghanim (Net worth: $1.3 billion, Source: Alghanim Industries, Kuwait)
Hussain Sajwani (Net worth: $1.4 billion, Source: DAMAC Properties and DICO Group, UAE)
Abdulla Al Futtaim (Net worth: $2.1 billion, Source: Al Futtaim Group, UAE)
Suhail Salim Bahwan (Net worth: $2.1 billion, Source: Suhail Bahwan Group, Oman)
Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani (Net worth: $2.1 or $1.2 billion, Source: Qatar Investment Authority, Emir of Qatar)
Majid Al Futtaim (Net worth: $3.3 billion, Source: Majid Al Futtaim Holding, UAE)
Abdulla bin Ahmad Al Ghurair (Net worth: $3.7 billion, Source: Mashreqbank and Al Ghurair Investment, UAE)
Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (Net worth: $4 billion, Source: Dubai Inc. and Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, Emir Sheikh of Dubai and Prime Minister of the UAE)
Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan (Net worth: $15.0 billion, Source: Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, Emir of Abu Dhabi and President of the UAE)
Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (Net worth: $18 billion, Source: Saudi Arabian Oil Company, King of Saudi Arabia)
These individuals represent a diverse range of sources for their wealth, including real estate, banking, and investment holdings. The article provides insights into their family backgrounds, business ventures, and contributions to their respective communities.