By Abdul Rashid Agwan,
It is interesting to note names of 112 Muslim billionaires from the Forbes 2015 list of total 1826. There are a number of richest Muslims from various Muslim countries but there are also non-Muslim tycoons in some of them. A good number of Muslim 10-digit dollar makers are from such non-Muslim countries as Russian Federation, India and USA.
In the Forbes 2013 list of 500 richest persons in the world, 24 came from the Muslim world. Prince Alwaleed Bin Tala Alsaud from Saudi Arabia ranked 28th in the list and was the richest Muslim followed by Alisher Usmanove from Russia who ranked 34th and Mohammed Al Amoudi from Saudi Arabia ranked 65th, Anand Krishnan from Malaysia ranked 82nd and Azim Premji from India 91st; all making their presence in the first 100 billionaires of the world. Surprisingly, maximum number of Muslim billionaires in top 500 came from the Russian Federation, i.e. 6, followed by 4 from Saudi Arabia. Overall, 5% billionaires among top-500 of the class were Muslims.
The announcement of Forbes 2015 list of 500 top billionaires of the world makes evident that the Muslim billionaires are struggling in the war of ascendency on the wealth ladder. Not only the number of top 500 wealthiest persons of the Muslim world got dropped down to 23 during the last two years but their ranks had also drastically gone down. Moreover, this time, the number of non-Muslim billionaires from Muslim countries has gone up from the previous one to 5 now. From India, 4 Muslims found place in the 2015 list.
Oil burnished many fortune riders during some previous years but the steep fall in its price scorched many of them recently. As global oil prices plummeted from a peak of $115 a barrel to below $50 a barrel, the wealth of many tycoons fell by hundreds of millions of dollars.
Bill Gates surged once again on top of the wealth pyramid with an asset of $ 79.2 billion. The richest Muslim Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Alsaud of Saudi Arabia retains his position among Muslims billionaires but he descended from 28th position in 2013 to 34th in 2015 with an asset of $ 22.6 billion. Alisher Usmanove of Russia has not only lost his second rank among Muslim tycoons but also slipped from his 34th position to 71st now. The software leader from India Azim Premji improved his previous rank a lot and now stands at 48th position in the list and as the second wealthiest Muslim with an asset of $19.1 billion.
There are around 1826 billionaires in the world. Out of them, 112 are Muslims or those from Muslim countries, making it 6.1% of the total. There are 7 Muslim women who have been included in the Forbes 2015 billionaires including Suna Kirac of Turkey as the wealthiest Muslim woman, who has been given the slab of 847th position with as asset of $2.2 billion.
It is really strange that no name from Iran and Qatar appeared on the Forbes list in spite of the fact that the former is included among top 20 GDP countries whereas the latter remains the wealhiest country by per capita income for last several years. Some other sources mark at least one dozen Iranians to be billionares by thier net worth.
It is also striking that there are more billionaires in Turkey than in the nighoring Israel, resepctively 24 and 18.
It is interesting to note that there are three other Indian Muslim billionaires identified by the Forbes, besides Azim Premji. They are M.A. Yusuf Ali (737th), Habil Khorakiwala (894th) and Yusuf Hamied (1054th). The first one shines in retails whereas the other two in pharmaceuticals. After the death of Saiyid Hamid in December 2014, Habil Khorakiwala has been appointed as the incumbent chancellor of Hamdard University.
There are 286 new faces among the world’s rechiest. It is food and beverage industry which added the most members to Forbes’ annual list of billionaires and many of those who deal in oil went down.
(Contributor is an activist, writer on contemporary issues and author of many books including his recent thought-provoking work “Islam in 21st Century: The Dynamics of Change and Future-making”.)