Babylon & Beyond

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SAUDI ARABIA: The rich poorer but still loaded

December 14, 2008 |  9:11 am

Richlist08_thumb It’s been a tough year for princes, kings and money men. The Arabian Business magazine reports that the world's 50 richest Arabs have lost $25 billion in the global financial crisis.

“What is most striking this year — for the first time ever — is the reduction in the wealth of some of the super-rich,” writes Anil Bhoyrul in the magazine’s annual Rich List edition. “To make it big in our list this year, the question was not how much money you made — but how much money you lost. Most of our top ten [have] suffered considerable losses, beginning at the very top.”

The very top would be Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who is reported to have lost about $4 billion, bringing his total worth down to just over $17 billion. That includes the prince’s “Flying Palace” Airbus A380, which is part of an overall personal “transportation portfolio” valued at $822 million.

Those sums remind this writer of a scene from Barry Levinson’s 1982 movie “Diner”: Two guys having a run of bad luck go for a drive in the country, where they glimpse a wealthy blond woman galloping on a horse in a fenced in estate. Very Burberry. They get out of their beat-up car and stand watching her in amazement. One of them turns to the other and says: “Do you ever get the feeling there’s something going on we don’t know about?”

— Jeffrey Fleishman in Cairo

The 50 Richest Arabs. Credit: 

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