Which family in the world is worth a trillion dollars?

·4-min read
Members of the Saudi delegation wait for the arrival of China's President Xi Jinping and Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud before a welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, March 16, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Members of the Saudi delegation wait for the arrival of China's President Xi Jinping and Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud before a welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, March 16, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

The world is still several decades away from seeing its first 'trillionaire'. But did you know there's already a family that is worth a trillion dollars?

In 1999, Bill Gates became the first person in the world to be worth more than $100 billion. It would be another 18 years before anyone else would break that record. Jeff Bezos became that person on 2017 when he crossed the $100 billion mark for the first time. If he hadn’t given away a part of his wealth to charity, Gates would be about $175 billion today. It would still put him behind Jeff Bezos who is worth $187 billion right now. In any case, both Gates and Bezos are still several hundred billion short of being trillionaires. One trillion is equal to 100 billion. And studies have suggested that if anyone would hit that stratospheric number, it would likely be Elon Musk ‘or someone like him’.

Even as it will be a while before the world sees its first trillionaire, it turns out that we already have a trillionaire family in our midst.

The richest family in the world, the Saud family of Saudi Arabia, is also the only family that’s worth more than a trillion dollars. This figure has been arrived at by the consultancy firm Brand Finance that, among other things, does these sort of calculations.

Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud attends the Gulf Cooperation Council's (GCC) Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia December 9, 2018. Bandar Algaloud/Courtesy of Saudi Royal Court/Handout via REUTERS   ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY
Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud attends the Gulf Cooperation Council's (GCC) Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia December 9, 2018. Bandar Algaloud/Courtesy of Saudi Royal Court/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY

How is the House of Saud the richest family?

For one, it helps if your family members are rich folks. It also helps if your family comprises 15,000 members. To be fair though, majority of the wealth in the House of Saud is held by just a seventh of that number. Which is to say only 2,000 members of the family hold most of that $1.4 trillion.

Of course, they don’t talk about their wealth but no one’s really afraid of flaunting it either. The lifestyle of the Saud family is well known and all too familiar – private jets, luxury yachts, choppers and chateaus – but they also invest in the country’s infrastructure and its people. Saudi, for instance, doesn’t have income tax.

How does the House of Saud make money?

As with several of the Middle Eastern countries, the ruling family of Saudi Arabia owes its billions to the infinite reserves of oil that were uncovered some 75 years ago under its soil. At the time the country was under the rule of King Abdulaziz ibn Saud.

With each passing year, as the world’s dependence on oil increased so did the wealth of Saudi Arabia and its family. By all estimates, Saudi Aramco, the oil and natural gas company that is owned by the state is valued at over $2 trillion making it one of the most profitable companies in the world.

However, with the world now moving slowly but surely towards renewable energy, Saudi Arabia too is trying to align with the tide.

Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud arrives to address the Shura Council in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia November 19, 2018. Bandar Algaloud/Courtesy of Saudi Royal Court/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud arrives to address the Shura Council in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia November 19, 2018. Bandar Algaloud/Courtesy of Saudi Royal Court/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.

Who is the richest member of the Saud family?

Since most of the members of the royal family don’t declare their wealth, it’s difficult to estimate just who has how much wealth. But it is believed that Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the king of Saudi Arabia and the head of the family is worth $18 billion. He is also the most influential member of the royal family even though he has given up most control to his son, the Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman or MBS as he’s widely known. MBS is 35.

Only recently, MBS went all out and forced some of Saudi Arabia’s richest people to turn over their fortunes to the state. He did so under the name of clamping down corruption and keeping them under arrest in the Riyadh Ritz Carlton. Among those imprisoned and forced to turn over their wealth were members of his family too. According to the country’s official claims, the exercise netted more than $100 billion to the state coffers. Of course, there remains no way to verify this number.

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