Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Ali Al Amoudi (Ge'ez: ሞሓመድ አልአሙዲ, Arabic: محمد حسين العمودي; is a Saudi Arabian/Ethiopian businessman and billionaire who lives in Ethiopia and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. As of 2011, his net worth has been estimated by Forbes at $12.3 billion, making him the 63rd richest person in the world. This listing also ranks him as the richest person in Ethiopia and the second richest Saudi Arabian citizen in the world. According to Forbes, as of March 2012 Al Amoudi is the richest black person in the world, having surpassed Aliko Dangote.
Al Amoudi made his fortune in construction and real estate before branching out to buy oil refineries in Sweden and Morocco. He is said to be the largest foreign investor in both Sweden and Ethiopia.
Al Amoudi owns a broad portfolio of businesses in oil, mining, agriculture, hotels, hospitals, finance, operations and maintenance. His businesses are largely to be found within two conglomerate holding and operating companies, Corral Petroleum Holdings and MIDROC, both which he owns and manages. He employs over 40,000 people through these companies.
Al Amoudi's construction company consortium, Mohammed International Development Research and Organization Companies, also known as MIDROC, won a contract to build Saudi Arabia's estimated $30 billion nationwide underground oil storage complex in 1988. MIDROC acquired Yanbu Steel in Saudi Arabia in 2000.
In addition to his substantial business interests in Ethiopia, he also owns oil refineries in Morocco and Sweden and is engaged in energy exploration and production off West Africa and elsewhere. His Addis Ababa Sheraton is said to be among the finest hotels in Africa.
He has recently pledged US$275 million alongside other Saudi and South Korean investors through MIDROC to finance a factory to build Saudi Arabia's first car, to be called Gazal-1, in a project initiated by King Saud University and, in September 2011, it was announced that he planned to invest around US$1.07bn (4bn Saudi Riyals) in two major Saudi industrial projects (phosphate derivatives and sulfur) in Ras Al Khair [Eastern Region] and Jubail Industrial City respectively.
Al Amoudi has invested in Ethiopia since the mid-1980s. He now has substantial business interests there, largely operated through MIDROC Ethiopia which was created in 1994. In 2011 it made 1.3bn birr (US$70m) of profits.
He has major gold mining interests in Ethiopia and it is reported that MIDROC Gold Mine (a subsidiary of MIDROC Ethiopia) has paid the Ethiopian Government 100.1 million birr in royalties, the largest contribution of any mining company. Midroc Gold is Ethiopia’s sole gold exporter. Its Lega Dembi mine has a yearly average production of around 4,500 kg of gold and silver.
He owns 70% of National Oil Ethiopia, which competes with YBF, TAF and five other companies in the national petrol market and is establishing a major steel plant (Tossa) in Amhara. This latter is Ethiopia’s first industrial steel production plant and in intended to meet a major increase in domestic demand, estimated to rise from 1.2m tonnes to 3.1m tonnes per annum between 2011 and 2014.
In February 2011, the Sheikh acquired 69% of Ethiopia’s sole tyre manufacturer Addis Tyre and he has a substantial investment in cement production through Durba Midroc which was founded in 2008. His major cement plant near Chancho was backed in part by the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation. In July 2011, it was announced that the Ethiopian Electric Power Company [EEPco] would provide the Derba cement plant with 50MW of electricity.
The Al Amoudi-owned Saudi Star Agricultural Development Plc plans to develop up to 500,000 hectares (1,200,000 acres) of Ethiopian land for sugar, edible oil, and grain production. In March 2011, Saudi Star announced a further investment of $2.5 billion in Ethiopian rice projects. Some 10,000 hectares have been taken up in 60-year leases and the company plans to rent an additional 290,000 hectares. The company had reportedly purchased $80 million in equipment from [Caterpillar Inc].
President Girma Wolde-Giorgis of Ethiopia has stated that “a substantial investment in agricultural development was key to improving the quality of life across Africa” and that Saudi Star’s major investment programme would benefit both Ethiopia and its important trading partner, Saudi Arabia.
Al Amoudi also owns land used to produce coffee. Of the 2,295 hectares (5,670 acres) of land acquired by Ethio Agri-CEFT (which he owns) in the Sheka Zone of Ethiopia, it has only covered 1,010 hectares with coffee and shade trees, with the rest remaining as natural vegetation. In 2011, he donated 10 million birr (US$500k) to the proposed Ethiopian National Coffee Museum in Ethiopia’s Kaffa Zone.
In September 2011, in response to an appeal from Prime Minister Meles Zenawi for popular support for the financing of the major Renaissance Dam in North West Ethiopia which will triple the country’s hydro-electric power, the Sheikh pledged a donation of 1.5bn birr (around US$88m).
Al-Amoudi is a philanthropist and has committed funds to support healthcare and sport in Saudi Arabia, the US, Europe and Africa. He has funded a breast cancer research centre at King Abdulaziz University.
In 2008, Al Amoudi funded King Saud University’s an enhanced oil recovery research chair. The Sheikh has also fully funded the King Abdullah Institute for Nanotechnology at King Saud University.
Al Amoudi was named as one of the William J. Clinton Foundation Donors, according to information released as part of an obligation placed on former President Clinton when he supported Hillary Clinton's nomination as Secretary of State. Al Amoudi is reported to have donated between US$1m and US$5m to the foundation. He donated $20m over a decade in partnership with the foundation targeted specifically at AIDS.
Al Amoudi sponsored the CECAFA Cup, Africa's oldest football cup competition, in 2005 and 2006, and the tournament was named the Al Amoudi Senior Challenge Cup as a result in those years. He also supports Ethiopian Premier League Club St. George and covered the medical expenses of one of Ethiopia’s most celebrated footballers, Mengistu Worku, before his death in December 2010. In 2011, he pledged 100 million Ethiopian birr for a stadium and access road in Mek'ele.
In December 2010 the Sheikh initiated a claim in the English High Court against Elias Kifle of the Washington, D.C.-based Ethiopian Review claiming damages for libel. In July 2011 Kifle was ordered to pay £175,000 in damages for publishing false information.
The Ethiopian Review had also repeated unwarranted material relating to his family and to matters previously dealt with in the Al Amoudi v. Brisard case of 2005. M. Brisard had made serious and unwarranted allegations concerning engagement in the funding of terrorism in the wake of 9/11 but had subsequently apologised for the accusation. The judge found the statements to be untrue and stated that Al Amoudi "is implacably opposed to terrorism in all its forms”.
Honors and recognition
Al Amoudi has been ranked among the 100 richest people by Forbes since 2006, being ranking 63rd on the list in 2011. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Philosophy from Addis Ababa University and has been honoured with the Order of the Polar Star by King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden. Al Amoudi was also jointly honoured by the World Bank and State Department for his work in supporting African development.
The Sheikh was honoured for his achievements in economics and philanthropy at the 19th Arab Economic Forum Summit in 2011, with special reference to his commitment to sustainable development.
Al Amoudi was born in the north-central Ethiopian city of Desie and brought up in Woldia, a market town also in north-central Ethiopia. He has a Hadhrami Yemeni father and an Ethiopian mother. He grew up in Ethiopia, before immigrating to Saudi Arabia when he was 19 and becoming a Saudi citizen.
According to the BBC, Al Amoudi splits his residence between central London, Surrey and Saudi Arabia. He is married to Sofia Saleh Al Amoudi, a Saudi citizen and shareholder of MIDROC Construction.
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