A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Friday, May 21, 2010

World's Richest Heads of State

Via The Gulf Blog, a list of the world's richest heads of state, derived from this article at The Independent, we find some surprises.

No, no Arab monarch tops the list. The King of Thailand is, to my surprise, first. The Sultan of Brunei is second, which is not a surprise: he basically rules an oilfield. Then comes the President of the UAE/Ruler of Abu Dhabi, not surprising in itself but ahead of the King of Saudi Arabia, which did surprise me.

Fifth, however, is Silvio Berlusconi. I knew he was very rich in Italian terms, but didn't know that he was richer than most Gulf monarchs.

The Prince of Liechtenstein is sixth. Huh? Obviously due to Liechtenstein's vast imperial outreach.

Seventh is Qatar, no surprise. Surprised it wasn't higher.

Next they list Asaf Ali Zardari, leader of Pakistan, grieving widower of Benazir Bhutto. There are allegations of corruption. Really?

Ninth is Prince Albert of Monaco, who rakes in the take of Monte Carlo.

Tenth is the President of Chile? What's going on there?

Eleventh, Sultan Qaboos of Oman.

Twelfth, the President of Equatorial Guinea. I think he lists his whole country as an asset.

Thirteenth, is the Queen of England, which shows how the mighty have fallen. The ruler of the UK is not as personally rich as the ruler of Equatorial Guinea, for crying out loud?

The Amir of Kuwait clocks in at 14th. The Ruler of Kuwait is not as rich as the ruler of Equatoral Guinea? Either he hides his assets better or Equatorial Guinea is emerging as a problem.

The rest: 15) Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands; 16) King Mswasi III of Swaziland; 17) Kevin Rudd, PM of Australia (through his wife's inherited wealth); 18) John Key, New Zealand Prime Minister and rich from his previous career (why are the two ANZACs so rich?); 19) Lee Myung-Bak, President of South Korea, who headed Hyundai before politics; and 10)

Okay you guess who number 20 is. If you get it right you might win something if I had any prizes or money!

And the 20th richest head of state is:

The President of Montenegro.
What? I sincerely doubt one American in 1000 knows where Montenegro is. Of Milo Djukanovic , the source reports that "Mysteriously wealthy, he denies allegations that he was involved in a lucrative tobacco smuggling ring."


Anonymous said...

And what are the mechanisms by which Arab authoritarian leaders are compelled to declare their wealth? Don't they go to lengths to hide their wealth from the populace? You are an area specialist, and yet you did not smell something funny about this article. I have to wonder why.

Michael Collins Dunn said...

I thought I smelled a lot funny about this article and I thought it came through. Maybe that wasn't as clear as I meant it to be.