By Loubna Flah
By Loubna Flah
Casablanca – Every year, US News and World Report releases its ranking of the best colleges and universities in the United States. For parents and high school students, the report is a useful guide in making the crucial decision of where to obtain the best secondary education. There is another famous ranking in the United States. Forbes Magazine, much to the chagrin of those of us who struggle for a living, releases its list of the world’s wealthiest individuals. For some reason, the public is always fascinated by this list and is eager to learn the names and backgrounds of multi-billionaires. With a few exceptions, the majority of the ultra-rich are businessmen from Western developed nations.
For the past two years, Mexican businessman Carlos Slim Helu has held the top spot with an estimated fortune of $69 billion dollars. Mr. Slim is chairman of the Mexican telecom company, Temex. Bill Gates, a Harvard drop out who founded and chairs Microsoft, ranks second with $61 billion dollars. Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Alsaud‘s fortune is close to $18 billion dollars. He earns most of his wealth from investing in Saudi and international corporations and multinationals, including Citigroup and the Four Seasons hotel chain. Although underrepresented, women are also on the list. German businesswoman, Susanne Klatten, heir to the automobile giant BMW and a trained economist, has a net worth of $13 billion dollars.
With the economic emergence of China, India, Brazil and Russia, non-Western nations have a greater number of billionaires. For instance, Moroccan real estate businessman, Miloud Chaabi, is ranked 401st with a fortune worth $2.9 billion dollars. His company invested initially in housing before expanding to hotels, supermarkets and renewable energy. Othmane Benjelloun, a seasoned businessman in the insurance and banking sectors (RMA Watanyia, BMCE) has a net worth of $2.3 billion dollars. Moroccan entrepreneur Anas Sefrioui has a net worth $1.6 billion dollars. According to Forbes, his opportunity came when he won a contract to build a chunk of government-subsidized housing under the patronage of Morocco’s late King Hassan II.
It is worth noting that the three Moroccan billionaires are involved in the real estate sector. This highly profitable business benefits from Morocco’s growing urban population and structural reforms (such as construction of high ways). Nevertheless, real estate business does not generate a satisfactory number of job opportunities liable to alleviate the problem of unemployment in Morocco. Moreover, Morocco’s wealthy businessmen seldom engage in large scale philanthropic ventures like their counterparts in other countries. Since 2000, Bill Gates has donated $29 billion dollars to various charities. He is also committed to AIDS prevention programs, as well as other diseases prevalent in third World countries.
Morocco’s billionaires are best suited to fund sustainable development projects that could benefit large segments of Moroccan society. Let’s hope that they not only emulate their Western counterparts in their ability to generate wealth. It behooves them, for the sake of humanity and their personal legacies, to dedicate a portion of their massive wealth to programs that alleviate the poverty of millions of their compatriots.
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