5. Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan: $15bn
Sheikh Khalifa, the current president of the UAE and ruler of Abu Dhabi is part of the Al Nahyan family whose fortune is estimated to exceed $150bn. Despite his role in the modernisation and – to an extent – Westernisation of the Arab Emirates, the US government isn’t particularly fond of the leader who was described in one of the leaked cables from the Wikileaks hoard as a ‘distant and uncharismatic personage’.
Since he ascended to the throne following his father’s death in 2004 he has generally been seen as a positive influence in the region; he increased the wages of government employees by 100%, and has introduced an element of democracy into the election process of the Federal National Council. During his rule the UAE saw the construction of the Burj Dubai in 2010, the world’s tallest structure.
4. Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz: $18bn
Abdullah is the sixth King of Saudi Arabia, meaning that he controls almost a fifth of the world’s oil supply. The 89 year-old ascended to the throne in 2005 following a life of politics which started with the mayoral position of the holy city of Mecca at the beginning of the sixties.
Abdullah managed to successfully steer his kingdom through the global recession, and the country is projecting a 4% growth for this year. The king has tried to protect the 50% of the population who fall under 25 by setting aside $130bn over the last few years for use in unemployment funds and housing projects.
3. Hassanal Bolkiah: $20bn
The tiny sovereign state of Brunei (officially known as The Nation of Brunei, the Abode of Peace) sits on the island of Borneo, in the South China Seas. According to Forbes, it is the fifth richest country in the world as a result of its huge petroleum and natural gas supplies. It is, in fact, one of only two countries in the world with public debt at 0% of its GDP.
Hassanal Bolkiah (whose full name is Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien) is the current Sultan and Prime Minister of Brunei, and has acquired a personal fortune of over $20bn since his ascension to the throne in 1967. Educated at Sandhurst Military Academy in the UK, the 67 year-old was knighted by the Queen of England (Brunei was a protectorate of Britain until the mid-80s.) The Sultan has been running the country with full emergency power since the beginning of his reign, and in 2006 announced that the country’s constitution had been amended to make him infallible.
2. Michael Bloomberg: $31bn
Mikebloomberg.com (which keeps the public up to date on the activities, news, and thoughts of the 72 year-old) proclaims that ‘Michael R. Bloomberg is the 108th Mayor of New York City, Philanthropist, and independent leader on national issues.’ He started off on Wall Street in the 70s, working for Salmond Brothers, but was laid off (with a $10m severance package) in ’81 when the investment bank was bought. From there he formed his own company which would eventually become Bloomberg L.P, which now supplies the bulk of the financial world’s business information terminals.
In 2013 Forbes listed him as the 13th richest person alive after a meteoric rise from number 142, to 17 in just two years. In 2001 Bloomberg decided to try his hand as New York’s mayor, running as a Republican (despite a life-long membership to the Democratic Party) just after the 9/11 attacks. He decided to use his own money in the election campaign, thereby avoiding the usual restrictions, and ended up spending $73m (five times the amount spent by his opponent). Though Bloomberg claimed to ride the subway to work every day, The New York Times asserted that he was often seen being chauffeured by two NYPD-owned SUVs to an express train station to avoid having to change from the local to the express trains.
1. Vladimir Putin: $75bn
In 1999 Putin first became Prime Minister, but switched to President in 2000, a position in which he remained until 2008, at which point he resumed the title of Prime Minister. His career path is shady enough to make even the most ruthless dictators blush, with a KGB background, domestic suppression, and a recent annexation of part of the Ukraine.
However – despite his enormous personal wealth, authoritarian tactics, homophobic policies and questionable topless publicity shots – it’s important to take the Western media’s portrayal of Putin as an unstable, possibly insane political figure with a pinch of salt. To his credit, during his rule the average Russian income has increased 2.5 fold, and the country’s economy has been growing for eight straight years.