Saudi Self-Made Billionaire Sulaiman Al-Rajhi– 21st Century Role Model

Suliman Alrajhi
By عمرو - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

The story of Saudi Arabian businessman Sheikh Sulaiman bin Abdul Aziz Al Rajhi is that of a man who made his fortunes from scratch through hard work and persistence. The man started his life as a young entrepreneur at a time when building new businesses in the Arabian Gulf region was yet to reach the favourable circumstances they currently enjoy.

Sulaiman Al-Rajhi is also a world-renowned philanthropist. He is the founder of Al-Rajhi Bank, the largest Islamic bank in the world, and one of the largest companies in Saudi Arabia.

As of 2011, his wealth was  stood at $7.7 billion according to Forbes, making him the 120th richest person in the world. His flagship SAAR Foundation is a leading charity organisation in Saudi Arabia  The Al-Rajhi family is considered as one of the Kingdom’s most prosperous non-royals, and among the world’s leading philanthropists.

However, in 2011, he chose to become a poor man of his own accord without having any cash or real estates or stocks that he owned earlier. Upon distributing his assets among his children he set aside the rest for endowments. His decision left him with a profound feeling of happiness, relaxation and peace of mind.

Al-Rajhi believes deeply that all wealth belongs to Allah, considering himself to be entrusted with its care. The most important reason that prompted him to distribute his wealth that resulted in performing this virtue was the desire to promote harmony within his one family. This proved more valuable than any wealth he could accumulate. He also believed that every Muslim should work on some endowments that could benefit him in the life after death.

Al-Rajhi is still  very active, full of life and energy even in his 80s. He begins his work each day after morning prayers and is active until Isha prayers before going to bed early. He is now fully concentrated on running the endowment project under his SAAR Foundation, and across the Kingdom managing activities related with it. He always carries a pocket diary containing his daily programs and activities, and he is accustomed to stick on to the schedule he had prepared well in advance.

Al-Rajhi scored outstanding performance results in almost every business where he gained a foothold. In addition to founding the world’s largest Islamic bank, he established the largest poultry farm across the entire Middle East, Al-Watania Poultry. He was also involved in real estate and other investment projects.

The idea of establishing Al-Watania was inspired by a visit to a poultry project overseas. Al-Rajhi observed that the practice of slaughtering chicken was incorrect. He subsequently chose to make investments in the field of poultry, considering it a duty to his faith and nation. Now, Al-Watannia has become a large-scale Saudi project that plays a crucial role in maintaining food security. The company boasts a 40 percent market share in the Kingdom, and Al-Watania chickens are organically fed and halal slaughtered in accordance with the Shariah principles.

Al-Rajhi continues to enjoy good health. He had a vision if the country pursues organic farming as its healthy food style, then the country can bring down cost of treatment to a great extent. This led to the birth of the Al-Watania Agricultural Company inspired by his vision to provide only the healthiest and safest food to consumers. Al-Watannia does not utilise chemicals and artificial fertilisers and, focussing solely on organic methods like pest insect repellents and animal manure.

In recognition of his outstanding service Islam, including the establishment of the world’s largest Islamic bank and his regular input towards humanitarian efforts to fight poverty, Al-Rajhi was selected for 2012 prestigious King Faisal International Prize for Service to Islam.