Billionaire Saudi Banking Tycoon Saleh Abdullah Kamel Passes Away
Billionaire Saudi businessman Saleh Abdullah Kamel, who founded the banking and real estate conglomerate Dallah Albaraka Group, has died, according to relatives quoted in the Kingdom’s media. He was 79.
People close to Kamel told The Associated Press he died at the Dr. Samir Abbas Hospital in the city of Jeddah, where he was taken after suffering a heart attack early on Tuesday.
Kamel’s business empire grew from its humble beginnings in the late 1960′s — at the same time that the Kingdom was using its oil wealth to rapidly develop and in need of homegrown companies to build roads, highways and cities.
Over the years, the business expanded to tens of thousands of employees and today includes subsidiaries and stakes in a range of businesses, such as the operation and maintenance of airports and roads, tourism, trade, trucking and transportation, telecommunications, media, agriculture, poultry and health care.
Kamel’s son and the CEO of Dallah Albaraka Group, Abdullah Kamel, was quoted in the state-linked Okaz newspaper that he oversees as saying that funeral prayers will be held Tuesday afternoon in Makkah’s Grand Mosque, which has been closed to visitors amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya TV network said Kamel, who was born in Makkah but based in Jeddah, was instrumental in helping build many of the Kingdom’s ports and major projects. He served on numerous boards and was the chairman of the General Council for Islamic Banks and the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce. He once owned a significant stake in Saudi broadcaster MBC, which owns and operates Al-Arabiya.
Al-Arabiya dubbed him “the father of contemporary Islamic finance”.
Across Muslim countries and at home, Kamel was heavily involved in philanthropy and charity.
A multi-million-dollar donation in 2010 established the Abdallah S. Kamel Center for the Study of Islamic Law and Civilization at Yale Law School in the US.