King of Morocco, Mohammed VI, 46, in 2008 held the seventh position among the richest royals in the world, according to Forbes magazine’s top 15 wealthiest royals. Mohammed VI’s wealth, estimated at 500 million in 2000, has grown five times more in ten years. He is now richer than the emir of Qatar and six times richer than the Kuwaiti King. Despite his growing wealth, 5 million people in Morocco live on less than one euro per day. Swaziland’s King Mswati, the last on the fifteen wealthiest royal list is by no means the least. The Swazi monarch overtakes both the reknowned Spanish and Japanese royals. 70% of the Swazi people live on less than a dollar a day.
Until now, no member of the Moroccan dynasty had ever managed to climb the ladder of international fortune. Mohammed VI, only ten years into his reign, has done it!
Forbes Magazine’s ranking of the world’s richest royals for the year 2008 places the Moroccan King right in the middle of a coveted fifteen man (sorry, royal) list, in seventh place. With a cool 2.5 billion dollars in assets, the Moroccan king has effortlessly overtaken some of the wealthiest emirs of the Gulf states, namely Qatar and Kuwait. The fortune of the king of Morocco is six times higher than that of his Kuwaiti counterpart.
Inheriting about $ 500 million in 2000 at his enthronement, Mohammed VI has successfully multiplied his family’s personal wealth by five. Morocco is Africa’s leading producer of phosphate and has benefited a great deal from an increase in demand in the commodity in recent times, leading some analysts to link the monarch’s increasing wealth to this trend. However, a retired officer of the Morrocan Department of phosphate (OCP – Office Chérifien des Phosphates) has rejected this argument. In an interview with Courrier International, the officer is quoted as saying, “the Office of Morocco Phosphates (OCP) is a public company and the king does not have shares in it”. According to the officer,”It is true that in the past, part of the profits from phosphate sales was reserved for the monarchy, especially during the beginning of Hassan II’s reign, pursuant to a decree that had existed since the protectorate. But since then, this decree has been repealed.”
“King of business”
The most recurrent argument, however, comes from the belief that the Moroccan monarch is also a “business king”. Mohammed VI is in fact the number one banker, the number one manufacturer and the number one insurer in the Kingdom.
According to the American magazine, as indicated by Courrier International, the Moroccan monarch’s wealth include, twenty palaces, several thousand hectares of farmland, Omnium Nord-Africain (ONA — a specialized mining group), large holdings in the agricultural industry, communications, insurance, distribution … Sevam (a packaging and bottling company), Primarios (furniture), La Compagnie de textiles Chérifienne (textiles and agricultural greenhouse films) … real estate and properties in France and the United States.
The “king of the poor” has now become “King of fortunes,” writes the Courier International. At a time when Morocco counts more than 5 million people living on less than one euro per day (10 dirhams) and is ranked 108th in terms of income per capita (according to the UN), this Forbes ranking leaves more than an uneasy chill. Moreover, Morocco’s annual external debt went up by 10% in 2008 and is estimated at US$ 16.6 billion, i.e, 20% of the kingdom’s GDP.
The most striking of all the royals on the list is King Mswati III of Swaziland, also known as Africa’s last absolute monarch. Albeit taking the last position on the wealthiest royals’ list, he ably overtakes the Spanish and Japanese royals with an estimated fortune of $ 200 million. King Mswati is famous for his penchant for luxury and an ever growing list of wives (14 wives at the last count, each of them living in a palace). His hopes to acquire a $ 48 million 19-seater Bombardier Global Express long-range jet were recently dashed, when he was dissuaded from going ahead with the purchase.
By virtue of a recently passed law, the king owns 10% of every mining company in the landlocked kingdom. Less than a year ago, the Swazi monarch threw a $ 6.5 million birthday party in a backdrop of drought and starvation in Swaziland. The country is counted as one of Africa’s poorest countries with an unemployment rate of about 40%. Over 70% of its 1.1 million people live on less than a dollar a day, while 40% of the Swaziland population is believed to be HIV positive.