Hadhramis in Saudi Arabia

Hadhramis in Saudi Arabia
By Muhammad Bin-Dohry (September 2011)

Brief History and comments:
Saudi Arabia and Hadhramaut share a common border. For many years Hadhrami travellers from Wadi Do’an and other parts of Hadhramaut ended up settling in the Hijaz (Western Region of present day Kingdom of Saudi Arabia), after performing the pilgrimage to the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah.

As a country, Hadhramaut, has had a long history of rulers from within and from outside, they however, had their own independent identity and culture for centuries. It is possible to read the following book in Arabic to gain more knowledge about this history.
(The late author Mohammed Abdulkadir Bamatraf’s book on the General History of Hadhramaut- “Tareekh Hadhramaut Al-Aam”)

Hadhramaut is part of the Arabian Peninsula and an entity within South Arabia, its inhabitants share a common language, cultural tradition and faith. Hadhramis are known for their honesty, integrity, piousness, hard work, and were greatly trusted by their employers and earned respect for their virtues not only in the Arabian Peninsula, but wherever they settled in the diaspora.
South Arabia was then under British imperial rule for nearly 128 years and was divided up as the Western Aden and Eastern Aden Protectorates with the latter ending up divided as two sultanate states governed as: The Al Kathiri State (with Seiyun as its capital)and Al Quaiti State (with Mukalla as its capital).

In 1967 both sultanates fell at the time of independence from British rule to become part of the newly formed Peoples Republic of South Yemen (PRSY). Later to be renamed the Peoples Democratic Republic of Yemen (PDRY) and given the title of the 5th Province. Finally in 1990 the PDRY, abruptly declared union with North Yemen to be renamed named The Republic of Yemen with Hadhramaut becoming a province. (’Muhafadhat Hadhramaut’).
Unfortunately Hadhramis as an entity or a people were out of any decision making in the Yemeni equation, and although the socialist regime had some Hadhramis in its leadership, they were not representative of the Hadhramis at large.
(There are many books which provide a background on the period; 1967- 1994 the latest such publication is by Noel Brehony: Yemen Divided: The story of a failed state in South Arabia)
Relations between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the newly independent PRSY were cold and there was no diplomatic representation between the two governments until sometime in the 1980’s. All along Saudi Arabia became a haven for the Hadhramis who had no restrictions placed on them during that period. This enabled many to settle down in the Kingdom and earn a decent living. Many were even issued with Saudi travel documents to enable them to travel abroad (during the 1970’s & 1980’s the Kingdom was then going through an economic boom).

Since the reign of the founder, King Abdulaziz Bin Abdulrahman Al Saud and thereafter his sons, the late kings: Saud, Feisal, Khalid, Fahd and now the reigning monarch King Abdullah, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques. Hadhramis are known to have enjoyed special status in modern day Saudi Arabia. They earned this as a result of their loyalty to the sovereign and thus had special treatment even for those not naturalised. Some became Saudi nationals and enjoyed the patronage of the Royal Family, and in some cases partnered in many business ventures with them.
They also had access to recommend fellow Hadhramis for naturalisation as well as to sponsor their resident permits. This influence by some of the naturalised Hadhrami elite seems to have waned in recent years.

There are scores of naturalised Hadhrami families considered amongst the elite and are identifiable by their family names.
Over the years they contributed to the Saudi economy and maintained their dignity, in a similar pattern as those who settled in other parts of the diaspora decades ago.

The following are some of the well known families who established family based businesses in Saudi Arabia:
Bakhashab, Balubaid, Bugshan, Baeshan, Banaja, Bawazir, Bahassan, Badahdah, Bam’arouf, Bajrai, Bahareth, Baroom, Bamehriz, Bajsair, Bamatraf, Bamaoudha, Baaboud, Baarmah, Bakhashwein, Bajaber, Basamh, Bahamdan,Bajubair, Bamujally, Balsharaf, Balahmar, Baghlaf , Badoghaish, Bin-Laden, Bin-Zagr, Bin-Mahfoudh, Bin-Yumen, Al-Amoudi, Al-Mihdhar, Al-Jufry, Al-Bar, Al-Nahdi, Al -Kathiri, Alkaff, Al-Aidaroos, Assagaaf, Al- Attas, and many more.

Like most of their compatriots in the diaspora, Hadhramis everywhere are known to have participated and contributed immensely to the well being of their adopted countries as well as assisted in helping those in the homeland. Some earned great praise in their homeland for the dedication and humanly act in assisting entire villages around the year. As well as assisting with bringing modern utilities (water, electricity etc) to barren areas of the Wadi. In fairness there are others who disassociated themselves with their ancestral homeland, especially after they experienced the political instability that had existed since 1967. Many saw their investments being nationalised and more recently seeing the highly corrupt practices, favouritism and bureaucratic nature of the governments that took over after the unification of North Yemen with the South in 1990. There are many documented irregularities that have befallen some of the investors as well as those within the country.
No one can blame them now for being cautious, careful, as well as to claim their own rights.

Notable Hadhramis in Saudi Arabia:
The late Sayyid Omar Al Sagaaf : appointed Minister of State, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (1968-1974).Maybe the first Hadhrami appointed to such a high profile post in the Saudi government.
The late Sheikh Mohammed Awadh Bin Laden:
An ingenious stalwart, who built one of the most successful construction companies in the Middle East with offices around the globe. His companies employ thousands of employees of different nationalities. His sons took over after his death and still maintain the spirit of their father’s mantle. The Saudi government has awarded them to care for all the projects related to the two Holy Mosques of Makkah and Madinah over the decades to the present day.

They have numerous projects in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries which have been executed they include the Al Faisaliah Tower in Riyadh, King Abdullah Economic City, King Abdullah University for Science & Technology , Umm Al Qura’ University, and many more.
The Saudi Bin Laden Group also undertook prestigious worldwide projects including the Sharm Al Sheikh Airport in Egypt, Kuala Lumpur Airport, Putra Jaya Mosque in Malaysia, Senegal International Airport and others.

Lately Bin Laden invested in Hadhramaut and are believed to own the Holiday Inn, Mukalla and carried out the construction of the coastal road from Mukalla to Aden.

The late Sheikh Abdullah Said Bugshan: Highly respected entrepreneur whose companies cover many sectors of the economy including electro mechanical/telecommunication/construction projects, supply of all kinds of machinery/equipment. They represent the world’s largest heavy construction machinery (e.g. Bomag, Deutz, Komatsu etc.). The Bugshans own industrial plants, hospitals, real estate and other investments in many parts of the world.
Bugshan had been in the past recognised and accepted by the Saudi authorities as the main sponsor/recommender of Hadhramis in their applications for resident permits/ nationality in the Kingdom .They had a special office with staff who handled issues related to Hadhrami emigrants. These services were offered free at Bugshan’s own expense.
The Bugshans are known to have invested heavily in the Hadhramaut from the 1990’s to date. They restored their mansion in Do’an, built a hospital which caters for Hadhramaut as well as a high class resort in Khele, Doa’n.

The late Sheikh Wahib Said Bin Zagr: Steered the Bin Zagr Group to become one of the most successful consumer products companies in the Kingdom, they are also involved in shipping, industrial ventures ,retail outlets, and other activities.
Sheikh Wahib was a highly talented and respected businessman in the Western Province, where he once served as Mayor of Jeddah and President of the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce for several years. He sat on the board of many other organisations, and was Chairman of Saudi Cairo Bank. The Bin-Zagr Group have joint ventures with Unilever – household care products (UK) with whom they had been associated for nearly 80 years, as well as with other foreign partners including: Dunlop & General Tyres, Kelloggs, Avon Cosmetics etc. Today Bin-Zagr Group has a number of companies with diversified world-wide interests.

The late Sheikh Salem Bin Ahmed Bin Mahfouz
Travelled from Hadhramaut to Makkah at a very young age, where he worked for the Ka’ki family as a money changer. He later married into the family and became a partner in the business. After many years he moved on to be based in Jeddah, where he and Abdulaziz Ka’ki formed a 50-50 partnership to establish the National Commercial Bank (Al Bank Al Ahli Al Tijary) in 1953.
Sheikh Salem was known for his piousness, philanthropic causes as well as his simplistic way of life. After his death in 1994 his sons and inheritors divided the business. His late son Khalid Salem Bin-Mahfouz (died in 2009) & sons Abdulrahman & Sultan kept the banking operation, and later their shares in the bank were sold off to the Saudi Public Investment Fund. In 1994
Abdulrahman & Sultan formed Al Murjan Group as an investment company involved in various industrial fields.
Sheikh Salem’s other sons the late Mohammed (died in 2010) and his other brothers, Saleh, Abdelelah and Ahmed consolidated their inheritance into the Saudi Economic Development Company (SEDCO) which has vast commercial and investment interests worldwide. The company was restructured in 1996 as a private wealth management organization. The Bin Mahfouz family has maintained the majority of ownership since SEDCO was established. They are also known to have invested in Hadhramaut and carried out several ventures, including investment in the Aden Free Zone when they withdrew their stake after a few years.

Sheikh Mohammed Oboud Al-Amoudi
His business activities started more than 30 years ago, in real estate during the peak of the 70’s boom years in Saudi Arabia. He then established the Saudi- Amoudi Group in Jeddah which undertook vast and important projects in Jeddah, like the Khalidiya -Saudia City and Mohammadiyah Compound.
The group's activities expanded to include various other sectors including health, housing, operation & maintenance services etc. The group then ventured into other areas of activities and invested in a number of other companies including Al-MajalG4S, Al-Majal Service Master, United Doctors Hospital, Intercontinental Hotel -Jeddah, Al-Morjan Resort & Beach, Al-Amoudia Real Estate Development.
Sheikh Mohammed is known for his poetry and has a website dedicated to his collection of poems.

Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Ali Al-Amoudi
An Ethiopian born Hadhrami Al Amoudi started investing in Sweden in the 1970s. His construction company Midroc won a contract to build Saudi Arabia's nationwide underground oil storage complex in 1988; estimated at $30 billion project solidified his fortune. Al-Amoudi is close to the Saudi royal family, which sees him as a can-do guy and encourages his growing business empire in Ethiopia, where he is growing rice, corn and other staples on thousands of acres, for export to Saudi Arabia. He also owns a gold mine in Ethiopia, oil refineries in Morocco and Sweden, offshore oil fields in West Africa. His Addis Ababa, Sheraton Hotel is said to be among the finest hotels in Africa. He has pledged $250 million to finance a factory to build Saudi Arabia's first car, to be called
Gazal 1.
Today Al Amoudi owns a broad portfolio of businesses not only in oil, but also in mining, agriculture, hotels, hospitals, finance, operations and maintenance. His holding and operating companies, Corral Group and the Midroc Group, employ more than 40,000 people. Corral Group has an investment portfolio in Europe and the Middle East that includes Preem Petroleum, the largest integrated petroleum company in Sweden, Svenska Petroleum & Exploration [SPE], SAMIR [a petrochemical and refinery company in Morocco], Naft Services Co [Saudi Arabia] and Fortuna Holdings Co [Lebanon].
He is also known to have carried out massive construction projects and invested heavily in Hadhramaut.
Other short briefs on notable Hadhramis
The late Sheikh Mohammed Abubakr Bakhashab Pasha, the founder and the pioneer of BAKHASHAB establishments who commenced the transport services as the carrier of Hajj Pilgrims between Jeddah and Makkah through his large fleet of passenger buses. In 1975, the company has procured the exclusive dealership of ISUZU, commercial and passenger vehicles.
The late Sheikh Omar Abubaker Balubaid was the founder of the Balubaid Group of Companies in 1952. His business expanded and now covers many activities, that include: automotives, manufacturing, trading, food & beverages, consumer finance and real estate. Balubaid have been the General Motors (Chevrolet) agents for many years.
Sheikh Ahmed Mohammed Saleh Baeshan: (AMS Baeshan & Co.)
AMS Baeshan, established his business operation in the 1920s in Jeddah. They traded in a range of fast moving consumer goods. The main segment of the business was in the importation of tea where they created their own brand known throughout the Arabian Peninsula - ‘Rabea Tea’ which competed with multinational brands. In 1995 AMS Baeshan & Co. built a state of the art tea packing industry in the Middle East.

The Banaja Family:
Sheikh Yahya Banaja founded the family business Saudi Import Company, over sixty years ago in Jeddah to import and distribute pharmaceutical products. In mid 2009 a new corporate name was announced for the old company to be known as the Banaja Holdings which will represent its three member companies; Saudi Logistics, Banaja Medical Company, Banaja Pharmaceutical Company and its one affiliate; Banaja Trading Company.
The Chief Executive Officer of the group is Sheikh Yousef Banaja who is also
The Chairman of his group’s joint venture with Glaxo Smith Kline(Glaxo Saudi Arabia, for the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals).
The late Sheikh Ahmed Saeed Basamh: He was the founder of Basamh Trading Company and expanded in the 1950’s by taking on the distributorship of Nestle NIDO & Nescafe products and Johnson & Johnson insecticide products.
Within six decades Basamh Trading Company became a major force in
Importing and distribution of household Fast Moving Consumer Goods products.
They also formed local joint manufacturing ventures with their principles.
BAABOUD TRADING & SHIPPING AGENCIES CO. LTD. Managing Director: Ahmed Baaboud.
This is an old Baaboud family business which operated from the Sudan and moved on to be based in Jeddah where the company expanded in trading and shipping.
The company owns eight Ro-Ro, Lo-Lo container vessels for livestock, tanker and passengers operating in the Red Sea area in liner services. They also commenced liner shipping services from JEDDAH TO MASSAWA, PORT SUDAN, DJIBOUTI, HODEIDAH, ADEN, BARBARA AND AQABA representing major international shipping lines including: NSCSA, MESSINA LINE, PIL, P&O NEDLLOYD, MAERSK LINE, UASC LINE, HOUGH LINE , EUKOR LINE BARWIL,AND HYUNDAI LINE all these serve most of the Jeddah merchant community.

Sheikh Ahmed Mohammed Baghlaf:
Is the founder of: Baghlaf Al Zafer Factories for Cold Processing of Steel & Metals which is one of the first main factories of the holding group that was established in 1980 in the Gulf area. This factory was first built in the Eastern coast of the Arabian Gulf at the Dammam Industrial City followed immediately by another one in Jeddah, the main industrial and business city in the western region of the country. They also established and a similar factory in Sharjah , United Arab Emirates, thus expanding the activity and operation of the company to cover the Arabian Gulf . Baghlaf is known for his passion of Hadhramaut where he consolidated funds from fellow Hadhrami businessmen and was responsible for bringing water supply to the remotest areas of Wadi Hadhramaut and in some cases electricity to be available for all. He has earned high praise amongst the ordinary people of Hadhramaut.

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