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Saudi Arabia arrests second richest man in kingdom

Mohammed Hussein Al-Amoudi [Capital/Facebook]

Saudi authorities have arrested Mohammed Hussein Al-Amoudi, a dual national with Saudi and Ethiopian citizenship and is reportedly the second richest Saudi, after Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal.

While bin Talal’s arrest has gained most media attention. Al-Amoudi’s arrest is especially important because it could potentially destabilize the economy of an entire country, according to Middle East Eye.

Al-Amoudi, who is also known as “the Sheikh”, has invested in almost every sector of Ethiopia’s economy, including hotels, agriculture and astrology.

According to a leaked diplomatic cable from 2008 “the Sheikh’s influence on the Ethiopian economy cannot be underestimated.”

In the nearly ten years a since then it has become even harder to estimate the exact value of Al-Amoudi’s total investment in Ethiopia, which is among the fastest developing countries in Africa. One analyst estimated the value of the Sheikh’s investment at $3.4 billion, which represents 4.7 per cent of Ethiopia’s current GDP.

Another said his companies employ about 100,000 people, which represent 14 per cent of the Ethiopian private sector, according to the latest Labour Force Survey, 2013. However, World Bank analysts warn that these figures might have markedly increased over the past four years as the sector has developed since then.

Report: Saudi arrests army officers in anti-corruption purge

Al-Amoudi has occupied the front pages of Ethiopia’s most prominent magazines since his arrest. News agencies have covered news of his detention, including the rumours that have been circulating on social media websites, as breaking news.

“They are now panicking” said Henok Gabisa, a Visiting Academic Fellow at Washington and Lee University School of Law in Virginia and an Ethiopian researcher.

In the few days after Al-Amoudi’s arrest, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn felt the need to hold his first press conference in two months. During the conference, he answered questions related to Al-Amoudi and stressed that the government does not believe that this will affect Al-Amoudi’s investments in Ethiopia.

An Ethiopian Investment Authority official rejected the notion that Al Amoudi’s arrest might create chaos in the government, “The country’s economy is not based on one investor. For heaven’s sake, we are 100 million people, how can we depend on one investment?! This is funny.”


“Investments outside Saudi Arabia that are owned by the Sheikh have not been yet affected by these changes,” said Tim Pendry, Al-Amoudi’s spokesman in the UK.

Although they acknowledge that Chinese people who are heavily investing in Ethiopia have now a much larger stake than Al-Amoudi in Ethiopia, analysts suggest that even if the government is not in a state of panic at present, there would definitely be future concerns about the extent to which a conflict with Saudi Arabia would affect the Ethiopian economy.

Dr Awol Allo, a law lecturer at the Keele University, said:

He is a person whose presence or absence might affect the country’s economy.

He added: “He has an impact and in light of all the problems that are associated with his investments in the country, this makes him an influential figure.”

AfricaEthiopiaMiddle EastNewsSaudi Arabia
  • Yonathan A. Takele

    The Sheikh did not invest in the construction of the Ethiopian renissance dam, but rather bought the above stated amount equivalent to 2 bln birr in the purchase of government issued bond which has an interest rate of its own.
    And that is an investment with expected fixed income low risk return and not a direct involvement or a gift to the dam.
    For those who might think that his arrest will cause an economic turmoil in the countery, well they are all wrong! as Ethiopias economy is well rooted by this time and is not solely dependent upon one shoulder.

  • Pavel Andreievich Chekov

    the word is DUAL citizenship

    • RubberDucky

      That could be handy for all citizens of the world, if only like Northern Ireland other nations could pick and choose- But the people in Saudi mostly are proud for their green passports. Yes many still don’t have their rights but this is the case everywhere in different ways…Saudi’s changing towards the better with big steps. Any larger, and they’d stumble.

  • Excelsior

    Did I miss it, or did the story say WHY he was arrested? What’s the charge(s)?

    • daboweyn_deux

      ugliest flag ever

      • RubberDucky

        That only shows the weight of your comment daboweyn_deux. I don’t think the aesthetics of the waving flag should be used as an insult aimed to trigger some response… It is part of respecting any nation and its people to not offend their culture. I’d understand if you have political views against the Saudis- but to come and throw an insult at the flag is just inane isn’t it?

        • daboweyn_deux

          I don’t honor any flag that represents a slave state. The confederates are traitor scum and deserve any scorn they get.

          Also, its not a nation. Its the flag of rebellious racists who were destroyed.

        • he is referring to the flag of the comment he is replying, the flag of the defunt US confederate states, not the Saudi flag which isn’t shown here.

    • EggPoached

      It’s part of the world-wide coup. Unless you’re one of the far-right oligarchs, life is about to become very rough.

      • RubberDucky

        I am not sure if it’s about being a righty anymore… (or ever) to begin with. Saudi -unlike many other states who have undergone a coup or a revolution- Is not. There is a positive shake- but not a shake up. People are not taking to the streets or revolting. Country’s changing towards a more transparent, progressive, and tolerant nation.

    • JGP

      Your confederate battle flag is hilarious! You LOST the war dear. Move on!

    • RubberDucky

      Hello confederate flagger <3 the charges are corruption related – money laundering for three princes. More details have been announced but full reports wouldn't be disclosed till after the trials are done I assume. This seems to be a detoxing phase where they make sure the economy is making its leaps without anything going astray..

    • Flash Harry

      The Stars And Bars continue to fly proudly,despite the efforts of racist fools who deny history…and no, Excelsior, the article concentrated on the effects his arrest would have on po lil’ ole ethopia instead of his crimes against his nation

  • Ld_Elon_Postman_RoyalMale

    Its to much influence for one man you think?
    Well then its good news for ‘them’ ~ The Ethiopians#.

    murican hegemony working tricks with the arabs and joos.
    ^Dint trust any of them.