Prominent businessman and banker Dubai-based Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair has been named by Forbes magazine as being among the world's super-rich. He is the lone person from the UAE to have made it to the list. The magazine places him on the 251st rung, and estimates his net worth at $1.9 billion.

But many of the UAE's wealthy may not have made it to the list of 538 billionaires issued in the magazine's 15th annual listing. As it clarified, those with extended family fortunes were not included among the 538; nor were those, obviously, which the magazine could not track down.

"For billionaires with publicly traded fortunes, net worths were calculated using share prices and exchange rates on May 21," it noted. "For privately held fortunes we estimate what companies would be worth if they were public," it added. The magazine explained that, when possible, the value of art collections and real estate was also included.

The Middle East and Africa accounts for just 4 per cent of people on the list. Leading the region was Saudi Arabia's Prince Al Waleed bin Talal. Ranked sixth, Prince Alwaleed who is the richest individual outside the U.S., is worth an estimated $20 billion. Prince Al Waleed followed four Americans and one German.

Microsoft's Bill Gates yet again took the gong for being the richest, for the seventh year running, with $58.7 billion. He was followed by Warren Buffett with investments worth $32.3 billion; Paul Allen of Microsoft ($30.4 billion); Lawrence Ellison of Oracle ($26 billion); and Germany's Theo and Karl Albrecht ($25 billion), with interests in retailing.

Closer to home, others on the list include Saudi Arabia's Suliman Olayan and family ranked 38th for their investments worth $8 billion. At 50 are Kuwait's Nasser Al Kharafi and family with $6 billion; at 146 is Lebanon's Rafik Al Hariri and family ($3.1 billion); and at joint 151 are the kingdom's Mohammed Jameel and family, and Saleh Kamel, each with $3 billion.

Further down the list at 182 is Turkey's Rahmi Koc and family with $2.5 billion; at 222 is Sulaiman bin Abdul Al Rajhi, from Saudi Arabia, with $2.1 billion; and at 234 is Turkey's Ferit Sahenk and family with $2 billion. Egypt is represented at 490 with Onsi Sawiris and family ($1 billion).

India was also represented, with Azim Premji at 42 ($6.9 billion), Dhirubhai Ambani and family at 124 ($3.4 billion), Shiv Nader at 208 ($2.2 billion), and Kumar Mangalam Birla at 292 ($1.7 billion).

The combined wealth of the 538 comes to a staggering $1.73 trillion - more than France's GDP. The average net worth is $3.2 billion, with the average age of those on the list being 62.

Americans still dominate with 271 billionaires and eight of the top 10, taking 51 per cent of the total, while Europe accounted for 23 per cent, Asia 14 per cent, Latin America 18 per cent, and Mideast-Africa 4 per cent.

Women billionaires make up 7 per cent. All inherited their fortunes from either their fathers or husbands, but Forbes says a number of them are working hard to make them bigger. The highest ranking woman, at 10, is America's Alice Walton, Wal-Mart, with $18.5 billion.