The Master Builder of the Middle East

Mohamed Ali Alabbar is building towers in the desertand a fast fortune

As the sun bakes a desolate stretch of Saudi Arabia's Red Sea coast, construction crews are digging lagoons and planting palm trees along a wide boulevard. These are the modest beginnings of what is to become King Abdullah Economic City—a metropolis of 2 million people with a new university, an Islamic financial center, and a network of industrial parks, at a total cost of nearly $30 billion. It's the work of a joint venture between Dubai-based Emaar Properties and the Saudi government. And it's the biggest project ever launched by Emaar's hyperkinetic chairman, Mohamed Ali Alabbar, the Arab world's leading developer and a growing force in Asia and the U.S.

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