A proud legacy
The history of The Olayan Group is intertwined with the life and accomplishments of its founder, Suliman Saleh Olayan. Born in 1918 in ‘Unayzah, in north-central Saudi Arabia, he took a job with the forerunner of Saudi Aramco. He often later said that Aramco, where he rose rapidly in the ranks, was his “university.”
Hard-working and alert to opportunity, Suliman set out on his own in the summer of 1947. With a personal loan secured on his home, he established his first business, General Contracting Company (GCC). Over his subsequent 55-year career as an independent businessman, he served with distinction as an entrepreneur, investor, business leader, and philanthropist both in Saudi Arabia and abroad, until his passing in July 2002.
A third generation of the Olayan family is now actively involved in the governance of the enterprise.
“I for one am an optimist. I can’t help it. I’m an entrepreneur at heart, and we entrepreneurs know that every challenge holds an opportunity.”
Suliman S. Olayan
Founder, The Olayan Group
From humble origins, the birth of an enterprise
We’re committed to making the world better now – and for future generations
“Our founder, Suliman S. Olayan, believed that the best kind of value builds a better future. Since 1947, we’ve sought to create lasting prosperity for our shareholders, partners, employees, and communities. We’re
proud of our history of entrepreneurship, hard work, and continuous expansion.”
Khaled S. Olayan
Chair Emeritus of the Shareholders’ Board
Milestones, internationally and in KSA
A milestone anniversary: The Olayan Group celebrates 75 years.
SSO Institute at KAUST:Groundbreaking for the Suliman S. Olayan Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at King Abdullah University of Science and Tech, Saudi Arabia.
Chipita: Historic Olayan asset Chipita acquired by Mondelēz International.
PurposeBuilt Brands: The Group acquires a stake in portfolio of market-leading cleaning and disinfection brands.
North Star: Olayan acquires 14,414-unit multifamily U.S. portfolio in a partnership with Morgan Properties that dates back to 2014.
Sustainability Champions: Employee network launched across all offices to encourage sustainable policies and coordinate volunteer activities.
Chevron House, Singapore: The Group makes its first direct real estate investment in Asia.
SABB merger: Olayan’s Alawaal Bank and SABB merge to create the 4th largest bank in Saudi Arabia, renamed Saudi Awwal Bank (SAB) in 2023.
Singapore: Olayan opens its first office in Asia.
550 Madison: Olayan purchases and renovates the iconic postmodern tower in Manhattan.
Hotel Ritz, Madrid: The Group acquires and renovates the storied hotel.
Paris Portfolio: The Group purchases a portfolio of real estate in the Eighth Arrondissement from Risanamento.
Corporate Board: The Olayan Group establishes its Corporate Board with independent directors.
Al-Bustan Village: Olayan opens a luxury mixed-use community offering an array of wellness features.
Olayan Women Network (OWN): Launch of an annual networking forum to encourage the career development of Saudi women.
Olayan Networking Forum (ONF): Inauguration of annual event to facilitate the exchange of ideas and best practices from the Group’s companies across Saudi Arabia.
BlackRock: Olayan initiates investment in the global asset manager.
The Knightsbridge Estate: The Group acquires 3.5 acre multi-use property in central London.
Baxter Joint Venture: Olayan partners in Saudi Arabia with the global provider of health care products; it’s Baxter’s first JV in the Middle East.
Visa: The Group acquires a significant stake in the payments sector giant’s IPO.
Suliman S. Olayan School of Business (OSB): American University of Beirut inaugurates a new business school named for the Group’s founder.
MetLife: Acquisition of 12.4% of offering during the insurer’s IPO.
Biography of Suliman S. Olayan: Publication of From ‘Unayzah to Wall Street.
National Grid: Olayan acquires a 12% economic interest in the British power company.
Chase Manhattan: The Group acquires a 5.3% stake.
Colgate-Palmolive: Olayan embarks on a joint venture for the Arabian Gulf region with the global consumer products company.
CS First Boston: The Group purchases a substantial ownership interest.
Coca-Cola: Olayan becomes the Saudi franchisee for products and services.
Transamerica: The Group acquires a 5.3% stake.
Xerox: Olayan partners with Xerox to distribute office equipment in Saudi Arabia.
Thermo Electron Investment: The Group provides Thermo Electron (now Thermo Fisher Scientific) with growth capital.
Occidental Petroleum: Olayan acquires a
First Chicago Corporation: Acquisition of a significant stake in First Chicago Corporation.
Athens: The Group opens an office.
Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette: Olayan acquires a more than 5% equity holding, adopting a long-term investment approach.
London: The Group opens an office.
Vaduz: Establishment of the Olayan Investment Company (OICE) in Liechtenstein.
Jubail Industrial City, Saudi Arabia: Olayan’s joint venture with Bechtel is awarded the contract for the city’s engineering and project management.
New York: The Group opens an office.
Kimberly-Clark: Olayan enters into an agreement to construct Saudi Arabia’s first paper mill in Dammam.
Beirut: Olayan opens its first office outside the GCC.
New industrial partners: Olayan’s General Contracting Company (GCC) becomes the exclusive distributor of Cummins engines, Kenworth trucks and Atlas Copco compressors.
Arab Commercial Enterprises (ACE): Olayan establishes what will become the Middle East’s largest insurance brokerage.
General Trading Company (GTC): Olayan becomes the exclusive Saudi distributor of major international consumer brands.
National Gas Company: Olayan launches what will become Saudi Arabia’s first public utility.
General Contracting Company (GCC): Suliman S. Olayan launches his first business, a trucking and supply company.