03 Sep

Biographies of the Richest in Asia

All this hype over Crazy Rich Asians (which we have unlimited copies of till November!) has got us thinking about who exactly the richest people in Asia are. Today, we’ve picked out biographies of some of the top Billionaires in Asia. These individuals are no doubt remarkable and have made and sustained their fortunes in different ways. Here are their stories.

Alibaba: The House That Jack Ma Built by Duncan Clark


Jack Ma, source: http://po.st/vDvNbu

Jack Ma—a former English teacher—was bad at math, failed twice in high school and got his first computer only at 33. Now, he chairs Alibaba Group, one of the world’s largest e-commerce businesses; is said to reside in Victoria Peak, Hong Kong’s most expensive and exclusive neighbourhood (you may have heard of it in the novel ‘Crazy Rich Asians’); and is worth $39 billion (as of 27/08/18).

The book by Duncan Clark is a compelling narrative account of Alibaba’s rise amid China’s momentous economic and social changes. With exclusive interviews, a chronicle of the Internet’s impact on China and anecdotes of the author’s own experience as an early advisor to Alibaba, this book contains a wealth of material that cannot be easily accessed.

“How did Jack overcome his humble origins and early failures to achieve massive success with Alibaba? How did he outsmart rival entrepreneurs from China and Silicon Valley? Can Alibaba maintain its 80% market share? As it forges ahead into finance and entertainment, are there limits to Alibaba’s ambitions?  How does the Chinese government view its rise? Will Alibaba expand further overseas, including in the U.S.?”

Find out more about Alibaba and this unlikely corporate titan by borrowing the book.


Alwaleed: Businessman, Billionaire, Prince by Riz Khan


Prince Alwaleed, source: http://po.st/c7hgmk

Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz al-Saud is one of the richest men in the world and he’s not afraid to show it. He’s purchased a 282-foot superyacht from Donald Trump, flies around in a retrofitted Boeing 747, and has a zoo at his resort on the outskirts of Riyadh — which has a 992-foot-tall glass edifice he built. Although he is Middle Eastern, he was identified by Business Insider UK as one of the richest people in Asia. Most of his wealth is made through investments spread across banks, hotels, real estate, media and industry. He is often dubbed the ‘Arabian Warren Buffett’. Even though he is a member of the Saudi royal family, his wealth is actually self-made, beginning with a relatively modest bank loan.

This biography by Riz Khan was written at the Prince’s wealthiest point in life in 2005, when he was worth $23.7 billion, making him the fifth-richest person in the world that year. This comprehensive book touches on:

  • his unique family history
  • the origins of his powerful drive to succeed
  • his phenomenal success in rescuing beleaguered companies such as America’s giant Citigroup
  • his investments in top brands including Four Seasons Hotels, Saks Fifth Avenue, and NewsCorp
  • his unique approach to investing — and some of his most lucrative strategies

Inspired? Borrow it at the library!


The Polyester Prince by Hamish McDonald

One of the most powerful people in the world today, and certainly the richest in India, is Mukesh Ambani (worth $40.1 billion as of 3/6/18).

He famously resides in the second most expensive home in the world (after Buckingham Palace), and is the chairman, managing director and largest shareholder of Reliance Industries Limited, one of the biggest corporations in the world. But he is not the Polyester Prince that we are talking about.

The Polyester Prince by Hamish McDonald tells the story of Ambani’s late father, Dhirubhai Ambani, who rose to success from a schoolteacher’s son, to a labourer in Yemen, to a controller of a huge fiber, plastics and petrochemical empire.


Dhirubhai Ambani, source: http://po.st/3Z2Fnd

This unauthorised biography illustrates Ambani’s remarkable trail of innovation and success, and his ruthlessness in his pursuit of business interests — which include intricate political connections, manipulation of policies, numerous corruption charges and even murder charges! It’s no wonder the Ambanis threatened legal action and caused this book to never be sold in India.

The book is short, power-packed and offers a rare look at a major corporate figure and his empire. Check it out at the reference section in the library!


Hungry for more? Here are some more biographies from the library that you might be interested in:

  1. Wang Jianlin & Dalian Wanda: a business and life biography by Zhou Xuan
  2. Li Ka-Shing : Hong Kong’s elusive billionaire by Anthony B. Chan
  3. Ma Huateng & Tencent : a story of an online Chinese empire by Leng Hu
  4. The Wanda Way: the managerial philosophy and values of one of China’s largest companies by Wang Jianlin
  5. Robert Kuok: a memoir by Robert Kuok with Andrew Tanzer