Back to top

Milestones

Explore our milestones

anchor
1947

General Contracting Company

Suliman S. Olayan founds General Contracting Company, his first business, to provide transportation and related services to Bechtel on Aramco's massive Trans-Arabian Pipe Line (Tapline) project.

 
anchor
1950

National Gas Company

Suliman S. Olayan plays a key role in developing Saudi Arabia's earliest electric power companies and founds the country's first public utility, the National Gas Company.

 
anchor
1954

General Trading Company

In 1954, General Trading Company, a bulk supplier of food and consumer products, is established as the exclusive Saudi distributor of major international brands, including Kimberly-Clark, General Foods, Pillsbury, and Hunt Wesson.

 
anchor
1954

Arab Commercial Enterprises

Arab Commercial Enterprises is founded, later to become the largest insurance brokerage in the Middle East.

 
anchor
1956

Cummins, Kenworth, Atlas Copco

General Contracting Company (GCC) establishes a branch for heavy automotive equipment and parts. GCC becomes the exclusive distributor of Cummins engines, Kenworth trucks and Atlas Copco compressors, relationships that endure today.

 
anchor
1959

Beirut Office Opens

In 1959, a corporate liaison office opens for business in Beirut, Lebanon, to facilitate a major transportation contract with Aminoil/Getty Oil in the Saudi Arabia-Kuwait Neutral Zone. It is the Group's first non-Gulf office.

 
anchor
1961

The Olayan Group Goes Global

The Olayan Group establishes its first company outside of the Middle East - an investment portfolio in U.S. equities.

 
anchor
1969

Kimberly-Clark

Olayan enters into an agreement with Kimberly-Clark to construct the first tissue converting plant in Saudi Arabia.

 
anchor
1971

New York Office Opens

The Group opens an office in New York.

 
anchor
1972

Jubail Industrial City

The Group's joint venture company with Bechtel is given the contract for the engineering and project management of Jubail Industrial City.

 
anchor
1975

London Office Opens

The Group opens an office in London.

 
anchor
1975

Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette

The Group acquires a more than 5% equity holding in Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette (later increasing to nearly 25% before being sold to Equitable Life in 1985). The move establishes the Group's long-term international approach, involving substantial minority stakes in a highly selective core group of companies.

 
anchor
1976

Athens Office Opens

Olayan Investments Company Establishment (OICE), the parent of The Olayan Group established in 1975, opens a branch office on Syngrou Avenue in Athens, Greece. A new office, pictured here, opened in the Athens suburb of Glyfada in 2000.

 
anchor
1980

First Chicago Corporation

The Group acquires a significant stake in First Chicago Corp.

 
anchor
1983

Occidental Petroleum Corp.

The Group acquires a significant stake in Occidental Petroleum Corp.

 
anchor
1986

Xerox

The Group establishes a company to sell Xerox equipment in the Kingdom.

 
anchor
1987

Transamerica Corp.

The Group acquires a 5.3% stake in 
Transamerica Corp.

 
anchor
1988

Coca-Cola

An agreement with The Coca-Cola Company establishes the Saudi franchise for Coca-Cola products and services.

 
anchor
1988

CS First Boston

The Group purchases a substantial ownership interest in CS First Boston. By 1998 this will become a 5% stake in Credit Suisse Group.

 
anchor
1990

Colgate-Palmolive

The Group enters into a joint venture with Colgate-Palmolive covering the entire Arabian Gulf region.

 
anchor
1991

Burger King

The Group enters into an exclusive arrangement with Burger King Restaurants for large areas of the Middle East. Olayan Food Services Company soon opens the first Burger King restaurant in Riyadh.

 
anchor
1991

Chase Manhattan

The Group acquires a 5.3% stake in Chase Manhattan Corporation.

 
anchor
1993

Coca-Cola Bottling Company

The Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Saudi Arabia establishes the first of three bottling plants in the Kingdom.

 
anchor
1996

National Grid

The Group acquires a 12% economic interest in Britain's National Grid.

 
anchor
1997

50th Anniversary

The Group marks its 50th Anniversary.

 
anchor
2000

Biography of Suliman S. Olayan

Suliman S. Olayan's biography, 'From Unayzah to Wall Street' is published.

 
anchor
2000

MetLife

During a turbulent time in the US stock market, the Group steps up to anchor the historic MetLife IPO by acquiring 12.4% of the offering.

 
anchor
2002

Chairman's Succession

Following the passing of founding Chairman Suliman S. Olayan on July 4 at age 83,
Khaled S. Olayan is named Group Chairman.

 
anchor
2003

Olayan School of Business

The American University of Beirut names its School of Business for Suliman S. Olayan. A brand new home for the business school, pictured here, opened in 2009.

 
anchor
2007

60th Anniversary

The Group marks its 60th Anniversary.

 
anchor
2007

Related Companies

The Group co-invests with a group of other leading firms in Related Companies, a major US property developer.

 
anchor
2008

Cummins Olayan Energy

Cummins Olayan Energy Ltd. is formed as a joint venture between the Group and Cummins Power Generation Ltd.

 
anchor
2008

Visa

The Group takes a significant stake in Visa Inc., the most important IPO of its time. Electronic payment becomes a key long-term investment theme for the Group.

 
anchor
2009

Baxter JV

Baxter Company Limited is formed as a joint venture between the Group and Baxter Healthcare Corporation.

 
anchor
2010

CH2M Olayan

The Group enters into a joint venture with CH2M HILL for the planning and management of major infrastructure projects.

 
anchor
2010

The Knightsbridge Estate

The Group acquires the Knightsbridge Estate in central London - an unbroken block measuring 3.5 acres that includes office, retail, and residential space.

 
anchor
2012

65th Anniversary

The Group marks its 65th Anniversary.

 
anchor
2014

Paris Portfolio

In its largest real estate acquisition to date, the Group purchases the Paris portfolio from Risanamento. It includes prime office, retail, and residential assets in the city's prestigious central district.

 
anchor
2015

Hotel Ritz Madrid

Through a joint venture with Mandarin Oriental, the Group acquires The Hotel Ritz in Madrid.

 
anchor
2015

Baccarat Hotel

In partnership with Starwood Capital, the Group sells its interest in the Baccarat Hotel in New York to a Chinese insurance firm -- Sunshine Insurance Group.

 
anchor
2016

Cummins Arabia

Cummins Inc. and The Olayan Group form a three-country distribution joint venture in the Middle East, furthering a business relationship that began 60 years ago.

 
anchor
2016

550 Madison Avenue

In association with Chelsfield, the Group purchases 550 Madison Avenue in Manhattan, otherwise known as the Sony Tower.

 
anchor
2017

New Group CEO Appointed

Long-serving senior executive Aziz Syriani is succeeded by Robert Leary as Chief Executive Officer of the Group. Mr. Syriani remains Chairman of the Corporate Board.

 
anchor
2017

70th Anniversary

The Group marks its 70th Anniversary with celebrations in Riyadh, Athens, New York, and London.

 
1961

The Olayan Group Goes Global

The Olayan Group establishes its first company outside of the Middle East - an investment portfolio in U.S. equities.

1969

Kimberly-Clark

Olayan enters into an agreement with Kimberly-Clark to construct the first tissue converting plant in Saudi Arabia.

1971

New York Office Opens

The Group opens an office in New York.

1972

Jubail Industrial City

The Group's joint venture company with Bechtel is given the contract for the engineering and project management of Jubail Industrial City.

1975

Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette

The Group acquires a more than 5% equity holding in Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette (later increasing to nearly 25% before being sold to Equitable Life in 1985). The move establishes the Group's long-term international approach, involving substantial minority stakes in a highly selective core group of companies.

1975

London Office Opens

The Group opens an office in London.