1. Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Al Saud Eight years of the Arabian Business Power List, and eight years in the top slot for Prince Alwaleed. Profits at his Kingdom Holding Company for Q1 this year surged 11.3% to $26.8m, boosted by the sales of its stake in Toronto’s Four Seasons Hotel and its share of the Oasis Kingdom project in Riyadh. The group is one of world’s largest and most diversified private investment companies with holdings in a large number of Saudi Arabian, Middle Eastern and international companies. Today, Kingdom Holding Company, of which he owns 95 percent, covers 39 investments in seven sectors. It is the largest foreign investor in the US, with stakes in the likes of News Corporation, Time Warner, Apple and Citi. Regionally, major players from Samba Financial Group to Savola all have the KHC stamp on their shareholdings. But despite so much success, there is no sign of the prince slowing down, with the last 12 months witnessing phenomenal growth. He announced plans to construct the world’s tallest building, the Kingdom Tower, in Jeddah. In the next year, he will also roll out his own 24-hour news channle, Alarab, based in Bahrain, which will directly compete with the likes of Al Jazeera and Sky News Arabia. And he continues to be one of the globe’s most prolific philanthropists, having donated more than $3bn to good causes.
2. Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum Over the past 25 years HH Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum has been at the forefront of Dubai’s remarkable economic development spearheading the successful expansion of aviation and, more recently, formulating economic, investment and fiscal policies and strategies in support of the emirate’s overarching vision. In his role as chairman of Emirates Airline, few can deny his staggering influence. Emirates has over 170 aircraft, and flies to more than 120 destinations in over 70 countries. He has managed to deliver a profit for 24 years in succession, with the 2011 figures showing income of $409m. But the airline is only part of his story. He holds a number of government positions and plays an increasingly pivotal role in leading the emirate’s finance and energy sectors. Sheikh Ahmed is also the chairman of Dubai World, Emirates NBD and the emirate’s Supreme Fiscal Committee. Amongst his many other roles are the deputy chairmanship of the Dubai Executive Council, and he also heads up the Dubai Power & Energy Committee.
3. Reem Asaad According to her blog, Reem Asaad’s key objective is “to promote and raise financial awareness in Saudi Arabia and promote social and economic wellbeing to its people.” Her remarkable achievements have sent her into third place in our 2012 list, and the highest new entry. Assad’s “Lingerie Campaign” gained international recognition, stirring many underlying issues about the lack of female employment in Saudi Arabia. By last July, he campaign paid off when the Labour Ministry banned men from working in lingerie shops after a directive from King Abdullah – in an instant, creating 44,000 jobs for women. The second stage of the law being implemented could see another 30,000 jobs created for Saudi women - a vital fillip for the kingdom’s economy.
4. Mohamed Alabbar As boss of Emaar since 1997, Alabbar’s place in history is already secure. He will be long be remembered as the driving force behind the development of the iconic Burj Khalifa, though equally impressive has been the manner in which he has successfully diversified the company. Emaar is now involved in hospitality & leisure, malls, education, healthcare and financial services. With six business segments and more than 60 active companies, Emaar has a collective presence in several markets spanning the Middle East, North Africa, Pan-Asia, Europe and North America. But away from the property giant, the company’s boss has been spending an increasing amount of time on his own private venture, a mining company with extensive operations largely in Africa. The result is that, barely two years since Africa Middle East Resources (AMER) was created, Alabbar has created a mega mining empire. He now has his sights on exploring commodities in a big way: coal, copper, oil and gas, gold, bauxite, iron ore, phosphate, uranium… you name it, and the chances are Alabbar is mining it somewhere in Africa. He told Arabian Business last year: “The Burj was over. I was thinking where to go, what to do next? Yes we got there, but we’re human beings, so when we get there we say ‘So what are we going to do after this? Are you going to crawl and go back in a little hole?’ I can tell you this, that’s not me.”
5. Mohammed Nabbous Mohammed Nabbous was just 28 years old when he was killed last year in Benghazi, by a pro-Gaddafi sniper while reporting on the fighting in the city. Since his death, many experts have credited Nabbous for his pivotal role in bringing the world’s attention to the killings in his native country. Without him, it is debatable whether the Western powers would have intervened in the conflict. Nabbous created the first independent broadcast news organisation in Libya since Gaddafi took control of the country. His reports were widely reported by Western media organisations, and seen by leading politicians across the world. “I am not afraid to die, I am afraid to lose the battle. That’s why I want the media to see what’s going on,” he said.
6. Mohamed Al Jaber The Saudi-born tycoon has spent 33 years building from scratch a conglomerate encompassing construction and development, hotels and resorts, oil and gas and agro-industries. It has made him the world’s second-richest Arab businessman, and he has also become a high-profile philanthropist, donating millions to promote good governance and anti-corruption, higher education, women’s rights, public-private partnerships and interfaith dialogue. In 1982, he established his first major endeavour in Saudi Arabia where he founded Jadawel International Construction & Development. Within twelve years Jadawel ranked 17th largest privately owned company in the country. JJW Hotels & Resorts was established in 1989 and is now the owner-operator of more than 60 hotel and leisure resorts in Europe and the Middle East. The smartest streets in London, Paris and Vienna each had one of Al Jaber’s trademark hotels. The final quarter of the year proved tough for Al Jaber, following a court battle with Standard Bank. At one stage a portion of the company’s assets were frozen. However, after coming to a settlement with the bank on December 7, the assets were unfrozen. With a substantial recent cash injection into the MBI Group, Al Jaber’s total wealth has now risen to $12.75bn.
8. Khalid Al Falih As boss of the world’s biggest unlisted company and the world’s largest oil company, Al Falih can lay claim to being possibly the most influential energy executive on the planet. With a workforce of around 55,000, crude oil reserves of 260 billion barrels of oil and revenues of $210 billion in 2010, the superlatives just keep on coming for Saudi Aramco. It is also widely believed to be the most profitable company in the world. Al Falih took charge of this giant firm in January 2009 from Abdullah Juma’ah, at a time of great significance in the industry due to the fluctuating price of oil. He joined Aramco in 1978, and was sponsored by the firm to take a degree in mechanical engineering at Texas A&M University in 1982.
10 Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi Sheikha Lubna’s background lies in IT; she won plaudits for developing a system that slashed cargo turnaround times at Dubai airport, and in 2000 founded Tejari, the Middle East’s first business-to-business online marketplace. The firm, which is now one of Dubai World’s most successful units, has franchises across the Middle East and was initially funded by HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai, and prime minister of the UAE. Sheikha Lubna was appointed to her first ministerial post in November 2004 – becoming Minister of Economy and Planning, before taking the Minister of Foreign Trade brief afterwards In January, Sheikha Lubna met with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to discuss enhanced trade ties. The Gulf country is already the largest export market for US goods in the Middle East. The minister is also currently working hard to sign off the US Middle East Free Trade Area by next year. But amidst her whirlwind tours around the world, Sheikha Lubna has still managed to retain her own business interests. The minister also sits on the board of directors at the Dubai Chamber for Commerce and Industry.
12. Lieutenant General Dahi Khalfan Tamim Now 60 years old, Tamim has had a remarkable career in public service. In 1970 he graduated from the Royal Police Academy in Jordan, after which he specialised in criminal investigations. After working his way up the chain of command, in 1979 he was appointed Deputy Chief of Police in Dubai, before taking the top job in 1980. Over the past 31 years, he has totally transformed the police force, its role and its reputation internationally and locally. He has published eight major reports on policing, and credited with a number of the police force’s key achievements in the last three decades. These include launching the Dubai Police Academy; establishing the Dubai Forensic Laboratory and the use of DNA in investigations; forming the land, marine and air rescue teams and establishing a special rehabilitation centre for drug addicts. Tamim is also largely credited with driving the force towards using modern technology – it was the first government department to use emails, and later became the first fully operational e-government department. He shot to worldwide fame when he led the investigation into the assassination of Mahmoud Mahbouh, a Hamas operative who was killed by a hit squad in a luxury hotel in Dubai. A major figure on the emirate’s political scene, Tamim’s forthright views are respected by both expatriates and locals. In addition, he is also highly regarded for his social welfare work, which has included the establishment of an orphanage in Dubai, and the launch of the Khalfan School for teaching the Holy Quran.
13. Tawakkul Karman Tawakkul Karman is undoubtedly the female face of the Arab Spring. The youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize - aged just 32 - Karman has found herself touring the world, bringing Yemen’s plight before diplomats and fighting for women’s rights. In her own country, of course, she has been working hard to promote freedom of speech for years. In 2005, she set up the campaign group Women Journalists Without Chains, But Karman really hit the international headlines last year, when she led a series of protests calling for the departure of Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh. One year on – due in part to those same protests - Saleh has quit his post and is now in the US. Although the demonstrations led by Karman and others were peaceful, they resulted in a strong backlash from the Yemeni government. Hundreds were killed, and thousands were injured. In a recent newspaper interview, Karman herself expressed surprise that she was still alive. “I have always believed that resistance against repression and violence is possible without relying on similar repression and violence,” she said in her Nobel prize acceptance speech.
16. Moafaq Al Gaddah Moafaq Al Gaddah Group is one of the largest companies in the region and has a leading and reputable position among the biggest groups of companies. The company was formed three decades ago in Abu Dhabi in 1978. Since then the MAG Group has evolved to become a powerful and vibrant group embracing more than 50 companies and branches covering almost every country in the world and employing over 2,000 personnel.The activities of the group cover different sectors such as the commercial, real estate, service and industrial sectors. Gaddah himself is a highly respected figure across the industry. He is a member of the Syrian Business Council in the UAE, a member of the World Economic Forum in Davos and also a founder of the First Arab Fund. He is known for his backing of many humanitarian events, including Dubai Cares.
18. Mohamed Alshaya Twenty eight years ago, Wharton School of Business graduate Mohammed Alshaya did a three months’ work experience stint at the UK-based retailer Mothercare, stacking shelves and advising mothers on which prams to buy. He clearly learnt a lot. Today, his retail empire MH Alshaya owns and operates over 1,800 franchise stores in fifteen countries and employs around 18,000 people from 60 nationalities. How does he do it? “Hard work and respect,” he told Arabian Business in an interview. In January, Alshaya agreed to buy troubled British lingerie chain La Senza out of administration, part of the firm’s plans to invest around £100m in the UK retail sector over the next two years.
19. Hayat Sindi When Hayat Sindi landed in London as a teenager in 1991, she had no university place, no money, and didn’t speak English, Hard work and determination got her a place at Cambridge. In 2001, she won a PhD in biotechnology and has been credited with the invention of MARS,, which combines the effects of light and sound for use in biotechnology. She co-founded Diagnostics for All, an organisation developing a disease-diagnosing paper that changes colours when dabbed with the bodily fluids of someone who is ill. Sindi is also a fellow at PopTech, which offers fellowships to scientists promoting innovation. In 2011, she launched the Institute for Imagination & Ingenuity, which helps local scientists create business plans and find investors for their ideas.
20. Khaldoon Al Mubarak A trusted aide to the Crown Prince of the UAE, HH Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Khaldoon Al Mubarak — CEO of Mubadala — has masterminded many of Abu Dhabi’s strategic investments and key development projects. Educated in the US, a graduate of Tufts University, Al Mubarak sits on a number of boards, including First Gulf Bank, Aldar Properties, the Abu Dhabi Executive Council and he is chairman of the Executive Affairs committee. Worldwide, he is of course best known as the chairman of Manchester City Football Club since the club was bought by the Abu Dhabi United Group in 2008. Last month, the club secured its first title in the top flight of English football for 44 years, after beating Queens Park Rangers with an injury-time goal. It meant that the near $1billion of investment in the club that Mubarak has approved now seems very much worthwhile, and Mubarak himself has become one of the most popular figures in the city as a result.
21. Charles Elachi If there’s one person who has driven mankind’s thirst for knowledge about the other planets in our solar system, that man is probably Charles Elachi. NASA’s Deep Space Network, the Mars missions, and the Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn; these are all conducted — amongst many other space ventures — by California’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), which is headed up by Lebanon-born Elachi. Elachi retains his ties with the region via a board position of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) and the King Fahd University of Petrochemicals and Minerals, both in Saudi Arabia. Dr Elachi is also the chairman of the Board of Trustees at the Lebanese American University.
22. Elie Saab “I am not only a fashion designer, I have the vision of an entrepreneur, a businessman,” Elie Saab told Arabian Business last year. He couldn’t be more right. Today, the 47-year-old runs a truly global empire, with boutiques in Beirut, Paris, London, Dubai, Hong Kong and Mexico City. The collections are sold in 50 countries and 70 points of sale worldwide. The Elie Saab story is as original as many of his designs. Born in Beirut to a wood merchant and housewife, his interest in dress making started when he was just nine years old. In 1982, at the age of 18, he opened his first couture atelier in Beirut with fifteen staff on the payroll. Today, with the expansion and growth of the brand, more than 200 employees are part of ELIE SAAB Group. The brand’s global breakthrough started in 1997 with an invitation to take part in the Camera Nazionale della Moda as the only non Italian designer. Since 1999, Elie Saab has dressed Hollywood cinema, music, theatre and television A-list stars. A philanthropist, he participated in many charity events: Paris tout P’tits, les Sapins des Créateurs, les Frimousses des Créateurs, Sidaction, Red Cross fund-raisers, but also the Mosaic Foundation in Washington, the fight against breast cancer in London, the fight against children’s cancer in Beirut. In 2003, he received the title of “Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Cèdre” presented to him by the President of the Lebanese Republic.
23. Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem What a good year it’s been for DP World, the world’s third- biggest ports firm. Led by Bin Sulayem, the company posted an 82 percent increase in full-year profit for 2011, helped by gains from the part-sale of its terminals in Australia and as container volumes rose. NDP World last year completed the sale of a 75 percent stake in its Australian unit for $1.5bn, and the company, which operates more than 60 terminals across six continents, said recently that it will repay a $3 billion revolving credit facility six months ahead of schedule with its own cash. Furthermore, DP World’s landmark London Gateway project in the UK will start operations in the fourth quarter of 2013. DP World’s shares - listed on NASDAQ Dubai and the LSE - have risen by 20 percent this year.
26. Badr Al Kharafi Nasser Kharafi passed away last year leaving the reins of the Kharafi Group in the hands of his sons, who include Bader. Also vice president of the group, Bader told Arabian Business earlier this year that the family plans to honour his father’s legacy by proving the third generation of Al Kharafis can securely carry the family business into the next decade and beyond. “We are working on the restructuring of the company,” said Al Kharafi, adding: “It depends on what views we have on the restructuring and it’s a family business so we really don’t want to mention anything about that now in the media until it is planned.” Established in 1956, MA Kharafi and Sons is one of the largest firms of its kind in the world. A diversified conglomerate, the group also overseas stakes, through the Americana food division, in various high-profile American eateries, and has the exclusive franchise rights in the Middle East for many fast food brands.
27. Elie Khouri It seems everyone wants to work for Elie Khouri these days. Last year his company was ranked in the CEO Middle East “Top Ten Employers” list, and also the “Top Companies to Work for in the UAE” list. Khouri is widely seen as one of the region’s most powerful and inspiring media figures. It was two years ago that he famously told Arabian Business: “People need to wake up and realise what’s going on, they need to see that this industry is changing. And if they don’t adapt to that change, they won’t be around much longer.” Khouri, the MENA boss of Omnicom Media Group, did just that and in the past year most of his rivals have been forced to play catch up. According to monitoring sources, its agencies OMD, PHD and M2M generated $1.9bn worth of billings across the GCC and Levant last year (across all media). After 27 years in the region and 24 years in the industry, there’s certainly no sign of Khouri slowing down. “For me it’s doing something constructive for the industry. It’s not about power and money; you get both anyway when you are leading a big organisation. I care more about making my mark in this industry,” he says.
29. Fairouz When Fairouz sings, the Arab world becomes enchanted. From a relatively poor background, she has grown to be received by heads of state and leaders from all corners of the world, so much so that she has garnered a reputation as the ‘Arabs’ ambassador’. She was first noticed at the International Festival of Baalbek, where she performed many of her songs. She became famous after appearing on the “Lebanese Nights” part of the festival for many successive years. Fairuz is commonly known as “Ambassador to the Stars”, “Neighbor to the Moon” (for her famous song about the moon of Machgara), and the “Jewel of Lebanon”. Fairuz has performed in many countries around the globe including Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, France, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Netherlands, Greece, Canada, United States, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Australia, and her home country Lebanon. She has performed in many venues such as the Royal Albert Hall in London in 1962, the New York Carnegie Hall in 1971, the London Palladium in 1978, L’Olympia de Paris in 1979, London’s Royal Festival Hall in 1986, the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles (1971, 1981, and 2003), the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C. (1981 and 1987) among many others. Fairuz has yielded record-breaking performances in almost every concert she has held around the world.
30. Ibrahim Dabdoub The Palestine-born financier has been at the helm of National Bank of Kuwait as CEO since 1983, and is now one of the most widely admired bankers in the Middle East. He first joined NBK in 1961 and saw his career progress from Head of Credit in 1969 to the CEO position in 1983 and a Group CEO in 2008. In addition to his NBK role, Dabdoub is also a board member of the Centre for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown University; the International Institute of Finance (IIF); he sits on the Board of Trustees of the American University of Beirut (AUB) and he is a member of the advisory council of Carnegie Middle East Centre.
31. Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim Al Thani After the departure of Wadah Khanfar last September, Sheikh Ahmed Bin Jassim Al Thani stepped into the hot seat as the head of the Al Jazeera network. And there can be little doubt about the influence Sheikh Ahmed now wields. Al Jazeera started out more than fifteen years ago as the first independent Arabic news channel in the world dedicated to providing comprehensive television news and live debate. Sheikh Ahmed now leads a global media network of over twenty channels. The broadcaster’s in-depth global approach to journalism, allied with a commitment to giving ‘voice to the voiceless’, has won it numerous awards and plaudits over the years. In the last year alone, Al Jazeera English has picked up the Columbia Journalism Award, a DuPont award, and Best News Channel for the third year running from UK’s Freesat. It was also nominated for the fourth consecutive year as RTS News Channel of the Year. The Al Jazeera Network has more than 65 bureaux across the globe. It has more than 3,000 staff members across the world, including more than 400 journalists from more than 60 countries.
32. Khaled Samawi Khaled Samawi’s Ayyam Gallery is considered the benchmark for Arabic art. With galleries in Damascus, Beirut, Cairo and Dubai, the gallery is pushing the envelope in the promotion of top Arab art. Ayyam Auctions is also the first regional auction house with auctions in Dubai and Beirut. Ayyam Publishing has published more than 50 art books in the last five years. The recently inaugurated Ayyam Art Center in Dubai is the first private museum in the Gulf dedicated to the exhibition of Arab art. After a successful career as a banker in Switzerland, it seems Khaled Samawi is at it again changing the artistic landscape all over the Middle East. The gallery’s Dubai branch boasts an 8,000 square foot display space for the mounting of large-scale exhibitions, and has hosted exhibitions in New York. Samawi has devoted considerable time and resources to encouraging the next generation of Arab talent, hosting projects such as the Shabab Ayyam exhibition.
33. Akbar Al Baker Akbar Al Baker has been instrumental in shaping Qatar Airways into one of the fastest growing and most highly acclaimed airlines in the world. Born in Doha, he is a graduate in Economics and Commerce and worked at various levels in the Civil Aviation Directorate before becoming Qatar Airways CEO in 1997. Al Baker has, over the last decade, spearheaded the growth of Qatar Airways, which operated only four aircraft in a regional capacity prior to his appointment. Currently Qatar Airways flies to more than 100 destinations across an ever-growing international route network that spans six continents. He is also leading the development of the New Doha International Airport, which will open in phases from this year onwards. A highly motivated individual, Al Baker has been a successful businessman in Doha for more than 25 years and holds a private pilot licence. He is also CEO of several divisions of Qatar’s national airline including Qatar Executive, Qatar Airways Holidays, Qatar Aviation Services, Qatar Duty Free Company and Doha International Airport.
34. Ali Shareef Al Emadi Qatar National Bank (QNB) is by far the largest in the country - with an estimated 40 percent of banking sector assets - and is also one of the biggest in the region. The bank is headed by Ali Shareef Al Emadi, under whose direction it has undertaken international expansion. Under Al Emadi’s leadership, QNB became the most profitable bank in the Gulf during 2011. Annual net profit leapt by 32 percent to $2.05bn during a period that has generally not been kind to the region’s banking community. QNB has an estimated 45 percent share of the Qatari banking sector, and its 50 percent-owned by the Qatar Investment Authority. It has a distribution network of 60 branches and offices both inside Qatar and internationally.
35. Lubna Olayan As the CEO of the Riyadh-based Olayan Financing Company, Lubna Olayan is one of Saudi Arabia’s most prolific businesswomen. The group, which was founded by her father in 1947, is one of the kingdom’s most successful conglomerates with operations spanning distribution, manufacturing, services and investments, across the Middle East. The firm is also one of the largest investors in the Saudi and regional stock markets. One of Olayan’s most defining moments was speaking at the Jeddah Economic Forum in 2004, when shebecame the first woman to speak at a mixed conference in Saudi Arabia. During her speech, Olayan called for a country in which “any Saudi citizen, irrespective of gender who is serious about finding employment, can find a job in the field for which he or she is best qualified, leading to a thriving middle class and in which all Saudi citizens, residents or visitors to the country feel safe and can live in an atmosphere where mutual respect and tolerance exist among all”.
37. Saif Al Hajeri The Qatar Foundation is widely regarded to be one of the most exciting cultural projects being undertaken in the region — its literature says it is helping to build a sustainable society in the Gulf through research into education, science and community development. As vice-chairman, Hajeri plays a crucial role in its development and direction. Qatar Foundation was established in 1995 by His Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, Emir of Qatar, as a vehicle to convert the country’s current, but temporary, mineral wealth into durable human capital.are located. In addition to his work at the foundation, Al Hajeri is the founder and chairman of Friends of the Environment Centre.
38. Munib Al Masri Munib Al Masri was initially educated at An Najah School, Nablus, then pursued higher education in the field of petro-geology in Texas, US. Masri graduated with an MA and began a successful career, establishing large enterprises in various countries around the world. Al Masri founded EDGO, an oil and gas contracting company in Amman. He is now a director of the Palestinian Development and Investment Company (PADICO), one of the biggest listed companies on the Palestine Exchange, and is also deputy chairman of the Palestine Investment Fund. Elsewhere, Al Masri has been heavily involved in education through the establishment of the Al Quds University Investment Fund, and he is also chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Sakakini Cultural Centre, Ramallah. Al Masri also helped set up the Engineering and Technology College at An Najah University, which is named after him, and is also a member of the board of trustees at the American University in Beirut.
39. Leila El Solh The youngest daughter of the late former Lebanese prime minister, Riad El Solh, Leila El Solh was the first woman in her country’s history to hold a cabinet position when she took on the Minister of Industry brief in 2004. Today, she is best known for her work with the Alwaleed Bin Talal Humanitarian Foundation in Lebanon. Chaired by HRH Prince Alwaleed, the foundation has managed to reach many areas in Lebanon to provide funds for development projects and alleviate poverty. Under El Solh’s stewardship, the foundation has become a pillar of support for education, health and social organisations throughout the country. In 2008, she was awarded the Pontifical Medal by Pope Benedict XVI in recognition of her efforts made to encourage religious tolerance.
40. Mohammed Al Marri A former policeman with 26 years on the force under his belt, Al Marri has been at the forefront at massive change at the Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department (DNRD), where a switch to online services, plus a new training complex, have seen a huge improvement in service. While many might see the DNRD role as a behind-the-scenes position, Al Marri’s role is actually vital in streamlining the vast numbers of visitors to Dubai, and ensuring that the flow of tourist dollars remains high. In a government reshuffle ordered by Deputy Ruler of Dubai HH Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum at the start of 2010, Al Marri saw his responsibilities increased. Already head of Dubai’s Naturalisation and Residency Department (DNRD) since 2007, he was appointed head of the commission for social development, one of five new committees that will assist the emirate’s decision-making process.
41. Abdulaziz Al Ghurair It’s been a tough couple of years for bank profits in the region, but those of Mashreqbank — the cornerstone of Abdulaziz Al Ghurair’s business empire — have remained stable. The fact that Mashreqbank has performed so well despite its exposure to Dubai World-linked companies speaks volumes about the strength of its leadership. Al Ghurair is CEO of the bank, which he started from scratch with $1.6m of capital during the oil boom in the 1960s, and which is the country’s fourth-largest by assets. The lender was the first bank to introduce ATM machines and credit cards to the emirates, and is now in expansionist mode. Al Ghurair is also one of the founders of the property giant Emaar, and served as speaker of the UAE’s Federal National Council until earlier last year. He remains a fervent proponent of national identity in the country. The family legacy can be traced back to Ahmad Al Ghurair who founded Al Ghurair Group in 1960. The family name has been a fixture within the UAE business community ever since.
43. Amr Diab They call him the ‘Father of Mediterranean music’ and Diab, perhaps Egypt’s most famous singer, has dominated the Arab music scene since the late 1980s. Recent months have seen his popularity slide; his absence from Egypt during the uprising has led to denunciations from some quarters that his silence was a tacit expression of support for the former regime — but certainly he has not been included on a list compiled by activists of Egyptian stars who showed support for Hosni Mubarak. Diab is believed to be the best selling Arab recording artist of all time. He was awarded the World Music Award for Best Selling Middle Eastern Artist four times and has sold well over 50 million albums.
44. Abdel Hamid Shoman Abdel Hamid Shoman serves as chairman of Arab Bank, today one of the largest privately-owned banks in the Middle East and one of the most influential financial institutions in the Arab world. The bank was established in Jerusalem in 1930 by Abdel Hamid’s grandfather, Abdul Hameed Shoman, with a view to serving the Arabs of Palestine. It is testament to the Shoman family’s management and foresight that Arab Bank has not only survived the political and military turmoil of the Middle East, but has thrived. Following his father’s death, Abdul Majeed Shoman, in July 2005, Abdel took over as the chairman and CEO of the family’s bank. Over the four years up to 2008, he ushered in a massive 58 percent growth — but he credits much of the success of his bank to the diversity and openness of the Jordanian economy. Arab Bank is also one of the country’s most global financial enterprises, with over 400 branches in a total of 29 different countries.
45. Fadi Ghandour Fadi Ghandour is the founder and CEO of Aramex International, one of the leading logistics and transportation companies in the Middle East and South Asia, and the first company from the Arab world to go public on the NASDAQ stock exchange. The company now trades on the Dubai Financial Market. Ghandour is a founding partner of Maktoob.com; the world’s largest Arab On-Line communitywhich was acquired by Yahoo!; is a member of the board of Abraaj Capital, is a founding board member of Endeavor Jordan and serves on the advisory board of the Suliman S. Olayan School of Business at the American University of Beirut.
46. Anas Kouzbari One of the country’s leading business figures, Kouzbari made an impact on the global stage when his company went into partnership with Emaar to launch the Eighth Gate project in Damascus. The US$500 million Eighth Gate has three separate parts – The Waterfront, The Touristic Area and The Commercial Centre. The Commercial Centre is planned to hold the largest mall in the Levant region and will also house the Damascus Stock Exchange. Other highlights of the Commercial Centre will be a thirty two floor office tower with 1,510 square meter space on each level, and a selection of low-rise commercial offices. The development will feature a modern infrastructure of world-class standards. The Eighth Gate takes its inspiration from the legendary seven gates that were access points to Syria’s Ancient civilization. A signature tall gate will mark the entrance to the main plaza. The Eighth Gate is easily accessible from Damascus Airport. As a leading figure in the Syrian Business Council, Kouzbari has also played a prominent role in promoting business ties between the UAE and Syria.
47. Mohammed Al Mady Al Mady joined SABIC in 1976 with a master’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Wyoming, USA, and held various key positions within the company before his rise to the top. SABIC is comfortably the largest listed company in the Middle East, and the world’s biggest chemical maker. And, as its CEO since 1998, there is no doubt Al Mady still boasts considerable influence on the industrial markets. Under Al Mady’s stewardship, SABIC has grown from a company that employed six people in 1976 to one that employs 31,000 with a market capitalisation in excess of $70bn. Addressing a meeting of the US-Saudi Business Council in Seattle on 16 May, Al-Mady, who is the co-chairman of the Council, called for greater ties between the countries, saying: “I cannot overemphasize the importance of our continuing relationship and the bond which has developed over these many years. In this context, and in my role within the US-Saudi Business Council, I see myself as a goodwill ambassador to American business enterprise.”
48. Bakr Bin Ladin What a year for the family which is by far Saudi Arabia’s most successful construction empire. In 2011 it inked deals to construct Prince Alwaleed’s Kingdom Tower and the expansion of the King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah. Between them, the contracts are worth over $20bn. However, those key contracts aside, the Bin Ladin empire has also been hit by the uncertain price of land in the kingdom. The family fortune is based on a construction business that paid immense dividends when decades ago it was awarded contracts for major renovations at Mecca and other religious buildings in Saudi Arabia and abroad. Founded by Mohammed Bin Ladin, the family also built several palaces in Riyadh and Jeddah for the royal family. The firm employs tens of thousands of people across the region.
50. Bassam Kousa A prominent film and television actor in the Arab world, Bassam Kousa is known for his unconventional roles and his willingness to push the boundaries. Born in Aleppo, Syria on November 7, 1963, Kousa broke into the public consciousness with a string of prominent roles in Syrian TV shows such as ‘Ayyam Shamiyah’. One of his most popular roles was on ‘Bab Al Hara’, one of the most-watched TV shows in the Arab region. Although he only appeared in the first season of the show, his character, Idaghshiri, became instantly identifiable to an audience stretching from Gaza to the Arabian Gulf. Kousa has also acted in a number of feature films, including Usama Muhammad’s ‘The Box of Life’, which was screened at the 2002 Cannes Festival winning the Un Certain Regard award. In 2010, Kousa won the prestigious Adonia award, Syria’s version of the Emmys, for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his role in ‘Wara’a al Shams’. In the show, Kousa plays a man struggling with autism, a role that has raised eyebrows in a traditionally conservative region.
52. Nadine Labaki She has been the darling of the Arab film industry for years, but it appears that the long overdue global recognition is finally coming. Her latest movie, which she also wrote, ‘Where Do We Go Now?’ made its North American debut at the Toronto Film Festival last year and walked away with the hugely prestigious audience award – following in the footsteps of ‘The Kings Speech’ and ‘Slumdog Millionaire’. The movie tells the story of what lengths a mother would go to in order to stop her son becoming involved in Lebanon’s sectarian violence. She is also well known as a director in the Arabic music video industry. In 2007, Labaki co-wrote, directed, and starred in her feature-film debut, ‘Caramel’, which became an sensation at global box offices.
53. Naseer Homoud Starting out as a dentist in Jordan, Dr Naseer Homoud moved to Qatar in 2001 to expand his clinic. He ended up creating a real estate empire in the process. The Wall for Investment and Real Estate Development has become synonymous with the rapid growth of Qatar, as well as contributing hugely to the growth of affordable housing - a much-needed sector in the country. His Consultant Dental Centre is well known in Doha as the place to go for an affordable smile, while the Spanish International Business & Trading Centre has already gained a reputation for being the must-visit destination for Spanish companies that are looking to invest in the region, and for Arab firms wanting to tap the Spanish market. Homoud studied at the University of Damascus, graduating in 1987 before returning to Jordan, and by 1994 had already set up his first dental centre in Amman. Three years ago he also formed the Spanish International Trading and Business Centre (SIBTC), to promote bilateral trade between the Middle East and Spain.
54. Sultan bin Nasser Al Suwaidi Sultan Bin Nasser Al Suwaidi is a UAE national was born in Abu Dhabi in 1953. He started his career at Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) in 1978, at the Finance and Administration Department, and joined the Central Bank as Governor in 1991. At the Central Bank, Al Suwaidi was able to introduce or modernise many banking regulations. In 1994, he worked on establishing the ‘UAESwitch’ which started operations in 1996 and was able to connect all bank ATMs in the UAE. He also supported the establishment of an automated cheque clearing System for UAE banks. Guided by Al Suwaidi, the Central Bank is in the process of implementing many new initiatives such as the Image Cheque Clearing System, the Mobile Phone Payment System and Basel II.
55. Joseph Ghossoub Joseph Ghossoub is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of MENA Communications Group (MENACOM), parent company of the Team/Y&R. One of the Middle East communications industry’s most prominent spokespersons, he has been involved in managing regional and global agencies for nearly three decades. Under his leadership, MENACOM Group (part of WPP and Y&R Brands) has grown into one of the most successful Middle East communications groups, including 12 Team/Y&R offices in 10 countries. Among his many accolades are the Arabian Business Achievement Award for Business Leadership, ‘Advertising Personality of the Year’ award for his contribution to raising the profile of the Middle East on the international creative advertising and marketing stage and Campaign Middle East’s ‘Man of the Year’ in 2006, the first such award presented by the media and communications industry weekly. Until 2008, he served as Chairman and World President of the International Advertising Association (IAA).
56. Al Laith Hajo Al Laith Hajo is a prominent Syrian television and film director. He has said he will feature scenes about the current events in Syria in his new television series “Kharba”. Elnashra.com quoted the director as saying: “We preferred to add to the script the reality of what is going on in Syria and the Arab region, in order to portray the societal problems being faced.” He added: “New ideas are being incorporated everyday according to updates in events in Syria and other countries witnessing turmoil.” Hajo added the additional scenes that have been shot for Kharba were not included in the original script by writer Mamdouh Hamada. Elsewhere, Hajo has recently been shooting the Egyptian television drama ‘Al Khawaja Abdul Qader’, which stars Sulafa Memar.
57. Marwan Bin Bayat If you’re going to do something in sport, you might as well do it big. And Bin Bayat did just that last March when he stunned the soccer world by announcing that Diego Maradona was going to be the next manager of Al Wasl Football Club. Bin Bayat said at the time: “The value of the contract is worthy of the stature and reputation of the great legend.” Al Wasl is the only UAE club that has won every single competition in the country, in every sport that the club represents, which includes basketball and handball. Al Wasl’s president is Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the chairman of Emirates Group. For Bin Bayat, the Maradona moment has been a fantastic coup. But that said, the Argentinean legend - regarded by many as the greatest football player of all time - has faced a difficult time and there have been growing rumours that he may yet move on to manage to UAE national team. Time will tell. Right now, both he and Bin Bayat are hoping that victory in the GCC Champion’s League final will allow Al Wasl to forget a largely disappointing domestic season.
58. Raja Easa Al Gurg Raja Easa Al Gurg wears many hats. Not only is she the managing director of the Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group, the firm of which her father is chairman, but she is also president of the Dubai Business Women’s Council. Al Gurg is also deputy chairperson of the board of directors at Dubai Healthcare City Authority, and a board member at both the Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry and the Dubai Women’s Council. She is also a member of the Dubai Economic Council, the Arab International Women’s Forum, the National Advisory Council and the College of Business Sciences. She represents the UAE at many global conferences and roundtables and is also part of the Dubi Government’s official delegation for trade and commerce meetings. Besides providing valuable counsel to various business groups and international trade alliances, Al Gurg spends considerable time in several philanthropic, social and charitable activities, notably with the Easa Saleh Al Gurg Charity Foundation.
60. Khaldoun Tabari Khaldoun Rashid Tabari is an the vice chairman and CEO of Drake & Scull International (DSI). Over the last twelve years, Tabari has led the development of DSI from a local MEP contractor to a regional leader providing fully-integrated services that have come to include civil construction and water and power and water, wastewater and sludge treatment solutions. Tabari also serves as a board member for EMCOR Facilities Services Group (ME), Walltech; Cedar Mills, Jordan Fleet Leasing Company; First Qatar Real Estate and Energy Central in Bahrain. ence in Abu Dhabi. Net income for DSI in the first quarter declined to AED37.6m (US$10.2m) from AED45.9m a year earlier.
61. Mohammed El Erian Egypt-born Mohammed El Erian is CEO and co-CIO of PIMCO - the world’s biggest bond trader. He re-joined PIMCO at the end of 2007 after serving for two years as president and CEO of Harvard Management Company, the entity that manages Harvard’s endowment and related accounts. El Erian has published widely on international economic and finance topics. His book, When Markets Collide, was a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller, won the Financial Times/Goldman Sachs 2008 Business Book of the Year and was named a book of the year by The Economist and one of the best business books of all time by the Independent. He was named to Foreign Policy’s list of “Top 100 Global Thinkers” for 2009, 2010 and 2011.
63. Lama Sulaiman Lama Sulaiman was elected deputy chairwoman of the Jeddah Chamber for Commerce & Industry in December 2009, becoming the first female to hold such a post in Saudi history. Her appointment was even more remarkable given that just a week before standing for election, the businesswoman was told she had beaten breast cancer. The mother of four is well aware of the delicacies of being a Saudi woman in her position, telling Bloomberg: “You have to proceed carefully. You have to respect others,” adding that few clerics have objected to her working with men due to her husband’s authorisation.
64. Hassan Al Thawadi Ever since Qatar had expressed an interest in hosting sport’s biggest tournament, the bid had been doomed by naysayers from the start. Questions were raised over the validity of holding the World Cup in the heat of the summer, not to mention the country’s lack of association with football and its tiny population. But Hassan Al Thawadi, the CEO of the 2022 bid, was nothing if not undaunted. Juggling this showpiece role with his other day jobs — the small matter of heading the legal department at the Qatar Investment Authority and at Qatar Holding — Al Thawadi managed to find an answer to every problem thrown their way. In many respects, the win has already paid off. Billions of dollars of projects have now been signed off, which will help Qatar become perhaps the most advanced state in the Gulf by 2022.
65. Dr Ilham Al Qaradawi Prof Ilham Al Qaradawi is professor of Nuclear Physics at Qatar University and Adjunct Professor of Physics at Texas A&M University in Qatar. She received her Ph D working in the field of positron physics from University of London, UK in 1991. Over the past decade at Qatar University, she has established a positron lab and successfully built the first variable energy slow positron beam in the Middle East. She has also established a radiation measurement lab carrying out research in the area of environmental radiation physics. She is involved in many research projects and collaborations on local, regional and international levels. Her research is mainly in the field of positron physics working on various types of materials. Al Qaradawi is involved with Europe’s CERN in the Antihydrogen experiment AEGIS. She is also involved in environmental radiation research and in physics education research. She represents Qatar in many areas related to nuclear, radiation physics and science education on the regional and international level. She is a keen educator who is always working to raise the standards of science awareness and teaching particularly in physics. She is the founder of the Qatar Physics Society; through which she regularly holds training workshops for physics teachers and other activities in an effort to spread physics knowledge and nuclear awareness as well as improve physics education. She has lectured in the World Nuclear University Summer Institute for the past four years.
67. Mohammed Omran Mohammed Omran leads Etisalat, which is now one of the largest telecommunications companies in the world with a market value of approximately $25 billion. Omran has worked for Etisalat over three decades and served in many different positions until he became the Chairman of Etisalat in 2005. From his current position he has overseen many of the company’s major achievements and today is considered one of the key decision makers in the telecommunications sector in the region. Omran joined Etisalat in 1977, one year after of its inception. In 1982 he was promoted to Area Manager in Ras Al Khaimah, and then appointed as Deputy General Manager of Etisalat in 1984. He held several managerial positions after this until he became the CEO of Etisalat in 2004. Under Omran’s leadership Etisalat has accomplished much in terms of both revenue and operational growth.
68. Aldaba Saif Al Darmaki The founder of Emirates Hospitality tied up with US reality TV star Kim Kardashian for the opening of the first Millions of Milkshakes store in Dubai, bringing the city to a virtual standstill in the process. Since then, Saif Al Darmaki has been busy taking the brand across the Middle East, with likely openings in Qatar and Kuwait. More significantly, he is working with Hollywood.TV founder Sheeraz Hasan on several celebrity branded projects that are expected to be rolled out across the region in the coming year. Emirates Hospitality is still in the early stages of growth, but experts are already touting it as one of the hottest new ventures to launch in the UAE, with a valuation that could top $100m.
69. Dr Ibrahim Al Ibrahim Since 1988, Al Ibrahim has been a close advisor to Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, the Emir of Qatar. Dr Ibrahim was between 2006 and 2011 the secretary general for the General Secretariat for Development Planning (GSDP). He has been at the heart of the development process for the Qatar National Vision 2030, and is now also leading Qatar’s First National Development Strategy. As the state realises its global ambitions, almost every plan and process is going through Dr Ibrahim’s desk. Dr Ibrahim is the vice chairman of the board of RasGas Company Limited and chairman of the Marketing Committee. He is a board member at Qatar Petroleum.
70. Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa Al Thani CEO Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa Al Thani took the top spot at QatarGas in 2010, and since then he has helped build it into one of the most important and successful companies on the planet. Qatargas, established in 1984, pioneered the liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry in Qatar. Today, Qatargas is the largest LNG producing company in the world, with an annual LNG production capacity of 42 million tonnes per annum (MTA). And Sheikh Khalid certainly has his hands full — Qatargas is a major contributor to the realisation of the vision of the Emir, which aims for Qatar to be the largest LNG producer in the world.
71. Muna AbuSulayman
Until recently, Muna AbuSulayman was secretary general for the Alwaleed Bin Talal Foundation, charged with spending upto $100m a year on good causes. She is widely seen as an international expert in development and philanthropy. Due to a diverse cross-functional work experience over the past 16 years, AbuSulayman has become internationally recognised as an expert in the fields of management, sustainable development, and communications, media, the Middle East, women and gender, as well as on Islam. She is best known as the first Saudi woman to break through media and cultural traditions by becoming the first Saudi female to appear on non-government global TV and ushering in changes in the way women are viewed by conservatives.
72. Bader Al Darwish The Al Darwish family is one of the most respected business families in Qatar. The family-owned Darwish Holding, a conglomerate whose activities include retail, business services, real estate investment, investments, construction and others, was founded by Abdullah Al Darwish Fakhroo and his brothers Jassim and Abdul Rahman in 1920 and is now run by chairman Bader Abdullah Al Darwish. Under Al Darwish’s leadership the firm has continued its substantial growth in all sectors. In addition to its current business, Darwish Holding introduced the largest multi-brand luxury store in the Middle East, Fifty One East, which spans over 13,500 sq m of space. It also developed and operates the $348m luxury Lagoona Mall in the affluent West Bay of Doha.
73. Hamad Buamim Hamad Buamim has been the director general of Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry since November 2006. Educated in the US, Buamim graduated from the University of Southern California – Los Angeles in 1996 with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering. In 2002, He obtained an MBA in Finance from the University of Missouri – Kansas City. Prior to joining Dubai Chamber, Buamim worked in various positions in the public and private sectors. He was the secretary general of Dubai Economic Council, a corporate manager in HSBC Bank. He is now a board member at several major companies, such as Emirates NBD and Dubai World.
74. Helal Al Marri As head of Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) , Al Marri has managed to achieve continued growth for Dubai, helping stage some of the world’s biggest events such as Gitex in the emirate. Al Marri previously worked as a strategy consultant with Mckinsey & Co, one of the world’s leading consulting firms. He also worked with KPMG in London, holds an MBA degree from the London Business School and is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales. Founded in 1979, the DWTC has been instrumental in establishing Dubai as a global financial and commercial hub and Al Marri was appointed its head in 2004.
75. Dr Habib Al Mulla Dr Habib is one of the UAE’s most highly respected legal authorities. He has over 27 years’ experience in UAE law and has drafted many of the modern legislative structures in place in Dubai today. Dr Habib is a strong advocate for the improvement and modernisation of UAE laws. He is a frequent commentator on the legislation and economy of the UAE and is often consulted to draft and advise on Federal and Emirate level laws. He is vice chairman of the board of trustees for the Dubai International Arbitration Centre and is Chairman of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators UAE Committee. He created the concept of financial free zones in the UAE and was the architect of the legal framework establishing the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC).
76. Khadem Al Qubaisi As the chairman of Aabar Investments , Khadem Al Qubaisi’s recent string of high-profile acquisitions have helped propelled Abu Dhabi onto the international map. His latest move was taking over as chairman of Arabtec last month, after his company raised its stake in the construction giant. Aabar has been on the expansion trail since International Petroleum Investment Co (IPIC) — of which Al Qubaisi is also the chairman — took control of the firm in 2009. IPIC is one of the investment arms used by the government of Abu Dhabi to invest its oil income. Qubaisi attended high school in Abu Dhabi and studied at the University of the United Arab Emirates. He was awarded a BSc in Economics in 1993, and that same year commenced his career with Abu Dhabi Investment Authority.
78. Mohammed Bin Ali Al Hedfa Mohammed Ali Al Hedfa has his hands on the tiller of QatariDiar, which is the property investment arm of the country’s sovereign wealth fund. As Qatari Diar marks its sixth anniversary, the company is also celebrating the considerable progress being made in its local and international portfolio, including new projects, sales launches and expansion in key markets internationally. Infrastructure works at Lusail City, the company’s visionary 38 sq km development to the north of Doha, are progressing ahead of schedule. Beyond Qatar’s borders, Qatari Diar has expanded across Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia.
79. Zaha Hadid Iraqi-born architect, Zaha Hadid is amongst the most celebrated in her field. With a clutch of international awards under her belt, she has designed some of the most recognisable and unique buildings in the world. Educated at the American University of Beirut, where she received a degree in mathematics, Hadid moved to London to study at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London. She was made an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and an Honorary Fellow of the American Institute of Architects. Some of Hadid’s most prestigious projects include the MAXXI — National Museum of the 21st Century Arts in Rome, the Guangzhou Opera House and the Bridge Pavilion in Zaragoza, Spain. In addition, Forbes named Hadid as one of the ‘100 Most Powerful Women in the World’ in 2008.
80. Ayman Hariri Ayman Hariri is the first of the five children of Lebanon’s former prime minister, Rafiq Hariri, to feature in this list. Ayman has made his mark on the telecommunications sector, having worked as an engineer at major satellite consortium Intelsat, and also on the family-owned South African wireless carrier, 3C, where he remains a board member. But it’s in the field of property and real estate where he is now making waves. Ayman is now the deputy general manager and a board member of Saudi Oger — and as befits a naturally gifted engineer, he has a hands-on role in all projects. Ayman has so far steered clear of the political arena, and with his growing business interests, is seen as the ‘business heir’ to the Hariri legacy.
81. Safwan Dahoul Born in Hama, Syria in 1961, Safwan Dahoul is among the highest grossing Middle Eastern artists to date with record-breaking auction sales and blockbuster shows that have made his paintings popular with regional and international collectors alike. After graduating from the Faculty of Fines Arts in Damascus at the top of his class in 1983, Dahoul went on to receive a scholarship to study abroad from the Ministry of Higher Education in 1987. Choosing to travel to Belgium due to its rich artistic heritage, particularly its 16th century Flemish school of painting, Dahoul obtained a doctorate from the Higher Institute of Plastic Arts in Mons in 1997. Since then, he has participated in international art fairs and individual and collective exhibitions throughout the Middle East, Europe and the US.
83. Dani Richa Richa has spent more than 20 years with the Group, also serving as president of the Group and regional chief creative officer, transforming the agency into a dominant market leader. Achievements under Dani’s leadership have been numerous; consistently receiving international acclaim, among them recent awards at Cannes Lions Festival, the MENA Effies and the MENA Cristal Festival. As one of the most influential industry figures in the region, Dani has been instrumental in producing some of the most memorable campaigns for key brands. Under his leadership, Impact BBDO has created its own brand of advertising and distinguishes itself as an ad agency. It has added value to clients’ businesses by helping build iconic brands - some from scratch - and has championed social causes.
84. Nart Bouran Nart Bouran is director of news for Sky News Arabia, a new Arabic-language 24-hour news channel that began to broadcast across 50 million households in the MENA region last month. Among his wide scope of responsibilities he is in charge of directing and managing the channel’s news operations, safeguarding the Sky News standard of impartial and independent world-class news reporting, and achieving the company’s business objectives. He possesses a wealth of experience from a career in journalism spanning 20 years. He has worked extensively across the Middle East covering major stories in countries such as Iraq, Algeria, Libya, Somalia and Yemen, as well as the Arab-Israeli conflict.
85. Adel Ali Hailed for pioneering the concept of budget travel in the Middle East, Adel Ali is best known for heading the region’s first low-cost carrier, Air Arabia. However, before launching the Sharjah-based airline in October 2003, the industry veteran had proved his mettle as commercial vice president of Gulf Air and general manager of British Airways in the Middle East and Africa. Indeed, during a successful 20-year stint at the UK’s national carrier, Ali was bestowed with numerous honours, such as the British Airways Awards for Excellence and the Middle East Tourism Contribution Award. It seems likely that his trophy cabinet has since been expanded to accommodate a regular flow of awards for developing Air Arabia into the Middle East’s leading low-cost carrier, as well as the first publically-owned airline in the Arab world, all within just nine years.
86. Carlos Ghosn Carlos Ghosn is the chairman and CEO of Japan-based Nissan and holds the same position at Renault, which together produce more than one in ten cars sold worldwide. Ghosn is also chairman and CEO of the Renault-Nissan Alliance, the strategic partnership overseeing the two companies through a unique cross-shareholding agreement. For orchestrating one of the decade’s most aggressive downsizing campaigns and spearheading the turnaround of Nissan from near bankruptcy in the late 1990s, Ghosn earned the nicknames “le cost killer” and “Mr. Fix It”. After the Nissan financial turnaround, he achieved celebrity status and ranks as one of the 50 most famous men in global business and politics. His life has been chronicled in a Japanese manga comic book.
87. Sulaiman Al Fahim The one-time CEO of Hydra Properties is now based in the US, from where he continues to have considerable influence in the business world. He is putting together a major green building initiative and code, initially for New York City, that is expected to be rolled out in other US states next year. Al Fahim has also been at the forefront of many green social housing initiatives in Saudi Arabia. In the past year his focus has also been on developing solar and wind energy projects across the GCC. He has been working with Spanish companies looking to establish a presence in Saudi Arabia. Much of this work involves helping European and Arab companies work together on information exchange programs. Al Fahim continues to be active in philanthropy, spending several weeks in year working on projects in Africa.
88. Dr Amina Al Rustamani Many in Dubai will be familiar with the name Dr Amina Al Rustamani, the CEO of TECOM Business Parks, the umbrella organisation for nine of Dubai’s free zones. Al Rustamani joined TECOM in 2001 as a project engineer for Samacom and quickly moved up the ranks, taking control of Dubai Media City, Dubai Studio City and International Media Production Zone as the executive director of media for TECOM Investments. Al Rustamani has also played a significant role in establishing Dubai International Film Festival and is a regular contributor to leading technical journals in the fields of wireless technology around the world. “The fact is we have diversified our offering, and you can see the results,” she told Arabian Business earlier this year. “Could we get to 7,000 companies in ten years? Yes, we could get to that.”
89. Alex Saber Still only 45 years old, Saber himself is very much a veteran of the industry. His career started in 1991, working as a media executive in Leo Burnett (a sister company of VivaKi), working on bookings and media planning. “I wanted to work in marketing, and there was no VivaKi in those days...There was a media unit in a creative agency, we were at a corner and the creative people got all the attention. We were the back stage,” he told Arabian Business earlier this year. He didn’t stay at the back too long. Seven years later, Starcom Mediavest was created and Saber went to the new operation, spending four years in Saudi Arabia. Following the launch of VivaKi as the umbrella firm, he became CEO in 2007, before taking over as chairman last year.
90. Mohammed Al Amoudi One of the Arab world’s most successful businessmen, Al Amoudi’s father is Yemeni and his mother is Ethiopian. He is said to be the largest foreign investor in both Sweden and Ethiopia. He has been honoured with the Order of the Polar Star by King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden. Al Amoudi made his first fortune in construction and real estate before branching out into buying oil refineries in Morocco and Sweden — where he was honoured with the Royal Swedish Order of the North Star by King Carl XVI — and his native Ethiopia. His holding and operating companies, Corral Group and the Midroc Group, employ more than 40,000 people. Corral Group has an investment portfolio in Europe and the Middle East that includes Preem Petroleum, the largest integrated petroleum firm in Sweden, Svenska Petroleum & Exploration, SAMIR, Naft Services Company (Saudi Arabia) and Fortuna Holdings (Lebanon).
91. Mishal Kanoo Mishal Kanoo is deputy chairman of the Kanoo Group – one of the largest, independent, family-owned group of companies in the Gulf region, with diversified interests in: shipping, travel, machinery, logistics, oil and gas, power, chemicals, joint ventures, retail and commercial activities amongst others. Mishal was educated in Dubai, and holds an MBA in Finance from the University of St Thomas, Houston, Texas. He started his professional experience with Arthur Andersen in Dubai as an auditor before taking up his current position in 1997. He has also overseen the activity of many other prominent companies in the Gulf region and the world, in the capacity of director or chairman, including: AXA Insurance, Dubai Express, Johnsons Arabia, BASF Kanoo Polyurethanes and United Arab Chemical Company. He regularly contributes to a number of local publications, and his personal website is one of the most widely read in the region on a spectrum of topics that cover everything from Middle Eastern politics to Cuban cigars.
92. Faisal Al Ayyar A former fighter pilot in the Kuwaiti Air Force, Faisal Al Ayyar has been with Kuwait Projects Company (Holding) (KIPCO) since 1990, and has overseen the then-modest local investment bank’s growth into one of the leading diversified investment holdings groups in the MENA region. With more than $19.9bn in assets under its control or management, the bank’s core activities include financial services, media and telecoms, with interests in real estate, manufacturing, medical services, aviation and education. KIPCO controls or holds substantial stakes in some 70 companies throughout the MENA region — as well as India, the UK and the US — and is the majority joint venture partner of Viacom in Showtime, the Middle East’s leading pay-TV entertainment provider.
93. Mattar Al Tayer He will always be known as the man who built the Dubai Metro and in the past year Al Tayer saw much of the project complete with the opening of the Green Line. But that is just part of his massive task, as he continues to oversee the many road and other major infrastructure projects under way in Dubai. Much of his time is now being spent overseeing the emirates’ first ever tram system, which will link many parts of Dubai into the metro system. Last month, Al Tayer announced that Dubai would spend $272m over the next five years on the improvement of its road network. “The move comes in the context of RTA efforts to improve roads network to accommodate the growing needs of the demographic and urban expansion seen by the emirate,” the chairman said, in a press statement.
96. Sherife AbdelMessih Sherife AbdelMessih is the founder and CEO of Future Energy Corporation (FEC), a company that serves the renewable energy industry in the region. Along with his partners he is now creating the first investment vehicle of its kind in MENA that will be focusing on Renewable Energy and CleanTech investments in emerging economies. Sherife was also a consultant on the first solar power plant in Egypt and the MENA region throughout the bidding, and contract negotiation process. He has authored multiple energy programs on the transformation of the Egyptian Energy Economy by 2020 and 2050, which has been endorsed by political parties in Egypt.
97. Mustafa Ali Mustafa Ali, Syria’s foremost sculptor, was born in Latakia in 1956. Known for elegant, monumental sculptures that pierce the consciousness and underscore the fragility of mankind, he has been widely collected in the Arab world for nearly three decades. Hehas exhibited extensively on the international art circuit since 1979 and has participated in a number of high-profile events such as Latakia Sculpture Biennial (where he was awarded the Golden Prize) (1997), the Biennial of Alexandria, Egypt (1994), the Sharjah Biennial (1995), and the International Symposium for Sculptors in Valencia, Spain (2001). Ali’s work is housed in private and public collections, including a number of official institutions in Syria such as the National Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art.
98. Patrick Chalhoub Created by Michel Chalhoub in 1955, the Chalhoub Group is recognised as one of the leading forces in the luxury retail business in the Middle East. Maintaining its family owned heritage, today the group - co-led by Patrick Chahoub - specializes in the retail and distribution of renowned brands within the sectors of beauty, fashion and gifts. The Chalhoub Group has a presence in 14 countries and the management of over 400 retail outlets, and has partnersedwith prestigious houses such as Baccarat, Christofle, Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton and Nina Ricci, to name only a few. Patrick Chalhoub joined the Chalhoub Group in 1979. Charged with distributing perfumes in Kuwait, he made the division a commercial success within three years. He then became joint CEO of the regional businesses, overseeing operations in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain. Last year, the group identified Abu Dhabi as a key commercial driver for the near term and has invested heavily in the UAE capital.
104. Nisreen Shocair Nisreen Shocair took over the helm of Virgin Megastores, Middle East in 2006 and has overseen the brand’s transformation from a CD and DVD store to a one-stop shop for music, video and multimedia entertainment. Shocair, who grew up in Nigeria, started her entertainment career working at a local Blockbuster store in Texas before finishing her degree and joining Sony in the early 1990s. In addition to her role at Virgin, Shocair also sits on the advisory board of several digital and environmental start-ups. “We are not a vanity retail company, we don’t open stores because we want to; we open stores because they make money,” she told Arabian Business last year, when asked why she opened her latest Virgin Megastore branch in Dubai Mall — the world’s biggest shopping mall. “We have said no to developments… we did not open in Festival City and we have no plans to open in Festival City. We want Virgin to remain a destination; I don’t want Virgin to become a convenience store.”
105. Nasser Al Khelaifi Former general manager of Al Jazeera Sports, Nasser Al Khelaifi led the buyout of Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) in 2011 before taking over as president of the French side. Qatar Sports Investment acquired the remaining 30 percent in the club in March in a transaction that valued the entire club at 100m euros ($131m). Qatar has since spent an estimated €80m euros in transfers. PSG has been playing in Ligue 1 since 1974 and is one of the most prestigious outfits in French football having won two League titles, eight French Cups, three League Cups and two Champions Trophies. The French side, along with Marseille, is one of only two French clubs to have won a top European trophy.
106. Amin Maalouf Lebanese-French born Amin Maalouf is celebrated for his works on his experiences of civil war and migration. The second of four children, he studied sociology at the French University in Beirut, and worked as a journalist before turning to fiction during the Lebanese civil war of 1975 and moving to Paris. Maalouf’s books typically have a historical setting, and like Umberto Eco and Orhan Pamuk, mixes fascinating historical facts with fantasy and philosophical ideas. Maalouf received a Prix Goncourt in 1993 for his novel The Rock of Tanios, and has also been awarded the Prince of Asturias Award for Literature in 2010. In March 2011, Maalouf was shortlisted for the biennial Man Booker International Prize, one of the most prestigious awards in the literary industry.
109. Abdulfattah Sharaf Abdulfattah Sharaf became the first CEO for HSBC’s UAE division when he was appointed in January 2010. Sharaf spent thirteen years at NBD before joining HSBC, and also looked after global giant’s retail offering before taking on the top position. In February, the Middle East unit of the banking giant reported a 67 per cent increase in profits to $1.4bn despite a global $900m cost-cutting drive that spurred it the lender to close 16 businesses across the world. Sharaf, a graduate of The University of Denver, is also a board member of the Network International, an advisory board member of HDG Mansur - USA and a member of Young President Organisation.
111. Osman Sultan Osman Sultan was behind the launch of the highly successful Mobinil in Egypt in 1998, and in 2007 was behind the launch of du, the UAE’s second telecoms operator, which is 40 percent owned by the UAE Federal Government, 20 percent by Mubadala Development Company, 20 percent by TECOM Investments and 20 percent by public shareholders. In May, the operator posted a 62 percent in first-quarter net profit, beating analysts’ expectations as it added subscribers and mobile data revenue more than doubled from a year earlier. The firm made a profit of AED333.1m ($90.96m) in the three months to March 31 and added 320,600 mobile subscribers to increase its mobile customer base to 5.5 million, giving it a 46.7 percent market share in the country.
113. Nezar Nagro Nezar Nagro heads up Rotana Media Services (RMS), one of the largest media groups in the MENA region. The Dubai-based firm sells and promotes all of Rotana’s TV stations, Fox Movies, Fox, LBC SAT, Rotana Magazine, Radio Stations as well as many other placements. The company, which was founded in 2004 and is owned by the Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal and News Corp, has regional offices in Riyadh, Jeddah, Dubai, Beirut and Cairo.
114. Nasser Al Jaidah Nasser Al Jaidah, a graduate of geology and petroleum engineering, joined Qatar Petroleum - the Gulf nation’s state-backed energy giant, back in 1977. He is currently CEO and a board member of Qatar Petroleum International, a board member of Qatar Petroleum and board member at Industries Qatar. During the last 30 years, Al Jaidah has assumed many responsibilities at Qatar Petroleum in various positions. nAl Jaidah is a member of Qatar Gas Board, and vice chairman of Qatar Gas Executive Committee, vice chairman of Qatar Fuel Additives Company, vice chairman of Tasweeq. His many other roles include membership of the Society of Petroleum Engineers, and the American Association of Petroleum Geology. At home, Al Jaidah is a member of the Advisory Council of the State of Qatar, as well as being a member of the Provisional Arab Parliament.
116. Usama Fayyad Usama Fayyad is the chairman of Oasis 500, an early-stage entrepreneurship initiative based in Jordan and aiming to create an angel-stage investment base in the region along with funding up to 500 tech start-ups. He is also Chairman of d1g.com, a new generation internet community site. In the US, he is CEO of Open Insights, a data strategy, technology and consulting firm he founded. Until 2008, Fayyad was responsible for tech giant Yahoo!’s overall data strategy.
120. Ayman Asfari The boss of oil services giant Petrofac, Ayman Asfari sits at the helm of one of the fastest growing FTSE 100 businesses. nBy any measure, Asfari is a success story. He took his first role in construction in Oman in his early 20s in a bid to fund an MBA at Wharton. It turned out to be unnecessary; less than a decade later, he was a millionaire with his own firm. Since buying out Petrofac in 2001, Asfari has turned it into one of the leading players in the oil market. It listed in 2005 and today employs more than 11,000 people worldwide, with bases spanning London, Russia and Algeria.
121. Nasser Marafih Nasser Marafih leads one of the Gulf’s most innovative companies in his role as CEO of Qtel Group. nSince taking the reins in 2002, Marafih has carefully overseen Qtel’s transformation into a global player. Under his guidance, Qtel has acquired Wataniya Telecom and has masterminded the firm’s expansion into Asia. Qtel now has a presence in seventeen countries in the MENA region, the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia, supporting around 70 million customers. He also played a major role in the introduction of the first GSM service in the Middle East in 1994, helped with the introduction of the internet to Qatar in 1996, and assisted with the privatisation of Qtel in 1998. Promoted to CEO of the full Qtel Group last year, Marafih is currently masterminding the roll-out of a 4G network in Qatar, a key platform of the country’s efforts to build its knowledge economy.
125. Moh-Din BinHendi Moh-Din BinHendi started his career as the director of Dubai Airport Customs before being promoted to direct general of Dubai’s Department of Civil Aviation in 1979. The Emirati is best known for BinHendi Enterprises, a Dubai-based conglomerate, which he established. Today, the firm operates 29 successful fashion, jewellery, accessory and food retail outlets, while its trading division reaches in excess of one thousand retailers. In addition to his business commitments, BinHendi also sits on the board of governors at Dubai Aviation College, is a board member at Emirates Golf Club and chairman of the Aviation Advisory Committee at Dubai Men’s College.
127. Khater Massaad Dr Khater Massaad is arguably the most influential businessman in the recent history of Ras Al Khaimah. nThe driving force behind RAK Ceramics, Massad helped create one of the biggest manufacturers of ceramic products in the world, bringing in revenue of around $1bn from a network of more than 150 countries.
128. Fatima Obaid Al Jaber Fatima Obaid Al Jaber is one of the Gulf’s most successful businesswomen. As the CEO of the family-owned Al Jaber Group she is responsible for managing the group’s contracting, industrial, trading, investment and real estate subsidiaries. nShe was also the first female representative on the board of directors of the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ADCCI) and deputy chairperson of the Abu Dhabi Businesswomen’s Council. nAl Jaber is also the chairperson of Al Bashayer Investment Co. A staunch advocate of women’s causes, she is actively involved in empowering Emirati women in the business arena. “Everything is there [in the UAE]; if a woman wants to start a business, she can. If she wants to work in government, if she wants to find a job, if she wants to study - the choices are all there,” she told Arabian Business last year.
129. Buthaina Al Ansari Buthaina Al Ansari earned a master’s degree in Business Management and HR Strategic Planning from Qatar University, as well as diplomas and certifications in other business disciplines from universities and schools in London and Cairo. She is the founder of Qatariat T&D Holding Company, which incorporates three different companies focusing on three different areas: Qatariat Training and Development, which targets Qatari women in Doha to develop their skills and expertise; Qatariat Magazine, a magazine for businesswomen which covers local and regional news, including their achievements; and Qatariat Development Consultancy, which targets both women and men in developing business plans and restructuring issues. nAl Ansari also works as a strategic planning director at Qtel.
130. Mona Almoayyed The Bahrain Businesswomen’s Society was established in 2000, and is tasked with the development and promotion of social and economical relations among businesswomen in Bahrain. It has been instrumental in moving the issue of women in the workplace onto the mainstream agenda, and today Bahraini women are found participating across all commercial, economical, investment, and developmental activities. As the society’s president, Mona Almoayyed has proved a vocal advocate of social change, this work even eclipsing her achievements as managing director of Y K Almoayyed & Sons. She was also the first woman to be elected to the board of the Bahraini Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Fighting to improve the rights of Bahraini workers is one of the causes closest to her heart, as evident through her work for the Migrant Workers Protection Society.
135. Sultan Abu Sultan Sultan Abu Sultan started his career with HSBC in 2003, moving up the ranks, before being appointed regional managing director. He joined Barclays in 2008 as the head of central support, responsible for the core functions of Barclays’ operations and business retail. In 2008 he was appointed director of administration and government relations and become the sole contact between Barclays and all government institutions across the UAE. He is currently the only UAE national chairing a global bank in the UAE. British lender Barclays, in which Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund and the Abu Dhabi royal family hold stakes, is a major operator in the region.
136. Ghayda & Ghosson Al Khaled Al Khaled Sisters Ghayda and Ghosson Al Khaled both play starring roles at Kuwait’s ACICO Industries Company, a firm established in 1990 and listed on both the Kuwait & Dubai financial markets. Ghayda Al Khaled (pictured) is chairperson at the company, which has interests in construction, cement manufacturing and real estate, among other sectors. Not to be outdone, her sister Ghosson has civil engineering and building science degrees, and has made her way up the corporate ladder to become chief operating officer. nThe firm in April reported a 49.6 percent decline in full-year profit to KWD1.9m (US$6.7m).
137. Samer Majali The former chief executive of Royal Jordanian Samer Majali brought a wealth of experience to his role at Gulf Air when he was appointed three years ago. nDespite the carrier having four CEOs in three years, Majali was determined to make it work. The carrier has been in restructuring mode since 2002, reducing staff, cutting routes and shifting its focus to regional services in a bid to save the $3bn over five years. The next 12 months will be one of the most challenging Majali has faced in his career. In May Bahrain MPs vetoed a government bailout of $1.8bn for the carrier, and urged it to undergo a major operational overhaul.
138. Ali Al Habsi Ali Al Habsi is currently the only Gulf footballer plying his trade in the lucrative English Premier League. The 31-year old Omani is the goal keeper for Wigan Athletic. The former Bolton Wanderers player was named the club’s player of the season for 2010-2011 in May. In December he saved a penalty from Liverpool’s midfielder Charlie Adam in a 0-0 draw, for which he was awarded the Yahoo! Eurosport awarded for man of the match due to his several good saves against Liverpool.
140. Nayla Al Khaja Nayla Al Khaja, the UAE’s first female filmmaker, has already made three short features in her brief career. One of Al Khaja’s films won a prize at the Dubai International Film Festival in 2007. In addition, the Emirati has also set up her own production company (D-SEVEN), and she also heads up the UAE’s first official film club. Al Khaja’s career choice coupled with her willingness to tackle taboo subjects has often led to controversy. Her last short film, which was released in 2010, took a look at the issues raised by arranged marriages. In ‘Malal’ a young Emirati couple visit Kerala on a honeymoon that is soured by the wife’s boredom with her new husband.
142. Sultan Al Jaber Sultan Al Jaber is at the forefront of the UAE’s plan to remodel itself as a nexus of environmentally friendly technology, as the country bids to wean itself off hydrocarbon revenues and builds its own human capital base simultaneously. Masdar may have delayed its expansion plans slightly due to the economic climate, but building is still continuing, with construction work now entering the second phase. Elsewhere, Al Jaber holds the senior project manager position at Mubadala, as well as board positions at Abu Dhabi Shipbuilding Company and the American University of Dubai. The Masdar CEO has a PhD in business and economics from the UK’s Coventry University.
143. Saleh Kamel Saleh Kamel may be famous as the man whose firm has investments of billions of dollars across 40 countries, but his recent appointment as the chairman of the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry represents yet another new path the experienced tycoon has taken. nKamel’s stewardship of Jeddah’s businessmen over the course of the next few years will be key to the city’s development. Other business interests include television channels, civil services and hospitality.
144. Nancy Ajram Visit virtually any city in the Middle East, and the face of Nancy Ajram will inevitably be staring down on you from the nearest billboard. Although she advertises pretty much every product known to man, she is — of course — best known as a singer. Winner of a 2008 World Music Award for best-selling Middle Eastern artist, Ajram has even been named by no less than Oprah Winfrey as of the most influential personalities of the Middle East. A legend in her own lifetime, Ajram has sold over 30 million records. Born in Beirut, she took part in a Lebanese TV reality show at the age of twelve, winning a gold medal. She released her first album in 1998, aged just fifteen, and her next two albums, in 2002 in 2004, cemented her position as a regional superstar. In 2010, she was nominated by Coca Cola to sing a track written for the World Cup. Ajram’s Facebook page has well over three million fans.
146. Marwan Boodai Ranked among Kuwait’s most influential business leaders, Marwan Boodai is the chairman of Jazeera Airways — the Middle East’s first private sector airline. The carrier reported good financial results for fourth-quarter 2011 despite the fact that the headline net income showed a 23 per cent decline from fourth quarter 2010 levels. In April, Boodai’s firm announced a record net profit of $38m for 2011 compared to a net loss of $10m the previous year. Boodai is also chief executive officer of the Boodai Corporation, a Kuwait-based business of semi-autonomous companies offering complementary products and services to various sectors.
147. Christine Sfeir At just 22 years old Christine Sfeir persuaded Dunkin’ Donuts to hand over the company’s Lebanese franchise to her. “It was a huge risk because I was 22, I was female and the idea of American coffee and doughnuts was the last thing on people’s minds. But I had a hunch and a vision,” she told Arabian Business last year. nThe rest quickly became history, with the franchise becoming a huge success in Beirut. Five years ago, she added the Lebanese brand Semsom to the fold, and has expanded it into Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. New outlets are soon to appear in India, with six openings planned for 2012. She now manages a total of 400 staff.
148. Rasheed Al Maraj Rasheed Al Maraj has been governor of the Central Bank of Bahrain since January 2005. nAs governor, Al Maraj carries ministerial ranking and is the chief executive of the CBB, which is responsible for ensuring monetary and financial stability in Bahrain. The CBB is also the single regulator of Bahrain’s financial services industry. Al Maraj has a wealth of experience in finance, engineering and management and has served with the government and the private sector. His career highlights include senior positions with government, having served as assistant under-secretary at the then Finance and National Economy Ministry and under-secretary at the Ministry of Transportation. Prior to his appointment as governor, Al Maraj was general manager and chief executive of the Arab Petroleum Investments Corporation (Apicorp), which is based in Dammam.
149. Nabil Habayeb Dubai-based Nabil Habayeb is responsible for developing and expanding the growth of GE’s different businesses across the region. Habayeb joined GE Power Systems’ Field Engineering Programme in 1982 before relocating to Dubai in 1985 where he held several sales positions in the region. He moved to Schenectady, New York in 1989 before returning to the Middle East in 1993. In 2001 he was appointed to his previous role of Regional Executive and General Manager, GE Energy, AIM Region. Last month, Hebayeb told Arabian Business that he was expecting up to $10bn in revenue from Libya as the country rebuilds its battered infrastructure. GE will also bid for nuclear power deals in Saudi Arabia.
150. Maria Maalouf The Lebanese journalist and political analyst is best known for presenting the television programme ‘Without Censorship’, which covered a range of topics including nepotism and fraud in the Arab world. Maalouf made international news when she received death threats following an interview with a German criminal investigator, who accused the Moassad of assassinating the former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri. She is a member of the Syrian National Society Party.
152. Afnan Rashid Al Zayani Wife, mother, television cooking show star, activist and multi-million-dollar company CEO, Afnan Rashid Al Zayani, president of Al Zayani Commercial Services, transcends categories. A former vice-president of the Bahrain bourse, Al Zayani has established business credentials. Named one of the world’s most powerful Arab women by Forbes magazine, her former roles include president of the Bahrain Businesswomen’s Society, where she crafted a far-reaching agenda that catered to all women in business. Added to this, she is CEO of Al Zayani Commercial, director of Al Ayam Press, Printing & Publishing and chair of the MENA Businesswomen’s Network.
153. Mahdi Ali When the UAE Olympic team goes to London this summer football coach Mahdi Ali knows his task will not be an easy one. n Drawn alongside the likes of hosts Great Britain, Uruguay and Senegal, Ali said he is confident this will be a chance for the team to show what they are made of. “This is a chance for us to show the media that we may only be a small nation but we have big ambitions. All the media in the world will finally get the opportunity to see what our team can do,” he told Gulf News. Off the pitch, Ali helped set up the Dubai RTA.
154. Ali Farzat Cartoons can be controversial means of communication in the Arab world, but Ali Farzat has published thousands of politically driven works in various regional and international publications. nNo stranger to controversy, Farzat’s politically charged depictions led to a death threat from Saddam Hussein and bans from Iraq, Jordan and Libya. When his artwork took on the Assad regime in Syria, it led to him being beaten up in central Damascus. The gunmen in the attack targeted his fingers. nAs a result of the attack, Farzat became a symbol for the resistance movement in the country, and Arab cartoonists around the world united in solidarity. The US called the assault ‘targeted and brutal’. Farzat was named among Time magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2012. “I was born to be a cartoonist, to oppose, to have differences with regimes that do these bad things. This is what I do,” he says.
156. Ziad Makhzoumi As chief financial officer of Arabtec, Makhzoumi has his hands right on the pulse of the financial world. Arabtec Construction is one of the largest contractors in the MENA region and its has become a household name in the construction industry in the Gulf states. It has been involved in world-class developments such as Burj Khalifa and Burj Al Arab in Dubai and the Emirates Palace hotel in Abu Dhabi. Today, Makhzoumi says Arabtec is back in the business of winning contracts: “We bid for many projects… Things stopped in early 2009 and now it seems that the market is moving”. Arabtec shares have risen by almost 100 percent this year.
158. Magdi Yacoub Dubbed the ‘King of Hearts’, Egyptian-born surgeon Magdi Yacoub has received many accolades from his adopted home in the UK. In 1992 he was awarded a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II and in 2007 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Pride of Britain Awards. Now almost fully retired, Dr Yacoub will forever be known as the surgeon who has performed well over 20,000 heart operations — including more than 2,000 heart transplants — more than any other surgeon in the entire world.
161. Azmi Bishara Azmi Bishara has certainly had an interesting life. Born in Nazareth in 1956, Bishara became a member of the Israeli parliament in 1996, representing the Arab party Balad. He was also the first Arab to run for prime minister in 1999. Although he dropped out before the poll actually took place, he succeeded in drawing attention to the Israeli Arab cause. He resigned from the Knesset in 2007 following a police investigation into alleged links with Syria and Hezbollah, and currently lives in Qatar where he appears frequently on Al Jazeera as an eloquent commentator on Arab affairs.
162. Ali Rashid Lootah As chairman of Nakheel, the Dubai master developer, Lootah has led the company through restructuring and seen it return to the market with a diverse range of projects. The US-educated civil engineer happily announced in April that Nakheel’s latest results showed it achieved profit of AED1.28bn (US$348.5m) in 2011 and it has launched new retail and residential projects on the iconic Palm Jumeirah. “It has been a good year... It is a big sign of the recovery of the market,” he said earlier this year. Having also restructured nearly US$16bn in debts owed to its contractors, the profit is a dramatic turnaround for the state-backed developer.
165. Wael Ghonim At the beginning of last year, Wael Ghonim was an ordinary IT executive — albeit working for arguably the decade’s most prominent firm — living in a comfortable villa in the UAE. By mid-February last year, the bespectacled 31-year-old father of two had become the face of the Egyptian revolution, which resulted in the overthrow of president Hosni Mubarak. Within a few months, TIME magazine had added him in its “Time 100” list of the 100 most influential people of 2011. Ghonim also received the JFK Profile in Courage Award and was presented the award by Caroline Kennedy, daughter of President John F. Kennedy. nSince the protests in Tahrir Square, however, the one-time revolutionary hero has had a quiet few months. Ghonim has taken a long-term sabbatical from his job at Google, and has signed a book deal. He attended an IMF meeting in late 2011, and has attracted criticism from Egyptians who argue that he is too heavily focused on economic issues, rather than political ones.
171. Farouq Al Zanki Farouk Al Zanki took on the CEO role at Kuwait’s national oil company from Saad Al Shuweib in October last year, immediately becoming the government’s point man for the country’s biggest industry. Kuwait has the fifth-largest oil reserves in the world, with petroleum products accounting for 95 percent of export revenues. As head of KPC Al Zanki oversees an empire that includes Kuwait Oil Company, and Kuwait Petroleum International. nEarlier this year, Al Zanki said the company was considering alternative ways of exporting crude if the Strait of Hormuz is closed by Iran and was looking at the possibility of exporting crude through the UAE.
174. Yazid Sabeg Born in Guelma, Algeria, the 61-year-old is best known as the president of the administrative council of the French high-technology firm SSII (CS Communication and Systems) and also a member of the French Institute of International and Strategic Relations. He joined the global ranks in 2010 when he became the latest addition to the roster of celebrity advocates who use their talent and fame to raise awareness of the work and ideals of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). He has warned that France risks becoming an apartheid state unless it brings minorities into the mainstream.
176. Abdulaziz Al Sowailim Upon graduating from King Saud University in 1986, Abdulaziz Al Sowailim joined Ernst & Young’s Riyadh office as fashion designer and head of Etoile. He has now been with the firm for more than 26 years. Al Sowailim has provided assurance, tax and business advisory services to a range of private and public sector organizations in the financial services, energy, petrochemicals, manufacturing, trading and services sectors. He is member of the Saudi Organization of Certified Public Accountants, Vice Chairman of the Saudi Accounting Association and a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (CPA).
177. Nayla Hayek When 82-year-old watch magnate Nicolas Hayek passed away two years ago, there was little doubt as to who would take over the chairmanship of Swiss giant Swatch. Sister Nayla Hayek, Swatch’s vice-chairman, had been groomed for the role since she first sat on the company’s board fifteen years ago. For many years she acted as an advisor to the firm before joining the Swatch Group in 2007. A year later, she became the CEO of the Swatch Group’s subsidiary, Tiffany Watch. nHer appointment was further endorsed when sales were up 21.7 percent last year, despite the dire economic conditions.
180. Dalia Mogahed Egyptian-born Dalia Mogahed was propelled onto the international arena when she became the first Muslim veiled woman to be appointed to a position in the White House. nMogahed was selected as an advisor to US president Barack Obama on the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighbourhood Partnerships in April 2011. She joined 25 other religious and secular representatives who report to the president on the role religion can play in resolving social problems. Mogahed also heads up research organisation the Gallup American Centre for Muslim Studies and is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on the Arab World.
181. Salma Ali Saif bin Hareb Former lab technologist Salma Hareb spent years studying for diplomas in information technology and business while also holding down a job at Dubai’s Department of Health before she decided on a change of career. In 1997 she started working as a planner for Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority (JAFZA), the operator of one of Dubai’s busiest and most important free zones. Hareb quickly moved up the ranks and in 2005 was appointed the CEO of JAFZA, as well as its parent company, Economic Zones World (EZW). “In the end we are motivated by a desire to serve our customers better,” she says.
182. Ghaith Al Ghaith One of the Middle East’s newest airlines, flydubai has made great strides since it was launched in 2009. CEO Ghaith Al Ghaith has brought modern aircraft, and has also experimented with new ideas, such as charging passengers to use seat-back entertainment screens. While the Arab Spring has hurt some sectors, Al Ghaith says the UAE is seeing additional international tourists because of the political turmoil elsewhere in the region. “Many people doubted Dubai for continuing to spend money on the development of hotels and associated tourism infrastructure at a time when people were cutting back on their travel spend,” said Al Ghaith. “But Dubai was right.” nRight now, Al Ghaith is in the process of drawing up flydubai’s future plans, which will include further destinations - with a focus on the CIS countries - along with new aircraft orders to complement its existing fleet.
185. Jacques Nasser Lebanese-Australian businessman, Jacques Nasser was nominated as the chairman of BHP Billiton, the world’s largest mining company, in August 2009, following a successful 33 year career with Ford Motor Company in which he worked in Europe, Australia, Asia, South America and the US. He rose up the ranks to become a member of the Board of Directors and president and CEO of the Ford Motor Company from 1998 to 2001. He has more than 30 years’ experience in large-scale global businesses and a decade in private equity investment. Since November 2002, he has also been a director of British Sky Broadcasting Group. In recognition of his business career, Nasser has been awarded the Order of Australia, the Ellis Island Medal of Honour and the National Order of the Cedar. He also funds several education- focused programmes that help poorer students.
186. Wadah Khanfar News in the Arab world is a matter of life and death, it is not television,” Wadah Khanfar once told Arabian Business. nHe certainly has experience in this regard as Al Jazeera’s charismatic former director general helped the Qatar-based TV channel to document the unfolding of the Arab Spring and its aftermath, with its coverage transfixing the planet. However, last year he decided to leave it all behind and focus on new challenges and there are even calls for him to enter the political arena himself. nHowever, he himself has denied this, telling Arabian Business earlier this year: “You know, I’m actually not at this moment in time excited about the issue of political involvement, although through Al Sharq Forum [his new initiative] and elsewhere, I’m now promoting it,” he says. “That political element will help people to develop, especially youth. I feel that hope in the youth is much more than anything else, because they are the people who carry the spirit of the new age and can really have much more clear thinking about how they can run their future.” He may have left Al Jazeera, but Wadah Khanfar hasn’t disappeared.
187. Nujood Ali In 2008, a ten-year-old made an appearance in a Sana’a court, demanding a divorce from her husband, a man in his 30s. Nujood Ali, whose family lived in a suburb of the Yemeni capital, undertook an arranged marriage two months previously, and was regularly beaten by her in-laws and raped by her husband. Ali escaped from her husband’s, and a local lawyer, Shada Nasser, agreed to take on the case. Ali won her case and she became a figurehead against forced marriage in the impoverished country. nShe also visited the US, where she was named one of Glamour magazine’s “Women of the Year”.
189. Fayez Sarofim Born in Egypt, Sarofim is a graduate of the University of California Berkeley and holds a Harvard MBA. He founded Fayez Sarofim & Company in 1958 and as of March 30, 2012, the firm had US$26 billion in assets under management. Divorced with five children and living in Houston, Sarofim was referred to by Forbes as “Sphinx”. He handles the investment portfolios for a wide range of clients — pension plans, foundations, endowments, and individuals. An independent entity, it currently has a team of 22 investment professionals. He has been grooming his son, Chris, to take over — or perhaps has plans to sell the entire company. His other children are well known socialites on the Texas arts and party circuit. Apart from his work in the world of finance, Sarofim is also a major contributor to the Houston Ballet and the Museum of Fine Arts. In 2006, he was rated by Forbes as one of the 500 wealthiest people in the world.
191. Syed Mokhtar Al Bukhary Born in 1952 of Yemeni descent, Syed Mokhtar Al Bukhary has risen to become one of the richest men in Malaysia, with an estimated worth of US$2.5 billion. He started out as a rice trader but Al Bukhary now holds a 52 percent share in Malaysian Mining Corporation, and has set up a philanthropic foundation. Recently, he has teamed up with Emaar chairman Mohamed Alabbar to form AMER - a mining giant that is searching for mineral wealth all over Africa. nBack at home in Malaysia, Al Bukhary’s work for underprivileged people has seen him bestowed with several major awards, including the Panglima Setia Mahkota (P.S.M.), by His Majesty Seri Paduka Baginda Yang di-Pertuan Agong. He now lives in Kuala Lumpur and has five children.
192. Mohammed Nasr Abdeen Abu Dhabi-based Union National Bank is one of the UAE’s largest lenders, with 49 locations across the country. nIt is headed by Mohammed Nasr Abdeen, who has steered the bank through the economic crisis with a conservative approach to lending. Abdeen is also vice-chairman of the bank’s new Egypt operation. The bank reported a small increase in first quarter net profit, beating Reuters’ analyst forecasts, helped by an increase in net interest income and income from Islamic financing. Net profits at the bank rose 3.2 percent to AED471.1m (US$128.26m) compared to AED456.36m in the year-ago period, UNB said in a bourse statement.
196. Talal Abu Ghazaleh Palestine native Talal Abu Ghazaleh is the chairman and founder of the eponymous Jordan-based global accounting organisation Talal Abu Ghazaleh International (TAGI). He is widely regarded as the “godfather” of the Arab accounting industry, and is credited by most in the industry with promoting the significance of intellectual property rights in business deals in the Arab world. Born in 1938, he later moved to Lebanon and then to Jordan. His first job after graduation from college was, unsurprisingly, in an auditing firm. Embarking on a career in intellectual property, he created TAGCO and Abu Ghazaleh Intellectual Property, specialising in accounting and IP.
197. Nahed Taher Dr. Nahed Taher is a leading economist and executive banker and the first female CEO of an investment bank in the GCC. Prior to co-founding Gulf One, Dr. Nahed served as chief economist and chairman of the Risk and Portfolio Management Committee at NCB in Jeddah. Prior to NCB, Dr. Nahed held the position of head of the accounting department at the King AbdulAziz University in Jeddah. She has over fifteen years of banking, academic and research experience and is also a well-known personality in the field of international economics.
202. Mohammed Shafiq Gabr Egyptian businessman and philanthropist Mohammed Shafiq Gabr is the chairman of ARTOC Group for Investment & Development - a multi-disciplined investment holding company with assets of $1.1bn, handed down by his father. He has also played a major role in a number of international organisations, including the World Bank. His company has interests in real estate, engineering, consumer products and media, and employs some 3,500 Egyptians, making Gabr one of the most well-known businessmen in the populous Arab country. As a result of his professional success, billionaire Gabr has a wealth of high profile connections both in Egypt and Washington, and is renowned in elevated circles. Outside of work, he is an art collector and keen traveler, and speaker of idiomatic American with degrees in business and economics from Cairo’s American University and the University of London.
205. Maha Al Ghunnaim Maha Al Ghunaim is chairwoman and managing director of Kuwait-based Global Investment House, and a frequent entry on the lists of the most powerful women worldwide. She came to Global from Kuwait Foreign Trading Contracting & Investment Co. (KFTCIC), the investment arm of Kuwait Investment Company, which she had joined in 1982 after receiving her BSc in Mathematics from San Francisco State University. After founding the bank in 1998 along with friends, she was promoted to chairperson some nine years later, and has since been central to the bank’s policy of winning investment into the Middle East from overseas, not to mention leading the bank through a difficult recession period. Al Ghunaim also sits on the board of several other high-profile institutions in the Middle East region, including Shurooq Investment Services Co, and NASDAQ Dubai.
207. Hitmi Al Hitmi Barwa Real Estate Company is Qatar’s largest property developer by market value. Leading the company through the highs and the lows, chairman Hitmi Al Hitmi has also become an influential businessman in the gas-rich country. Barwa has a market capitalisation of some QR11bn ($3.02bn). It employs over 600 staff, almost half of whom are Qatari nationals. While the group’s main activities are in Qatar, it also has investments and operations in thirteen other countries regionally and internationally.
208. Adeeb Al Sowailim In 2009, Adeeb Al Sowailim was listed as one of the most admired CEOs in the region. As the CEO of Falcom Financial Services, a Sharia-compliant investment bank based in Saudi Arabia, he is not just considered a hard worker, but also an opportunist and forward thinker. Established in 2007, with a paid-up capital of $267m, Falcom is the biggest of 35 newly licensed investment banks in the kingdom. In the first two years it managed to capture a market share of more than 36 percent. Al Sowailim said the bank’s success was based on spotting and filling out the gaps in investor needs and wants, be it in terms of knowledge, products or services, which led to innovations and “pioneering spirit”. His focus today is seemingly on Saudi’s plans to expand its stock market by allowing direct foreign ownership to large institutional investors, which he believes could be a big step forward for the economy.
217. Abdullah Al Othman (right) The venerable professor Abdullah Al Othman has been the leader of one of the oldest non-religious tertiary academic institutions in the kingdom since March 2007. Founded some 50 years earlier, by King Saud Bin Abdul Aziz, King Saud University (KSU) is today the most respected seat of learning in the Gulf and regularly rated as one of the top 200 universities in the world. Having previously worked as president deputy for education affairs of the Ministry of Higher Education, Al Othman has a good background in education, not to mention strong knowledge of Saudi society. He completed his MA degree in Agriculture from the University of Arizona in 1989 and earned his PhD degree from the same university in 1991. During his time at the university, he has encouraged the university to play a bigger role in people’s lives than just teaching and research. Under his leadership, KSU rolled out the first ever locally manufactured car in 2010, as well as the ambitious Riyadh Techno Valley (RTV), the first science park in the kingdom.
219. Ray Irani Ray Irani was brought to US energy giant Occidental Petroleum Corporation in 1983 to help its struggling chemicals division. Serving as a director for his first year, he was quickly promoted to chief operating officer in 1984, a position he held for six years. In recent years, the company’s achievements have also been largely attributed to Irani. The Lebanon-born businessman, whose origin is Palestine, made news in 2007 when it emerged that he received a massive compensation of around $450m in 2006, largely due to the giant leaps the firm’s stock had taken since the executive joined the company - from $9 a share to $48.60. Today, the price is around $80 and Irani continues to oversee operations. He retains close ties with region, and is currently co-chair of the board of trustees for the American University of Beirut.
220. Bahaa Hariri Geneva-based Bahaa Hariri is a key figure in the Arab world, both as a businessman and as the late Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri’s eldest son. Though he derives the majority of his wealth from investment management, the Boston University graduate also has money tied up in real estate development and logistics. His property company Horizon Development focuses on commercial projects in Jordan and Lebanon, whilst he is also a major stakeholder in Globe Express Services (Overseas Group) — ranked among the top 100 logistics providers globally. Interviewed about last year’s Arab Spring, Hariri voiced his support for pro-democracy revolutionaries, saying their demands were basic and universal, and had nothing to do with extremist movements.
221. Shehab Gargash Shehab Gargash is the CEO of the UAE’s Daman Investments, and one of the region’s most high profile bankers. Prior to founding Daman Securities in 1998, Gargash was closely involved with the UAE banking sector, and with leading multi-national and major local banking institutions. In late 2007, Daman Securities re-structured as Daman Investments PSC, a private joint stock company incorporated under UAE law. The group today is multifaceted and diverse with interests in investments, asset management, mutual funds, brokerage, real estate, venture capital and private equity.
223. Elham Qasimi As the first Arab woman and Emirati to ski to the North Pole in April 2010, the UAE’s Elham Qasimi has quickly become known for her bravery and determined attitude. In addition to her extra-curricular activities, she also has a degree in business and marketing from the American University in Dubai, and a Masters from the London School of Economics. Qasimi took off on the three-week expedition from Borneo, an ice station that floats between 88 and 89 degrees latitude, in 2010. Her journey was unassisted and unsupported, which meant she carried all of the required supplies for the entire expedition with no motorised equipment to propel her forward. On a typical day she would ski for an average of eight hours, with a ten-minute break every two hours to snack, cook her own food and pitch her own tent. Prior to her exploration, the 29 year-old worked at JP Morgan before joining the Impetus Trust as an investment manager. In order to build her physical and mental endurance for the expedition, Qasimi embarked on a high-performance training programme designed to optimise strength and power whilst enhancing agility and speed.
224. Ahmed Khalil Ahmed Khalil is just 19, but his football skills are those of someone older. Since joining Dubai’s Al Ahli club and the UAE national team, the Sharjah-based striker has proven extremely valuable to regional football, winning the award for Asian Youth Player of the Year in 2008, in addition to a number of other awards, whilst the whole time bearing the hopes of a nation on his slim shoulders. Today he is setting an example to young men around the region who are aspiring to be footballers. Dubbed “the future of the UAE” by UAE manager Srecko Katanec, Khalil continues his outstanding performance.
226. Ziad Rahbani Musical star Ziad Rahbani is the son of the composer Assi Rahbani and the Lebanese diva Fairouz. nHe continues to make the Arabian Business Power 500 given his continued popularity within the Arab world, and his ability to improve political relations with his talent. In 2008, he was invited to perform in Damascus – a move which was considered a gesture of goodwill from Syria, which shares a long and fractured history with Lebanon. Of course, Rahbani demonstrated a creative streak from an early age, when he wrote poems. Today, he has built a name for himself as an accomplished comedian, playwright, composer, singer and radio host. He was first recognised aged seventeen, when he was given the task of writing music for a theatre production in which his mother was due to play the leading role. Standing in for his ill father, the teenager composed the music to accompany the lyrics his uncle had written. His song ‘Saalouni El Nass’ (The People Asked Me) gained him international acclaim.
227. James Zogby Long-term academic James Zogby plays an important part in supporting Arab society through research and teaching. Founder of the Arab American Institute and author of Arab Voices, he has a passion for human rights and social well being, and now boasts an impressive CV which details his participation in a variety of key organisations. New York-born but with a Lebanese background, Zogby is today a senior analyst with JZ Analytics, a lecturer and scholar on Middle East issues and a Global Professor of Social Research and Public Policy at New York University Abu Dhabi. He also serves on the Human Rights Watch Middle East Advisory Committee, and he previously was a founding member of the Palestine Human Rights Campaign in 1970. James’ brother, John, is the founder of the Zogby International polling firm.
228. Abdel Bari Atwan Born in a Palestinian refugee camp in the Gaza strip just two years after the creation of Israel, Abdel Bari Atwan would never have envisaged being where he is today. Atwan’s lucky break came in 1970 when he went to university and studied journalism. Moving to Libya in 1974, he finally began work as a journalist, and it was here that his very first article appeared on the front page of Gadaffi’s favourite paper. He then did a stint in Saudi Arabia working for Al Madina and Asharq al-Awsat, before finally being sent to London. He has since been delivering caustic yet compelling commentary on Arab affairs through the London-based Al Quds Al Arabi newspaper, and has also written two books: The Secret History of Al Qaida and A Country of Words, his memoir.
230. Hany Abu Assad ‘Paradise Now’ told the story of Palestinian friends Said and Khaled who have been recruited as suicide bombers for an attack on Tel Aviv. The 2005 film, which won a Golden Globe for best Dutch film and received an Oscar-nomination for best foreign film, soon ensured director Hany Abu Assad also became well known in the industry. In 2010, he was appointed President of the Jury for the 2010 Doha Tribeca Film Festival (DTFF). His latest film, ‘The Courier’ - starring Mickey Rourke - will be released this month.
233. Ahmad Julfar Ahmad Julfar was given the role of CEO of the UAE’s biggest telecoms company in August 2011. Previously COO and general manager for Dubai operations, and an employee at the firm since 1986, Julfar has played a significant part in Etisalat’s growth over the years. He holds two degrees, one in civil engineering and one in computer science, both from the Gonzaga University in Washington. State-backed Etisalat, which operates in seventeen countries across the Middle East, Africa and Asia, made a profits of $492.79m in the first quarter, down from the year-earlier period. The former monopoly had reported declining profits in seven of the previous eight quarters. The Abu Dhabi firm’s profits have slid in the last year as rival operator du, which ended Etisalat’s domestic monopoly in 2007, won market share and internet-based phone calls hit the high-margin international calls business.
237. Kazim Al Saher Kazim Al Saher is one of the most successful singers in the Arab world, with over 100 million albums sold since the start of his career. Also a composer and a poet, in the past, he has been dubbed variously as the ‘Emperor of Arab Music’ and ‘Iraq’s Diplomatic Ambassador to the World’. Al Saher’s range of music is varied. It extends from romantic ballads and political work to pop and classical Arabic music, making him one of the most versatile artists in the Arab region. By 1999, Al Saher was one of the biggest names in Arabic music and he won a UNICEF award for his song, ‘Tathakkar’, which he performed for the US Congress and the UN.
238. Haifa Wehbe Having been on the cover of over 100 magazines, Lebanese model, actress and singer Haifa Wehbe is well known across the Arab world. She rose to fame as runner up Miss Lebanon, before releasing her debut album Houwa El Zaman in 2002. She has since released several more albums selling millions of copies across the region, and starred in films including the 2008 Pepsi-produced Sea of Stars. In 2006, she was on People magazine’s 50 most beautiful list.
241. Nadhmi Auchi Iraq-born billionaire Nadhmi Auchi is the owner and manager of a string of construction and trading companies in Iraq, and chairman of the Anglo-Arab Organisation (AAO). Residing in England as a British citizen after leaving Iraq in 1980, he is a frequent entrant on the Sunday Times Rich List for British residents, with a net worth believed to be around £1.4bn ($2.2bn), making him Britain’s 22nd wealthiest individual. His work with the AAO has involved providing donations to Pakistan after the 2005 earthquake and building schools in Morocco. He has been honoured for his services to the business community by the Queen.
242. Nihad Awad Nihad Awad is executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the largest non-profit Muslim civil rights organisation in the US. A few days after 9/11, when US president George W Bush wanted to condemn anti-Muslim acts following the terrorist attacks on the US, he choose Nihad Awad as one of the American Muslim leaders to stand next to him at a press conference in a Washington, DC mosque. Awad is known for his commitment to improving Muslim rights and relations in the US. Recently, he spoke out against instructors who reportedly taught officers that only a “total war” on Islam would protect the US.
246. Ahmed Zewail One of the Arab world’s most successful scientists, Ahmed Zewail makes the power list again. In a competitive landscape, Zewail – best known for winning the Nobel Prize for Chemistry – has also bagged the Wolf Prize in Chemistry, the Tolman Medal, and Egypt’s highest state honour, the Grand Collar of the Nile. He has been a scientific advisor to US President Barack Obama, and backed by the White House, became America’s first science envoy, visiting Muslim countries to promote the sciences.
247. Zeina Tabari After finishing her degree in finance, Zeina Tabari wanted to open a chocolate shop. Never did she expect to be working for her father’s mechanical, engineering and plumbing (MEP) specialist company. But when she was offered a three-month internship in the HR department, she took the opportunity. Before she knew it, she was offered a full-time job. Today, as chief corporate affairs officer of Drake & Scull International, Tabari heads up the company’s investor relations, and some experts in the industry have already touted her as a future boss of the entire firm. The Dubai-based company is now known as a multibillion-dollar regional powerhouse, with a market cap of AED1.81bn ($493m), 20,000 people in twelve countries. In the first quarter of this year, the firm reported net profit off AED42m, against AED69m last year.
248. Susan Youssef Susan Youssef spent a long time deciding what she wanted to do with her life, but in the end it was worth the wait. The 34 year-old film maker and director, whose film Habibi won the award for Best Arab Feature Film at the 8th Dubai International Film Festival, is now recognised around the Middle East for her talent. Youssef spent most of her early life in the US. When she finally moved to Lebanon aged 22, she began her career as a school teacher, and later then worked as a journalist at the Daily Star in Beirut. It wasn’t until she submitted a short film about her grandparents to film schools in the US that she received a scholarship from the University of Texas to pursue her dream. She has since directed several short films, and her first feature film, “Habibi Rasak Kharban” — a love story set in Gaza — has been described as a daring romantic drama with an intense, but uplifting political message.
250. Fatima Mernissi Fatima Mernissi has published several books on the position of women in the rapidly changing Muslim communities in Morocco. Born in Fes in 1940, she published the result of her first fieldwork: ‘Beyond the Veil: Male-Female Dynamics in Modern Muslim Society’ in 1975. Much of her work has been translated in many languages and is widely read in Islamic countries. In the 1990s, Mernissi stopped working on women’s issues and switched to civil society. Having studied political science at the Sorbonne and at Brandeis University, she is currently a lecturer in sociology at the University of Rabat.
254. Mohammed Al Fayed Along with his brothers, Al Fayed founded a shipping company in Egypt, moved its headquarters to Italy, and set up additional offices in London. It was then that he moved to England. In the 1960s, he met with Sheikh Rashid al Maktoum and was entrusted to help transform Dubai. In 1968, for instance, he set up the International Marine Services (IMS) in the city. Among his numerous business interests, the year 1984 saw Al Fayed and his brothers purchase a 30 percent stake in House of Fraser, a group that included Harrods. In 1985, the remaining 70 percent was bought for £615m ($946m). Harrods was eventually sold to Qatar Holdings for £1.5bn ($2.30bn). Other significant businesses for Al Fayed include the Ritz Hotel in Paris and the West London football club Fulham F.C.
255. Tarek Sultan As chairman of Agility, Tarek Sultan spearheaded the company’s expansion from a local Kuwaiti player to a large logistics firm in the Middle East. Sultan holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Williams College. He went on to pursue a Masters in Business Administration specialising in both Finance and Strategic Planning from the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to working in Agility, he was the managing director of New York Associates and an associate with Southport Partners. In 2012, Agility reported a net profit of KD7.1m ($25.4m) for the first quarter. Sultan was quoted as saying that the company was on the right track.
256. Elissa Celebrating her 40th birthday in October, Elissar Zakaria Khoury has had a fantastic journey. In fact, her eighth album is set for release this year. Simply known as Elissa, the Lebanese singer is a recipient of the World Music Award for best-selling artist in the Middle East. She has won the World Music Award accolade three times, an achievement yet to be matched by any other Lebanese performer. Elissa has recently resigned from her post as a Goodwill Ambassador to the UN, as her requests to create a program to include onsite visits to affected areas of the Arab World were ignored.
257. Marcel Khalife An exceptionally accomplished composer, singer and oud player, Marcel Khalife has the wonderful gift of being able to connect with Arabs of all ages and locations. The Lebanese-born artist uses his popularity to promote good causes. In 2005, for instance, he was named UNESCO Artist for Peace for his artistic achievement and humanitarian contributions. Khalife was famous for translating poetry into music, and for many years, he teamed up with the late Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish. In fact, his new album, ‘Fall of the Moon’, is a homage to Darwish. Khalife is scheduled to perform in Toronto this coming October at the Toronto Centre for the Arts.
260. Mohannad Sweid Mohannad Sweid is CEO and co-founder of interior contracting powerhouse, DEPA. With a career that roots back to over 25 years, Sweid built enough experience to eventually spearhead his company’s expansion to new markets. He even oversaw the acquisition of leading companies. The firm has previously won deals in various countries, including Malaysia, Syria and Angola. It recently won a further contract for work on the Baku Flame Tower project in Azerbaijan. A great accomplishment for Sweid’s company is being responsible for fitting the world tallest tower, Burj Khalifa. Prior to DEPA, Sweid served as the managing partner at Rochan Fine Arts in Saudi Arabia. Before that he worked for the Boston-based Vesti Corporation, where he overlooked the firm’s Middle East operations.
265. Alaa Al Aswany Alaa Al Aswany is one of Egypt’s most famous writers and a founding member of the political movement Kefaya. He has contributed many articles to Egyptian newspapers, ranging from literature to politics. One of his most popular novels, The Yacoubian Building, has been translated into some 30 languages. Al Aswany was one of the few prominent faces during the Egyptian revolution last year.
267. Omar Sharif A superstar to cinema audiences in the West and the East, Omar Sharif is the undisputed father of the Egyptian film scene. His most famous roles were in David Lean classics ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ and ‘Dr Zhivago’. He has been nominated for an Academy Award, won two Golden Globe Awards and was given a medal by UNESCO in recognition of his significant contributions to world film and cultural diversity. nBack in Cairo, the former bridge maestro condemned former president Hosni Mubarak in January of last year, saying “given that the entire Egyptian people don’t want him and he’s been in power 30 years, that’s enough.” He recently assigned a writer, Salwa Baker, to work on his memoirs.
270. Hassan Heikal Formerly at Goldman Sachs, Hassan Heikal joined EFG-Hermes in 1995, and became an integral part in the success of the bank, making it one of the leading investment banking franchises in the Arab world. nHe has been serving as CEO since 2007, and was previously head of the firm’s investment banking division. Under his watch, the group advised numerous clients, including Vodafone plc, PepsiCo and Pirelli, among many others. Heikal holds a degree from the Faculty of Economics and Political Science at Cairo University. EFG-Hermes has recently announced a definitive agreement with Qinvest, involving EFG Hermes’ Brokerage, Research, Asset Management, Investment Banking and Infrastructure Fund businesses. The transaction is considered one of the largest foreign direct investments in Egypt since the 25 January Revolution. However, last month Heikal was indicted on corruption charges, alongside his co-CEO.
271. Khalid Al Kaf Although an engineer by trade, Khalid Al Kaf appears to be just as much a businessman at heart, as he runs Etihad Etisalat, or Mobily, Saudi Arabia’s second telecoms firm. Mobily attracted eleven million subscribers after its first two and half years of operations, representing a 40 percent market share. The company turned a profit after less than two years. In February, Mobily, an affiliate of UAE’s Etisalat, signed a SR10bn ($2.67bn) sharia-compliant loan refinancing with seven local banks to increase revenues and invest in its broadband and data services business. In April, the company reported a 21 percent rise in the first quarter net profit.
272. Rachid Bouchareb Rachid Bouchareb has been nominated three times for an Oscar. The French-born film director, who is of Algerian descent, has a global following due to films such as, ‘Dust of Life’, ‘Days of Glory’, and ‘Outside the Law’. Bouchareb’s Paris-based company Tessalit is set to produce “Affaire etrangeres” (Foreign Affairs), a political thriller steered by Lebanese director Ziad Doueiri.
275. Ayman Sahli Ayman Sahli joined Gulf Pharmaceuticals Industries Julphar in 2008 as general manager. But, having excelled in leading the company and strengthening its operations through networking with various countries and their respective pharmaceuticals markets, Sahli was appointed as CEO. He is a holder of a doctorate in chemistry and specialises in pharmaceutical research and manufacturing. All efforts have placed Julphar on the podium, as the Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Business Award for the best company in the industry sector, was collected. This year, the company announced plans to begin work on three plants worth over $70m.
277. Badr Jafar The Eton College and Cambridge University Graduate, Badr Jafar, has certainly inked a name for himself. Apart from serving as president of Crescent Petroleum, chairman of Pearl petroleum and of Gas Cities LLC, Jafar is leading a varied group of pioneering companies in his role as CEO of Crescent Enterprises. That is not where the list concludes. In fact, Jafar tends to be active in different industries, both regionally and internationally, including aviation, shipping, real estate and private equity. Jafar was recently honoured as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum.
280. Naguib Sawiris Egyptian-born Naguib Sawiris was executive chairman of the telecommunications companies Wind Telecom and Orasco Telecom Holding (OTH) before turning to politics in May 2011. The firm launched Mobinil, Egypt’s first mobile operator in 1998. OTH has 20,000 employees and manages eleven GSM operators around the globe. In the beginning, OTH’s strategy was to target underpenetrated high population markets. However, soon after it started to pursue more developed markets with the launch of Wind Mobile by its Globalive subsidiary in Canada in 2009.
282. Marwan Bin Ghalaita Marwan Bin Ghalaita has had much to deal with in the past year. The jury is still out on whether the emirate’s property market has turned around but even the lower level of activity hasn’t diminished his workload. Last year RERA was at the centre of a row in Dubai after Nakheel banned several hundred residents from using its beaches on the Palm Jumeirah due to unpaid service charges. RERA suddenly found itself in the middle of a complex legal dispute that is still on-going. Nevertheless, under Bin Ghalaita’s leadership, RERA has been credited for several new initiatives such as publishing rental price bands for each area of Dubai.
284. Ahmed Heikal Before establishing Egyptian private equity firm Citadel Capital, Ahmed Heikal served as an executive board member and managing director of EFG-Hermes, a firm he helped transform from a small financial consultancy into one of the leading investment banks in the Arab world. Private equity firm Citadel Capital has ninteen Opportunity-Specific Funds control platform companies with investments of $9.5bn in fifteen industries including energy, mining, agrifoods, cement, transportation and retail. Since its founding in 2004, the firm has returned $2.2bn in cash to its co-investors — more than any other MEA private equity firm.
286. Sayed Badreya Egyptian-born filmmaker and actor Sayed Badreya always wanted to be a star. His dream came true when he won roles in major Hollywood films such as The Insider, Three Kings, and Independence Day. nAfter attending New York University film school, he moved to Hollywood and worked in the film industry, first as an assistant to actor/director Anthony Perkins, then with director James Cameron on True Lies. Today, he runs his production company, Zoom In Focus, and is this year set to star in the Sacha Baron Cohen film, The Dictator.
288. Eng Hani Azir Engineer Hani Azer is the architect behind Europe’s largest train station in Berlin, Germany, completed in 2006. Much more than a train station, the $700m Berlin Hauptbahnhof is a tourist attraction, with over 80 shops in the terminal and a featured outdoor beach. He was voted 13th among the top 50 Berliners in 2006. Prior to his achievement, Azer headed the construction of the tunnel beneath Berlin’s Tiergarten. nIn 2006, Azer received one of Berlin’s most respected distinctions — the Merit of the State of Berlin — for outstanding service to the state. Azer graduated from the Faculty of Engineering from Ain Shams University, before relocating to Germany to study civil engineering in 1973.
289. Dr Karim El Solh Karim El Solh is co-founder and CEO of Gulf Capital, one of the largest Middle Eastern private equity firms, established with a capital base of $330m. El Solh holds a bachelors degree in civil engineering from Cornell University, an MBA from Georgetown University, a Ph.D. in economics from the Institute D’Etudes Politiques de Paris and a Certified Management Accountant diploma.
291. Ahmed Al Shugairi Ahmed Al Shugairi has successfully attracted a large number of followers across the globe, allowing him to fuel a religious revival among the multitudes that admire him. Despite an absence of formal Islamic training, Al Shugairi has created a balanced understanding of Islam after reading old and traditional Islamic books as a student at a university in California. He is famous for his series titled “Khawater” (Thoughts), in which he tackles social issues in a bid to create balanced Muslims.
293. Mohammed Saeed Harib Mohammed Saeed Harib was just 19-years old when he wrote Freej, a six-page study book. In 2003 the Emirati got his first big break after Freej was adopted by Media City, who translated it to screen with funding from the Mohammed Bin Rashid Establishment for Young Business Leaders. The show, which features four elderly national ladies living in a rapidly evolving Dubai, premiered in 2006, a year after Lammtara Picture was established to oversee its production. With the show’s success, many doors have opened for Harib. In February, it was announced that Harib will contribute to the film adaptation of Gibran’s The Prophet. He also recently directed Freej Folklore, the largest Arabic theatrical production in the region.
299. Ahmed Meshari (right) Ahmed Meshari is the acting CEO of Qatar Investment Bank (QIB) and has over fifteen years of experience in the banking sector. The Qatari national holds a Bachelor degree in banking and finance from the University of Kuwait and an MBA from the University of Ottawa. Earlier this year, QIB signed a deal with Middle East Dredging Company (MEDCO), showing that the bank is capable of providing Islamic financing solutions to large companies with large projects.
300. Khalid Khalban Khalid Kalban serves as the CEO of Dubai Investments, a conglomerate that invests in viable and profitable entities. He is a well-known businessman in the UAE thanks to his broad experience in various fields including industrial, to financial and investment sectors. Kalban holds significant posts including member of the board of directors of Emirates Bank International, Emirates International Brokerage LLC, Saudi International Petrochemical Company, Arab Insurance Group, Dumoco LLC and Thuraya Satellite Communications-Telecommunications Company. He holds a degree in Business Management from Arapahoe Community College, USA. In 2012, Dubai investments reported a net profit of $29.3m for the first-quarter, a 6.3 percent rise from the previous year.
304. Sulaf Fawakherji Sulaf Fawakherji is perhaps Syria’s most popular television and film actress.
305. Adel Taraabt A dynamic playmaker, Adel Taraabt is central to the fortunes of London club Queens Park Rangers.
306. Hamad Rashid Al Mohannadi Hamid Rashid Al Mohannadis firm is the second-biggest gas producer in Qatar.
307. Atif Abdulmalik Despite a tough year for the bank, Abdulmalik will be working hard to bring it back to profitability.
309. Abdul Mohsen Al Hokair Al Hokair has built up a huge retail and family entertainment empire from his base in Saudi Arabia.
310. Adunis Arts & Entertainment tAdunis is one of the Arab worlds foremost essayists, poets and thinkers.
318. Alvaro Saieh Alvaro Saieh, who has Palestinian ancestry, is one of Chiles most influential businessmen.
322. Mika The Beirut-born singers portfolio has waned since his second album was released in 2009.
323. Abdul Majid Al Fahim Despite delays, the Dubai Pearl project will be one of the emirates most impressive when completed.
324. Karl Wolf Rapper Karl Wolf has moved from headlining to mentoring young talent.
333. George Nasra George Nasra heads up one of Dohas most prominent lenders.
335. Paul Doany Former CEO of Turk Telekom — the Turkish incumbent — Paul Doany oversaw Oger nTelecom until last year. He has since set up his own company, focusing on "diversified investments" in internet and IT, as well as geothermal energy.
341. Thoraya Ahmed Obaid Thoraya Obaid was the first Saudi national to be appointed head of a UN agency, when she took on her current role at the UN Population Fund.
343. Ahdaf Soueif Ahdaf Soueifs latest book documents the events that took place in Tahrir Square last year.
345. Wedad Lootah Wedad Lootah has earned high praise through her efforts to solve sexual problems between couples.
348. Issa Salam Abu Issa Abu Issa is secretary general of the Qatari Businessmens Assocation and runs a large family business.
349. Tarek Hassan Amer Tarek Amer heads up by far the largest of Egypts banks.
351. Mohammed Bakri One of the most famous homegrown film directors in the region, Bakri focuses his work on the internal struggles of the Palestinian people.
353. Hanan Ashrawi Politician and activist Ashrawi is a leading proponent of Palestinian statehood.
355. Haifa Al Kaylani Haifa Al Kaylani is a top advocator both of womens rights and female employment issues in the region.
357. Nasser Al Attiyah Qatars Nasser Al Attiyah is a rally driver and top-level marksman. He won the Dakar Rally last year.
358. Emad Makiya Despite the unrest, Makiya has built the Zain division into Iraqs biggest telco.
356. Nasser Saidi Nasser Saidi is recognised as one of the Gulfs foremost economists and forecasters.
359. Hisham Melhem Top journalist Hisham Al Melhem has many interview scalps - including that of Barack Obama.
362. Abdel Qader Al Rais Possibly the most famous artist in the UAE, self-taught Al Rais has exhibited his work around the world.
364. Hilarion Capucci Now 90, Capucci was on the Mavi Mamara — the ship that was stormed by Israeli forces during the Gaza-bound freedom flotilla in 2010.
366. Nawal Al Saadawi Feminist and author Nawal Al Saadawi was active during last years revolution, despite being aged 80.
367. Daoud Kattab Founder of the first internet radio station in the region, Kattab has focused on the production of alternative media.
372. Zahi Hawwas A modern-day Indiana Jones, Zahi Hawwas is a regular fixture at Egypts archaeological digs.
374. Bahaa Taher Taher won the first International Prize for Arabic Fiction in 2008, with Sunset Oasis.
379. Ahmed Mansour Mansour made his name by leading the only team to report from the battle of Fallujah during 2004.
380. Abdullah Al Najjar (right) Al Najjar oversaw the development of the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha.
382. Mo Ibrahim Mo Ibrahim built African telco giant Celtel, and donates much of his considerable wealth to good causes.
383. Sinan Al Shabibi As the Iraqi economy emerges, Sinan Al Shabibi will need to keep a close eye on monetary policy.
388. Leila Ahmed Feminist Leila Ahmed is the first womens studies professor at Harvard Divinity School.
389. Ahmed Al Omran Ahmed Al Omran - or Saudi Jeans - has been courted by many top news channels for his expert comment.
392. Ghassan Massoud Ghassan Massoud is an accomplished film actor, playing roles on both sides of the Atlantic.
401. Hiam Abbass Actor, Palestine
402. Talal Al Zain CEO, Mumtalakat
406. Khadija Ben Ghanna Presenter, Al Jazeera
408 Samih Toukan Chairman, Jabbar Internet Group
410 Ahmed Helmy Actor, Egypt
412 Essa Kazim CEO, Dubai Financial Market
418 Majid Bougherra Footballer, Algeria
419 Zahi Wehbe Poet, Lebanon
420 Liana Badr Author, Palestine
422 Octavia Nasr Journalist, CNN
423 Rabih Abou Khalil Musician, Germany (Lebanon)
424 Ghanim Bin Saad Al Saad Founder, GSSG Holdings, Qatar
427 Saber Rebai Singer, Tunisia
428 Adel Mustafawi CEO, Masraf Al Rayan, Qatar
429 Antoun Sehnaoui Chairman, Société Générale de Banque au Liban, Lebanon
430 Rajaa Al Sanea Author, US (Saudi Arabia)
433 Hussein al Jasmi Singer, UAE
434 Walid Attalah Designer, UAE (Lebanon)
435 Manal Omar Activist, author, Iraq
436 Hala Jaber Journalist, UK (Lebanon)
439 Raja Shehadeh Author, Palestine
441 Akram Miknas
442 Leila Aboulela
443 Elias Khoury
444 Tayem Hassan
446 Hazem Al Masri
447 Majida Al Roumi Singer, Lebanon
448 Seraj Al Baker CEO, Mazaya Qatar
449 Samir Gibara Former chairman, Goodyear
450 Reem Acra Designer, US (Lebanon)
455 Sulafa Memar Actor, Syria
456 Adnan Al Musallam Chairman, Investment Dar
457 Muhammad Ghannam Managing director, Nakilat
458 Ramzi Raad Founder, TBW/RAAD
461 Mustafa El Sayed Scientist, US (Egypt)
463 Jamel Debbouze Actor, France (Morocco)
466 Muhammed Ahmed Faris Astronaut, Syria
468 Said Taghmaoui Actor, France (Morocco)
469 Lubna Azabal Actor, Belgium (Morocco
470 Yasser Al Qahtani Footballer, Saudi Arabia
474 Rabea Ataya CEO, bayt.com, UAE (Lebanon)
477 Hussein Al Qemzi Group CEO, Noor Islamic Bank, UAE
478 Azzedine Alaia Designer, France (Tunisia)
481 Tony Kanaan Race car driver, Brazil (Lebanon)
482 Gilberto Kassab Mayor, Sao Paulo, Brazil (Lebanon)
486 Ismail Ahmed Ismail Athlete, Sudan
487 Suheir Hammad Poet, US (Palestine)
489 Mohammed Baloola Scientist, UAE (Sudan)
91 Hend Sabri Actor, Tunisia
493 Gad Elmaleh Comedian, France (Morocco)
495 Aref Ali Nayed Founder and director, Kalam Research & Media, Jordan (Libya)