100 Most Powerful Arabs Under 40
Hashim Shawa

Hashim Shawa

Industry: Banking and finance

Company: Bank of Palestine

Designation: Chairman and General Manager

Country: Palestine

Country of origin: @bankofpalestine

Age: 39

It was under difficult circumstances that Hashim Shawa took over the reins of his family bank. Aged 31 in 2007, succession plans were immediately fast-forwarded after the death of Shawa’s father. Gaza, where 20 percent of Bank of Palestine’s retail operations are generated, was enduring yet another conflict with Israel and the world was about to fall into the global financial crisis.

But eight years on and the Bank of Palestine, under Shawa’s guidance, has become the second-largest private sector employer in Palestine, with 1,300 employees across 54 branches. The bank is expected to post a record profit for 2014 when its results are released in April. Profit during the first three quarters of last year amounted to $27.6m, despite being forced to close its Gaza branches during the area’s seven-week war with Israel in July-August.

Shawa established his banking career with global leaders Citibank and HSBC, working in various European countries. Prior to returning to Palestine, he was director of HSBC Switzerland’s Middle East and North Africa business, with responsibility for developing the company’s private banking business in the Gulf and establish HSBC’s onshore presence in Kuwait.

Shawa also serves as chairman or on the board of several other financial firms and is a member of the Emerging Markets Advisory Council at the International Institute of Finance Washington, DC.