Kuwait's leading entrepreneurs and CEOs were honoured at the at Arabian Business Achievement Awards, which took place at Jumeirah Messilah Beach Hotel on May 6.
The sixteen winners revealed the diversity of Kuwait's business environment, with entrepreneurs, family heads, corporate CEOs and successful women all scooping the top honours.
Three awards for Kuwait's financial sector included Al Ahli Bank of Kuwait (ABK), which won Bank of the Year. ABK reported a 18 percent rise in net profits for Q1 2018. Abdullah Al Sumait, Deputy Chief General Manager, and Fawzy Althunayan, General Manager of Board Affairs, who collected the award, said this was down to "a clear vision" and "working as a team across the company".
Also in finance, PayTabs won Fintech Company of the Year. Established in 2014 by Saudi entrepreneur, Abdul Aziz Al Jouf, PayTabs processes payments securely and efficiently and has gained great traction in Kuwait.
Bukhamseen Group won the Financial Services Company of the Year award. This diversified group of companies started off more than half a century ago, growing from a family business to a fully-fledged institution with interests in several economic sectors.
The awards reflected a more positive economic outlook in Kuwait. Ratings agency S&P has said that Kuwait’s economy will likely return to growth in 2018 after a difficult past 12 months. It reaffirmed a rating of AA/A-1+ and stated that the country is stable.
Like many oil-producing countries, 2017 was a challenging year for Kuwait. S&P’s report outlined how Kuwait’s economy remains “undiversified” because it derives about 60 percent of its GDP, more than 90 percent of exports, and about 90 percent of fiscal receipts from hydrocarbon products. As a result, its gross domestic product fell by 2.3 percent over the year as oil prices remained underweight.
However, the picture for 2018 is more positive, with S&P predicting a 2.5 percent growth in 2018 as energy prices rise and oil production starts to climb moving int0 2019.
That positivity was also reflected in the diversity of other winners who point the way to a more diverse future for Kuwait's economy.
The Innovation Award was won by Carriage, a game-changing start-up that introduced the on-demand economy to Kuwait in 2016, through a technology platform for everything from food, flowers, serviced by its own delivery fleet.
Gastronomica, a leading restaurant operator of original upscale dining concepts, that has expanded throughout the Gulf, won Fast Growing Business of the Year.
Al Arfaj Group chairperson: Noura Al Arfaj won the business excellence award for how she has diversified the family business away from its traditional roots.
Kuwait's successful track record of female business leaders was reflected in the awards. As well as recognition for Noura Al Arfaj's work, Farah Al Babtain won the Outstanding Contribution to Fashion Award for her role as Creative Director at GroupXen.
Asil Attar CEO of Al Yasra Fashion won Female CEO of the Year for her role in developing Kuwait's fashion retail sector.
Al Arfaj Group also featured in the final honour of the evening, as Saud Alarfaj was recognised for the Lifetime Achievment Award.
The family-run business, which has been helping shape Kuwait for the past 57 years, has for many years been headed up by a man who has done so much to catapult the business into the modern era.
He has said: “Today, like the familiar national flower, the Al Arfaj Group flourishes in Kuwait, and provides a steady and cherished path to satisfaction and success for all who seek our knowledge, resources, and solutions. In the spirit of developing a mutually beneficial partnership, I welcome you to Al Arfaj Group.”
His victory was a fitting end to a night that showcased celebrated the past present and future of Kuwait's achievements in business.
Outstanding Contribution to Fashion
Farah Al Babtain, GroupXen
Outstanding Contribution to Design
Fast Growing Business of the Year
Integrated Holding Company
Aviation Company of the Year
Financial Services Company of the Year
Corporate Communications Company of the Year
Business Excellence award
Noura Al Arfaj, Al Arfaj Group
Best Communication & Social Media Offices – Government Sector
Ministry of Finance
Fintech Company of the Year
Telecoms Company of the Year
Female CEO of the Year
Bank of the Year
Al Ahli Bank of Kuwait
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