The past year has seen many companies rebound from what has undoubtedly been a tough time for the global economy. Adding to the Eurozone crisis and the fear of a fiscal cliff in the US has been upheaval in many parts of the Arab world. A tough geopolitical environment naturally makes it hard to do business, but as the 2012 Arabian Business Achievement Awards show, there are still some stellar contenders in the region.
The Gulf, in particular, is rebounding well from the economic slowdown, with strong GDP growth forecast in most countries. That growth is being driven by strong government spending, but it is also being helped by some excellent corporate performances. From industry and media, to real estate and construction, Gulf firms are bouncing back.
Over the next few pages, we bring the best in entrepreneurial and management talent that this region has to offer. So who took the trophies? Turn the page to find out more.
Fastest Growing Company of the Year
Al Adil Trading
Our judges were hugely impressed on the number of companies forecasting double-digit growth for 2012. But one company stood head and shoulders above the rest. Al Adil Trading, led by managing director Dr Dhananjay Datar, first started trading in 1984 as a tiny grocery store in Dubai selling Indian spices. It quickly created a niche market, and began exporting across the GCC. But in the last year it has really taken off — having grown to 22 outlets in the UAE alone, it has opened its own manufacturing plant in Al Quoz — and seen a staggering 40 percent rise in revenues to AED500m this year alone.
Investment Company of the Year
When it comes to big investments in 2012, there have been few better examples than Gulf Capital: a strategic stake in Jordan’s Med Ray, an investment in Turkey’s Orion Group, a huge stake in the Reach Group, and a $500m new funding facility for acquisitions this year alone. Led by Dr Karim El Solh, it has poured nearly $300m in the Saudi property market since the start of this year. Impressive stuff for a company only formed five years ago, and which is already one of the most heavily capitalised investment firms in the Gulf.
Construction Company of the Year
Consolidated Contractors Company
The winner in this heavily contested category is already something of a legend in the industry, being active in 40 countries and with 80,000 employees across the world. Right now, Consolidated Contractors Company — which is led by chairman Said Khoury — is working on some of the biggest projects in the region, including New Doha International Airport, the redevelopment of King Abdulaziz Airport in Jeddah, and the Khalifa Port and Industrial Zone in Abu Dhabi. This year it continued its remarkable story by being appointed as one of the main contractors for the new Midfield Terminal Building in Abu Dhabi Airport, one of the biggest construction projects anywhere on the planet.
Retail Company of the Year
This category was another tough one for the judges. There were outstanding performances this year from the Landmark Group and Saudi Arabia’s Fawaz Alhokair. It came down to a split decision, but in the end, our judges went for Paris Group, which has continued to increase revenues and profits this year — it now has over 250 boutiques, and an incredible 3,300 staff in the UAE alone. Headed up by president Abdulkader Sankari, its franchise division, through partnerships with well-known brands such as Versace and Hugo Boss — keeps on growing, and its food and beverage division, including the Art Café, have had a phenomenal year.
Small Business of the Year
Sugar Daddy’s Bakery
How can you judge this category? Is it the number of employees, is it growth, is it profits? In the end, our judges felt the winner should be someone who has succeeded with a truly original idea. Well, back in 2007, Sugar Daddy’s raised just $180,000 to start the region’s first cupcakes shop in Jordan. The company soon started a global craze, which has resulted in the company expanding across the region, and it is now selling more than a 1,000 cakes a day in Jordan alone.
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