Last week’s announcement that a number of Dubai-based lenders were being downgraded by ratings agency Moody’s has put a slight dent in what has been an optimistic year for the emirate. One of those banks - Mashreqbank is the cornerstone of Abdulaziz Al Ghurair’s business empire, and despite last week’s blip, the lender is in good hands. 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.
Abdulaziz is also one of the founders of the property giant Emaar, and is a former speaker of the UAE’s Federal National Council. 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. Ahmad Al Ghurair passed on his legacy to his sons Saif, Abdulla, Majid, Marwan and Jomaa. Until the 1990s Al Ghurair Group was led by Saif Ahmad Al Ghurair. This corporation was formed in 1960. In the 1990s, Saif Ahmad Al Ghurair and Abdulla Al Ghurair embarked upon creating two unique yet complementing diversified industrial groups. This decision led to the creation of Saif Ahmad Al Ghurair Group (now the Al Ghurair Group) and Abdulla Al Ghurair Group.