Putting together a list of the world’s most powerful Arabs is a complex – and no doubt controversial – task.
Our starting point is the rules: firstly we do not include any royals on the list, unless we deem their influence to be specifically through business or other activities that they have personally led/started in their own right. For example, we deem Saudi Arabia’s Prince Alwaleed to be a largely successful and self-made businessman, regardless of his royal position. The same goes for Najib Mikati; while he is currently prime minister of Lebanon, he is ranked on our list due to his tremendous success as an entrepreneur.
Second, we do not include any politicians in the list – again with the exception of individuals who we believe command great influence through wider work, such as Sheikha Lubna.
Our third rule is we consider Arabs from every single country, not only the Arab world. So, for example, many American-Arabs are on the list because of their Lebanese descent.
Our fourth and final rule is we consider Arabs from every single sector of society, not just business.
In January this year we began collating information of the work of Arabs carried out starting from June 2012 (when the last list was produced). Our initial shortlist comprised of 1,960 names. In simple terms, we define power as influence – the more people you influence, the more powerful you are. This can be done through, for example, having thousands of employees or being responsible for billions of dollars of projects. This can also be done by being involved in projects that are or have the potential to influence many people (in particular, scientists and doctors). We also take into account other fields such as sports, arts and entertainment, where individuals can attract huge followings. In many of these areas, we look closely at other measures such as their prominence through social media.
The first shortlist of 1,960 names was reduced to 1,000 in January this year, and the final 500 selected in February. Fourteen separate members of our editorial team were involved in the selection of the final 500 names, which each member making suggestions on their rankings.
For the top ten places, the exact positions were determined by a closed voting system whereby each member of the team awarded points to each of the ten names (10 points for top place, 9 points for second place etc).
Prince Alwaleed received the highest number of points and was therefore selected in top position.