An honour to be there

The Arab business world’s A-list converged on the Emirates Palace to witness the most prestigious award in the Middle East.
An honour to be there
James Bennett
By James Bennett
Sun 17 Dec 2006 04:00 AM

I think you’ll agree after reading our coverage of this year’s sixth annual prestigious Arabian Business achievement awards 2006 that the winners were some of the most deserving and progressive in the Arab business community. Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan with the awards presented on his behalf by His Highness Sheikh Hamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Department of Planning & Economy of Abu Dhabi, some particularly high achieving companies and individuals stood out.

Tawhid Abdullah, managing director of UAE-based Damas Jewellery was honoured as businessman of the year. The business, which will incredibly celebrate its centenary next year, has seen outstanding success in 2006. Saudi Arabia’s Dr Nahed Taher, the first ever-female CEO of a Gulf bank has received a number of awards throughout 2006 and finished the year off in style picking up the gong for businesswoman of the year. Her rise to the top has been dramatic and more than deserved and she now ranks as one of the most powerful Arab women in the world alongside Queen Rania of Jordan, Lubna Al-Olayan, CEO of Riyadh-based Olayan Financing Company and Maha Al-Ghunaim, vice chair and managing director of Global Investment House. Taher, however, told me that her Arabian Business achievement award meant more to her “than any other” and that it was reassuring to know that her personal vision was appreciated by policy makers, politicians and economic analysts.

My personal highlight of the evening however, came when the award for outstanding contribution to Middle East development was handed posthumously to the late Rafik Hariri, former Prime Minister of Lebanon. As soon as his name was announced and one of his sons, Sheikh Fahad Hariri, collected the award on his behalf, the ballroom erupted into a huge round of loud and long ringing applause. The ceremony crowd were truly moved. Wearing a picture of his late father on his lapel, Fahad told me that he was hugely honoured to receive the award and that it was something his father would have been very proud of. “Throughout his life he did everything he could to improve the way of life in the region — be it through his work in business or politics. I hope that we can carry on the work he started,” he said. A great event with some great winners and we’re already looking forward to 2007.

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