By Jo Anne Bladd
It’s a mammoth task to name and rank the world’s most powerful Arabs. Here’s how we did it
How do you define power? There is of course no scientific measure, and for the purpose of this list, we have based it as far as possible on influence: the more people you can or have influenced, the more powerful you are.
Our team of researchers began collected the initial database of names for the Power 500 six months ago. We looked at the influence of Arabs in every sector: from the business world, media, entertainment, sports, science, arts and academia. And we left no country untouched, from Vietnam to Venezuela, looking at the work of Arabs across the globe. We have looked at every possible source of information, from well known public company disclosures to academic reports laying out new scientific breakthroughs and the people behind them.
Some of the names are obvious – heads of massive global empires, such as Prince Alwaleed and Emaar’s Mohammed Alabbar, are clearly both influential and inspirational people. Others less so: scientists working on radical new medical procedures, artists whose work has influenced so many, philanthropists, bloggers with huge followings – and even the influence of Nujood Ali, the Yemeni child bride who Hillary Clinton went as far as to describe as a “hero to the Arab world.”
In January this year, our provisional list came to 1,398 names, from which we refined it to 750. After that, in February this year, following three meetings, our editorial team agreed on the final selection of the Power 500.
So how did we rank the Power 500? Clearly this is subjective and a matter of debate. By in large, those on the list are high achievers in their field. At the start of March this year, key members of our editorial team met on Floor 153 of the Burj Khalifa [watch video] to debate the placings of the top 100 names. For those ranked 11-100, these were done by debate.
For the top ten, having agreed the names, we used a closed voting system to decide the rankings: each name was given between 1-10 points by our team (10 points for top place, 1 point for 10 place). Prince Alwaleed received the highest points, and was therefore ranked first in the Power 500.
As we state every year, this list is entirely subjective and based on the opinions of our researchers. While no doubt many will disagree or argue with the rankings, we hope that above all the Power 500 is a celebration of Arab influence on the global arena.