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Thu 1 Nov 2007 04:00 AM

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CEO 2007 awards

The end of October saw CEO Middle East celebrate our very first annual awards. From the hundreds of online nominations that we received the panel of judges whittled down the list to select, after much careful consideration, the winners of each of the 15 categories.

The end of October saw CEO Middle East celebrate our very first annual awards. From the hundreds of online nominations that we received the panel of judges whittled down the list to select, after much careful consideration, the winners of each of the 15 categories. The competition was so intense however that for one field, Corporate Social Responsibility, we found ourselves unable to choose between the finalists and selected three, very deserving, personalities for the accolade.

The evening was a complete success with every seat taken as over 200 of the region's top business leaders gathered for a gala dinner to celebrate the winners' achievements - and enjoy an unparalleled networking opportunity!

Her Highness Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi presided over the event, delivering an insightful keynote speech on the economic progress that the GCC continues to enjoy and the future prospects for regional businesses, and graciously presenting the winners' trophies.

With such a strong showing of leadership talent, we at CEO Middle East are already looking forward to the industry developments of the next twelve months and the chance to come together again next year to recognise the driving forces behind the successes.

Business is fuelled, quite literally, by the energy sector. Without the efforts of companies in this industry, economies would fail. This award recognises the hard work and successes of CEOs in this crowded section of the Middle East economy.

Name:Yahya Lootah
Title:Vice Chairman, S.S. Lootah International
Length of time in position:10 years
Core values:Our unique entrepreneurial spirit along with our equitable and valued long-term relationships with our stakeholders drives our success.


Eng. Lootah is a Dubai-born entrepreneur who started his career at the tender age of 15 as an assistant to site engineers with the S.S. Lootah Contracting Company. Having discovered his passion for architecture and engineering under the guidance of his father, Eng. Lootah undertook a higher certificate in civil architectural engineering.

He boasts an MSc in Engineering from the University of Bridgeport and now concerns himself with management and strategic decisions as well as forging key business partnerships and ventures.

In addition to his position with the S.S. Lootah Group, Eng. Lootah participates in the Board of Dubai Co-operative Society and other joint-venture Boards. This spirit of co-operation was cemented when he conceived S.S. Lootah International in 1997 to facilitate partnerships and cooperation with similar multi-national companies.

In his spare time, Eng. Lootah enjoys a number of sports, such as flying, hunting, boating, fishing and diving. He has ambitions of learning to skydive in the future.

S.S. Lootah Group was established in 1958 in Dubai and has gone on to diversify internationally across a number of sectors. The founder and chairman of the group, Haj Saeed Bin Ahmed Al Lootah, has constantly demonstrated an entrepreneurial spirit from launching the first medical college and construction company in the UAE to founding the very first Islamic bank. Their sectors of influence now include construction, real estate, energy, financial services, applied research, education and healthcare under the able leadership of second generation Eng. Lootah.

Specifically in the gas division, the group has developed a strong market position as the leading provider of distribution infrastructure with an international reach to activities stretching as far as Tanzania, Turkey and Oman.


"We would like to thank the readers of the CEO Middle East magazine for selecting S.S. Lootah International as the winner in the energy category in the CEO Middle east Awards, 2007. Media outlets play a pivotal role in sparking a dialogue between business leaders, government officials and many concerned stakeholders in the communities where we operate. We are fortunate to have ITP in our region and its editorial and reporting, in giving voice to concerns and solutions, plays a crucial role in helping the government and industry leaders in the region to access knowledge that help them make better and informed decisions."


Investment services are a growing industry sector in the Middle East at present. In recognition of the increasingly competitive nature of this segment, this award goes to the CEO who has overseen the best strategic growth over the past year.

Name:Maha Al Ghunaim
Title:Chairperson and MD, Global Investment House
Length of time in position:6 years
Best piece of advice:Dream big, plan ahead, work with passion and build an influential network of individuals.


Maha Al Ghunaim has considerable experience in the finance and investment fields. Her mathematical mind ably prepared her for the role and won her a BSc in Mathematics from San Francisco State University. After graduating, Al Ghunaim went on to work in management and strategy in a number of large Kuwaiti corporations. Starting work with Kuwait Foreign Trading Contracting & Investment Co. (KFTCIC) in 1982, she was promoted to head of the portfolio management department after just 8 years.

Over the years Al Ghunaim has sat on the board of countless investment funds across the Middle East. It was not until 1998 that she decided to strike out and found Global Investment House, the success of which has been shown here.

The variety of supplementary positions that she currently holds are: Board Member of the National Industries Group (NIG) and BankMuscat International (Bahrain), Vice Chairman of Al-Soor Finance Co., Chairman of Global Bahrain, Vice Chairman of Shurooq Investment Services Co. (Oman), Member of DEPA United Group in the UAE and Head of the Kuwait Forum of Young Arab Leaders. The significant amount of influence that she holds through these positions has led to her place at number 96 on the Forbes List of Most Powerful Women 2006.

Founded by licence of the Central Bank of Kuwait, the company seeks to promote investment opportunities across the Gulf, enticing foreign direct investment through expert financial manipulation.

Designed as a service for both local and international clients, the company aims to develop and market high quality, value added, consumer-preferred financial products and services that exceed client expectations. Working under the business philosophy of building distinguished relationships with clients, business partners, shareholders, and staff based on professionalism and trust.

Global Investment House has successfully grown to an organisation that now manages over over US$5bn of assets with healthy projections for future growth.


"I would like to thanks Her Excellency Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi for presenting the award and of course to extend my sincere appreciation to CEO ME Magazine for this prestigious recognition. It took almost ten years of hard, honest work and professionalism by Global to implement our vision to become the leading investment bank in the region and help develop the capital market in the region by introducing world-class financial products and tools."

Female CEO

Women are seldom seen in Chief Executive roles, both here in the Gulf and in the wider world. This award honours the female CEO who has achieved the most success since acceding to the role.

Name:Safa Al Hashem
Title:Chairperson and MD, Advantage Consulting
Length of time in position:N/A
Core values:Adding value, value for money, drive to deliver, realistic assessment, absolute responsibility.


Safa Hashem has enjoyed an illustrious career spanning 22 years so far. Now one of the highest profile female executives in the GCC, she has worked with executives across many fields to turn business strategies into more manageable objectives as well as guiding their conflict resolution.

Specialising in organization development and strategy building, she has experience in working with executives to establish business strategies. She has consistently used best practices to translate business strategies into attainable objectives at a micro-level.

Aside from her credible professional experience, Al Hashem has an impressive academic record, having graduated from Kuwait University in English Literature and gone on to complete an MBA at the University of Southern California. She is also a prolific speaker, recognised by the government and the business community as a leading voice on business and social issues. She has travelled extensively and is fluent in English, and Arabic.

Advantage Consulting Company was established under KIPCO, the Kuwait Projects Company (Holding) as a management consulting company to help companies across a wide variety of sectors in a number of ways. Services are offered in organisational development, corporate strategies, financial consulting, business performance management, human assets managements and customer management solutions to ultimately add value to client organisations.

By helping clients to manage the complexity of their business processes, the company helps them to achieve their business goals and focus on their core business.

Comments"I am truly honoured to be recognized among such an outstanding group of visionary business leaders. This award symbolizes the hard work that was behind to establish a full fledged consulting company in Kuwait and then replicate its success in the GCC. I thank the panel and all peers for the nomination. "I have been enormously impressed with the business and market position of CEO Middle East, and I am thrilled by the opportunity to work alongside them as we advance advantage to its next phase of growth.

"Also, I would express my gratitude for the continued support that I receive from KIPCO group, one of the leading groups in the MENA region. "I am moved by this honour and in return I urge all youngsters in the region to be entrepreneurial and innovative to come up with business ventures in their respective countries or elsewhere."


Growth in the Gulf region has an incredible pace at present. In recognition of such speed, this award is for the CEO who has overseen the largest expansion of their company.

Name:Saif Belhasa
Title:Chairman, Saif Belhasa Group
Length of time in position:6 years
Core values:To improve the quality of service provided to the consumer through leadership.


Saif Ahmed Belhasa started his prolific career after obtaining a degree in Business Management from the Emirates University in 1988. With 18 years of diversified experience in the field of business and entrepreneurship, Belhasa embarked on a number of commercial ventures in the Middle East which lead to the birth of the Saif Belhasa Group of Companies on October 13, 2001.

He oversees the operation of the group from his office in Belhasa Driving Center, where he practises a highly organised business structure. The group's rapid expansion can be attributed to Belhasa's distinct ability to build long term business relationships with suppliers and customers, which assisted in the development of the business interests of the member companies.

The Saif Belhasa Group of Companies controls a diverse portfolio of businesses and has done so since 2001. The entity portrays leadership with trust, considering their employees and clients as critical assets to the company.

With the faith of their customers, business partners and employees, combined with the identification of any business synergies, the foundations have been laid to progress and prosper into one of Dubai's most established organisations. The group now includes around 15 operating entities which it has been able to translate into global trading relationships, importing and exporting goods from most of the world's major trading nations. International operations now involve approximately 10,500 employees under a management drawn from the Middle East, Asia and Europe.

The company has gone from strength to strength in the last few years, expanding operations by over 20% just in the last year. The most recent additions to the group include a car rental division and an oriental yoga sanctuary, aptly demonstrating its wide variety of interests.


"It is truly a proud day for me to be honored by such a prestigious group and to share the stage with the rest of these magnificent individuals, as I view this as a reward for the long years of dedication and hard work which I have invested in the Saif Belhasa Group of Companies. I share this accolade with each and everyone from the Saif Belhasa Group who has been instrumental in expanding our market, without whom this success would not have come as a reality. In the coming years, my aim is to expand and diversify the scope of the group's operations and provide our customers with the standard of quality, which the Saif Belhasa name has been known for."

Property Development

This prize is for the CEO involved in the property industry who has overseen the largest or most rapid growth, regardless of the crowded nature of the sector, and finalised the highest amount of projects pro rata.

Name:Omar Ayesh
Title:President Tameer
Length of time in position:16 years
Core values:Allow all to benefit from title ownership or investment by selecting locations that are unique and creating designs that are non-traditional.


Founder of Tameer Holding, Omar Ayesh has a rich and varied experience across a variety of sectors. Widely renowned as an ambitious individual, Ayesh is one of the key figures in the fertile Gulf construction industry.

Though Tameer has been in operation since 1991, it was not for another 6 years that it became fully involved in real estate. It was initially an organization that conducted a variety of business activities across a broad spectrum of fields until it recognised the particular regional strength of this sector. Tameer has since focused on this industry sector to reach its current position as one of the leading property developers in the UAE.

In 2005 Tameer Holding Investments formed a partnership with Al Rajhi Investment Group in Saudi Arabia, helping them to develop a collection of ground breaking developments that has raised the firm's investment portfolio in the market to exceed the US$10.8bn mark. The signed Memorandum of Understanding recognizing the partnership with the Al-Rajhi Establishment allowed Tameer to realize its ambitions in constructing high profile projects at both the regional and international levels. Projects underway at present are worth US$11bn and strive to keep the UAE at the cutting edge of architectural design and safety. One of the latest projects to be announced is the ‘Al Salam City' in Umm Al Quwain, consisting of approximately 1000 buildings and worth over US$8.3bn.


"I am proud of the confidence that voters and jury have placed in me, and promise to continue Tameer's progress and overcome whatever challenges that we might face. This title is a new achievement to be added to Tameer's series of continuous successes. I extend my thanks and gratitude to all our staff members, whose dedicated efforts throughout the year have led to these outstanding results.

"This year was full of accomplishments and milestones as we have delivered completed projects to their owners, and continued developing the current projects. We have signed a number of agreements, and launched several new projects, and we have entered new local and regional markets, such as Abu Dhabi, Libya and the Jordanian property development and housing markets. We were keen to re-align the internal structure of the firm, and were also involved in various social and humanitarian activities, with the aim of reinforcing the region's social structure. We thank Allah first and foremost, for rewarding our intentions, and look forward for more achievements and successes."

Outstanding Performance in Business

This award is for the CEO who has consistently shown shrewd business acumen and strategising to lead their business to continued success over the past year.

Name:His Excellency Eng. Salah Al Shamsi
Title:Chairman, Al Qudra Holdings
Length of time in position:N/A
Core values:To maximize wealth creation by investing in a portfolio of complementary partnerships across diverse industries and countries.


His Excellency Eng. Salah Al Shamsi is a UAE national, born in 1958, who has risen to beome one of the most prominent and respected businessmen in the region. He is currently engaged in directing a wide range of companies as well as representing governmental entities and supporting social and sports clubs. His extensive experience stems from managing companies in various industry sectors; he has more than 14 years of accumulated experience in the oil and gas fields.

He also has a number of academic qualifications to his name; Eng. Al Shamsi is currently registered in the Certified Management Accounting Program, Certified Financial Accounting Program and is working on a PHD in Management. He obtained his EMBA in Business Administration from the American University in Sharjah in 2002 and has a B.SC degree in Civil Engineering from North Carolina University, which he earned in 1980.

Al Qudra Holdings was established by a group of Emirati nationals in Abu Dhabi in 2005. It is a joint stock company and in the two years that it been in operation has achieved record breaking profits.

It now enjoys a market capital of US$163.3m. This private holding investment company is unique in the fact that it is the first company in the region to dedicate more than 50% of its shares to Emirati women. Being a holding company, the organisation has developed interests across many areas, including property, finance, oil, gas, agriculture, infrastructure, utilities, medical services and education. Developing across these sectors, the company continues to make significant contributions to the regional markets.

The company has put forward many investment initiatives and opened doors to many development projects depending on the requirements of the domestic and regional market. Future plans include capitalising on the industrial boom in Abu Dhabi by generating a large group of specialised subsidiaries in various sectors under the Al Qudra Holding umbrella.


"We would like to express our gratitude to ITP for this recognition. Al Qudra will continue to strive for excellence locally, regionally and internationally. The company was able to prove itself through a steady, sustainable and long term growth plan backed by milestone achievements.

"From the beginning, Al Qudra Holding's performance is tribute to a well-tailored growth plan. Our unique strategy is mirrored in our achievement. We have been able to expand throughout the Middle East and North Africa, continually proving our ability to innovate."

Financial Services

Economic development in the Middle East has brought with it a corresponding need for more financial services. This accolade recognises the CEO who has best capitalised on these opportunities.

Name:Saber Daboussi
Title:General Manager, ACM
Length of time in position:4 years
Core values:Constant growth, creative management and adapting oneself continuously.


Saber Daboussi began his career in the financial sector in Geneva, Switzerland. He played a key role in launching the ACM Middle East desk from Geneva before opening ACM Dubai one year ago. After completing his education in the UK, he decided to return to Geneva, arguably the financial capital of the world, to launch his financial sector career path.

He joined ACM in 2003 and was one of the initial members of the company, established in 2002. In order to fully understand the company and its operational procedures, Daboussi worked in all the fields under ACM's set up to gain experience in all areas before decide to implement and expand that template to the office in the Middle East.

ACM is a Swiss-based company dealing in foreign exchange services. It works under the simple formula of an online, simple to use Forex platform. The site is now translated into 15 different languages and enjoys transaction volumes that average at around US$100bn per month. The Dubai office is the company's first representative office abroad and opened just one year ago.

The company decided to establish in the Middle East and Asia to ensure direct and close access to clients, hoping to not only intercept the market in a more direct approach but also to further understand the regional requirements that are at hand for investors.

Islamic accounts were introduced to ACM's Middle Eastern investors to adapt to the regional culture and customer sentiments. ACM were the pioneers of Sharia'a compliant trading conditions in the online Forex industry.

The impact of establishing the office and proceeding with a successful formula was felt immediately. The company nearly quadrupled the trading volume since its establishment in 2005.


"It was indeed a fabulous event. The attendance and quality was of such a worthy standard that it truly reflected the importance and status of this award and of ITP as its owner and organizer. I am truly honoured by this acknowledgement, I am sure that there are many friends and colleagues in the sector who deserve recognition and I am humbled by being chosen to represent the quality of the sector. I am also thrilled that ACM as a leading company has received such attention and I would like to thank my team as no GM would excel without the backing of a great team."

Young CEO

With many CEOs working their way into such positions through years of measured experience, this award acknowledges a CEO below the age of 30 who has fast-tracked through this process and propelled his group forward.

Name:Mohammed Saeed Harib
Title:Founder and CEO, Lammtara Media
Length of time in position:2 years


The creator of the UAE's very first 3-D animated series has been guided through the development of his brainchild by Dubai Media City and the Sheikh Mohammed Establishment for Young Entrepreneurs.

He studied at the North East University in Boston, majoring in General Arts and Animation, and so is also a talented photographer, web designer, cartoonist and poet.

After graduating he worked freelance for a year before joining Media City in 2003 in the marketing department. Having created the brand identification for the Dubai Film Festival with this company, he took a year out from his employment in Dubai to develop the innovative Freej project through his own production company.

Freej is the brand that has brought Lammtara into the spotlight. Directed by Harib, the fifteen standalone episodes of fifteen minutes each, were launched in September 2006 on national television. It is the tale of four old national women living in a secluded neighborhood in modern day Dubai.

The show's main characters; Um Saeed, Um Saloom, Um Allawi and Um Khammas try to live a peaceful life in the midst of the ever-expanding city around them, but the city's boom unveils new social issues every day that they have to tackle in their own simple way. For these four old women, there is no problem too hard to crack with a good cup of coffee at Um Saeed's house.

Freej started of as a six page study book in 1998 but it did not materialise until 2003 when it was adopted by Dubai Media City. A small demo was created to test the concept and shortly after it was given the official go ahead by the Sheikh Mohammed Establishment for Young Business Leaders (SME) who took on the initial funding of the project.

On September 2005, Lammtara Pictures was established to overlook the production and a team of almost 500 people were signed up to make this big dream a reality.


"I am very thrilled and honoured to be receiving this award. It's a big push for small companies such as ours to be recognised amongst big CEOs and big companies that have achieved so much on a national and international level."


This award goes to the company that has shown the most original vision in developing its projects.

Name:Dr Wadad Al Suwayeh
Title:COO, Oqyana
Length of time in position:N/A
Best piece of Advice:"The best carpenter always measures twice, but cuts once."


Dr Wadad Al Suwayeh has instilled key values into his running of Oqyana, which now transcend the organisation.

Integrity:Acting with honesty, transparency and respect.

Innovation:through resourcefulness, foresight, creativity and originality.

Passion:Having the motivation, fire and belief to create World Firsts.

Responsibility:Commitment and accountability to our people, the environment and stakeholders.

Precision and attention to details in all that we do.

Through relationships and sharing brings conducive outcomes.

These are what will continue to set Oqyana apart.

Oqyana is The World's first fully master-planned elite island retreat. Located on the famous and much anticipated man-made islands of The World, Oqyana World First is being developed on the 20 islands that make up the continent of Australasia. It is billed as an elite destination providing a chic ocean lifestyle with an exclusive community and the highest level of privacy for residents.

The project is situated 4 km off the coastline of Dubai. The islands were first purchased in 2005 and are being created as a lifestyle destination and community with approximately 2,500 apartments, 200 villas and two hotels; one an exclusive seven star and the other as a luxury spa resort. Features of the development include a cultural centre for performing arts, a conference centre, leisure facilities, restaurants, cafes and island lifestyle specific retail.

The development will occupy a total area of 1.87 m square metres and a total upland area of 417 thousand square metres. It will contain 15 km of shore front and a marina with over 1,500 private yacht berths.


"The CEO Awards are an excellent medium to recognise the leaders who are making a positive change for business in this region. I am honoured to be a part of this group. Having Her Highness Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, Minister for Economy & Planning presenting the awards adds great value to this initiative."


Corporate Social Responsibility has become one of the key focal points for businesses to interact with an increasingly issue-aware public. This award recognises groundbreaking initiatives and contributions toward the community at large.

Name:Sunny Varkey
Title:Chairman, Varkey Group
Core values:"By redefining traditional methods of education and healthcare, we continually seek to better ourselves, to achieve new heights of excellence, and in doing so to help create a better world, a rich and rewarding future for our children.


The award recognizes Sunny Varkey's considerable achievements in supporting charities over the last 30 years. It comes soon after Varkey pledged AED100m (US$27.4m) to the Dubai Cares Campaign launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

It is an honour to accept this award on behalf of all people who have been in the Varkey Group community over the years who have learnt so much by raising many millions of dirhams for others. It pleases me enormously to realize that many people we have come in contact with over the years are now parents themselves teaching their children similar values.

As chairman of the Varkey Group, Varkey has spearheaded the development of high quality education through GEMS Education, and healthcare through Welcare World. His personal giving has been his hallmark, however in accepting the award he highlighted the important role everyone can play in supporting worthy causes.

"Since my family came to Dubai in 1959, we have striven to demonstrate an ethos of world citizenship and universal values. We believe wholeheartedly in the teaching of supporting charities and raising money as a way all young people can learn to help the world around them."

Over the past fifteen years Varkey has contributed AED 200m (US$54.8m) privately and through the group's organisations in direct support and as contributions to programmes and organisations that help improve the lives of children and communities. Through GEMS Cares, more than 2,600 children benefit directly from subsidised education and GEMS scholarships. Varkey was also lead sponsor for the Pratham Gala dinner that was held to raise funds for the ‘Read India' initiative.

In addition to the group's contributions, the community of GEMS Schools - students, parents and teachers organise fundraising events in support of community based organisations and initiatives. These grass roots programmes organised by GEMS students generate over AED3.7m (US$13.6m) annually.


Corporate Social Responsibility has become one of the key focal points for businesses to interact with an increasingly issue-aware public. This award recognises groundbreaking initiatives and contributions toward the community at large.

Name:Dr Shahram Abdullah Zadeh
Title:CEO, Al Fajer Properties
Core values:An uncompromising commitment to excellence.


Through the years Al Fajer Enterprises, a fully nationally owned company established in 1970 by its group president His Highness Sheikh Hasher Maktoum Al Maktoum, has shared the vision of a growing nation and has been an integral part of its economic development. From its pioneering contribution to the fulfillment of construction standards in the UAE, Al Fajer has developed and diversified into various fields of commerce such as manufacturing, designing, travel, tourism and cargo handling, information services and trading.

These companies are dynamic testimonies to Al Fajer's sincere commitment to excellence. These values evolved from Al Fajer's devotion to the development of its manpower resources. Al Fajer Enterprises also regularly provides its people with adequate local and overseas specialized training and equipment.

Al Fajer Properties has grown rapidly to become one of the key players in the property development market. Diverse Property projects have been a huge success for the company. Its company policies and objectives are dedicated to the economic growth and global recognition of a young nation.

The group's initiatives included community service activities such as a charity fund for the ailing and underprivileged - Al Awlaa fund awards and distribution of 150,000 Iftar Meals' during the Holy month of Ramadan.

The Al Awlaa fund gave priority to health-related cases, with a special focus on single mothers, cases requiring basic legal assistance, special needs children and covering educational costs for the underprivileged.


Corporate Social Responsibility has become one of the key focal points for businesses to interact with an increasingly issue-aware public. This award recognises groundbreaking initiatives and contributions toward the community at large.

Name:Mohammed Khalfan Al Qamzi
Title:CEO, Etisalat
Length of time in position:1 year, 6 months
Core values:To extend people's reach. At Etisalat, we are actively developing advanced networks that will enable people to develop, to learn and to grow.


The award marks the second time in as many years that Etisalat has won top honours for corporate social responsibility, with a previous award from Arabian Business being presented in 2006.

Mohammed Khalfan Al Qamzi became CEO of Etisalat in April, 2006. Since then, he has helped the company improve on its tradition of excellence and overseeing its rise to global prominence. He has also placed emphasis on the positive role Etisalat can play in promoting the economic and social wellbeing of the UAE. He is a vocal advocate of the principles of social responsibility, and has actively supported initiatives in education, the environment and in helping people with special needs.

Among the recent Etisalat CSR initiatives recognized by the award judges were its work with the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority and the UAE Ministry for Water and Environment, which led to the UAE's first environmental campaign to recycle old and inoperative mobile phones. So far, the campaign has prevented over 100,000 phones from being consigned to rubbish dumps.

Etisalat has also actively supported people with special needs and participated in activating Federal Law No. 29 of 2006, which works to improve the welfare of people with special needs. It recently launched a new portfolio of services called Freedom, designed to empower recipients with the technology they need to perform business and social tasks.

During the Holy Month of Ramadan, Etisalat pledged AED25m (US$6.8m) to Dubai Cares, the campaign to provide education to needy children around the world, initiated this year by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai. Etisalat also mobilized its technological capabilities to allow more people to participate in and contribute to the campaign.

Etisalat donated AED25m (US$6.8m) to Emirates Foundation to support its goal of achieving social welfare and sustainable development across the UAE. Emirates Foundation was established by the UAE Government in 2005 to enable the private and public sectors to establish new initiatives that contribute to the development of the community.

For this category the judges picked the CEO with the most forward-thinking vision. The one who showed an unusually far-sighted idea of where they wanted their company to be in the future.

Name:Dr Sulaiman Al Fahim
Title:CEO Hydra Properties
Length of time in position:2 years
Best piece of advice:"A vision without action is a daydream; but action without a vision is a nightmare."

The CEO of Abu Dhabi based Hydra Properties only founded his company two years ago, promising "to be different". Two years on, it appears that being different has paid off.

Hydra has signed over US$2bn worth of projects, and has become one of the region's fastest growing property companies, with major projects planned in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The company's goal of five years to achieve 50% of revenue from overseas projects has been reached in just one year. And now, the foreign expansion plans are coming to fruition, with a big new project in Mexico just announced.

"You have to do what you believe is right, even if everyone else tells you it is wrong. I said that as a company we would be unique, and everyone said you can't be unique in property development. If you try, you will fail. Well, we are unique and we are successful," says Al Fahim.

He says that apart from hard work, it is vital to know your industry inside out, and not just parts of it. "A lot of people say they want to be property developers but they actually don't know that much about property. They might know a little design, maybe they are good at financials, or maybe they understand the engineering aspects. But I think it is important that you know everything, and that you are very good at it."

Fahim insists that the inside of every single apartment and office he builds is different. "That's what I mean by unique. People told me we couldn't do it because it would be too expensive. We have proved them wrong," he says.

As for the future, Al Fahim says he has only just begun. "This is the first step on the ladder. We have had success and the easiest thing would be to say we have now achieved all our goals. But if you think that way you will become complacent and fail."


"The event was a great networking opportunity, with some of the best people in the Middle East gathered together. Before the evening had ended we were already looking at future business plans with some of the other winners."

Banking and Finance

Banking and Finance can be notoriously difficult sectors to work in. This accolade is to the CEO in the banking and finance sector who has most effectively managed the obstacles to show the largest growth and returns.

Name:Eirvin Knox
Length of time in position:2 years
Core values:To build a partnership with our customers that lasts a lifetime by

1. treating every customer as an individual;

2. offering innovative products and unparalleled service;

3. never forgetting that our customer has a choice.


Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) was formed in 1985 as a public shareholding company with limited liability, In 2003 ADCB challenged itself to rebuild its foundations, with the aim of becoming the UAE's leading financial institution. The Bank's motivation to be the best has led ADCB to evolve in order to meet the changing environment, and structure the entire bank to deliver service excellence to its clients.

The Bank's main ambition is for each customer to walk away with an unrivalled banking experience. Innovative, customised products, dedicated service and outstanding financial performance make up the fundamentals of future success.

ADCB continues to implement new ideas and it is through a continued investment in deeper relationships extended to a broader client base that will position it strongly to create a robust, more diversified business, linked to a wider range of products and services.

An unwavering commitment for social responsibility drives many of ADCB's initiatives. From sponsorships of local sports clubs to wholehearted participation in charitable drives, ADCB serves as an integral part of the community.

ADCB is a diversified full service bank. Other than banking services that span corporate, retail and commercial banking ADCB is active in the areas of treasury derivatives, infrastructure finance, private banking and wealth management.

Since 1985 ADCB has reported successive years of record profits and consistent growth.


"This recognition is a testament to the dedication shown by the people of ADCB in their quest for excellence and dedication to consistently delivering superior customer satisfaction. We thank CEO Middle East for this award which is an important and valued accolade for ADCB"

Lifetime Achievement

This award honours a business leader who has made a continuous, long-term difference to their company and their industry.

Name:Gerald Lawless
Title:Chairman, Jumeirah Group
Length of time in position:10 years
Core values:To be a world class international hotel and hospitality management company, committed to being the industry leader in all of our activities through dedication to our colleagues, customers, business partners and owners.


Gerald Lawless, born in 1952 in Ireland, joined Jumeirah in June 1997 as Managing Director. Prior to joining Jumeirah, Lawless spent 23 years of his professional career working with Forte Hotels. During this period he spent a number of years in the United Kingdom, South Africa, Ireland and Dubai and he was also responsible for the Caribbean and later the Middle East region. Lawless established the Middle East office for Forte Hotels in Dubai in 1991 where he oversaw the development of Forte Hotels from three properties in 1991 to over twenty when he left in 1997 to join Jumeirah.

Lawless has spent sixteen years in the Gulf, having worked in Dubai originally from 1978 to 1982 and later in Bahrain.

Lawless joined Jumeirah in June 1997 to oversee the opening of Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Wild Wadi Water Park and Burj Al Arab. Since then, Jumeirah Emirates Towers, Jumeirah Beach Club Resort and Spa, The Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management, the Jumeirah Carlton Tower and Jumeirah Lowndes Hotel in London, Madinat Jumeirah - The Arabian Resort, Dubai, Jumeirah Bab Al Shams Desert Resort & Spa and Jumeirah Essex House in New York have been added to the Jumeirah portfolio.

The Hallmarks set by the group's leadership are what sets it apart:

1. I will always smile and greet our guests before they greet me.

2. My first response to a guest request will never be no.

3. I will treat all colleagues with respect and integrity.

Honouring a company whose commitment to quality shines through in every single aspect of each of their products.

Name:Roger Hobeika
Title:CEO, The Art Heir Group
Length of time in position:N/A
Core values:
Quality is the root of client satisfaction


The Art Heir Group (TAHG), is a collection of successful entrepreneurial companies - all of which provide specialised services to various major key industries, both locally and internationally.

TAHG has a heritage spanning over four decades. From the very beginning, certain key values were cemented as the cornerstones of what has now developed into the TAHG legacy of today. One of these cornerstone values is an unwavering commitment to quality in all aspects of business operation, service and delivery. It is this persist search for quality which has contributed to the growth of the group and which will continue to be a key ingredient in TAHG's ability to support its clients' needs.

Organisational values are, however, an extension of the belief system and the set of values of its leader. Setting the tone, direction and operation of The Art Heir Group, the CEO, Roger Hobeika, together with his father, has built a formidable recipe for success in the values which he has ensured have become part of the fabric of the organisation.

Hobeika joined the family business, Art Heir Model Making - run by his father, in 1993 as Project Manager. In 1997, he made his own mark by establishing Art Heir Events & Exhibitions. Since then, Hobeika has grown the family business from a single, specialised company to what is today, a diversified but specialised group of companies - TAHG, with a total membership of six and inevitably more to come.

His fundamental understanding that quality is the root of client satisfaction, has led to the phenomenal growth of the family business and has also resulted in its instilment as the Group of Companies' operational values and emphasis. Hobeika, through his quality of character, has made certain that each member company of TAHG delivers upon a promise of quality satisfaction.

Acute awareness of how to support his clients' needs and then delivering solutions to the highest specifications has defined Hobeika's approach to business and thus will always ensure that success, for both himself and his clients, is always a mutual achievement.


"We greatly appreciated the chance to interact with other business leaders of the region and to receive recognition of our group's dedication and hard work, amongst the high calibre of business professsionals there, was a valuable experience."


Branding is one of the most important ways to increase customer awareness. This award goes to the CEO who has overseen the most effective recent rebranding of their group.

Name:Adel Al Zarouni and Ramesh Prabhakar
Title:Managing Partners, Rivoli Group
Core values:To provide customer satisfaction through a complete and holistic retail experience.


Joining the Rivoli Group in Sales and Marketing Prabhakar in the 1980s, Ramesh Prabhakar soon climbed the ranks and became General Manager of the group in five years.

Under his supervision in conjunction with Adel Zarouni, the Rivoli Group witnessed a rise in the 1990s. The Emirate was entering its first phase of economic boom at the time, and the Managing Partners looked at this as an opportunity that the organization could use to its complete advantage. While the Rivoli Group's wholesale distribution was growing efficiently, special emphasis was given to the retail division.

In the 1990's Dubai was being marketed with a clear message, ‘the shopping destination of the world'. This was the ideal opportunity for the Rivoli Group to capitalise on this mandate by heavily promoting their retail holdings. The Partners spearheaded this campaign by not only encouraging this move within the Emirate, but throughout the Rivoli Group's regional offices in the Gulf.

Since its inception in 1988, the Rivoli Group has been building its strong position in the fast growing retail environment of the region. In the process, under the guidance of its Managing Partners, the Group has become one of the largest importers and retailers of luxury brands in the Middle East and offers a wide range of product categories from watches and writing instruments to menswear, accessories, gift items
and eyewear.

Earlier this year the group underwent a major rebranding exercise. Its new corporate identity, known simply as ‘R', has seen revenues increase 10% since the rebranding.


"I would like to express my gratitude to the readers and the panel of judges - it's an honour to receive this award. I see an award as a motivator to the continued pursuit of excellence. It's been an exciting journey for Rivoli Group in the last two decades. We are on an expansion drive and the near future will see us constantly evolving and innovating our approach to provide consumers with the world's most exemplary retail experience."

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