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Sun 15 Apr 2007 12:00 AM

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Far from listless

James Bennett on how lists - such as our '50 Most Admired Companies' - capture the imagination.

First
power

and now
admiration

, whatever next you're thinking? But don't blame me, blame yourselves. You couldn't stop talking about why a heart surgeon was above a diplomat and why a Lebanese singing sensation was somehow higher in the rankings than a multi-billionaire businessman.

So this week's publication of the
Arabian Business '50 Most Admired Companies in the GCC'

is your doing, but thank goodness. Trust me, you did the right thing.

You asked us to come up with another defining top 50 and we listened carefully to all your criteria, quirks and comments. Let's face it: We love nothing more than compiling a definitive list. And you love reading them. They are endlessly debated in shisha cafés, incessantly disputed in boardrooms and continually deliberated over during those water cooler moments you find yourself in when you need to get away from your desk for five, or perhaps even 30 minutes.

So why admiration and not just a simple rundown of the 'top' Gulf companies? I agree that 'admiration' may, on the surface, appear an unusual turn of phrase, but if you take the time to look a little deeper, our process begins to make perfect sense.

For one thing, no other magazine in the region has attempted to narrow down the most admired businesses in the GCC, but far more importantly, the large majority of the companies within our list are now recognised and taken seriously as major players and as serious competition in established and emerging overseas markets.

They are corporate heavyweights admired throughout not only the region, but also the rest of the global business community as forces to be reckoned with, invested in and fought valiantly against. Sometimes they lose, but most of the time they come out on top of their rivals.

They are no longer companies that sit idly on the fringes, remaining comfortably seated in their respective secure home markets, they are venturing much further afield and with great success, panache and crucially often aggressively, outbidding their adversaries with their financial muscle and experienced business brains.

It's great to see and about time we started showing them off.

The only issue is the amount of physical and electronic mail we get inundated with after we publish a list of this magnitude.

Not that we're complaining of course.

Last month's power list produced the highest number of hits and visitors on our website (as well as the most number of compliments and complaints I have to add) and bags of letters so goodness knows what you will all have to say when you take 30 minutes by the water cooler and wonder why your most admired businesses are lower than expected.

As I said earlier and clarify later in this week's magazine, this is the first of its kind and our own take on who we believe to be the top '50 Most Admired', I hope you enjoy dissecting the detail as much as we enjoyed putting it together for you.

Bring on the Rich List later in the year!

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