100 smartest people in the UAE
Tue 26 Sep 2017 12:04 AM
Adel Ali

Company: Air Arabia

Designation: Chief executive

Country: Bahrain

Country of residence: Bahrain

Adel Ali’s odds were not in his favour when he launched what would become the Middle East’s first low-cost carrier, Air Arabia. “Every guy I spoke to in the airline industry said it was impossible to start an airline from scratch in six months. Everyone said low-cost carriers wouldn’t work in the Middle East. You need to have open skies for this to work in the region, and you don’t have that, they said,” he told Arabian Business of his early career stages.

But decades after the Bahraini national launched the Sharjah-based airline, it continues to soar in turbulent skies where others have crashed and burned. Air Arabia reported net profits of more than $135m in 2016. That is impressive, particularly considering the airline’s competition and its two-plane beginning.