If ubiquity is anything to go by, Mohammed Alshaya is the undisputed king of Gulf retail with ventures including Starbuck’s, H&M and Debenhams.
Alshaya’s first experience in retail was a three-month work experience stint for the UK-based retailer Mothercare, stacking shelves and advising mothers on which prams to buy. When he joined the Alshaya Group in the 1980s he became involved in the franchise part of the retail division of the firm before taking over as CEO in 1990. Three years later he became the executive chairman.
The hotel division owns the Sheraton Hotel in Kuwait and the Oberoi Hotel in Medina, Saudi Arabia. Its automotive division holds exclusive dealerships in Kuwait for Mazda and Peugeot cars.
While most retailers have either frozen or scaled back their expansion plans Alshaya is moving full steam ahead. When Dubai’s Mirdiff City Centre shopping mall was opened in March 2010, it featured a staggering 29 of his brands. He’s spent $40m on the project and trained 700 people to manage and staff the various stores.