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Winners were selected in 12 categories from across a range of industries including real estate, telecoms, banking and hospitality. This year, guests were celebrating solid performance despite the economic challenges of the past 18 months in Kuwait and the rest of the Gulf.
\nThe judging panel was comprised of editorial members working across the Arabian Business brands, plus the board of directors at parent company ITP Media Group.
\nJudges first looked at the performance of a range of Kuwaiti companies in the past year up to the end of the first quarter, and from that put together a shortlist of names before winners were determined.
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Bank of the Year — Al Ahli Bank of Kuwait
\nWith ten Kuwaiti and ten foreign banks vying for business in a market with a population of just 3 million people, competition is fierce.\nWinner Al Ahli Bank of Kuwait has shone, reporting a 5 percent profit hike in the first quarter of 2017 amid tough conditions.
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Best Mobile Banking Experience in the Middle East — Gulf Bank
\nOne of the most established banks in Kuwait, Gulf Bank reported a 7 percent rise in net profit from the first quarter of 2016 and is firing on other cylinders, too, having just won the Kuwait Banking Club Football Cup.
\nFounded nearly 60 years ago, it has a network of 56 branches and total assets of more than KD5.4m.
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Energy Company of the Year — Kuwait National Petroleum Company
\nGiven the significant role the oil and gas sector has played in Kuwait’s development, state-owned Kuwait National Petroleum Company, or Kuwait Oil Co, was an obvious candidate as one of the biggest players in the industry. Despite low oil prices, the firm said it recorded a net profit of $715m during the last fiscal year.
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Telecoms Company of the Year — Quality Net
\nThe winner in this category is one of Kuwait’s best-known data and broadband services company, admired and respected in the marketplace for providing real-world business solutions for its clients. Established in 1998, its shareholders include state telco Batelco and National Bank of Kuwait.
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Hospitality Company of the Year — Action Hotels
\nWith hoteliers increasingly tapping into the burgeoning budget and midmarket sectors, Action Hotels has stayed head and shoulders ahead of many home-grown GCC firms in this niche.
\nThe company operates in Europe, the Middle East and Australia and is listed on the London Stock Exchange.
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Regional Developer of the Year — Bin Faqeeh
\nPrivately-owned Bin Faqueeh Real Estate Investment Company made its name in neighbouring Bahrain and in the past nine years has expanded to Kuwait. It is currently building The Avenues luxury mixed-use scheme in Kuwait City and remains committed to shaping the future of real estate in Kuwait.
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Technology Vendor of the Year — Ericsson
\nAfter winning its first operating licence in Kuwait — an EMO deal with Kuwait’s Wataniya — back in 2005, the Swedish telecoms giant has gone from strength, building a reliable telecoms network to serve an increasingly mobile population.
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Overall Company of the Year — Zain Kuwait
\nFounded in 1983, this company was the first mobile telecommunications company in the Middle East and has a commercial presence in nearly ten countries in the MENA region. It boasts more than 40 million active customers and is listed on the Kuwait Stock Exchange. Its net profit rose slightly in the first quarter of 2017, and its unit in Saudi Arabia recorded its first-ever quarterly profit. Zain is continuing to grow.
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Businessman of the Year — Talal Khalifa Al Jeri
\nAs chairman and chief executive of one of the largest education groups in Kuwait, Talal Khalifa Al Jeri has worked tirelessly to transform his vision into a reality, with establishments across the MENA region under a holding company, Umm Al Qura Educational Establishment. He is lauded in the business community for his determination and candour.
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Businesswoman of the Year — Najla Alghanim
\nNajla Alghanim started in 2000 as associate director of Gulf Consult — one of Kuwait’s oldest design consultants, founded in 1967. The company says its mission is to attain the loyalty of its clients and grow the business, and Alghanim has worked to achieve that goal. Now chairman, she remains actively involved in the company’s day-to-day affairs and is responsible for overseeing its commissions.
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Visionary of the Year — Ghassan Al Khaled
\nGhassan Ahmad Al Khaled is confident that large-scale infrastructure projects will proceed as scheduled despite the drop in oil prices, and there seems little reason not to believe him.
\nAs Group CEO of ACICO Group, Al Khaled has expanded the company beyond Kuwait and across the rest of the GCC, and is bent on encouraging greater private and public sector integration to drive economic growth.