REVEALED: Arabian Business Power 500 2013

See photos of some of the world's most influential Arabs
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500 Daoud Kuttab
\nUS (Palestine)
\nDaoud Kuttab is a Palestinian journalist and media activists. He is the former Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton University. Daoud Kuttab is currently the director general of Community Media Network (CMN) a not for profit media organization dedicated to advancing independent media in the Arab region. CMN is registered in Jordan and Palestine and administers Radio al Balad in Amman, and
\nBorn in Jerusalem in 1955, Kuttab studied in the United States and has been working in journalism ever since 1980. He began his journalism career working in the Palestinian print media (Al-Fajr, Al-Quds and Asennara) as well as the audio visual field (Documentary producer). He established and presided over the Jerusalem Film Institute in the 90s. In 1995 he helped establish the Arabic Media Internet Network (AMIN) a censorship free Arab web site  He established and has headed between 1996 until 2007 the Institute of Modern Media at Al-Quds University. In 1997 he partially moved to Amman (because of family tragedy and remarriage) and in 2000 established the Arab world's first internet radio station AmmanNet ( Mr. Kuttab is active in media freedom efforts in the Middle East. He is a regular columnist for the Jordan Times, The Jerusalem Post and the Daily Star in Lebanon. He has co-produced a number of award winning documentaries and children's television programs. His op-ed columns have appeared in the NY Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angles Times, The Daily Telegraph and Shimbum Daily in Tokyo. He has received a number of international awards among them the CPJ Freedom of Expression Award, the IPI World Press Freedom Hero, PEN Club USA Writing Freedom Award, the Leipzeg Courage in Freedom Award and the Next Foundation (UK) Peace through Media Award. He is a regular columnist for the Huffington Post, Palestine News Network, Al Arrabiya.Net and the Jordan Times.

\nSee the full list of the 500 most influential Arabs in the world here
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495 Joelle Mardinian
\nTV personality
\nUAE (Lebanon)
\nJoelle Mardinian is a renowned TV personality on MBC’s weekly reality show entitled, “Joelle”. She is also a prominent business women and a leading beauty expert in the Middle East.
\nPresently, joelle is integral to the luxury beauty sector of the GCC, with her leading beauty centers anchored in every major city among Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Jeddah, Riyadh, and Doha.
\nShe has been recognized as the ‘Arab Woman of the Year’ in 2010 and was listed among the 100 most powerful Arab women in 2013 for her success and accomplishments throughout the Middle East.
\nToday Joelle is one of the most influential and inspiring personalities in the Arab world. She is the official regional creative director for one of the world’s most renowned cosmetic brand “MaxFactor” and is soon set to launch her own skin care and professional hair care brand ‘ Joelle Paris ‘
\nFurthermore joelle is launching the first celebrity cosmetic clinic named ‘ Clinica’ in  collaboration with A list doctors, surgeons, researchers and beauty consultants who are celebrities in their own field.
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455 Tayem Hassan
\nArts & Entertainment
\nTayem Hassan had a starring role in the Egyptian film ‘Michano’, his first crossover into the Middle East’s largest movie market. The film, in which Hassan played an architect with amnesia, won critical acclaim from critics and fans. His most recent appearance has been in the TV show 'Shaheen the Eagle'.
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446 Fatima Mernissi
\nCulture & Society
\nFatima Mernissi has published several books on the position of women in the rapidly changing Muslim communities in Morocco. Born in Fes in 1940, she published the result of her first fieldwork: ‘Beyond the Veil: Male-Female Dynamics in Modern Muslim Society’ in 1975.
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408 Akram Miknas
\nPromoseven Holdings
\nAkram Miknas is the founder of the now ubiquitous Promoseven Holdings group, under whose umbrella reside some of the most sought-after brands in advertising and PR, and which today is the largest advertising and communications network in the Middle East and North Africa.
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392 Ibrahim Al Koni
\nArts & Entertainment
\nIbrahim Al Koni is one of the Arab world’s most prolific novelists. He studied comparative literature at the Maxim Gorky Literature Institute in Moscow, before working as a journalist. Al Koni has written more than 80 books, and they have been translated into 35 languages.
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387 Mona Bawarshi
\nPresident and CEO
\nGezairi Transport
\nMona Bawarshi has soared up the ladder at her family-run logistics company Gezairi Transport, which employs over 500 people and oversees operations in more than six countries. She started as a trainee in 1968 after earning her MBA at the American University of Beirut. She is now at its helm. Her business prowess also has seen her appointed as a member of Beirut’s International College board of trustees.
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386 Tamim Al Kawari
\nBanking & Finance
\nRecently appointed as CEO, Al Kawari will take responsbility for the Qatari investment bank’s move to form a joint venture with Egypt’s EFG-Hermes. He was previously a managing director and country head for Goldman Sachs’ business in Qatar.
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372 Essa Bin Hilal Al Kuwari
\nEssa Bin Hilal Al Kuwari’s remit as boss of the Qatar Electricity and Water Corporation (Kahramaa) is to keep power and water supplies in step with the Gulf state’s fast-expanding infrastructure.
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371 Khalid Bin Kalban
\nDubai Investments
\nBanking & Finance
\nThings couldn't be any better for Khalid Bin Kalban, the CEO of Dubai Investments. His firm, the largest investment company listed on the DFM, saw its net income climb 58 percent in 2012 on the back of a recovery in real estate sector and markets rebounding.
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364 Abdullah Al Othaim
\nAbdullah Al Othaim Markets
\nSaudi Arabia
\nThe chairman of Abdullah Al Othaim Markets, Al Othaim has seen his company, established in 1956, grow from trading in foodstuff supplies to operating over 80 supermarkets and hypermarkets across Saudi Arabia. The company has also expanded into real estate with the establishment of the Abdullah Al Othaim Investment and Real Estate Company which operates five ‘super mega malls’ in Riyadh, Buraida, Al Ehsa and Damman.
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357 Buthaina Al Ansari
\nCulture & Society
\nA high-flying and inspiring business executive in Qatar, Buthaina Al Ansari received a Qatar Business Women Award for her Qatarisation work at Al Rayan Investment. She founded and manages Qatariat, a company that specialises in helping Qatari women advance into the workforce.
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348 Muna AbuSulayman
\nCommentator, former TV host
\nSaudi Arabia
\nCulture & Society
\nMuna AbuSulayman was the first Saudi woman to host a non-state television programme and one of the kingdom’s most prominent commentators on culture, society and gender. In 2004, she was named a Young Leader by the World Economic Forum. In addition, AbuSulayman went on to found several companies including; which aims to enhance female employment opportunities and Muna World.
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341 Sayed Badreya
\nUS (Egypt)
\nArts & Entertainment
\nEgyptian-born filmmaker and actor Sayed Badreya always wanted to be a star. His dream came true when he won roles in major Hollywood films such as The Insider, Three Kings, and Independence Day. After attending New York University film school, he moved to Hollywood and worked in the film industry, first as an assistant to actor/director Anthony Perkins, then with director James Cameron on True Lies.
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335 Ray Irani
\nUS (Lebanon)
\nRay Irani was brought to US energy giant Occidental Petroleum Corporation in 1983 to help its struggling chemicals division. Serving as a director for his first year, he was quickly promoted to chief operating officer in 1984, a position he held for six years. In recent years, the company’s achievements have also been largely attributed to Irani. He is currently co-chair of the board of trustees for the American University of Beirut.
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333 Haifa Wehbe
\nArts & Entertainment\nWehbe has released four albums and is one of the region's best-selling singers.
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328 Saad Al Barrak
\nFormer CEO
\nAl Barrak is tasked with keeping Saudi Arabia's power capacity in line with extraordinary demand.
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323 Alaa Al Aswany
\nArts & Entertainment
\nEgypt's most famous author was also one of the most prominent protestors during the revolution to overthrow Hosni Mubarak in 2011. His best-known novel, The Yacoubian Building, addressed widespread social taboos and the issue of corruption, and was made into a big-budget film.
\nAl Aswany's works have been translated into 31 languages. He is currently working on his latest book, The Automobile Club of Egypt, and was named in first position in Foreign Policy magazine's top 100 global thinkers in 2011.
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318 Kazim Al Saher
\nArts & Entertainment
\nKazim Al Saher is one of the most successful singers in the Arab world, with over 100 million albums sold since the start of his career.
\nAlso a composer and a poet, in the past, he has been dubbed variously as the ‘Emperor of Arab Music’ and ‘Iraq’s Diplomatic Ambassador to the World’.
\nAl Saher’s range of music is varied. It extends from romantic ballads and political work to pop and classical Arabic music, making him one of the most versatile artists in the Arab region. In1999, Al Saher won a UNICEF award for his song, ‘Tathakkar’.
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316 Karl Wolf
\nCanada (Lebanon)
\nArts & Entertainment
\nRapper Wolf is still producing albums; he is also managing new urban music artists.
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314 Issa Abdulsalam Abu Issa
\nSalam International Investment
\nBanking & Finance
\nEntrepreneur Issa Abu Issa is secretary general of the Qatari Businessmen Association.
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313 Khaled Al Subai
\nAl Subai led the team that found a new planet - Qatar 1b - which has been named after the country.
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309 Nasser Sunnaa
\nBanking & Finance\nThe former CEO of Jordan Investment Board has moved into outsourcing.
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308 Zainab Salbi
\nAuthor, journalist, feminist
\nUS (Iraq)
\nCulture & Society
\nSalbi is the co-founder and president of Washington-based Women for Women International.
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306 Hany Abu Assad
\nFilm director
\nArts & Entertainment
\n'Paradise Now’ told the story of Palestinian friends Said and Khaled who have been recruited as suicide bombers for an attack on Tel Aviv. The 2005 film, which won a Golden Globe for best Dutch film and received an Oscar-nomination for best foreign film, soon ensured director Hany Abu Assad also became well known in the industry. In 2010, he was appointed President of the Jury for the 2010 Doha Tribeca Film Festival (DTFF). His latest film, ‘The Courier’ - starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan - was released in 2012.
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305 Omar Sharif
\nArts & Entertainment
\nThe star of Dr Zhivago and Lawrence of Arabia is the Arab world's most famous movie star.
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303 Mohammed Al Fayed
\nFormer owner of Harrods
\nUK (Egypt)
\nBanking & Finance
\nBillionaire Al Fayed still resides in the UK, where he is the owner of Fulham Football Club.
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302 Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf
\nCordoba Initiative
\nUS (Kuwait)
\nCulture & Society
\nA backer of interfaith dialogue, Rauf has served as imam of one of the biggest mosques in New York.
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301 Saeed Al Fahim
\nAl Fahim heads up a top real estate services firm in the UAE.
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295 Farouk Al Zanki
\nKuwait Petroleum Corporation
\nFarouk Al Zanki took on the CEO role at Kuwait’s national oil company from Saad Al Shuweib in October 2011, immediately becoming the government’s point man for the country’s biggest industry.
\nKuwait has the fifth-largest oil reserves in the world, with petroleum products accounting for 95 percent of export revenues. As head of KPC Al Zanki oversees an empire that includes Kuwait Oil Company, and Kuwait Petroleum International. Al Zanki also serves as the chairman and managing director of the Kuwait Oil Company.
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292 Mustafa Ali
\nArts & Entertainment
\nMustafa Ali, Syria’s foremost sculptor was born in Latakia in 1956. Known for elegant, monumental sculptures that pierce the consciousness and underscore the fragility of mankind, he has been widely collected in the Arab world for nearly three decades.
\nHe has exhibited extensively on the international art circuit since 1979 and has participated in a number of high-profile events such as Latakia Sculpture Biennial (where he was awarded the Golden Prize) (1997), the Biennial of Alexandria, Egypt (1994), the Sharjah Biennial (1995), and the International Symposium for Sculptors in Valencia, Spain (2001). Ali’s work is housed in private and public collections, including a number of official institutions in Syria such as the National Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art.
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290 Yusuf Qaradawi
\nCulture & Society
\nHis TV programme — Sharia and Life — is broadcast on Al Jazeera and has an estimated audience of 40 million, and he is also the founder of the IslamOnline website.
\nIn 2008, Foreign Policy magazine rated Al Qaradawi at number eight in its list of the top 20 intellectuals worldwide. Al Qaradawi was imprisoned by King Farouk in 1949, and was jailed three times during Nasser’s rule. He returned to Egypt shortly after the revolution. Despite his popularity in some areas of the Arab world, Qaradawi’s views are considered controversial in the west.
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287 Mika
\nUK (Lebanon)
\nArts & Entertainment
\nMika released his first full length studio album, Life in Cartoon Motion, on Island Records in 2007, which went on to sell more than 5.6 million copies worldwide and helped the Beirut-born singer win a Brit Award for Best British Breakthrough act and receive a Grammy nomination.
\nThe singer, the third of five children to a Lebanese mother and American father, released his second album, The Boy Who Knew Too Much, in 2009 and his third album, The Origin of Love, in 2012, which features his first French track. As a child Mika was trained by Alla Ablaberdyeva Russian opera soprano, and later attended the Royal College of Music, London.
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286 Mansour Ojjey
\nLuxembourg (Saudi Arabia)
\nF1 fanatic Mansour Ojjeh is the French Saudi Arabia-born entrepreneur who heads up Techniques d’Avant Garde (TAG), a Luxembourg-based holding company. The firm owns 21 percent of the McLaren Group, the most important asset of which is the McLaren Formula One team. Ojjeh’s passion for motor racing is renowned.
\nHis interest was first sparked by a visit to the Monaco Grand Prix in 1978 and TAG quickly became the William’s team principal sponsor a year later. In 1981, Ojjeh invested $5m in a Porsche built turbo engine for McLaren and the two firms went on to establish TAG Turbo Engines. In 1983, Ojjeh became a majority shareholder in McLaren, although details of the deal were not made public until 1985. Ojjeh’s father is the Saudi-born businessman, Akram Ojjeh, founder of TAG. The firm was famous as an intermediary in deals between Saudi Arabia and France, particularly arms sales. Ojjeh was involved in the marketing of the French Mirage 2000 fighter jet to Saudi Arabia.
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285 Elissa
\nArts & Entertainment
\nElissar Zakaria Khoury, known to millions across the Arab world simply as Elissa, is one of the region’s biggest stars.
\nBorn to a Lebanese mother and Syrian father, Elissa made her debut in 1992 in Studio El Fan, a popular music competition, where she won a silver medal. Her debut album, Baddi Doub, on EMI followed in 1999 and since then she has released seven more studio albums. She is the recipient of the World Music Award for best-selling artist in the Middle East and has won the World Music Award accolade three times, an achievement yet to be matched by any other Lebanese performer.
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284 Abdullah Juma’ah
\nSaudi Arabia
\nIn 2010, Abdullah Juma’ah took over his formal position on energy giant Halliburton’s board of directors.
\nThe former CEO of Saudi Aramco also currently serves on the JP Morgan Chase International Advisory Council and is a former member of the International Business Council of the WEF. The veteran has served on a number of committees, including vice chairman of the advisory board at King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals.
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283 Marcel Khalife
\nArts & Entertainment
\nAn exceptionally accomplished composer, singer and oud player, Marcel Khalife has the wonderful gift of being able to connect with Arabs of all ages and locations. The Lebanese-born artist uses his popularity to promote good causes.
\nIn 2005, for instance, he was named UNESCO Artist for Peace for his artistic achievement and humanitarian contributions. Khalife was famous for translating poetry into music, and for many years, he teamed up with the late Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish. In fact, his most recent album, ‘Fall of the Moon’, paid homage to Darwish.
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281 Hala Gorani
\nUS (Syria)
\nCNN anchor Hala Gorani is a prominent journalist in the Arab World. Known for her hard-hitting news reports in the region, she has now covered every single Middle Eastern country, and a large number of major events from the 2006 Lebanon-Israel war to last year’s Egyptian revolution.
\nThough she was born in Seattle, Gorani has a Middle Eastern background, with parents from Syria. Gorani now anchors CNN’s International Desk, but she has previously hosted shows like Inside the Middle East.
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280 Najwa Karam
\nArts & Entertainment
\nNajwa Karam is a multi-platinum recording artist who has sold over 50 million records worldwide. Karam dominated the region’s music scene between 1994 and 1999, earning herself the title of bestselling Middle Eastern artist for five years with a blend of traditional and contemporary Arab music.
\nShe has collaborated with composer Melhem Barakat as well as ‘the voice of Lebanon’ Wadih El Safi. More recently, Karam has won thousands of new fans through her appearance as the main judge on MBC’s Arab’s Got Talent. She is one of record label Rotana’s highest paid artists and was last year appointed as L’Oreal Paris’ first Arab Ambassador.
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279 Emel Mathlouthi
\nFrance (Tunisia)
\nArts & Entertainment
\nAlthough already well known in her home country, Emel Mathlouthi was propelled onto the international media when her protest songs, Ya Tounes Ya Meskina (Poor Tunisia) and Kelmti Horri (My Word is Free) became anthems during the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions. Mathlouthi first started writing as a student and become well known in Tunisia when she started writing political songs.
\nIn 2006, she was a finalist in the Prix RMC Moyen-Orient Musique competition but moved to Paris in 2008 when the Tunisian government banned her songs from the radio and TV. She released her first album, Kelmti Horra, in January 2012 and has spent the last year performing across the world, including Baghdad and Belgium.
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278 Mohammed Saeed Harib
\nMohammed Saeed Harib was just 19 years old when he wrote Freej, a six-page study book.
\nIn 2003 the Emirati got his first big break after Freej was adopted by Media City, who translated it to the screen. The show, which features four elderly national ladies living in a rapidly evolving Dubai, premiered in 2006, a year after Lammtara Pictures was established to oversee its production. With the show’s success, many doors have opened for Harib. Last year, it was announced that Harib will contribute to the film adaptation of Gibran’s The Prophet.
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277 Fahad Al Rajaan
\nAl Ahli United Bank
\nBanking & Finance
\nFahad Al Rajaan heads Bahrain’s largest lender by market value, Al Ahli United Bank, a major commercial and investment banking group providing wealth management, retail, corporate, treasury, offshore and private banking services.
\nThe group’s businesses consist of the operations in Bahrain, a wholly owned subsidiary in the UK and associates in Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Egypt and Iraq. Al Rajaan is also director general of the Public Institution for Social Security (Kuwait) and chairman of Wafra Investment Advisory Group (New York).
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276 Abdul Mohsen Al Hokair
\nAl Hokair Group
\nSaudi Arabia
\nA true pioneer in the Saudi entertainment market, Abdul Mohsen Al Hokair is chairman of the Al Hokair Group, a company that has become synonymous with leisure in the kingdom.
\nThe firm’s roots go back to 1965, and in the last four decades Al Hokair Group has built on its success with expansion and a dynamic growth in the scale of its business activities. Today, it counts over 6,000 employees and plays a leading role in entertainment, leisure and tourism. The group’s portfolio of interests includes more than 70 amusement and theme parks, a number of international restaurant franchises as well as the largest chain of hotels and recreational cities in the region.
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273 Dr Karim El Solh
\nCo-founder and CEO
\nGulf Capital
\nUAE (Lebanon)
\nBanking and Finance
\nKarim El Solh is co-founder and CEO of Gulf Capital, one of the largest Middle Eastern private equity firms, established with a capital base of $330m.
\nEl Solh holds a bachelors degree in civil engineering from Cornell University, an MBA from Georgetown University, a Ph.D. in economics from the Institute D’Etudes Politiques de Paris and a Certified Management Accountant diploma. The last few months have been a busy period for El Solh, who has helped the firm acquire a 51 percent in Dubai’s OCB Oilfield Services in February. He has also previously said that the firm is exploring a potential initial public offering (IPO) for GMS, one of the biggest assets in its portfolio, on a major stock market such as London in two years› time.
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271 Dr Ahmed Heikal
\nChairman and founder
\nCitadel Capital
\nBanking & Finance
\nBefore establishing Egyptian private equity firm Citadel Capital, Ahmed Heikal served as an executive board member and managing director of EFG-Hermes, a firm he helped transform from a small financial consultancy into one of the leading investment banks in the Arab world.
\nPrivate equity firm Citadel Capital controls investments of $9.5bn and in energy, transport and logistics, agriculture and food, mining and cement manufacturing. The firm controls companies investing in fifteen countries including Egypt, Kenya, Sudan and South Africa.
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270 Mahdi Ali
\nUAE football manager
\nAli took over as manager of the national side in August 2012 after a succession of foreign coaches met with little success.
\nThe former Al Ahli midfielder had previously led the side to London 2012, the first time the country has qualified for the Olympics. Although the UAE failed to make it through to the second round, the team went onto to secure the title at the 21st Gulf Cup in January, securing the country’s second Gulf Cup title in six years.
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269 Marwan Bin Ghalaita
\nAs the CEO of one of Dubai’s most important regulatory bodies, RERA, Marwan Bin Ghalaita literally has thousands of investors hanging on his every word.
\nRERA has found itself at the centre of several real estate disputes over the last few years, from Nakheel’s decision to ban several hundred residents from using its beaches on the Palm Jumeirah due to unpaid service charges, to delayed real estate projects. But he has continued to plough on with introducing new initiatives including rental price bands for each area of Dubai. Given that property prices in the emirate are starting to show signs of recovery, Bin Ghalaita is expected to face a few busy years ahead ensuring that prices are not driven up by speculators from across the Arab world and beyond.
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265 Mona Khazindar
\nSecretary General
\nInstitut du Monde Arabe
\nSaudi Arabia
\nCulture & Society
\nAs the first woman and first Saudi ever to be appointed director general of the Institut du Monde Arabe (IMA), Mona Khazindar is a prominent figure in Saudi Arabia’s art scene.
\nShe is also vice-president and founding member of the ‘Al-Mansouria Foundation for Culture and Creativity’, a non-profit cultural foundation that aims to promote Saudi and Arab contemporary art. With an impressive background in the industry, Khazindar has been with the IMA since 1986. Prior to her appointment with Khazindar, she was the curator of contemporary art and photography at the Institute, responsible for the IMA’s permanent art collection. Over the years, she has been the director of many exhibitions, and has contributed to numerous catalogues.
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264 Yazid Sabeg
\nFrance (Algeria)
\nAlgerian-born Yazid Sabeg is best known as the president of the administrative council of the French high-technology firm SSII (CS Communication and Systems) and also a member of the French Institute of International and Strategic Relations.
\nIn 2009, he made headlines when he was appointed by France’s then president, Nicolas Sarkozy, to advice on tackling discrimination in France.
\nHe helped launch a commission to examine ways of officially collecting statistics on France’s ethnic make-up for the first time and warned that the country risks becoming an apartheid state unless it brings minorities into the mainstream.
\nIn 2010 he became the latest addition to the roster of celebrity advocates who use their talent and fame to raise awareness of the work and ideals of the UNESCO.
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263 Mohammed Al Hammadi
\nEmirates Nuclear Energy Corporation
\nMohammed Al Hammadi is the CEO of the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC).
\nAl Hammadi is currently working hard to ensure that ENEC can deliver clean, efficient nuclear energy. As energy demand in the UAE grows at an annual rate of about 9 percent, ENEC’s role is significant to the future growth of the nation.
\nThe UAE’s nuclear ambition is currently the most advanced of the GCC states, with plans to open its first nuclear reactor in 2017 and a second in 2020.
\nLast month ENEC applied to the UAE’s Federal Authority of Nuclear Regulation (FANR) for a licence to build the country’s third and fourth nuclear reactors.
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262 Ayman Sahli
\nAyman Sahli joined Gulf Pharmaceuticals Industries – or Julphar as it is more widely known - in 2008 as general manager.
\nBut, having excelled in leading the company and strengthening its operations through networking with various countries and their respective pharmaceuticals markets, Sahli was appointed as CEO. He is a holder of a doctorate in chemistry and specialises in pharmaceutical research and manufacturing.
\nEarlier this year, Julphar opened its first overseas plant, in Ethiopia. More are on the way, with factories planned for both Saudi Arabia and Algeria.
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261 Faisal Al Ayyar
\nBanking & Finance
\nA former fighter pilot in the Kuwaiti Air Force, Faisal Al Ayyar has been with Kuwait Projects Company (KIPCO) since 1990.
\nWith more than $19.9bn in assets under its control or management, the bank’s core activities include financial services, media and telecoms, with interests in real estate, manufacturing, medical services, aviation and education.
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259 Zeina Tabari
\nChief corporate affairs officer
\nDrake & Scull International
\n(UAE) Jordan
\nWhen Zeina Tabari was offered a three-month internship in DSI’s HR department, she took the opportunity.
\nBefore she knew it, she was offered a full-time job. Today, as chief corporate affairs officer of DSI, Tabari heads up the company’s investor relations and has been touted as a future CEO.
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257 Bahaa Hariri
\nHorizon Development
\nSwitzerland (Lebanon)
\nBanking & Finance
\nBahaa Hariri, the eldest son of the late Rafik Hariri, left the family-owned construction, utility and telecommunications company, Saudi Oger, in 2009 to concentrate on his own property company, Horizon Development.
\nThe Geneva-based firm is in partnership with Jordan›s government owned real estate developer to build a $5bn mini-city in the port of Aqaba on the Red Sea and in also developing a $500m residential tower, commercial shopping centre and hotel project in Lebanon. The Boston University graduate is a major stakeholder in Globe Express Services (Overseas Group), which is ranked among the top 100 logistics providers globally.
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254 Sheikha Nadia Al Dossary
\nCEO and partner
\nAl Sale Eastern Co
\nSaudi Arabia
\nAppointed to run Saudi Arabia’s largest scrap-metal business before the age of 40, Nadia Al Dossary is a champion of women’s rights.
\nShe has said that “life doesn’t offer success on silver plates” for women, “they’ve got to work hard and make their own achievements.” Al Dossary, the daughter of a wealthy Bahraini-Saudi family, started her career as an area manager for the cosmetic firm Avon, which at the time was looking to expand its operations in Saudi Arabia. Al Dossary was promoted to national manager with a few years and in 2000 she joined her husband’s scrap-metal company. Al-Dossary developed training models for labourers weighing steel and tried to ensure basic skills for everyone in the company. Following her husband’s near-fatal accident in 2003 she took over the reins of the firm.
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252 Khalid Al Kaf
\nEtihad Etisalat (Mobily)
\nSaudi Arabia (UAE)
\nAlthough an engineer by trade, Khalid Al Kaf appears to be just as much a businessman at heart, as he runs Etihad Etisalat, or Mobily, Saudi Arabia’s second telecoms firm. Mobily, an affiliate of the UAE’s Etisalat attracted eleven million subscribers after its first two and half years of operations, representing a 40 percent market share.
\nThe company enjoyed surging profit growth in the last quarter of 2012, outperforming analysts’ forecasts with earnings of $501m, despite a decline in net income from its main competitor, Saudi Telecom Company. Net profit increased eleven percent while revenue from data and corporate customer will continue to drive growth, the operator said. In February, shareholders approved a decision to raise Mobily’s capital by ten percent to SAR7.7bn ($2.05bn).
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251 Dr Tariq Al Fayez
\nChairman and CEO
\nElite Insurance
\nSaudi Arabia
\nBanking & Finance
\nElite Insurance and Reinsurance was established in 2008 and began operations in January 2009.
\nThe Riyadh-based firm, which is spearheaded by Dr Tariq Al Fayez, is today a leading specialist in business and insurance broking, reinsurance and risk management in the kingdom. Al Fayez has managed Elite since its inception, prior to which he chaired the Charim Concept Group in Riyadh. Al Fayez holds a bachelor degree in physiotherapy from the King Saud University.
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247 Ingie Chalhoub
\nPresident and MD
\nEtoile Group
\nUAE (Syria)
\nIngie Chalhoub, president and managing director of Etoile Group, is integral to the luxury retail sector of the UAE.
\nSpearheading the fashion powerhouse since establishing the operation in 1983, Chalhoub has brought over 200 international ultra-luxury brands to the region. Among those names are Chanel, Valentino, Ralph Lauren, Tod’s, John Galliano and Hogan.
\nShe employs 400 people, operates over 60 high-end fashion boutiques across six countries and has even launched her own fashion line, Ingie Paris.
\nIn 2005 Chalhoub opened luxury fashion concept, Etoile La Boutique.
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244 Ayman Asfari
\nUK (Syria)
\nThe boss of oil services giant Petrofac, Ayman Asfari sits at the helm of one of the fastest growing FTSE 100 businesses.
\nBy any measure, Asfari is a success story. He took his first role in construction in Oman in his early 20s in a bid to fund an MBA at Wharton. It turned out to be unnecessary; less than a decade later, he was a millionaire with his own firm.
\nSince buying out Petrofac in 2001, Asfari has turned it into one of the leading players in the oil market. It listed in 2005 and today employs more than 18,000 people worldwide, with bases spanning London, Russia and Algeria.
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241 Mahmoud Mohieldin
\nSpecial Envoy for President of the World Bank
\nUS (Egypt)
\nBanking & Finance
\nMohieldin is the Special Envoy for the President of the World Bank. His responsibilities include coordinating the World Bank Group agenda on the Millennium Development Goals and the Post-2015 process; supporting the work on financial development, including long-term finance and financial inclusion; and coordinating the World Bank’s efforts to strengthen partnerships with the UN, multilateral development institutions, and the G-20.\nPrior to joining the World Bank, Mohieldin held numerous positions in the Government of Egypt and served on several Boards of Directors in the Central Bank of Egypt and the corporate sector.
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240 Jacques Nasser
\nBHP Billiton
\nAustralia (Lebanon)
\nThe Lebanese-born Australian businessman currently serves as chairman of the Board of BHP Billiton.
\nAfter serving as a Director of BHP Billiton Limited and BHP Billiton Plc since 2006, Nasser was appointed Chairman of both in March 2010, succeeding Don Argus. Nasser is also a non-executive advisory partner of One Equity Partners, the private equity arm of JPMorgan Chase, a board director for British Sky Broadcasting, and a member of the International Advisory Council of Allianz AG.Nasser was formerly CEO of the Ford Motor Company.
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238 Chedly Ayari
\nCentral Bank Governor
\nBanking & Finance
\nChedly Ayari took the top post at the Tunisian central bank last June. His nomination has been strongly criticised by the opposition and by some within the ruling coalition because of his age and his links with the former regime of president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
\nSpeaking after his appointment, the economist vowed to preserve the independence of the bank and the stability of the Tunisian dinar, as well as working to alleviate social problems.”If our objectives are to reduce unemployment, to reduce poverty... the central bank must work in the same way” as the government, he said.
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237 Ahmed Zewail
\nUS (Egypt)
\nOne of the Arab world’s most successful scientists, Ahmed Zewail makes the power list again. In a competitive landscape, Zewail – best known for winning the Nobel Prize for Chemistry – has also bagged the Wolf Prize in Chemistry, the Tolman Medal, and Egypt’s highest state honour, the Grand Collar of the Nile.
\nHe has been a scientific advisor to US President Barack Obama, and backed by the White House, became America’s first science envoy, visiting Muslim countries to promote the sciences.
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236 Taoufik Makhloufi
\nMakhloufi is an Algerian track and field athlete who specialises in middle distance running. He became the 1500 metres Olympic champion in 2012.
\nHe was also the 800 metres gold medallist at the 2012 African Championships and the 2011 All-Africa Games. He has twice represented Algeria at the World Championships in athletics. Makhloufi has a claim, alongside Mo Farah and Ousama Mellouli, \nto be the top Arab athlete competing today.
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231 Khadija Al Salami
\nFilm producer
\nFrance (Yemen)
\nAl Salami is the first Yemeni female film producer, having made numerous movies as well as documentaries for television networks in France and Yemen. Her works generally focus on women’s issues, probably as a result of her own childhood.
\nAl Salami was forced into an early marriage at just 11 years old and was raped by her husband. When she attempted to divorce her husband she was disowned by her extended family, left with only her single mother. Al Salami fell into production as a means of coping with her life, attending the local television studio after school. She went on to receive a scholarship to study communications. Al Salami also has co-authored an autobiography, The Tears of Sheba, with her current husband, the American Charles Hoots. She director of the Yemeni Information Centre at the Embassy of Yemen in Paris and is a recipient of the Legion d’Honneur.
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230 Mohannad Sweid
\nUAE (Syria)
\nSweid managed interior consulting and contracting companies in the US and Middle East for 25 years before co-founding Depa Interiors in 1996. The firm acquired the Italy-based contracting company Depa before moving it to Dubai. Through a number of other acquisitions and partnerships the firm became the Depa United Group in 2006.
\nThe company specialises in the full-scope, turnkey fit-out and furnishing of five-star luxury hotels, yachts, apartments, and other fine private and public facilities and employs more than 8000 people across 15 countries.
\nIn 2008, it became a public company when it listed its shares on the Nasdaq Dubai.
\nThe firm’s projects include fitting out the world’s tallest tower, the Burj Khalifa and five hotels on Yas Island.
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227 Ziad Al Labban
\nSadara Chemical Co
\nSaudi Arabia
\nAl Labban joined Sadara Chemical Co in September, 2012, as it received a record-breaking $4.975bn loan to help build a petrochemical complex in Jubail Industrial City II in eastern Saudi Arabia. The project is expected to create 18,000 jobs and be operational in 2016 with 26 processing units producing more than 3 million metric tons of 10 major categories of chemical products and specialty plastics per year.
\nAl Labban has worked in upstream and downstram sectors of the oil, gas and petrochemical sectors for 30 years. Before joining Sadara, a joint venture between Dow Chemical Co and Saudi Arabian Oil Co, he was president and CEO of Rabigh Refining and Petrochemicals Co, which owns and operates a 400,000 barrel per day, integrated refinery-petrochemical plant in Rabigh, Saudi Arabia.
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225 Tarek Sultan
\nFormerly known as Public Warehousing Company (PWC), Agility was established in Kuwait in May 1979. With more than 20,000 employees, 450 offices in 100 countries \nworldwide Agility is the largest logistics company in the Gulf. Its core activities are in warehousing, transportation and freight management services and it was the largest supplier to the US Army in the Middle East during the war in Iraq.
\nAgility’s customers span a range of industries from technology and retail to consumer products and oil and gas. However, after it was charged by the US with defrauding the government over multi-billion-dollar supply contracts, it has changed tact away from defense services. The charges were dropped in May last year.
\nThe company is looking to expand in emerging markets, in particular countries that experienced Arab Spring political upheavals as new governments there spend more on their oil industries and infrastructure. It also has partnered with Abu Dhabi’s Borouge to build a compound-manufacturing unit and logistics hub in Shanghai.
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223 Rafic Fakih
\nManaging Director
\nEmirates Fast Food Company
\nAs managing director of Emirates Fast Food Company, Rafic Fakih has the UAE rights to one of the most successful fast-food brands in the world, McDonald’s. Overcoming increasing concern about diabetes and the emergence of new “healthy” takeaway outlets, the Quick Service Restaurant is only expanding, with 108 outlets opened since it was launched in the UAE in 1994. Fakih aims to increase that number to 150 by the end of the year.
\nRecent figures revealed that 900,000 people a day eat in McDonald’s across the GCC. The annual revenues come in at $750m, meaning that the GCC population is spending around $2m a day eating in one of the region’s 369 outlets. The chain intends to grow to 585 restaurants across the region by the end of the year, with almost 50 percent of the QSR market.
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222 Ziad Al Khalil
\nExecutive Director
\nQatar Coral
\nAl Khalil has worked for the family conglomerate his entire career, generating 20 years’ experience in general management, investment and finance and the beverages and real estate industries. Most notably, he has spread the Pepsi Cola soft drink labels across Africa, serving as general manager of SevenUp Bottling company in Nigera before establishing SBC in Tanzania, Kenya and Ghana.
\nHe joined the family’s MAK Holdings in 2004 as chief financial officer until 2006. He is now deputy chief executive officer and chief investment officer and involved in all of the company’s investment decisions in Africa and the Middle East, where it has thousand of employees and provides small business opportunities.
\nEl Khalil is also executive director of real estate developer Qatar Coral, which has built two residential towers on the Pearl Qatar. \nHe graduated with a BBA degree from the American University of Beirut in 1985 and received a MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 1987.
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221 Christine Sfeir
\nTreats Holding
\nChristine Sfeir has never shied away from hard work. In between raising two young children, she has also created one of the region’s most successful restaurant empires.
\nAt the age of just 22, she persuaded Dunkin’ Donuts to hand over the company’s Lebanese franchise to her. “It was a huge risk because I was 22, I was female and the idea of American coffee and doughnuts was the last thing on people’s minds. But I had a hunch and a vision,” she says. The rest is history, with the franchise becoming a huge success in Beirut. She has now also added the Lebanese restaurant chain SemSom to the fold, offering “Lebanese Cuisine ‘with a Twist’”. Franchises have been set up in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, with plans for outlets in more countries. She now manages at least 400 staff.
\nSfeir is also a board member of the Lebanese Franchise Association and active member of the Lebanese League for Women in Business.
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219 Nashwa Al Ruwaini
\nUAE (Egypt)
\nCairo-born Nashwa Al Ruwaini is the CEO of the UAE-based Pyramedia and director of the Middle East International Film Festival. She started her career on the radio in Qatar at the age of 15, before becoming a TV presenter on Qatar TV.
\nShe later moved to London where she worked with MBC, before moving back to establish the channel’s Cairo office. In 1998, she finally established her own production company Pyramedia, which is now one of the largest in the Middle East.
\nShe has earned the title “Oprah of the Middle East” after hosting her self-titled chat show, during which she discusses numerous sensitive topics including the role of women in religion, AIDS and child abuse. Al Ruwaini also brought Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? to the region.
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218 Talal Al Zain
\nPineBridge Investments
\nBanking & Finance
\nWith experience at the helm of Bahrain’s three largest investment corporations, Talal Al Zain has played a key role in the kingdom’s economy for several decades.
\nIn the 1990s, he was a managing director at Investcorp, a private investment consultant for high-net-worth clients, before taking on the top job at Bahraini sovereign wealth fund Mumtalakat, managing over $10bn worth of investments, including the country’s F1 event, Alba and Batelco, and chairing Gulf Air. In March 2012, he transferred to PineBridge to head up the firm’s regional operations as well as co-head alternative investments globally. Al Zain says he is looking to set up a fund in the region that would “interesting for our global investors”. With $70bn of assets under management worldwide, one would assume he has plenty of scope to invest.
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217 Nadhmi Auchi
\nUK (Iraq)
\nBanking & Finance
\nAuchi is founder of General Mediterranean Holdings, based in Luxembourg, which has grown into an international powerhouse with activities in banking and finance, real estate, construction, hotel and leisure, industrial, trading and pharmaceuticals, communications, IT and aviation.
\nIts interests today include more than 120 companies employing 7000 staff with representation all over the world. Auchi also owns a stake in Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiri’s Orascom Telecom and owns Team Lebanon of the A1 Grand Prix Race series.
\nAuchi was once a middle man for major oil companies and state-owned oil fields in the Gulf before fleeing Iraq in 1980 when he was jailed by Saddam Hussein’s regime.
\nHe moved to Britain where he has lived since. He founded the Anglo-Arab Organisation (AAO), which has helped raise money for Pakistan after the 2005 earthquake and to build schools in Morocco.
\nHe was recently named by Forbes magazine as 670th richest man in the world, worth $2.2bn.
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215 Dia Azzawi
\nUK (Iraq)
\nArts & Entertainment
\nOne of the pioneering Arab artists, Azzawi is famous for the visual impact and bold colour of his artwork, spanning paintings, sculpture, prints, drawings and book art.
\nDuring the beginning of his career he focused on antiquity and cultural heritage and later became known for his representations of human suffering and turmoil, particularly in reference to Palestine. Azzawi’s renowned works include the iconic mural Sabra and Shatila). \nAzzawi’s artwork has been exhibited in museums and galleries worldwide.
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214 Saleh Kamel
\nFounder and Chairman
\nDallah Albaraka
\nSaudi Arabia
\nDuring the oil boom of the 1960s, Kamel started out by winning infrastructure contracts including building roads, pipelines and sewerage networks.
\nHis close relationship with the Saudi government led to more significant deals such as maintaining pilgrimage sites and building and maintaining Saudi’s airports. As founder and chairman of Dallah Albaraka, he has expanded his company’s interests into Islamic banking, real estate development, food production, media and healthcare.
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213 James Zogby
\nArab American Institute
\nUS (Lebanon)
\nCulture & Society
\nZogby is the founder and president of the Arab American Institute (AAI), a Washington–based, not-for-profit organization that provides political and policy research on Arabs in America.
\nThe organisation, aims to empower Arabs in the American political system and increase the visibility of Arab-Americans. It also acts like a think tank, issuing policy initiatives and encouraging its members to contact members of Congress. Zogby is also managing director of Zogby Research Services, which specializes in research and communications and undertakes polling across the Arab World. Zogby is a lecturer on Middle East issues and a Visiting Professor of Social Research and Public Policy at New York University Abu Dhabi.
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212 Camilla Al Fayed
\nUK (Egypt)
\nCulture & Society
\nThe fourth of billionaire businessman Mohamed Al Fayed’s five children, Camilla Al Fayed helps run her father’s charities and is a trustee of the Al Fayed Foundation. She is particularly active in fundraising for children’s causes and is the Young Person Ambassador at The Evelina Children’s Hospital, children’s hospices CHASE and Shooting Star.
\nShe is also the aide for deaf footballer Daniel Ailey. The 28-year-old, who grew up with her father owning the famous London department store Harrods, started her own fashion label aged 22 and now owns a controlling share in the luxury brand Issa - a favourite of Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, and her sister Pippa Middleton. The heiress has a three-year-old daughter Luna to six-month-old daughter Luna to Syrian-born property tycoon Mohamad Esreb.
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210 Hassan Al Thawadi
\nSecretary General
\nQatar 2022 Supreme Committee
\nFollowing on from his success in making a bold bid for Qatar to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Al Thawadi is vying for a role on the FIFA Executive Committee as the Asian Football Confederation representative. A vote is scheduled to be held on May 2.
\nAl Thawadi, 34, was a key player in securing Qatar the rights to host the 2022 Cup – which will be the first time it has been held in the Middle East - despite a flurry of criticism including that it would be too hot, and the country lacked association with football, had a tiny population and would not be able to provide the necessary infrastructure. Al Thawadi fought back at every point and billions of dollars of infrastructure projects have now been signed off, which will help Qatar become perhaps the most advanced state in the Gulf by the time the tournament is hosted.
\nAl Thawadi is also General Counsel at Qatar Investment Authority and Qatar Holding.
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209 Dalia Mogahed
\nExecutive Director
\nGallup Center for Muslim Studies
\nUS (Egypt)
\nThe Gallup Centre for Muslim Studies is a non-partisan research centre that provides data and analysis on Muslims and coordinates a large-scale survey of Muslims worldwide. As head of the centre for nearly a decade, Mogahed, is regularly called upon to comment on behalf of Muslims and to provide insights.
\nShe was selected by US President Barack Obama to advise the White House on Muslim-West relations and is a board member and leader in several organisations, including the Crisis in the Middle East Task Force of the Brookings Institution, the Executive Board of Women in International Security, the leadership group of the Project on US Engagement with the Global Muslim Community, and the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on the Arab World. She is also a nonresident senior public policy scholar at Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut.
\nBorn in Cairo in 1974, she immigrated to the US aged five and has American citizenship.
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206 Randa Ayoubi
\nRubicon Group Holding
\nAyoubi founded entertainment company Rubicon Group Holding as a small venture capital project in 2004 and has developed it into a multi-faceted company with four international locations and more than 300 employees.
\nRGH now produces entertainment and educational content across multiple platforms including feature films, television series, 2D and 3D animation and downloadable content, as well as offering voiceovers, character design, storyboarding, and audio mixing services. It is particularly famous for the children’s television series Ben and Izzy. RHG also provides content for themed entertainment attractions across the Middle East and North Africa.
\nAyoubi completed her post-graduate studies at Harvard. She is particularly involved in education, serving on the board of trustees of the King’s Academy, a Jordan-based co-ed boarding high school, and has been recognized by the United Nations for her educational efforts in Africa.
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205 Ghassan Ghanem
\nAs CEO of the Aqaba Development Corporation (ADC), Ghassan Ghanem, has significant responsibility for the development of the seaside city and much of Jordan’s infrastructure assets. Aqaba, which is Jordan’s only seaport, biggest industrial zone and a vital conduit for much-needed goods and services, is undergoing major changes to boost Jordan’s economic growth.
\nUnder the plan, the city will have upgraded ports, new industrial cities and ultra-modern real estate projects. ADC was launched in 2004 to unlock the potential of the Aqaba Special Economic Zone - a duty-free, low tax multi-sector development zone, encompassing the total Jordanian coastline, the country’s seaports, an international airport and the historical city of Aqaba with a current population of over 100,000 people - by accelerating its economic growth and development.
\nGhanem, 63, is an original member of the ASEZA taskforce, set up in 2000.
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204 Adeeb Al Sowilim
\nSaudi Arabia
\nBanking & Finance
\nAdeeb Al Sowilim is CEO of Falcom Financial Services, a Sharia-compliant investment bank in Saudi Arabia.
\nEstablished in 2007, with a paid-up capital of $267m, Falcom is the biggest of 35 licensed investment banks in the Kingdom. Since then it has maintained a significant market share and spread its operations to Oman and Egypt.The bank is equipped with a fully fledged treasury operation.
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202 Moafaq Ahmad Al Gaddah
\nMAG Group
\nUAE (Syria)
\nMoafaq Ahmad Al Gaddah established Moafaq Al Gaddah (MAG) Group in Abu Dhabi in 1978 and has built it up to be one of the largest companies in the region, consisting of 50 companies and branches across the Middle East, and in Asia, Europe and Africa, employing 2000 people. The group covers activities in commercial, real estate, industrial, cultural, tourism and service sectors.
\nAl Gaddah is also a member of the Syrian Business Council in the UAE, the World Economic Forum in Davos and the Arab Business Council in Cairo. He founded the first Arab fund to support Arab families and is lauded for his philanthropy, including sponsoring Dubai Care, a charity that promotes children’s access to primary school education in 28 countries, providing financial support and assistance for organisations assisting handicapped people and supporting the Arab Family Organisation.
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200 Hitmi Al Hitmi
\nBarwa Real Estate
\nSince its formation, Barwa has shown itself to be a dynamic and powerful force for the development of Qatar.
\nWith a shareholding of 45 percent held by Qatari Diar (a company owned by the Qatar Investment Authority) Barwa is the largest listed real estate company in Qatar in terms of real estate developments, and has a total asset capitalisation of approximately QR74bn ($20.32bn) as of 31 December 2010.
\nBarwa has a market capitalisation of some QR11bn ($3.02bn). It employs over 600 staff, almost half of whom are Qatari nationals. While the group’s main activities are in Qatar, it also has investments and operations in thirteen other countries regionally and internationally.
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199 Muna Al Gurg
\nDirector of Retail
\nAl Gurg Group
\nMuna Al Gurg, a graduate of London Business School, leads the retail division of the family run Easa Saleh Al Gurg group, steering the firm’s strategy and operational development for its international retail brands which include Benetton, Siemens, Unilever, IDdesign and Dulux paints. She was previously on the board of the Dubai Community Theatre and Arts Centre for about six years.
\nThe group started Al Gurg’s Women’s Empowerment Forum. Al Gurg is also a board member of the UAE chapter of Young Arab Leaders and their vice chairperson. She is a recipient of the Emirates Women’s Award.
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198 Magdi Yacoub
\nHeart surgeon
\nUK (Egypt)
\nBorn and educated in Cairo, Sir Magdi Yacoub is recognised as being one of the best cardiothoracic surgeons in the world.
\nHe initially came to the UK in 1961 after graduating from Cairo University Medical School in 1957 and returned in 1968 after a stint as a junior assistant professor at the University of Chicago. He’s performed bypass surgery on Egyptian actor Omar Sharif and Saudi Arabia’s Adnan Khashoggi. Yacoub is the founder of the Harefield Heart Science Centre (Magdi Yacoub Institute) and oversees over 60 scientists and students in the areas of tissue engineering, myocardial regeneration, stem cell biology, end stage heart failure and transplant immunology. Yacoub established the largest heart and lung transplantation programme in the world and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 1991.
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197 Suad Al Humaidi
\nLandmark SAL
\nBanking & Finance
\nSuad Al Humaidi is often considered an ambassador for businesswomen across the region. The Kuwaiti national owns a group commercial and residential complexes in her country. She is also a member of The Property Owners Union in Kuwait.
\nAl Humaidi is president of the Suad Al Humaidi Group of Companies.
\nShe is also a member of the board of management for Sradar (Audi Bank) in Lebanon, owns stakes in several banks across Kuwait including the National Bank of Kuwait and also owns a hotel and residential tower in Beirut.
\nArabian Business estimates her personal wealth at around $3bn.
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194 Sultan Al Jaber
\nSultan Al Jaber is at the forefront of the UAE’s plan to remodel itself as a nexus of environmentally friendly technology, as the country bids to wean itself off hydrocarbon revenues and builds its own human capital base simultaneously.
\nMasdar may have delayed its expansion plans slightly due to the economic climate, but building is still continuing. Elsewhere, Al Jaber holds the senior project manager position at Mubadala, as well as board positions at Abu Dhabi Shipbuilding Company and the American University of Dubai.
\nIn 2009, Al Jaber was invited by UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon to serve as a member of the United Nations Secretary General’s Advisory Group on Energy and Climate Change (AGECC). In the same year, he coordinated Masdar’s participation in the UAE’s successful bid to host the headquarters of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in Masdar City.
\nThe Masdar CEO has a PhD in business and economics from the UK’s Coventry University and as Arabian Business went to press, he was appointed Minister of State in a newly reshuffled UAE cabinet.
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193 Sari Nusseibeh
\nAl Quds University
\nSari Nusseibeh is a scion of the oldest Palestinian family in Jerusalem, which, according to hundreds of years of tradition, is the trustee for opening and closing the Gate of the Church of the Holy Sephuchre, which for many Christians is the most important pilgrimmage destination.
\n He is one of the most distinguished academics in the Arab world. Nusseibeh is a professor of philosophy and president of the Al-Quds University in Jerusalem and was until December 2002 the representative of the Palestinian National Authority in Jerusalem. Nusseibeh is a graduate of philosophy from Oxford University and earned his doctorate from Harvard University.
\nHe is the head and founder of the Palestinian Consultancy Group, and sits on the advisory board of The International Centre for Ethics, Justice and Public Life at Brandeis University in the US. He was voted the 24th most influential intellectutal in the world by Foreign Policy magazine in 2011.
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191 Maha Al Ghunaim
\nGlobal \nInvestment House
\nBanking & Finance
\nAs a co-founder and chairperson of one of the region’s largest investment companies, Kuwait’s Global Investment House, Maha Al Ghunaim is a key figure in the Gulf business sector.
\nKnown as a celebrity in the Arab world of finance, she founded the company in 1998 along with four friends, and over a decade helped grow it from a $50m start up to a firm with a market cap of more than $5.4bn. The firm has had a tough recession; she is currently focused on debt repayment.
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190 Mohammed Shafiq Gabr
\nARTOC Group for \nInvestment & Development
\nAs chairman of ARTOC Group for Investment & Development, Egyptian businessman, philanthropist and art collector Mohammad Shafik Gabr is renowned in elevated circles as a consummate networker.
\nHe counts royalty and political leaders from around the globe as personal friends, and when Arabian Business travelled to Cairo in 2009 to meet Gabr, he allowed us a glimpse into this world.
\n“One thing I’m very proud of is over the years although I’ve had my challenges and difficulties, I have created a network of good friends all around the world,” he told us.
\n“I have always been a bridge-builder, and been able to create an environment where people can have dialogue and form partnerships.”
\nThis approach has served him well in business, too. \nWhen Gabr joined ARTOC in 1980, the name stood for ‘Arab Trade & Oil Company’. Today it stands for success, and ARTOC Group for Investment and Development is a multi-disciplined investment holding company with assets under management of $1.1bn. The group has interests in steel, art advisory, petroleum, electronics, real estate, flight services, construction, consumer products and publishing.
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189 Ayman Hariri
\nVice chairman and deputy CEO
\nSaudi Oger
\nSaudi Arabia
\nA son for former slain premier Rafik Hariri, Ayman Hariri along with his brother Saad, run their father’s company where he is vice chairman and deputy CEO, and member of the Board of Directors of Saudi Oger Ltd..
\nA computer science graduate from Georgetown University Ayman Hariri started off in engineering at international satellite provider Intelsat.
\nHariri served as CEO and president of Epok Inc., a US-based software company. His extensive experience has helped Saudi Oger become a successful international organisation. As the spearhead of Saudi Oger’s operations, Hariri handles the construction and facilities management of multi-billion dollar mega projects such as Princess Noura Bint Abdularahman University for Women and the King Abdullah Financial District.
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188 Namir Al Akabi
\nAlmco Group of Companies
\nNamir Al Akabi was amongst the first in a new wave of entrepreneurs who moved in to seize opportunities in the country after the US-led invasion in 2003.
\nStarting from scratch, Al Akabi built up the Almco Group of Companies, which is headquartered in Baghdad, but which also has offices in Dubai, Amman, Kuwait, Cairo, India and London.
\nAlmco employs 17,000 people and has made its name by providing a whole host of services, from sanitation to construction, and from manufacturing to logistics. Al Akabi is also owner and group chairman of Amwaj International, a subsidiary of Almco, which focuses on real estate development. One of its biggest projects is the $238m Baghdad Gate, which includes a five-star hotel, 3,500 residential units and a shopping mall.
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185 Mohammed Nasr Abdeen
\nUnion National Bank
\nUAE (Egypt)
\nBanking & Finance
\nAbu Dhabi-based Union National Bank is one of the UAE’s largest lenders, with 49 locations across the country.
\nIt is headed by Mohammed Nasr Abdeen, who has steered the bank through the economic crisis with a conservative approach to lending. Abdeen is also vice-chairman of the bank’s new Egypt operation. The bank reported a small increase in first quarter net profit, beating Reuters’ analyst forecasts, helped by an increase in net interest income and income from Islamic financing.
\nNet profits at the bank rose 3.2 percent to AED471.1m (US$128.26m) compared to AED456.36m in the year-ago period, UNB said in a bourse statement.
\nEarlier this month, UNB - Abu Dhabi’s fourth-biggest lender - said it had already repaid half the $871m in federal government loans it was paid in 2009 after the global financial crisis.
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183 Mo Ibrahim
\nUK (Sudan)
\nAlso known as Mo Ibrahim, 66, is a British Sudanese mobile communications entrepreneur and billionaire. He was born in north Sudan and started out working at the African country’s postal service.
\nWhen British Telecommunications was about to launch the first mobile service in the UK the company invited him to come on board as a technical director. Ibrahim took the job, but eventually formed his own company with $50,000 in savings. With the help of 450 engineers the company designed networks around the world. He then sold his first company a few years later for about $1bn. When big operators were reluctant to go into Africa, Ibrahim saw an opportunity and decided to enter the market in 1998 with his company Celtel, one of Africa’s biggest telecommunications companies, vowing not to pay a single dollar in bribes. The company ended up with 15 operations in Africa increasing subscriber numbers from a few thousand to over 500m users. He sold it in 2005 to Kuwait investors for $3.4bn and now devotes himself to philanthropy.
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180 Lama Sulaiman
\nDeputy Chairwoman
\nJeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry
\nSaudi Arabia
\nCulture & Society
\nLama Sulaiman was elected deputy chairwoman of the Jeddah Chamber for Commerce & Industry in December 2009, becoming the first female to hold such a post in Saudi history.\nHer appointment was even more remarkable given that just a week before standing for election, the businesswoman was told she had beaten breast cancer. The mother of four is a keen supporter of more women holding prominent roles in the kingdom. Al Sulaiman studied biochemistry at King Abdulaziz University before embarking on her doctorate in nutrition from King’s College London. She is also a board member of the Jeddah-based Rolaco Trading & Contracting and a member of the Young Arab Leaders.
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178 Khalid Al Malik
\nDubai Properties
\nKhalid Al Malik is group CEO of Dubai Properties Group, the real estate arm of Dubai Holding, where he is responsible for directing the group’s business strategy and implementation across a broad portfolio.
\nDPG is responsible for developing, managing and servicing a wide range of prominent properties, communities, districts and destinations in Dubai including Jumeirah Beach Residence, The Walk, Dubailand and Business Bay. DPG is heavily focused on the further development of Dubailand, which welcomed 13m visitors during 2011. The developer is in the process of building City of Arabia, Dubai Lifestyle City and Palmarosa.
\nAl Malik was previously CEO of Dubai-based Tatweer where he led its diverse portfolio of development initiatives across a number of sectors including; Dubai Healthcare City, Dubai industrial City and the leisure portfolio within Dubailand. Al Malik was also director of operations at the Dubai Development and Investment Authority where he was involved in initiatives to develop SME programmes as well as Dubai Mercantile Exchange.
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176 Carlos Ghosn
\nRenault, Nissan
\nJapan (Lebanon)
\nCarlos Ghosn is the chairman and CEO of Japan-based Nissan and holds the same position at Renault, which together produce more than one in ten cars sold worldwide.
\nGhosn is also chairman and CEO of the Renault-Nissan Alliance, the strategic partnership overseeing the two companies through a unique cross-shareholding agreement. For orchestrating one of the decade’s most aggressive downsizing campaigns and spearheading the turnaround of Nissan from near bankruptcy in the late 1990s, Ghosn earned the nicknames “Le Cost Killer” and “Mr. Fix It”. After the Nissan turnaround, he achieved celebrity status and ranks as one of the 50 most famous men in global business and politics. His life has been chronicled in a Japanese manga comic book.
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174 Talal Abu Ghazaleh
\nTalal Abu Ghazaleh Group
\nJordan (Palestine)
\nBanking & Finance
\nA native of the Palestinian port city of Jaffa, Talal Abu Ghazaleh is the chairman and founder of the eponymous Jordan-based global accounting organisation Talal Abu Ghazaleh International (TAGI) which he established in 1972.
\nHe is widely regarded as the “godfather” of the Arab accounting industry, and is credited by most in the industry with promoting the significance of intellectual property rights in business deals in the Arab world. Born in 1938, he later moved to Lebanon and then to Jordan. His first job after graduation from college was, unsurprisingly, in an auditing firm. Embarking on a career in intellectual property, he created TAGCO and Abu Ghazaleh Intellectual Property, specialising in accounting and IP.
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172 Hind Seddiqi
\nVice president
\nAhmed Seddiqi & Sons
\nHind Seddiqi is considered a role-model for Emirati women in the workforce.
\nShe broke with tradition to become the first female family member to join the corporate office of Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons. After joining as an intern, she has risen quickly through the ranks.
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171 Zinedine Zidane
\nFormer footballer
\nFrance (Algeria)
\nThe son of Algerian immigrants Zinedine Zidane learned to play football in the streets of the southern town of Marseille in France where he was born. His talents were discovered at the age of 14, three years after which he made his first professional appearance.
\nHis rise to stardom began in Bordeaux after which he moved on to Juventus in Italy in 1996 and in 2001 joined Spain’s Real Madrid for $66m, where he helped the club win the Champions League title. Zidane led France to victory at the FIFA World Cup in 1998 and to the finals in 2006. He was named Europe’s best player in the past 50 years in 2004 and in 2010 he served as a high-profile ambassador to Qatar, helping it win the World Cup hosting rights for 2020.
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170 Nabil Habayeb
\nPresident, Middle East
\nUAE (Lebanon)
\nNabil Habayeb is the Middle East, North Africa & Turkey region President and CEO of General Electric, the biggest maker of power-generation equipment. From Dubai he has been steering the company’s expansion and development across the region.
\nHabayeb, a native of Lebanon and a mechanical engineering graduate of Syracuse University joined GE Power Systems’ Field Engineering Programme in 1982.
\nHabayeb expects “double digit growth” in its sales from the Middle East, North Africa, Turkey and Pakistan, as governments invest billions of dollars in their infrastructure, move towards energy efficiency and meet the needs of their growing populations. In Libya alone, Habayeb estimates as much as $10bn in revenue from Libya, as the North African country vies to rebuild its economy, infrastructure, and institutions, and respond to the demands of its population. In 2011, GE earned about $8.6bn in revenue from the region.
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167 Najib Mikati
\nA businessman turned politician. Mikati, 57, who entered Lebanon›s fractious political scene in 1998 as a Minister of Public Works and transport, before then becoming a member of parliament representing his native northern port city of Tripoli, later served as a caretaker premier once in 2005 in the aftermath of the assassination of former premier Rafiq Hariri.
\nMikati, a graduate of the American University of Beirut, helped cofound Investcom along with his brother Taha.
\nThe company was listed on both the London and Dubai stock exchanges in 2006, in what was at the time the largest international listing of a Middle Eastern company.
\nMTN Group Ltd., Africa’s largest mobile-phone operator, bought the company in 2006 for $5.5 billion. M1 Group, which the two brothers run, became its second-largest shareholder. The company’s holdings include real estate investments in the US, Europe and the Middle East, as well as the Geneva-based Baboo airline, French retailer Faconnable and being a major shareholder in Royal Jordanian Airlines.
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164 Marwan Muasher
\nCarnegie Endowment and \nformer deputy prime minister
\nUSA (Jordan)
\nCulture & Society
\nMarwan Muasher is vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment, where he oversees the Endowment’s research in Washington and Beirut on the Middle East.
\nMuasher served as foreign minister (2002–2004) and deputy prime minister (2004–2005) of Jordan, the highest post reached by a Christian in the kingdom. His career spanned diplomacy, development, civil society, and communications. Muasher began his career as a journalist for the Jordan Times before going on to serve at the Ministry of Planning, then as press adviser at the prime minister’s office, and as director of the Jordan Information Bureau in Washington. In 1995, Muasher opened Jordan’s first embassy in Israel, and in 1996 he became minister of information and the government spokesperson. From 1997 to 2002, he served in Washington again as ambassador, negotiating the first free-trade agreement between the US and an Arab nation. He later returned to Jordan to serve as foreign minister and then deputy prime minister.
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162 Nezar Nagro
\nRotana Media Services
\nUAE (Saudi Arabia)
\nNezar Nagro heads up Rotana Media Services (RMS), one of the largest media groups in the MENA region.\nThe Dubai-based firm sells and promotes all of Rotana’s TV stations, Fox Movies, Fox, LBC SAT, Rotana Magazine, Radio Stations as well as many other placements. The company, which was founded in 2004 and is owned by the Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal and News Corp, has regional offices in Riyadh, Jeddah, Dubai, Beirut and Cairo.
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160 Nahed Taher
\nGulf One Investment Bank
\nSaudi Arabia
\nBanking & Finance
\nSaudi-born Dr Nahed Taher is the only woman in the Gulf to head up a bank.
\nShe is the boss of Gulf One Investment Bank, which she co-founded in 2005. Taher turned down a high powered job with the IMF to return home, eager “to do something for my own country” before being hired as the first woman by NCB.
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158 Mohammed Bin Ali Al Hedfa
\nGroup CEO
\nQatari Diar
\nBanking & Finance
\nMohammed Ali Al Hedfa has his hands on the tiller of Qatari Diar, which is the property investment arm of the country’s $115bn sovereign wealth fund.
\nQatari Diar has more than 49 projects under development or planning in Qatar and in 29 countries around the world with a combined value exceeding $35bn. Infrastructure works at Lusail City, the company’s 38 sq km development, are progressing ahead of schedule. Beyond Qatar, the firm is making headway in its projects across Europe and the Middle East, most notably in France and the UK.
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157 Issa Al Mohannadi
\nQatar Tourism Authority
\nIssa Al Mohannadi heads Qatar Tourism Authority and is helping the emirate position itself as a hub for travellers and tourists in the run up to the World Cup in 2022. The state recorded a 60 percent increase in the number of visitors last year with tourists from Asia registering the highest growth rate, followed by Europe. The government body plans to spend QAR 236bn ($65bn) to host the football tournament.
\nMohannadi previously led Msheireb Properties, and was the founder and chairperson of the Qatar Green Building Council, which actively promotes sustainability in the local construction industry and member of the World Green Building Council. He sits on the board of a number of leading private businesses, as well as serving in a civic capacity as a board member for a number of social and educational institutions in Qatar.
\nPrior to entering the real estate industry, Al Mohannadi worked with a number of multinational companies in the energy sector.
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156 Marwan Boodai
\nBoodai Corp
\nThe CEO of Boodai Corporation since 1995, Boodai has steered the company in its evolution into one of Kuwait’s most respected business conglomerates.
\nIts brands, owned and operated through subsidiaries, include Alrai-TV, Alrai daily newspaper, Jazeera Airways, Hilal Cement, City Bus, JTC Logistics and Boodai Trading. In 2005, Boodai, established Jazeera Airways, a budget carrier. The move ended Kuwait’s 50-year dependence on a single national airline. The carrier posted a 32 percent increase in profit last year.
Boodai told Arabian Business last year that Jazeera would definitely be interested in taking part the privatisation of national carrier Kuwait Airways.
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155 Rasheed Al Maraj
\nCentral Bank of Bahrain
\nBanking & Finance
\nAs governor of the Central Bank of Bahrain since January 2005, Rasheed Al Maraj is responsible for ensuring monetary and financial stability in the tiny kingdom. Al Maraj has served with the government and the private sector and has finance, engineering and management experience.
\nHe previously served as Assistant Under-Secretary at the then Finance and National Economy Ministry and Under-Secretary at the Ministry of Transportation. Prior to his appointment as CBB governor, Al Maraj was general manager and CEO of Apicorp, which is based in Dammam.
\nAl Maraj is on the boards of the Economic Development Board, National Oil and Gas Authority and member of the Board of Trustees of the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies. \nHe previously served as chairman of Batelco, and was a member of the Consultation Council of the Co-operation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf.
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154 Tawakkul Karman
\nNobel Peace Prize laureate
\nCulture & Society
\nIn 2011, Tawakkul Karman was undoubtedly the female face of the Arab Spring when it came to the shores of her home country Yemen. The youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize that year - aged just 32 - Karman has found herself touring the world, bringing Yemen’s plight before diplomats and fighting for women’s rights.
\nIn her own country, of course, she has been working hard to promote freedom of speech for years. In 2005, she set up the campaign group Women Journalists Without Chains. But Karman really hit the international headlines in 2011, when she led a series of protests calling for the departure of Yemeni president Saleh. Saleh has since quit his post after 33 years in power. In an interview with AFP last month, Karman warned that President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi was powerless when it came to the control of the army and was thus unable to implement his plans to reshape Yemen’s security forces.
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152. Yousef Al Shelash
\nDar Al Arkan
\nSaud Arabia
\nSaudi Arabia is planning to build more than 1.65m homes in different parts of the kingdom to meet demand from its growing population approaching 30m. Though its posted a decline in profit for the past three years in the wake of increasing competition, Dar Al Arkan, as the kingdom’s biggest listed developer, is still uniquely positioned to benefit from the kingdom›s building boom. And as chairman of the company, Youssef Al Shelash is very much in the driving seat. \n“The latest developments in the Saudi market are likely to have a positive impact on the real estate industry in general,” he told Arabian Business last year.
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149. Ibrahim Al Ibrahim
\nGovernment Advisor
\nBanking & Finance
\nSince 1988, Al Ibrahim has been a close advisor to Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, the Emir of Qatar. Dr Ibrahim was between 2006 and 2011 the secretary general for the General Secretariat for Development Planning (GSDP). He has been at the heart of the development process for the Qatar National Vision 2030, and is now also leading Qatar’s First National Development Strategy.
\nAs the state realises its global ambitions, almost every plan and process is going through Dr Ibrahim’s desk. Dr Ibrahim is the vice chairman of the board of RasGas Company Limited and chairman of the Marketing Committee. He is a board member at Qatar Petroleum. Al Ibrahim’s previous roles include a position at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu, and senior economist at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies between 1986-1988. He has a PhD in business administration from New York University. In 2009, he was awarded the LNG Visionary Award in Barcelona, Spain.
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147. Iskander Najjar
\nAlpari ME
\nUAE (Jordan)
\nBanking & Finance
\nNajjar heads up Alpari ME DMCC, one of the Gulf’s most innovative currency & commodity trading brokerages. He has been instrumental in transforming the online trading industry in the Middle East. This began nearly a decade ago with online trading still at its infancy globally. As the CEO of Alpari ME DMCC, Najjar has positioned the firm as one of the most transparent and trusted online trading brokers operating regionally. Alpari ME DMCC is part of the Alpari group of companies, a worldwide broker with more than twelve years of experience in global financial markets and is one of the fastest growing providers of online foreign exchange (Forex, FX), commodities and contracts for difference (CFDs) trading services for private and institutional clients.
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146. Ala’a Eraiqat
\nAbu Dhabi Commercial Bank
\nBanking & Finance
\nAla’a Eraiqat has served as the CEO of Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB), the UAE’s third largest lender, since 2009. Prior to his appointment he served as the lender’s deputy CEO and director of Al Dhabi Brokerage Services. Eraiqat has held senior positions within Citibank, Standard Chartered Bank, and other financial institutions. He is a certified trainer in sales, investments, marketing and leadership. Eraiqat received the Asian Banker Promising Young Banker Award for the Gulf Region in 2007 on 16 March 2008. In 2009, he was chosen by Arabian Business as one of GCC’s Most Admired Executives.
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143. Nancy Ajram
\nArts & Entertainment
\nLebanese superstar Nancy Ajram is one of the most successful Arab singers of all time. With eight albums and numerous chart-topping singles to her name, many consider her to be among the top Arabic music icons of the decade. In 2008 she was named the best-selling artist in the Middle East at the World Music Awards, and two years later achieved wide acclaim when she sang ‘Wavin’ Flag’ for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. US TV icon Oprah Winfrey has also branded her one of the most influential personalities in the Middle East.
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141. Manahel Thabet
\nUAE (Yemen)
\nThe youngest – and only – Arab with a PhD in Financial Engineering, she writes research papers on quantum mathematics. Her work to revolutionize our understanding of math and physics is poised to earn her a second PhD. Thabet, the winner of L’Officiel’s Inspirational Woman of the Year award in 2010, is also an active member of MENSA, Young Arab Leaders, and the International Association of Financial Engineers. This is all in addition to her day job as President of SmartTips Consultants, a management consultancy.
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140. Raja Al Gurg
\nManaging Director
\nEasa Saleh Al Gurg Group
\nCulture & Society
\nRaja Easa Saleh Al Gurg wears many hats. Not only is she the managing director of the Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group, the firm of which her father is chairman, but she is also president of the Dubai Business Women’s Council. Al Gurg is also deputy chairperson of the board of directors at Dubai Healthcare City Authority, and a board member at both the Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry and the Dubai Women’s Council. She is also a member of the Dubai Economic Council.
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136. Nadine Labaki
\nFilm Director
\nArts & Entertainment
\nArguably the best known auteur in the Arab music video world, the 36-year-old Lebanese actress and director is often credited for bringing new artists onto the burgeoning Arab pop scene.
\nHer 2007 breakout debut, Caramel, became an international sensation which showed the less-seen side of Beirut — a romantic comedy centered on five women who gather regularly at a beauty salon to discuss love, life and sex. The movie landed Labaki on Variety’s annual list of ten directors to watch. Her second feature film, Where Do We Go Now?, scooped prizes around the world, including the people’s choice award at the Toronto Film Festival. As a songwriter, her regular collaborations with pop star Nancy Ajram have helped Labaki push forward a more modern take on the current state of Arab womanhood.
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135. Ramzi Raad
\nChairman & CEO
\nTBWA/RAAD Middle East
\nUAE (Lebanon)
\nRaad graduated from the American University of Beirut and began his advertising career in 1967. For the following twelve years he helped to expand the first Middle East regional agency network, by helping establish its branches in Kuwait and Bahrain in the early seventies. As a result of the eruption of the civil war in his native Lebanon, he was the first Lebanese ad man to move to the Gulf where he settled in Dubai in October 1975. In 1982 he moved to Paris and two years later he transferred to London for the next four years. He returned to Dubai in 1986 and it has remained his base of operations ever since.
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134. Saad Abdul Latif
\nPepsiCo Asia, Middle East & Africa
\nLebanon (UAE)
\nSaad Abdul-Latif is Chief Executive Officer of PepsiCo Asia, Middle East and Africa. PepsiCo is a global food and beverage leader with net revenues of more than $65 billion and a product portfolio that includes 22 brands that generate more than $1 billion each in annual retail sales. PepsiCo’s main businesses – Quaker, Tropicana, Gatorade, Frito-Lay and Pepsi-Cola – make hundreds of enjoyable foods and beverages that are loved throughout the world. He assumed his current role in September 2008, and is responsible for PepsiCo’s Asia, Middle East and Africa sector – a business unit comprised of the company’s food and beverage businesses in the region, generating $7.4bn in annual revenues in 2011 and spanning more than 90 countries.
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132. Nisreen Shocair
\nVirgin Megastore Middle East
\nUAE (Lebanon)
\nNisreen Shocair took over the helm of Virgin Megastores, Middle East in 2006 and has overseen the brand’s transformation from a CD and DVD store to a one-stop shop for music, video and multimedia entertainment. Shocair, who grew up in Nigeria, started her entertainment career working at a local Blockbuster store in Texas before finishing her degree and joining Sony in the early 1990s. In addition to her role at Virgin, Shocair also sits on the advisory board of several digital and environmental start-ups.
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131. Fatima Al Jaber
\nChief operating officer
\nAl Jaber Group
\nNow 43 years old, Al Jaber Group is one of the UAE’s top companies. In her position as chief operating officer of the Abu Dhabi-based group, Fatima Al Jaber oversees more than 60,000 staff and manages around $4.9bn in assets. The conglomerate, which has built a number of iconic projects across the UAE, was founded by her father, Obaid Al Jaber, 40 years ago. Prior to her appointment at the firm four years ago Al Jaber had a hugely successful career at the public works department at Abu Dhabi Municipality. She is a regular speaker at business conferences across the region as well as a high profile ambassador for women in the workplace. Al Jaber was the first Emirati woman to be elected to the board of directors at the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce.
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130. Yousra
\nArts & Entertainment
\nYousra is perhaps the Arab world’s biggest entertainment superstar. She first started making films in the 1970s, and quickly developed a strong working relationship with the legendary Egyptian actor Adel Imam. Perhaps her best-known collaborations were with director Youssef Chahine, with whom she made three films. Yousra’s portfolio also includes a number of TV shows that have been popular during Ramadan, and a supporting role in the Yacoubian Building, which had the highest budget of any Egyptian film at the time it was made in 2006. She is also a well-known singer, and has worked as a UN Goodwill Ambassador.
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129. Raja Trad
\nLeo Burnett (MENA)
\nUAE (Lebanon)
\nTrad is the CEO of Leo Burnett Group MENA, a major integrated communications network headquartered in Dubai, and with offices in Jeddah, Riyadh, Kuwait, Beirut, Amman, Cairo and Casablanca. Through solid and expansive partnerships with its multinational clients and through the strong growth of its regional and local accounts, Leo Burnett MENA has become one of the region’s largest and most successful agencies.
\nNow a member of the Leo Burnett Worldwide Global Leadership Council, Trad began his career in advertising in 1978 as an account executive with Young & Rubicam on the P&G account in Beirut and Athens. In 1981, he joined H&C Leo Burnett Beirut as an account director, and in 1984 he was named regional account director on the Philip Morris account.
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128.Cheb Khaled
\nArts & Entertainment
\nBetter known as Khaled, he is a Rai singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist born in Algeria. He began recording in his early teens under the name Cheb Khaled (Arabic for “Young Man” Khaled, as opposed to the traditionalist Sheikh elders) and has become the most internationally famous Algerian singer in the Arab world and across many continents. His popularity has earned him the unofficial title “King of Raï”. His most famous songs are “Didi”, “Aïcha” and “C’est la vie”. His signature song, “Didi”, became extremely popular in the Arabic-speaking countries and also in several other countries, including Europe, where it entered top charts in France, Belgium and Spain, and in Asian countries, including India and Pakistan. The song was used also used in a Bollywood film titled Shreeman Aashiq. Khaled and Don Was appeared on the The Tonight Show on February 4, 1993.
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126. Fairouz
\nArts & Entertainment
\nKnown as the Arabs’ ambassador and the ‘Jewel of Lebanon’, Fairuz is still considered one of the greats of the Middle East music scene. Fairuz received her education in Beirut and started her musical career as a chorus singer at the Lebanese radio station. Today, she is revered in the region.
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125. Wadah Khanfar
\nAl Sharq Forum
\nQatar (Palestine)
\nCulture & Society
\nHe is now the President of Al Sharq Forum, an independent network dedicated to developing long-term strategies for political development, social justice and economic prosperity of the people of the Middle East. He previously served as the director general of the Al Jazeera Network. He has been ranked by Foreign Policy magazine in 2011 as the first in The FP Top 100 Global Thinkers, and in Fast Company as the first in the 100 Most Creative People in Business (2011). During his tenure Al Jazeera went from a single channel to a media network with multiple properties including the Al Jazeera Arabic channel, Al Jazeera English, Al Jazeera Documentary, Al Jazeera Sport, Al Jazeera’s news websites, and the Al Jazeera Media Training and Development Center.
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124. Oussama Mellouli
\nUS (Tunisia)
\nHe is a three-time Olympic medalist, and an African record holder. Oussama Mellouli became the 1500 m freestyle World champion at the 2009 World Aquatics Championships with a winning time of 14:37.28, then the second best performance of all time. Mellouli is the gold medalist in the 1500 freestyle at the 2008 Olympics, the bronze medalist in the 1500 freestyle at the 2012 Olympics, and the gold medalist in the 10 km marathon swim at the 2012 Olympics.
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123. Nayla Al Khaja
\nFilm Producer
\nArts & Entertainment
\nNayla Al Khaja, the UAE’s first ever female filmmaker, has already made three short features in her brief career. One of Al Khaja’s films won a prize at the Dubai International Film Festival in 2007. In addition, the Emirati has also set up her own production company (D-SEVEN), and she also heads up the UAE’s first official film club. In December, the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority commissioned Al Khaja and Ali Mostafa to make films for a new initiative, Soul of Dubai.
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122. Mohammed ElBaradei
\nFormer director general
\nCulture & Society
\nHe was the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), an intergovernmental organization under the auspices of the United Nations, from 1997 to 2009. He and the IAEA were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005. ElBaradei was also an important figure in the 2011 Egyptian revolution which ousted the Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
\nElBaradei is currently the leader of Egypt›s Constitution Party, which aims to group the liberal forces of the country, in order to protect and promote the principles and objectives of the 25 January 2011 Revolution according to liberal ideals. He is a prominent figure of the Egyptian opposition.
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121. Dr Nasser Marafih
\nGroup CEO
\nQatar’s state-owned telecommunications firm, Qtel will now be known as ‘Ooredoo’, which means ‘I want’ in Arabic. The rebranding, which was widely expected, came during the Mobile World Conference in Barcelona. Ooredoo has been flexing its financial muscles in recent months, raising its ownership in Iraq’s Asiacell to 64 percent following the firm’s US$1.24bn IPO in January. Last year, the company increased its stake in Kuwait’s Wataniya to 92 percent in one of the Gulf’s biggest acquisitions. It is currently vying with the UAE’s Etisalat to buy Vivendi’s 53 percent stake in Maroc Telecom for around US$6bn.
\nIn the third quarter of 2013, Ooredoo reported a 74 percent increase in net profit to US$294m, while profits rose by 6 percent year-on-year.\nOoredoo also announced that the Barcelona football player Lionel Messi had become its new global brand ambassador, extending the Gulf states link with the Spanish side. The Qatar Foundation is currently the club’s main shirt sponsor, although Qatar Airways will take on this role from next season.
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119. IIham Al Madfai
\nArts & Entertainment
\nHe is an Iraqi guitarist, singer and composer. Al Madfai’s synthesis of Western guitar stylings with traditional Iraqi music has made him a popular performer in his native country and throughout the Middle East. His Western-inspired compositions led to a nickname; “The Baghdad Beatle”. Al Madfai began studying guitar at the age of twelve.
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118. Matter Al Tayer
\nHe will always be known as the man who built the Dubai Metro. In the past couple of years, Al Tayer saw much of the project complete with the opening of the Green Line. But that is just part of his task, as he continues to oversee the many road and other major infrastructure projects in Dubai.
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116. Ali Shareef Al Emadi
\nGroup CEO
\nQatar National Bank
\nBanking & Finance
\nQatar National Bank, which is currently on an expansion spree with a number of high-profile acquisitions, is set to become the first Arab lender with assets exceeding $100bn, according to new data. Led by Ali Shareef Al Emadi, QNB said last year that it will pay $1.97bn for 77 percent of National Societe Generale Bank, its latest deal in overseas markets. The deal will boost the bank’s assets by 11 percent to about $107bn, more than double their value at the end of 2009.
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115. Salma Al Hareb
\nEconomic Zones World
\nFormer lab technologist Salma Hareb studied for diplomas in IT and business while also holding down a job at Dubai’s Department of Health before she decided on a change of career. In 1997, she started working as a planner for Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority (JAFZA), the operator of one of Dubai’s busiest free zones. Hareb quickly moved up the ranks and in 2005 was appointed the CEO of JAFZA and parent company Economic Zones World.
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114. Ali Rashid Lootah
\nLast year was a controversial one for the Nakheel chairman with the on-going row with residents on the Palm Jumeirah over service fees. Undeterred, Lootah has been busy rolling out a string of big new projects including the new Nakheel Mall and the Palma Villas. The company announced a 57 per cent profit surge to AED2.017bn for the year ending December 31 2012.
\nThe company also saw revenues come in at AED7.8 billion, up 91 per cent over the same period. The company said it handed over approximately 4,600 units since the start of its restructure until December 2012, predominantly in Palm Jumeirah, Al Furjan, International City, Jumeirah Village, Jumeirah Park, and Jumeirah Heights residential developments. Nakheel said it completed interest and profit payments of around AED800 million to all lenders in 2012, and has made cash payments of around AED10 billion to various trade creditors and contractors since the start of its restructure. Long term customer liabilities have been significantly reduced - amicably - by around AED7.3 billion.
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113. Anissa Helou
\nLebanon (Syria)
\nCulture & Society
\nHelou started off with a career as Sotheby’s representative for the Middle East, followed by some time in Paris where she ran an antique shop and then took up an advisory role to members of the ruling family of Kuwait before embarking on a new course in her life in the 1990s involving cooking. The trilingual chef who recently founded Anissa’s School, has made numerous media appearances and written extensively on food with columns appearing in the Financial Times.
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112. Moh-Din BinHendi
\nBinHendi Enterprises
\nMoh-Din BinHendi started his career as the director of Dubai Airport Customs before being promoted to direct general of Dubai’s Department of Civil Aviation in 1979. The Emirati is best known for BinHendi Enterprises, a Dubai-based conglomerate, which he established. Today, the firm operates 29 fashion, jewellery, accessory and food retail outlets, while its trading division reaches in excess of one thousand retailers. In addition to his business commitments, BinHendi also sits on the board at Dubai Aviation College.
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111. Abdulfattah Sharaf
\nBanking & Finance
\nAbdulfattah Sharaf became the first CEO for HSBC’s UAE division when he was appointed in January 2010. Sharaf spent thirteen years at NBD before joining HSBC, and also spent a short period overlooking the global giant’s retail offering before taking on the top position.
\nIn February, the Middle East unit of the banking giant reported a 67 percent increase in profits to $1.4bn. That impressive figure came despite a global $900m cost-cutting drive that spurred it the lender to close sixteen businesses across the world.
\nSharaf, a graduate of The University of Denver, is also a board member of the Network International, an advisory board member of HDG Mansur - USA and a member of Young President Organisation.
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110. Ahmad Julfar
\nGroup CEO
\nAhmad Julfar was given the role of CEO of the UAE’s biggest telecoms company in August 2011. Previously COO and general manager for Dubai operations, and an employee at the firm since 1986, Julfar has played a significant part in Etisalat’s growth over the years. He holds two degrees, one in civil engineering and one in computer science, both from the Gonzaga University in Washington. State-backed Etisalat, which operates in seventeen countries across the Middle East, Africa and Asia, made a profits of $492.79m in the first quarter, down from the year-earlier period. The former monopoly had reported declining profits in seven of the previous eight quarters. The Abu Dhabi firm’s profits have slid in the last year as rival operator du, which ended Etisalat’s domestic monopoly in 2007, won market share and internet-based phone calls hit the high-margin international calls business.
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109. Naguib Sawiris
\nFormer chairman
\nEgyptian-born Naguib Sawiris was executive chairman of the telecommunications companies Wind Telecom and Orascom Telecom Holding (OTH) before turning to politics in May 2011. The firm launched Mobinil, Egypt’s first mobile operator in 1998. OTH has 20,000 employees and manages eleven GSM operators around the globe. In the beginning, OTH’s strategy was to target underpenetrated high population markets. However, soon after it started to pursue more developed markets with the launch of Wind Mobile by its Globalive subsidiary in Canada in 2009.
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108. Mona Al Munajjed
\nSaudi Arabia
\nCulture & Society
\nDr Mona Al Munajjed is not only Saudi Arabia’s foremost sociologist – she’s a high-profile women’s activist as well. She has spent fifteen years working and advising various UN international agencies, including the International Labour Office, the UN International Children’s Fund, the Food and Agriculture Organisation and the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA). Some of Al Munajjed’s work for ESCWA involved helping local NGOs in Saudi Arabia, particularly by providing technical assistance and advisory services to women’s welfare associations in Jeddah, Riyadh, Al Qassim, Ha’il and other areas.
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107. Yousif Abdulghani
\nManaging Director
\nMcDonald’s Middle East Development Company
\nUAE (Bahrain)
\nAbdulghani oversees all the 7 McDonald’s franchises in the GCC, and has a lot on his plate - between them they have 900,000 customers a day spending $2m a day on average. He started his career with McDonald’s in Bahrain in 1994 as a Managing Partner before moving to McDonald’s Corporation in late 2000. In January 2001, he took on the position of Deputy Managing Director in McDonald’s Egypt, where he was in charge of restaurant operations and development. After his success in growing McDonald’s business in Egypt, Yousif was offered the position of Managing Director in Malaysia in 2004.
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106. Patrick Chalhoub
\nJoint CEO
\nChalhoub Group
\nUAE (Syria)
\nCreated by Michel Chalhoub in 1955, the Chalhoub Group is recognised as one of the leading forces in the luxury retail business in the Middle East. Maintaining its family owned heritage, today the group - co-led by Patrick Chahoub - specializes in the retail and distribution of renowned brands within the sectors of beauty, fashion and gifts. The Chalhoub Group has a presence in 14 countries and the management of over 400 retail outlets, and has partnersedwith prestigious houses such as Baccarat, Christofle, Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton and Nina Ricci, to name only a few. Patrick Chalhoub joined the Chalhoub Group in 1979. Charged with distributing perfumes in Kuwait, he made the division a commercial success within three years. He then became joint CEO of the regional businesses, overseeing operations in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain.
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105. Mishal Kanoo
\nDeputy chairman
\nKanoo Group
\nUAE (Bahrain)
\nMishal Kanoo is deputy chairman of the Kanoo Group – one of the largest, independent, family-owned group of companies in the Gulf region, with diversified interests in: shipping, travel, machinery, logistics, oil and gas, power, chemicals, joint ventures, retail and commercial activities amongst others. Kanoo was educated in Dubai, and holds an MBA in Finance from the University of St Thomas, Houston, Texas. He started his career with Arthur Andersen in Dubai as an auditor before taking up his current position in 1997. He has also overseen the activity of many other prominent companies in the Gulf, in the capacity of director or chairman.
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104. Amina Al Rustamani
\nGroup CEO
\nTECOM Investments
\nDr Amina Al Rustamani started her career in 2001 as a project engineer in Dubai Media City. Just over a decade later, she has become one of the Arab world’s most powerful women, looking after 4,500 companies at TECOM Business Parks. Her rise to the top was nothing short of meteoric. She quickly began working on different projects related to broadcasting, and within four years of joining was a director in the company, having worked in the sales, marketing and technical design sides of the business. She was promoted to become the broadcast director at Dubai Media City, and became instrumental in the launch of Dubai Studio City, before becoming Dubai Media City’s executive director. Then in 2008, just seven years after first joining the company, she was appointed as CEO of TECOM Business Parks. She is a board member of Dubai Media Incorporated (DMI), and also sits on the boards of Lamtara and Tunisia Telecom.
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103. Hayat Sindi
\nUS (Saudi Arabia)
\nIn 2001, she won a PhD in biotechnology and has been credited with the invention of MARS, which combines the effects of light and sound for use in biotechnology. She co-founded Diagnostics for All, an organisation developing a disease-diagnosing paper that changes colours when dabbed with the bodily fluids of someone who is ill. Sindi is also a fellow at PopTech, which offers fellowships to scientists promoting innovation. In 2011, she launched the Institute for Imagination & Ingenuity, which helps local scientists create business plans and find investors for their ideas.
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102. Mohammed Al Amoudi
\nEthiopia (Saudi Arabia)
\nBanking & Finance
\nHe is said to be the largest foreign investor in both Sweden and Ethiopia. He has been honoured with the Order of the Polar Star by King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden. Al Amoudi made his first fortune in construction and real estate before branching out into buying oil refineries in Morocco and Sweden — where he was honoured with the Royal Swedish Order of the North Star by King Carl XVI — and his native Ethiopia. His holding and operating companies, Corral Group and the Midroc Group, employ more than 40,000 people. Corral Group has an investment portfolio in Europe and the Middle East that includes Preem Petroleum, the largest integrated petroleum firm in Sweden, Svenska Petroleum & Exploration, SAMIR, Naft Services Company (Saudi Arabia) and Fortuna Holdings (Lebanon).
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101. Rasha Sharbatji
\nFilm Director
\nArts & Entertainment
\nThe Syrian director is best known for her show , Banat El ‘Aileh (The Family Girls), a Syrian production, which tells the story of seven cousins, and the challenges facing young women at work, at home, and in relationship contexts – according to She is also behind the Ramadan series “Al Wilada Min Al khasera”. According to the same website, Shurbatji has been a stern critic of the Syrian regime. Sharbatji holds a BA in education and psychology from Cairo University, as well as a BA in paediatrics.
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97. Eisa Al Eisa
\nSamba Group
\nSaudi Arabia
\nBanking & Finance
\nIn 1980 - the same year that the bank was founded - Eisa Al Eisa started his career with Samba, the Arab world’s fifth-largest lender and Saudi Arabia’s second-largest lender by market value. In 2003, he was appointed CEO and managed Samba’s de-merger from Citi Group, where he steered the bank’s transition to full Saudi management in just 37 days. In April, the lender posted a first-quarter net profit of SR1.145bn ($305.3m), a two percent increase year on year due to a rise in operating income. Under Al Eisa’s stewardship, the bank has in recent years expanded overseas to include a branch in Dubai. Al Eisa is a former director of the Saudi Electricity Company (SEC).
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96. Ahmed Al Hammadi
\nCEO, Commercial and Marketing Affairs
\nAhmed Al Hammadi has had over seventeen years of experience in the UAE media industry, covering newspapers, distribution, sales, radio, magazines, television and online. Prior to taking on his current role, he was deputy CEO for support services at DMI. Al Hammadi has managed five daily newspapers, including Al Bayan and Al Emarat Al Youm, Emirates Today and Emirates Business 24/7 and is a board member at Career Junction Co and the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) ME. He has a degree in business administration from the Higher Colleges of Technology.
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95. Sultan Abu Sultan
\nBarclays Bank UAE
\nBanking & Finance
\nSultan Abu Sultan is co-founder and managing partner of W Motors, the firm that has built the first supercar originating from the Middle East. The manufacturing process of the prestigious car (known as the Lykan) was supervised and monitored by Sultan and his founding partner who ensured that global state of the art technologies where fully utilized to produce the first highly exclusive hypercar from the region.
\nHe is now chairman of Barclays Bank in the UAE, and is the only Emirati national chairing a global bank in the country.
\nHe started his career with HSBC in 2003, moving up the ranks before being appointed regional managing director. He also served in Dubai Police as head of IT, where he established the Quality Department that applies today quality management systems in all police fields.
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93. Hamad Buamim
\nDirector general
\nDubai Chamber
\nCulture & Society
\nAs chief of the Dubai Chamber, representing the private sector’s interests in the emirate, Hamad Buamim is a busy man. He’s a regular traveller, marketing Dubai’s businesses to the world, and in turn trying to get international firms to set up shop in the emirate.
\nAnd he also acts as a go-between between the private sector and the government, offering the chamber’s advice on laws and regulations. If the World Bank is to be trusted, then Buamim is doing a pretty good job.
\nEvery year the agency publishes global rankings that rate each country in terms of their ease of doing business. The UAE ranked 40th in 2011, but shot up to 26th place last year. This year, Buamim was also elected vice chairman of the International Chamber of Commerce World Chambers Federation.
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92. Ahmed Al Mansouri
\nDirector general, Television Channels
\nDubai Media Incorporated
\nAhmed Al Mansouri is just the latest in a new wave of young talent making headlines in the UAE’s growing media industry. He is now the director general of all Dubai Media Incorporated’s channels. Al Mansouri has also served as general manager of the television channel Sama Dubai, and as deputy manager of Dubai Media Incorporated between 2005 and 2007.
\nAl Mansouri was promoted to his current position earlier this year, via a degree issued by Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Among the channels that he oversees are Dubai TV, Sama Dubai, Dubai One, Dubai Sports, Dubai Racing and Noor Dubai TV. He has a masters degree in communications from Emirates University.
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91. Amr Diab
\nArts & Entertainment
\nThey call him the ‘Father of Mediterranean music’ and Diab, perhaps Egypt’s most famous singer, has dominated the Arab music scene since the late 1980s. He has initiated a charity campaign “Masry Begad” (“Real Egyptian”), a social national programme aimed at serving and rebuilding Egyptian society. His online radio station Diab FM often presents talks and discussions about what Diab FM team can offer to the community as well as applying it practically by being present in different sites across Egypt. Diab is believed to be the best selling Arab recording artist of all time. He was awarded the World Music Award for Best Selling Middle Eastern Artist four times and has sold well over 50 million albums.
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90. Shehab Gargash
\nDaman Investments
\nBanking & Finance
\nThe sale of his company’s shares to the public may not be taking place because of unfavourable market conditions. Yet Shehab Gargash is bullish and optimistic about the future.
\n“Two important things happened recently, the regional turmoil politically with the Arab Spring and the adjustment in valuations in the more developed regional markets, the Gulf,” Gargash told us last year. “Taking both of them into consideration, I think the future looks very promising for the Gulf. The macroeconomics are very sound, the valuations are attainable, the exaggeration premium has been flushed out.”
\nAs managing director of Daman Investments, one of the UAE’s most prominent financial services firms, Gargash’s opinion is one that is widely valued. And looking forward, Gargash is bullish about a rebound in investor sentiment.
\n“People will maybe look at it maybe strangely but I think real estate will make a comeback in the UAE,” Gargash told us. “It’s the home of real estate in the region more or less. I think the financial services sector will become interesting and some of the less invested areas but I think they are the long shot, things like agriculture in some of the countries around the region may see investment.”
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87. Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem
\nDP World
\nAs boss of the world’s third-biggest ports firm, Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem is in a good position to judge the health of the regional economy.
\n“We expect businesses to do good in 2013... we expect the economy to do very well in all aspects especially in real estate which was suffering and is expected to recover even better,” the chairman of DP World told us last month. “Dubai has really performed better than what is expected, Dubai has this ability, whatever everybody expected with the crisis that its going to paralyse Dubai - it didn’t.” The terminals operator is currently in the midst of a process of divesting stakes in non-vital operations – such as in Hong Kong, Yemen, Belgium and Australia – and investing the proceeds back into fast-growing emerging market facilities. Another key area of interest this year is DP World’s London Gateway, a superport and business park that is set to boost the UK’s economy when it opens by the end of 2013.
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86. Mohammed Al Rais
\nManaging director
\nHill International
\nUAE (Iraq)
\nMohammed Al Rais heads up regional operations at project management giant Hills International. He has over 35 years experience in the field, and is responsible for overseeing project delivery of Hills’ ever-expanding portfolio of housing, hospitality and infrastructure projects.
\nAl Rais was previously vice president acting as Hill’s regional manager for it’s Abu Dhabi operations. Under Al Rais’s leadership, Hill International has been successful in identifying new marketplaces across the Middle East; diversifying its client base and extending its operations in Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi in particular. Al Rais also oversees the operational delivery of Hill’s expanding portfolio of real estate, hospitality and infrastructure projects, including monitoring KPIs and ensuring client satisfaction.
\nHe has supervised the delivery of a range of large-scale, highly-complex, multi-stakeholder developments such as the program management of Dubai International Airport Expansion.
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85. Badr Jafar
\nCrescent Petroleum
\nAn Eton College and Cambridge University graduate, Badr Jafar, has certainly inked a name for himself. Apart from serving as president of Crescent Petroleum, chairman of Pearl petroleum and of Gas Cities LLC, Jafar is leading a varied group of pioneering companies in his role as CEO of Crescent Enterprises. That is not where the list concludes. In fact, Jafar tends to be active in different industries, both regionally and internationally, including aviation, shipping, real estate and private equity. Jafar was recently honoured as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum.
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84. Mona Al Marri
\nDirector general
\nDubai Government Media Office
\nLast year, Mona Al Marri was appointed director general of the Dubai government media office, replacing Ahmad Al Sheikh. A former PR guru, Al Marri was appointed CEO of Brand Dubai, the emirate’s first state media office, three years ago. Right now, she is in charge of shaping Dubai’s image to the media both at home and abroad. She is vice president of the Dubai Ladies Club and a board leader of Young Arab Leaders. Al Marri holds an MBA from the Higher Colleges of Technology.
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83. Sulaiman Al Fahim
\nUS (UAE)
\nThe one-time CEO of Hydra Properties is now based in the US, from where he continues to have considerable influence in the business world. He is putting together a major green building initiative and code, initially for New York City, that is expected to be rolled out in other US states.
\nAl Fahim has also been at the forefront of many green social housing initiatives in Saudi Arabia. His focus has also been on developing solar and wind energy projects across the GCC. He has been working with Spanish companies looking to establish a presence in Saudi Arabia. Much of this work involves helping European and Arab companies work together on information exchange programs. Al Fahim continues to be active in philanthropy, spending several weeks in year working on projects in Africa.
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82. Ghaith Al Ghaith
\nFor Ghaith Al Ghaith, 2012 will always be the year that flydubai became profitable. The airline – Dubai’s answer to Sharjah-based low-cost carrier Air Arabia – was only set up in 2009, but is already reaping the rewards of Al Ghaith’s stewardship and the experience and expertise lent by parent company Emirates Group. Al Ghaith has brought modern aircraft, and has also experimented with new ideas, such as charging passengers to use seat-back entertainment screens.
\nThe no-frills airline said it carried 5.1 million passengers in 2012, out of a total of 10.4 million passengers transported since the carrier began operations. Flydubai operates a fleet of 28 Boeing narrow-body 737-800, out of an order for 50 aircraft to be fully delivered by 2016. It flies to 52 destinations in 31 countries.
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77. Hisham Al Mana
\nSaleh Hamad Al Mana
\nHisham Saleh Al Mana heads up the Saleh Al Hamad Al Mana Co, one of the leading automotive distributors in the region & the sole distributor of Nissan, Infiniti and Renault brands in Qatar. The firm was founded over 50 yeas ago by Al Mana’s father, the late Saleh Al Hamad Al Mana. Today the group has a billion-dollar turnover, 2,000 employees and interests in the hotel, engineering and food sectors, as well as running successful Infiniti, Nissan and Renault dealerships in the GCC region. Saleh Al Hamad Al Mana was amongst the first to introduce and develop a wealth of experience to import and sell both cars and heavy equipment in Qatar. He established a philosophy based on a strong management and personal involvement in the day-to-day activities and operations of the company.
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76. Khadem Al Qubaisi
\nAabar Investments
\nBanking & Finance
\nAs the chairman of Aabar Investments , Khadem Al Qubaisi’s recent string of high-profile acquisitions have helped propelled Abu Dhabi onto the international map.
\nUnder Qubaisi’s stewardship, Aabar acquired a 32 percent stake in Virgin Galactic. More recently Aabar played a role in the biggest merger of 2012, Glencore’s tie-up with mining giant Xstrata. In 2011, the firm bought a $1bn stake in Glencore, although Aabar announced that it had written off $392m of that investment last November. The firm also holds a 21.57 stake in Dubai contracting giant Arabtec, which has won a number of big-money deals in Abu Dhabi in recent months. Al Qubaisi now chairs Arabtec and is also the chairman of the district cooling firm Tabreed, Takaful, I-Media newspaper and Hyundai Oilbank in South Korea.
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75. Safwan Dahoul
\nArts & Entertainment
\nBorn in Hama, Syria in 1961, Safwan Dahoul is among the highest grossing Middle Eastern artists to date with record-breaking auction sales and blockbuster shows that have made his paintings popular with regional and international collectors alike.
\nAfter graduating from the Faculty of Fines Arts in Damascus in 1983, Dahoul went on to receive a scholarship to study abroad from the Ministry of Higher Education in 1987. Choosing to travel to Belgium due to its rich artistic heritage, particularly its 16th century Flemish school of painting, Dahoul obtained a doctorate from the Higher Institute of Plastic Arts in Mons in 1997. Since then, he has participated in international art fairs and individual exhibitions throughout the Middle East, Europe and the US.
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74. Sobhi Batterjee
\nSaudi German Hospitals Group
\nSaudi Arabia
\nThe Batterjee family has been offering healthcare services in Saudi Arabia since the 1940s when Sobhi Abdul Galal Batterjee operated a pharmaceuticals company. In 1988, his son established the SGH (so called because of its aim to introduce German healthcare standards to the kingdom) with a paid-up capital of $15m. Today, the firm operates six hospitals in Saudi Arabia, Yemen and the UAE — which treat over a million patients annually — and has twelve hospital projects across the Arab world, including Morocco, Pakistan and Syria, either in the planning or construction phase. SGH is using the UAE as a regional hub to attract patients from the CIS and South Asia to be treated in the emirate. It launched a giant new facility in Al Barsha last year, and has plans to introduce another six smaller hospitals in the near future. Plans are also under way for an initial public offering, which could see the firm list 30 percent of its shares on the Saudi Tadawul in the next two years.
\n“We are planning to go public and we are working on it now,” Batterjee told Arabian Business last year. “We are a family business and listing is mandatory for succession. [An initial public offering] would cash in on some of the work that we have done in Saudi Arabia... Transforming a company into a public company is my next milestone, in the next two years.”
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73. Khaldoun Tabari
\nDrake & Scull International
\nJordan (UAE)
\nKhaldoun Tabari has been leading Drake & Scull since 1998, when he first bought a stake in the firm. However, his association with the originally British company dates back to 1982 when he first joined the firm to work on a project that involved the installation of eighteen radar stations and underground command centres in Saudi Arabia, which were later used in the first Gulf War.
\nThe firm was wholly owned by a consortium of investors, including Tabari, before it listed 55 percent of the company on the Dubai Financial Market in 2009. Today, Drake & Scull has around 20,000 staff with operations spanning the Arab world and as far as Thailand, South East Asia and Europe, and in addition to providing mechanical, electrical and plumbing services — for which it is perhaps best known — it also generates a large proportion of its revenues from contracting, water-treatment works and building district-cooling plants.
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72. Ayman Mohyeldin
\nUS (Egypt)
\nStill just 33, Ayman Mohyeldin has covered virtually every war, crisis and political development in what has been a tumultuous decade for the Middle East. Born in Cairo, Mohyeldin studied in the US before taking up a desk assistant position at NBC’s Washington bureau shortly after 9/11. He then moved to CNN, where he covered the invasion of Iraq and the subsequent uprisings in the country. Mohyeldin has also reported on Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005, produced the first interview with Muammar Gaddafi after the Libyan leader announced that he would abandon the pursuit of nuclear weapons, and covered the Egyptian presidential elections, also in 2005.
\nMore recently, he reported on the 2011 uprisings in Egypt for Al Jazeera, and was one of five journalists detained by Egyptian authorities after the Al Jazeera bureau in Cairo was closed down. Mohyeldin rejoined NBC in September 2011, and has since covered the uprisings in Syria.
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70. Noura Al Kaabi
\nNoura Al Kaabi took over the top job at Abu Dhabi’s twofour54 - a media development and training zone in the UAE capital - from former CEO Tony Orsten in April last year. She is also a board member of Abu Dhabi Media Company, Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Flash Entertainment. She also sits on the Advisory Board for Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation and Tawteen, an initiative by Emirates Foundation. This year, Al Kaabi was handed the Media CEO of the Year award.
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69. Bassem Youssef
\nTV personality
\nAs riots in Cairo’s Tahrir Square against president Hosni Mubarak took place, cardiothoracic surgeon Bassem Youssef was called into action to assist wounded protestors. But the doctor’s talents also lay in other areas. Youssef’s satirical news programme, ‘The Show’, has lampooned many of Egypt’s most prominent personalities.His Yutube channel has become one of the most popular in Egypt, and he was even invited to appear on the Daily Show, which is hosted by Jon Stewart. However, Youssef’s newfound popularity has come at a cost; he has been accused of defaming President Mohammed Mursi on two occasions.
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67. Abdulaziz Fahad Barakat Al Hamwah
\nModern Group
\nSaudi Arabia
\nAl Hamwah is the CEO of the Saudi-based Modern Group, which he co-owns with HRH Prince Turki Bin Abdulrahman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the chairman of the group. He is pulling the strings on a mega industrial conglomerate with projects under its belt worth more than $3bn — a figure that is growing fast by the day.
\nSharp, smart and charismatic, Al Hamwah has turned the company he co-started from scratch eight years ago into a world-class operation, particularly in the mining services sector on which the Modern Group has stolen a march.It is the first company in the kingdom to provide integrated mining services, including the production of commercial explosives and drilling and blasting services for the mining and construction sectors. Modern has introduced best-in-class industry and proprietary practices to improve the safety and cost of using commercial explosives in the Saudi mining sector. But perhaps Al Hamwah’s neatest trick has been to sew up a host of international partners, each bringing chunks of equity to the table. Joint ventures have been signed up with the likes of a leading South American oil and gas giant, EPC Groupe of France and a Japanese mining and steel conglomerate.
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66. Bader Al Kharafi
\nVice president
\nKharafi Group
\nNasser Kharafi passed away in 2011 leaving the reins of the Kharafi Group in the hands of his sons, who include Bader. Also vice president of the group, Bader told Arabian Business that the family plans to honour his father’s legacy by proving the third generation of Al Kharafis can securely carry the family business into the next decade and beyond. Established in 1956, MA Kharafi and Sons is one of the largest firms of its kind in the world. A diversified conglomerate, the group also overseas stakes, through the Americana food division, in various high-profile American eateries, and has the exclusive franchise rights in the Middle East for many fast food brands.
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65. Walid Al Ibrahim
\nSaudi Arabia
\nOften cited as the man who changed the face of Arab media, Sheikh Waleed Al Ibrahim is a familiar face in the Arabian Business Power List. In 1991, MBC Group’s chairman and CEO launched the first independent Arabic satellite TV station in association with Saleh Kamel.
\nOver the past 20 years, MBC Group has grown to become a well-established media group Based in Dubai, MBC Group includes 10 television channels: MBC1 (general family entertainment), MBC2 and MBC MAX (24-hour movies), MBC3 (children’s entertainment), MBC4 (entertainment for new Arab women), MBC Action (action series and movies), MBC Persia (24-hour movie channel dubbed in Farsi), Al Arabiya (the 24-hour Arabic language news channel); Al Arabiya Al Hadath (an extension of Al Arabiya News Channel); Wanasah (24-hour Arabic music channel) and MBC DRAMA coinciding with the Group’s 20th anniversary, and offers 24/7 Arabic Drama; the Group also includes two radio stations: MBC FM (Gulf music), and Panorama FM (contemporary Arabic hit music); as well as O3 productions, a specialised documentary production unit. Al Ibrahim is a member of the advisory board at the Mohammed Bin Rashid School for Communication in Dubai.
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64. Bakr Binladin
\nSaudi Binladin Group
\nSaudi Arabia
\nAs chairman of the Jeddah-based Saudi Binladin Group, Bakr Binladin holds considerable influence in the construction world. Despite the region’s stuttering construction sector, he has managed to expand the business. The firm was founded by Bakr’s father, Mohammed Binladin, in the Saudi Red Sea port city of Jeddah in the 1950s. The group has since grown into one of the kingdom’s largest companies, and was entrusted by the royal court with expanding holy sites in Mecca and Medina.
\nThe Binladin construction group has also built several palaces in Riyadh and Jeddah for members of the Saudi Royal family, and carried out restoration work following an arson attack on Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa Mosque in 1969. A major power broker in the Saudi business capital, Bakr tends to keep a low profile. Still, his reputation precedes him. “We have a mayor and all kinds of political heavyweights. But the true ruler of Jeddah is Bakr Binladin,” a source said.
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63. Bader Al Darwish
\nDarwish Holding
\nThe Al Darwish family is one of the most respected business families in Qatar. The family-owned Darwish Holding, a conglomerate whose activities include retail, business services, real estate investment, investments, construction and others, was founded by Abdullah Al Darwish Fakhroo and his brothers Jassim and Abdul Rahman in 1920 and is now run by chairman Bader Abdullah Al Darwish. Under Al Darwish’s leadership the firm has continued its growth in all sectors. Recently, Darwish Holding introduced the largest multi-brand luxury store in the Middle East, Fifty One East, which spans over 13,500 sq m of space. It also developed and operates the $348m luxury Lagoona Mall.
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61. Al Laith Hajo
\nArts & Entertainment
\nAl Laith Hajo is a prominent Syrian television and film director. He has said he will feature scenes about the current events in Syria in his new television series “Kharba”. quoted the director as saying: “We preferred to add to the script the reality of what is going on in Syria and the Arab region, in order to portray the societal problems being faced.”
\nHe added: “New ideas are being incorporated everyday according to updates in events in Syria and other countries witnessing turmoil.”
\nHajo added the additional scenes that have been shot for Kharba were not included in the original script by writer Mamdouh Hamada. Hajo is currently working on a series called Saanoud Baad Qalil (We’ll Be Right Back), which is written by Rafi Wahbe, and which will be shown to audiences this Ramadan.
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58. Habib Al Mulla
\nHabib Al Mulla & Co
\nDr Habib Al Mulla is well-known as a straight talker. As perhaps the UAE’s foremost lawyer, he made his name by founding the financial free zones concept that led to the launch of Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) and the Dubai Financial Services Authority. More than most, he is qualified to discuss the emirate’s recent performance in a candid and honest light. “These signs of recovery do not mean that all is well, that no mistakes were made, and that that there aren’t areas in need of improvement,” Al Mulla told the Arabian Business Forum recently. He has held a series of key posts, including membership of the UAE’s Legislative and Economic Committees. He also sat as a member of the Federal National Council.
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57. Zaha Hadid
\nUK (Iraq)
\nCulture & Society
\nKnown as the ‘Starchitect’, Zaha Hadid’s designs immediately lend superstar quality to any building project. Last year, the Hadid-designed Aquatics Centre was rated by many as perhaps the most beautiful of all the buildings constructed to host London’s Olympic Games. The Iraq-born architect became the first woman to win the prestigious Pritzker Prize for Architecture in its 26-year history in 2004 and has won a string of other accolades since, including the Stirling prize for two years running and a prestigious architecture prize for the MAXXI National Museum of 21st Century Arts in Rome. Right now, Hadid’s work is receiving rave reviews in China, where her Wangjing SOHO office and retail complex is set to open next year.
\nHadid has designed a number of renowned buildings including Maggie’s Centre at the Victoria Hospital in Scotland and the Bridge Pavilion in Spain. In 2010, her London-based architectural firm was commissioned to design the new building for the Central Bank of Iraq, her first project in her native country. Hadid is yet to visit the site, but the plans are still in place.
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56. Helal Al Marri
\nDirector general
\nDubai Tourism and Commerce Marketing
\nA big few years beckon for Helal Al Marri, who has just been appointed as director general of Dubai Tourism and Commerce Marketing. Last year, Dubai attracted 10 million tourists for the first time; if the emirate wins the right to hold the World Expo in 2020, then Al Marri›s role in bringing as many as 25 million visitors to Dubai that year will be vital.
\nAl Mari will keep his previous role as head of Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) , where he managed to achieve continued growth at a time when Dubai was facing harsh criticism from the global media and its position as a regional hub for business was being questioned.
\nAl Marri previously worked as a strategy consultant with McKinsey & Co, one of the world’s leading consulting firms. He also worked with KPMG in London, holds an MBA degree from the London Business School and is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales. Founded in 1979, the DWTC has been instrumental in establishing Dubai as a global financial and commercial hub and Al Marri was appointed its head in 2004.
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55. Mohammed Al Mady
\nSaudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC)
\nSaudi Arabia
\nAl Mady joined SABIC in 1976 with a master’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Wyoming, USA, and held various key positions within the company before his rise to the top. SABIC is comfortably the largest listed company in the Middle East, and the world’s biggest chemical maker. And, as its CEO since 1998, there is no doubt Al Mady still boasts considerable influence on the industrial markets. Under Al Mady’s stewardship, SABIC has grown from a company that employed six people in 1976 to one that employs 31,000 with a market capitalisation in excess of $70bn. “The role of technology in our success cannot be underestimated, especially given the competitive feedstock situation in the global chemical industry. Being an energy-intensive industry, we cannot be oblivious to changes in the energy sector, which is driven by global megatrends,” Al Mady said in February this year. Right now, Al Mady’s biggest task is to manage SABIC’s growth into key emerging markets, as well as getting a foothold in America’s rush to tap shale gas.
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54. Osman Sultan
\nUAE (Lebanon)
\nThe growth of the UAE’s second mobile telco, du, has been nothing short of astonishing. As CEO, Osman Sultan’s role in the company’s story has been vital. Sultan was behind the launch of the highly successful Mobinil in Egypt in 1998, and in 2007 was behind the launch of du, which is 40 percent owned by the UAE Federal Government, 20 percent by Mubadala Development Company, 20 percent by TECOM Investments and 20 percent by public shareholders. Du more than doubled its profit after royalties during the fourth quarter to $270m, compared to the same period in 2011.
\nThe figure topped off a record year for annual revenues and profit, with du recording a net profit after royalties of $540m, up from $300m in 2011. The company’s revenue increased 14.7 percent to $2.77bn during the year.
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53. Abdulaziz Al Ghurair
\nBanking & Finance
\nAbdulaziz Al Ghurair is the de facto spokesperson for the banking industry in the UAE, through his position as head of the Emirates Banking Association. And while it’s been a tough couple of years for profits at his own lender, Mashreqbank, the cornerstone of Al Ghurair’s business empire has remained stable. The fact that Mashreqbank has performed so well despite its exposure to Dubai World-linked companies speaks volumes about the strength of its leadership.
\nAl Ghurair is CEO of the bank, which he started from scratch with $1.6m of capital during the oil boom in the 1960s, and which is the country’s fourth-largest by assets. The lender was the first bank to introduce ATM machines and credit cards to the emirates, and is now in expansionist mode. Al Ghurair is also one of the founders of the property giant Emaar, and served as speaker of the UAE’s Federal National Council until earlier last year. He remains a fervent proponent of national identity in the country. The family legacy can be traced back to Ahmad Al Ghurair who founded Al Ghurair Group in 1960.
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52. Alex Saber
\nUAE (Lebanon)
\nWith more than 20 years of experience in media and communications, Alex Saber himself is very much a veteran of the industry. His career started in 1991, working as a media executive in Leo Burnett (a sister company of VivaKi), overlooking bookings and media planning. “I wanted to work in marketing, and there was no VivaKi in those days...There was a media unit in a creative agency, we were at a corner and the creative people got all the attention. We were the back stage,” he told Arabian Business last year. He didn’t stay at the back too long. Seven years later, Starcom Mediavest was created and Saber, a graduate of the University of Iowa, went to the new operation, spending four years in Saudi Arabia. Following the launch of VivaKi as the umbrella firm, he became CEO in 2007, before taking over as chairman in 2011.
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51. Ibrahim Dabdoub
\nNational Bank of Kuwait
\nKuwait (Palestine)
\nBanking & Finance
\nThe Palestine-born financier has been at the helm of National Bank of Kuwait as CEO since 1983, and is now one of the most widely admired bankers in the Middle East. He first joined NBK in 1961 and saw his career progress from Head of Credit in 1969 to the CEO position in 1983 and a Group CEO in 2008. In addition to his NBK role, Dabdoub is also a board member of the Centre for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown University; the International Institute of Finance (IIF); he sits on the Board of Trustees of the American University of Beirut (AUB) and he is a member of the advisory council of Carnegie Middle East Centre.
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50. Lubna Olayan
\nOlayan Financing Company
\nSaudi Arabia
\nBanking & Finance
\nYou could never accuse Lubna Olayan of not standing up for the rights of Arab women. Earlier this year, at Davos, she joined a select panel of some of the planet’s most powerful women to discuss the ‘glass ceiling’.
\n“We have to get the CEOs in major Arab countries to be convinced to hire women and mentor women, because that is what we need,” she said.
\nAs the CEO of the Riyadh-based Olayan Financing Company, Lubna Olayan is one of Saudi Arabia’s most prolific businesswomen. The group, which was founded by her father in 1947, is one of the kingdom’s most successful conglomerates. The firm is also one of the largest investors in the Saudi and regional stock markets. Olayan sits on the board of trustees of the Arab Thought Foundation - a Beirut-based think tank focusing on issues facing the Arab world - and is a member of the board of Al Fanar, which supports grassroots organisations in the Arab world. She is also involved with academic institutions such as INSEAD, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) and the Effat College for Women.
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49. Qusai Khouli
\nArts & Entertainment
\nQusai Khouli is the flavour of the month in Arab cinemas and on Arab TV screens. Born in Tartous, he studied at the Higher Institute for Dramatic Arts in Damascus. Khouli graduated in 1999 and first appeared in TV show called ‘Orientals’. Ever since, he has taken on a series of varied roles, from comedy to drama. Perhaps his most famous turn came in the historical drama Bab Al Hara (Neighbourhood›s Gate), a smash-hit production that followed the fortunes of a small Damascene suburb in the 1930s. More recently, Khouli played a blind man with a talent for playing the piano in the serial Al Ishq Al Haram.
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48. Munib Al Masri
\nBanking & Finance
\nOften described as the Duke of Nablus or Palestine’s Rothschild, Masri is known as the patriarch of a prominent Palestinian family that has produced bankers, consultants and politicians.
\nGeologist Masri - now 78 - hails from the West Bank town of Nablus. Masri, who was once a close confidant of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat (who offered him the premiership three times), made his fortune in oil and gas working in the Gulf; North Africa and elsewhere.
\nWhen the Oslo peace process kicked off Masri helped set up the Palestine Development and Investment Ltd. (PADICO), the largest private investor by initial investment in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which he chairs. The holding group controls over 30 companies across various industries. Today, however, Masri is more of a fire fighter as he was in the 1970s when helped bring about an end to clashes that took place in Jordan when Palestinian guerillas challenged the authority of King Hussein.
\nMuch of his time has been dedicated to reconciling the Palestinian Hamas movement with President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah group, in addition to trying to foster dialogue among Israelis and Palestinians who aspire to live in peace within the context of a two-state solution.
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47. Nabeel Rajab
\nHuman rights activist
\nCulture & Society
\nNabeel Rajab remains a controversial figure in Bahrain, where he is president of the country’s Centre for Human Rights. He started his human rights activities in the 1990s, and has campaigned on behalf of migrant workers in the Gulf countries. Rajab has been arrested several times during the recent unrest, and was recently handed a three-year jail sentence for “involvement in illegal practices and inciting gatherings and calling for unauthorized marches via social networking sites.” \n
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46. Adel Aujan
\nAujan Industries
\nSaudi Arabia
\nNot content with leading the Gulf’s biggest privately owned beverage company, Adel Aujan has been aggressively growing his offerings to different markets. Aujan’s juice brand, Rani, is Iran’s best-selling beverage and is planning to add to its three factories by putting a facility in Iraq, politics permitting. In 2008, Aujan Industries nailed a target to deliver $500m in revenue twelve months ahead of its five-year schedule, and then hit another target to win $1bn in revenue by 2012. So how did he do it? Easy really, given that the firm has tripled its sales since 2004 and is on track to double them again by 2014.
\nBut the highlight of Aujan’s career so far has undoubtedly been the deal he signed towards the end of 2011 with US beverage behemoth Coca Cola. For a cool $980m, Coca Cola took a near-50 percent stake in the firm. ”The deal is a game-changer for us; it takes us to another level” Aujan told Arabian Business at the time. Next up are a series of new entries into selected emerging markets. Aujan Industries is planning to launch in Indonesia and Thailand. Its products are now sold in over 70 countries around the world.
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45. Mohammed Al Mulla
\nrab Media Group
\nMohamed Al Mulla is the CEO of Arab Media Group, having joined the firm in November 2008. Al Mulla is tasked with overseeing and managing the operation of all the corporate and consumer products. His corporate background extends to almost every business segment of the media industry including media and marketing services, printing and publishing, music, film, new media, leisure and entertainment, broadcasting and information agencies. Al Mulla’s key managerial positions have included work with Etisalat and the region’s media hub, Dubai Media City. Prior to AMG, he served as an executive director of Dubai Media City. He played a crucial role in consolidating the pioneering international status of the brand and steering its development strategies.
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44. Naseer Homoud
\nThe Wall for Investment and Real Estate Development
\nQatar (Jordan)
\nStarting out as a dentist in Jordan, Dr Naseer Homoud moved to Qatar in 2001 to expand his clinic. He ended up creating a real estate empire in the process. The Wall for Investment and Real Estate Development has become synonymous with the rapid growth of Qatar, as well as contributing hugely to the growth of affordable housing - a much-needed sector in the country.
\nHomoud now plans to expand the firm into the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. His Consultant Dental Centre is well known in Doha as the place to go for an affordable smile, while the Spanish International Business & Trading Centre has already gained a reputation for being the must-visit destination for Spanish companies that are looking to invest in the region, and for Arab firms wanting to tap the Spanish market. Homoud studied at the University of Damascus, graduating in 1987 before returning to Jordan, and by 1994 had already set up his first dental centre in Amman.
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43. Dhaen Shaheen
\nDirector general for publishing
\nAs the recently appointed director general for publishing at Dubai Media Incorporated, Dhaen Shaheen is one of the most influential men in the emirate’s burgeoning media industry. Shaheen was editor in chief at Al Bayan, a hugely popular local newspaper that was originally established by the government of Dubai in 1980. Dubai Media Incorporated is chaired by Deputy Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Maktoum Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
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42. Pierre Choueiri
\nChairman and CEO
\nChoueiri Group
\nIt’s now nearly 50 years since Pierre Choueiri’s father, Antoine, put in place the foundations of one of the region’s biggest media empires. At its height, the Choueiri Group controlled the advertising to most of the Middle East›s TV stations, including in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Today, headed up by Pierre, the group manages the advertising space of 23 satellite and terrestrial TV stations, as well as fourteen print titles and nine radio stations. It has clients in eleven markets across the MENA region, as well as in Japan.
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41. Fadi Ghandour
\nUAE (Jordan)
\n2012 was the year that Fadi Ghandour finally stepped down as CEO of Aramex, the logistics firm he founded 30 years ago. New CEO Hussein Hachem has now taken on the reins, while Ghandour remains as vice chairman. Aramex is one of the great entrepreneurial success stories of the Arab world - founded in Jordan, the outfit took on the giants of the global express industry, such as DHL and FedEx. Via a canny policy of deals and partnerships, and later organic growth and acquisitions, Aramex is now worth $700m on the Dubai Financial Market, has 12,300 staff in 353 locations across 60 countries, and was the first Arab company to list on the NASDAQ exchange. Ghandour is a founding partner of; the world’s largest Arab On-Line community which was acquired by Yahoo!; is a member of the board of Abraaj Capital, is a founding board member of Endeavor Jordan and serves on the advisory board of the Suliman S. Olayan School of Business at the American University of Beirut.
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40. Riad Salameh
\nCentral Bank of Lebanon
\nBanking & Finance
\nThe list of challenges that Lebanon faces is immense. But the list would be even longer if Riad Salameh had not been at the helm of the country’s central bank for the past decade or so. In 2004, he forbade Lebanese banks from investing in exotic derivatives and subprime lending, which shielded local lenders from the worst of the post-Lehman Brothers fallout. A prudent monetary policy, coupled with high interest rates have seen an increase in bank deposits, although the fear of contagion from neighboring Syria has stalled Lebanon’s economic growth. More positively, the country has pulled back from a potential debt crisis, with debt-to-GDP declining to 130 percent, from 180 percent in 2006. If the Lebanese economy is to regain its feet, Salameh will be crucial to its hopes.
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39. Mohammed Al Marri
\nDirector general
\nDubai Naturalisation and Residency Department
\nCulture & Society
\nA former policeman with 26 years on the force under his belt, Al Marri has been at the forefront at massive change at the Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department (DNRD), where a switch to online services, plus a new training complex, have seen a huge improvement in service.
\nWhile many might see the DNRD role as a behind-the-scenes position, Al Marri’s role is actually vital in streamlining the vast numbers of visitors to Dubai, and ensuring that the flow of tourist dollars remains high. In a government reshuffle ordered by Deputy Ruler of Dubai HH Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum at the start of 2010, Al Marri saw his responsibilities increased. Already head of Dubai’s Naturalisation and Residency Department (DNRD) since 2007, he was appointed head of the commission for social development, one of five new committees that will assist Dubai’s decision-making.
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38. Saif Belhasa
\nSaif Belhasa Group
\nSaif Belhasa heads up a large diversified holding company in Dubai.
\nBelhasa started his prolific career after obtaining degree in Business Management from the Al Ain University in 1988. With eighteen years of diversified experience in the field of business and entrepreneurship, Saif Ahmed Belhasa embarked on a number of commercial ventures in the Middle East which led to the birth of Saif Belhasa Group of Companies. The firm is now a household name, not just in Dubai but around the region.
\nApproximately 10,500 staff are employed internationally by the group’s nineteen operating entities which import from and export to most of the world’s major trading nations. The group’s current portfolio ranges from automotive companies, through yoga sanctuaries to a stone trading company.
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37. Leila El Solh
\nVice chairwoman
\nAlwaleed Bin Talal Foundation
\nCulture & Society
\nThe youngest daughter of the late former Lebanse prime minister, Riad El Solh, Leila El Solh was the first woman in her country’s history to hold a cabinet position when she took on the Minister of Industry brief in 2004.
\nToday, she is best known for her work with the Alwaleed Bin Talal Humanitarian Foundation in Lebanon. Chaired by HRH Prince Alwaleed, the foundation has managed to reach many areas in Lebanon to provide funds for development projects and alleviate poverty. Under El Solh’s stewardship, the foundation has become a pillar of support for education, health and social organisations throughout the country. In 2008, she was awarded the Pontifical Medal by Pope Benedict XVI in recognition of the efforts made by the foundation to encourage religious tolerance.
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36. Fahd Al Rasheed
\nKing Abdullah Economic City
\nSaudi Arabia
\nFahd Al Rasheed is heading up perhaps the Gulf’s most exciting real estate project.
\nAs much of $100bn of investment is being poured into King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC), a megaproject that is being built entirely from scratch on the Red Sea coast about 100km north of Jeddah. With a sprawling industrial valley, a large port and a central business district, KAEC is designed to offer what Saudi Arabia currently needs most right now; jobs and housing. So far, the city is progressing well; its first school and hotel opened last year, and it has already created over 12,000 jobs, mainly from the companies that are flocking to the city in order to set up base there. In 2011, KAEC hit profit for the first time; those profits rose by 129 percent in 2012. So when will the city be fully completed? “Our target is 2025,” Al Rasheed told us last year. “The city will not grow in a steady manner, like New York, for example, which grows at around 2 percent to 3 percent every year. We have already attracted 12,000 jobs in the last three years, so the growth that will happen in the next five years will be massive.”
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35. Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi
\nIf you’re interested in the Middle East and have a Twitter account, then you’ll be well acquainted with Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi.
\nHis columns have appeared in titles such as the New York Times, the Financial Times, Foreign Policy, Open Democracy, the Independent and the Guardian. He tweets prolifically @SultanAlQassemi and has just over 188,000 followers. In fact, if you are reading this on the internet, the chances are that you have arrived here via the power of his network. Al Qassemi received a master’s degree in global banking and finance from the European Business School, where he graduated with distinction in 2004. He received his BSc in International Business Administration from the American University of Paris.
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34. Adel Ali
\nAir Arabia
\nUAE (Bahrain)
\n“Nobody wanted us; everybody assumed that we would fail.’’
\nThat’s what Adel Ali told us last year, when we asked him about the launch of Air Arabia, the low cost carrier he helped found. “Some people felt that our life would not extend beyond six months. All those comments were fantastic because you prepare to die but not to fail. I’m glad they did that because if they had said ‘fantastic’ we would have relaxed.’’ No-one could accuse Ali of relaxing; from a standing start, Air Arabia has become one of the region’s biggest brands, offering affordable transport from all corners of the Arab world. It is the Middle East’s first and largest listed carrier, operating from its home base of Sharjah, as well as secondary hubs in Egypt and Morocco.
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33. Nayla Hayek
\nSwitzerland (Lebanon)
\nNayla Hayek was elected chairwoman of the Swatch Group, the largest manufacturer of finished watches in the world, in July 2010.
\nHayek, whose father co-founded the company, has been an active member of the board ever since her appointment in 1995. When her father died in 2010 he was ranked the 232nd richest person in the world with an estimated wealth of $3.9bn.
\nSwatch’s importance lies not just in the fact that it is such a huge manufacturer; it makes most of the parts that make other Swiss watches tick. With that expertise has come profits by the bucketload; net income was up 26 percent last year to $1.76bn.
\nThe firm has been on the acquisition war path in recent years; its stable of brands includes Breguet, Blancpain, Omega, Longines and Tissot. In January, the watch giant announced it had acquired the Harry Winston Diamond Corp.’s luxury goods operation in a deal valued at as much as $1bn.
\nHayek splits her time between Biel, Switzerland, and Dubai. She is an international Arabian horse judge.
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32. Sultan Nasser Al Suwaidi
\nUAE Central Bank
\nBanking & Finance
\nSultan Bin Nasser Al Suwaidi, a UAE national, was born in Abu Dhabi in 1953.
\nHe started his career at Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) in 1978, at the Finance and Administration Department, and joined the Central Bank as Governor in 1991. At the Central Bank, Al Suwaidi was able to introduce or modernise many banking regulations. In 1994, he worked on establishing the ‘UAESwitch’ which started operations in 1996 and was able to connect all bank ATMs in the UAE. He also supported the establishment of an automated cheque clearing System for UAE banks. Guided by Al Suwaidi, the Central Bank is in the process of implementing many new initiatives such as the Image Cheque Clearing System, the Mobile Phone Payment System and Basel II.
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31. Abdulla Al Zamil
\nZamil Industrial Investment Company
\nSaudi Arabia
\nAbdulla Mohammed Al Zamil is something of a visionary. He represents a younger generation of Saudis looking to shake things up and in many ways symbolises the changing dynamics of family businesses in the Gulf that have made the transition from traditional merchant houses rooted back in the 1970s to companies that have had to adapt and evolve in tandem with the changing global economy.
\nAt 47, an upbeat and energetic Al Zamil heads Zamil Industrial Investment Co (ZIIC), the fourth-largest Saudi industrial company by market capitalisation and one of the fastest-growing companies in Saudi Arabia.
\nAfter earning a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering from the University of Washington in Seattle, Al Zamil returned to the kingdom in 1987 to join the family business while completing his MBA. He worked his way up from an industrial engineer on the assembly line, to then being part of the purchasing department, before going on to sales and marketing and eventually operations.
\nHe oversees the firm’s intense competition for market share in the steel, air conditioning, glass, insulation and concrete industries.
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30. Khaled Samawi
\nAyyam Gallery
\nUAE (Syria)
\nArts & Entertainment
\nKhaled Samawi’s Ayyam Gallery is considered the benchmark for Arabic art. With galleries in Damascus, Beirut, Cairo and Dubai, the gallery is pushing the envelope in the promotion of top Arab art.
\nAyyam Auctions is also the first regional auction house with auctions in Dubai and Beirut. Ayyam Publishing has published more than 50 art books in the last five years. The recently inaugurated Ayyam Art Center in Dubai is the first private museum in the Gulf dedicated to the exhibition of Arab art.
\nRecent gallery openings in Jeddah and on London’s Bond Street have seen Samawi’s stock rise even further. Watch out for bigger things next year.
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29. Nasser Al Khelaifi
\nParis St Germain
\nFrance (Qatar)
\nFormer general manager of Al Jazeera Sports, Nasser Al Khelaifi led the buyout of Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) in 2011 before taking over as president of the French side.
\nQatar Sports Investment acquired the remaining 30 percent in the club in March in a transaction that valued the entire club at 100m euros ($131m).
\nQatar has since spent an estimated €80m euros in transfers. PSG has been playing in Ligue 1 since 1974 and is one of the most prestigious outfits in French football having won two League titles, eight French Cups, three League Cups and two Champions Trophies. The French side, along with Marseille, is one of only two French clubs to have won a top European trophy.
\nSo far, Al Khelaifi’s plans are on track; he has signed big-money details to attract the likes of Sweden’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ezequiel Lavezzi and David Beckham to the Parc des Princes.
\nAt the time of writing, PSG were comfortably top of Ligue 1, and had just booked their passage to the Champions League quarter-finals courtesy of an easy win against Valencia.
\nAl Khelaifi is a former tennis professional and is also the current director of Al Jazeera Sports.
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28. Mohammed El Erian
\nUS (Egypt)
\nBanking & Finance
\nEgypt-born Mohammed El Erian is CEO and co-CIO of PIMCO - the world’s biggest bond trader.
\nHe re-joined PIMCO at the end of 2007 after serving for two years as president and CEO of Harvard Management Company, the entity that manages Harvard’s endowment and related accounts.
\nEl Erian has published widely on international economic and finance topics. His book, When Markets Collide, was a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller, won the Financial Times/Goldman Sachs 2008 Business Book of the Year and was named a book of the year by The Economist and one of the best business books of all time by the Independent. He was named to Foreign Policy’s list of “Top 100 Global Thinkers” for 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012.
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27. Mustafa Agha
\nHead of sports
\nUAE (Syria)
\nMustafa Agha is one of the Arab world’s most prominent sports journalists.He began his career in the industry in 1981, where he started as a writer before positioning himself as a commentator in both Arabic and English.
\nHe was the first sports presenter on “Sports Magazine” show to broadcast in English, and joined MBC London in the early 1990s. Nowadays, he is head of sports at MBC, and also runs his own programme, Sada Al Malaeb.
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26. Mohammed Alshaya
\nMH Alshaya
\nMohammed Alshaya is the undisputed franchise king of the Gulf.
\nAnd he found out how to do it the hard way. Nearly 30 years ago, Wharton School of Business graduate Alshaya did a three months’ work experience stint at the UK-based retailer Mothercare, stacking shelves and advising mothers on which prams to buy. He clearly learnt a lot. Today, his retail empire MH Alshaya owns and operates over 2,200 franchise stores in nineteen countries and employs around 28,000 people. And he has an uncanny knack of picking out the most popular brands. From IHOP to Shake Shack, you can generally tell an Alshaya outlet from the queues that have built up outside.
\nSo how does he do it? “Hard work and respect,” he told Arabian Business recently.
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25. Joseph Ghossoub
\nUAE (Lebanon)
\nJoseph Ghossoub is chairman and chief executive officer of MENA Communications Group (MENACOM), parent company of the Team/Y&R. One of the Middle East communications industry’s most prominent spokespersons, he has been involved in managing regional and global agencies for nearly three decades. Under his leadership, MENACOM Group (part of WPP and Y&R Brands) has grown into one of the most successful Middle East communications groups, including 12 Team/Y&R offices in 10 countries. Among his many accolades is the Arabian Business Achievement Award for Business Leadership.
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24. Akbar Al Baker
\nQatar Airways
\nThis year is a big one for Akbar Al Baker.
\nQatar’s brand new airport will open next month for the first commercial services, while the entire Qatar Airways operation will shift over to the newly renamed Hamad International by the end of the year. It’s not as if the charismatic CEO of the Qatari flag-carrier hasn’t enough on his mind already. Qatar Airways is still winning awards for its “five star” service, and confirmed a deal with FC Barcelona in 2012 that will see the carrier’s named emblazoned on the shirts of the world’s most famous football club. But it is still Qatar Airways’ new home that will garner all the attention in the year. The much delayed airport has been in the wings for several years now, and disputes over construction have pushed back the launch date on several occasions. Will the $16bn be worth the wait? The world, and Al Baker, will find out in 2013.
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23. Elie Khouri
\nOmnicom Media Group
\nUAE (Lebanon)
\nThe last year has been a busy one at Omnicom Media Group.
\nThe company has focused its energy on talent, something demonstrated by its ranking in the list of best companies to work for in the UAE for the second year running. With the launch of Resolution, which specialises in performance marketing, including search, programmatic buying and social/mobile advertising, the group is capitalising on a significant growth in demand for such services from brands. Thanks to organic growth, but also new account wins, including McDonald’s, IKEA in Egypt, Qnbn, Bentley, Mubadala or Sony Mobile, Omnicom Media Group has registered a healthy rise in revenues.
\nMonitoring sources report a growth of more than 30 percent to $2.5bn. Its two communications agency networks, OMD and PHD, have innovated with the introduction of new operating systems and shared their intellectual property through events such as OMD Predicts and PHD BrainScape.
\nThe group’s CSR programme, which is founded on the pillars of the environment, corporate behaviour and the community, saw Khouri become a board member of START, a non-profit organisation established by Art Dubai and the Al Madad Foundation, and of Injaz-UAE, an organisation dedicated to educating students about workforce readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy.
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22. Haifa Al Mansour
\nFilm producer
\nSaudi Arabia
\nArts & Entertainment
\nFilmmaker Haifa Al Mansour’s movie, Wadjda, tells the story of a rebellious ten-year-old girl who dreams of owning a green bicycle.
\nFilmed in Saudi Arabia, Al Mansour was forced to direct her first feature film from a van with a walkie-talkie in some areas where she could not be seen in public with her male colleagues. Despite the challenges Al Mansour faced – she was regularly heckled during filming – she felt the responsibility to tell a story often ignored by the world’s media. “For me it was very important to maintain an authentic voice and I tried also to be very close to my roots and show things that were very intimate about Saudi women away from what we see in the news,” she recently said.
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20. Fahad Al Mubarak
\nSaudi Arabian Monetary Agency
\nSaudi Arabia
\nBanking & finance
\nFahad Al Mubarak was appointed by Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah to head the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA), succeeding Muhammad Al Jasser who took office in February 2009.
\nMubarak, who comes from outside the central bank and is a private-sector, market-focused figure, was previously chairman and managing director of Morgan Stanley Saudi Arabia. He has also held the position of chairman of the Saudi stock exchange.
\nHe played a role in the privatisation of Saudi Telecom and was a member of the team which discussed the partial privatisation of Saudi Arabia’s National Gas Industry with international oil companies. Mubarak, who is from the Eastern Province, served as a member of the Shoura Council, a consultative body which advises the government on legislative matters, for six years.
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19. Elie Saab
\nFashion designer
\nCulture & Society
\n“I am not only a fashion designer, I have the vision of an entrepreneur, a businessman,” Elie Saab told Arabian Business recently.
\nHe couldn’t be more right. Today, the 47-year-old runs a truly global empire, with boutiques in Beirut, Paris, London, Dubai, Hong Kong and Mexico City. The collections are sold in 50 countries and 70 points of sale worldwide. The Elie Saab story is as original as many of his designs. Born in Beirut to a wood merchant and housewife, his interest in dress making started when he was just nine years old. In 1982, at the age of 18, he opened his first couture atelier in Beirut with fifteen staff on the payroll. Today, with the expansion and growth of the brand, more than 200 employees are part of ELIE SAAB Group. The brand’s global breakthrough started in 1997 with an invitation to take part in the Camera Nazionale della Moda as the only non Italian designer.
\nSince 1999, Elie Saab has dressed Hollywood cinema, music, theatre and television A-list stars. A philanthropist, he participated in many charity events: Paris tout P’tits, les Sapins des Créateurs, les Frimousses des Créateurs, Sidaction, Red Cross fund-raisers, but also the Mosaic Foundation in Washington, the fight against breast cancer in London, the fight against children’s cancer in Beirut. In 2003, he received the title of “Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Cèdre” presented to him by the President of the Lebanese Republic.
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18. Iyyad Najjar
\nFilm producer
\nArts & Entertainment
\nIyyad Najjar wears many hats; he has been a diplomat, a film producer, and currently heads up one of the most effective trade unions in the Arab world.\nBorn in 1972, Najjar became one of the region’s most popular producers when he set up Clacket Productions in Damascus. The firm became one of the biggest players on the local TV scene, and Najjar found himself working with the likes of Rasha Sharbatji, Al Layth Hajo, Rami Hanna and Hatem Ali. He also worked with some of the Arab world’s best known actors, like Maxim Khalil, Sulafa Memar, Duraid Lahham and others.
\nElsewhere, he was also the youngest diplomat in the Arab League, and currently sits at the head of the biggest Arab transport union. The Arab Union for Logistics and Goods Forwarders has membership across most regional countries, and controls goods transporation between Europe, America and the Arab world. It is considered to be the most effective union in the region.
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16. Khaldoon Al Mubarak
\nBanking & Finance
\nA trusted aide to the Crown Prince of the UAE, HH Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Khaldoon Al Mubarak — CEO of Mubadala — has masterminded many of Abu Dhabi’s strategic investments and key development projects.
\nAs one of the UAE capital’s key investment vehicles, Al Mubarak is a vital cog in Abu Dhabi’s plan to diversify its economy away from oil and into sectors such as aerospace, manufacturing and utilities. Educated in the US, a graduate of Tufts University, Al Mubarak sits on a number of boards, including First Gulf Bank, Aldar Properties, the Abu Dhabi Executive Council and he is chairman of the Executive Affairs committee. Worldwide, he is, of course, best known as the chairman of Manchester City Football Club since the club was bought by the Abu Dhabi United Group in 2008.
\nLast year, the club secured its first title in the top flight of English football for 44 years, after beating Queens Park Rangers with an injury-time goal. It meant that the near $1bn of investment in the club that Mubarak has approved now seems very much worthwhile, and Mubarak himself has become one of the most popular figures in the city as a result.
\nWhile this year’s Premier League defence has proved tough, few would bet against the team securing more silverware in the next few years.
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15. Emad Burnat
\nArts & Entertainment
\nEmad Burnat didn’t exactly have an easy trip to the Oscars this year.
\nOn arrival at Los Angeles airport, the Palestinian documentary filmmaker was detained by immigration officials, who refused to believe his reason for entry.
\n“Although this was an unpleasant experience, this is a daily occurrence for Palestinians, every single day, throughout the West Bank,” the director said at the time.
\nBurnat is believed to be the first Palestinian filmmaker to be nominated for the Best Documentary Feature at the Academy Awards. Although his film, Five Broken Cameras - a first-hand account of life in Bil’in - didn’t win in Los Angeles, Burnat did pick up the Directing Award at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.
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14. Dahi Khalfan Tamim
\nDubai Police
\nCulture & Society
\nLieutenant General Dahi Khalfan Tamim has had a remarkable career in public service.
\nIn 1970 he graduated from the Royal Police Academy in Jordan, after which he specialised in criminal investigations. After working his way up the chain of command, in 1979 he was appointed Deputy Chief of Police in Dubai, before taking the top job in 1980. Over the past 31 years, he has totally transformed the police force, its role and its reputation internationally and locally.
\nHe has published eight major reports on policing, and credited with a number of the police force’s key achievements in the last three decades. These include launching the Dubai Police Academy; establishing the Dubai Forensic Laboratory and the use of DNA in investigations; forming the land, marine and air rescue teams and establishing a special rehabilitation centre for drug addicts.
\nTamim is also largely credited with driving the force towards using modern technology – it was the first government department to use emails, and later became the first fully operational e-government department.
\nA major figure on the emirate’s political scene, Tamim’s forthright views are respected by both expatriates and locals. In addition, he is also highly regarded for his social welfare work, which has included the establishment of an orphanage in Dubai, and the launch of the Khalfan School for teaching the Holy Quran.
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13. Charles Elachi
\nJet Propulsion Laboratory
\nUS (Lebanon)
\nWhere were you on the morning of 6 August last year? Chances are you were among the millions around the world watching the live feed of NASA’s Curiosity rover as it touched down on Mars.
\nTo say that the landing, which was seen by 50 million people in the US alone on the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)’s website, was tense is an understatement; after making its 450 million kilometre journey from Earth to Mars, the rover had to decelerate from a speed of 20,000 km/h to zero in just fifteen minutes to effect a safe touchdown onto the Red Planet’s surface. It was by far the most complicated attempt to land on another planet that humans have so far attempted. For Charles Elachi, the head of JPL, the success of Curiosity marks just another step in an astonishing journey that has taken him from the Lebanese town of Zahle, via university in France, to Pasadena, where the JPL is headquartered.
\n“In a sense, it is a positive thing that reflects on the US…people all around the world look at the US as an exciting, forward-thinking nation, and as we share with all the world what we are doing, it’s not a selfish thing,” Elachi told us last year. “In the end, I usually tell people from wherever they are in the world that it’s not my rover — we’re just the team that built it. It’s yours as well.”
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12. Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi
\nMinister of Development and International Cooperation
\nCulture & Society
\nSheikha Lubna Al Qasimi is the UAE’s first female minister. Her current role is Minister of Development and International Cooperation, to which she was promoted earlier this month.
\nShe has previously served as Minister for Foreign Trade. The Emirati national’s background lies in IT; she won plaudits for developing a system that slashed cargo turnaround times at Dubai airport, and in 2000 founded Tejari, the Middle East’s first business-to-business online marketplace. The firm, which is now one of Dubai World’s most successful units, has franchises across the Middle East and was initially funded by HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai, and prime minister of the UAE. Sheikha Lubna was appointed to her first ministerial post in November 2004 — becoming Minister of Economy and Planning, before taking the Minister of Foreign Trade brief afterwards. She also sits on the board of directors at the Dubai Chamber.
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11. Omar Yaghi
\nUS (Jordan)
\nOmar Yaghi’s work with molecular chemistry has seen the likes of BASF beating a path to his door. From his base at the University of California, Berkeley, where he is currently a professor of chemistry, Yaghi has been building metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) that could prove crucial in helping develop green energy solutions, such as natural gas vehicles, hydrogen fuel cells and carbon capture technology. The chemist’s structures can, for example, double the amount of gas that is stored in a tank. That could be a game-changer for gas-powered cars, allowing them to go for longer between refuelling, and making gas tanks easier to design. As America weans itself off gas-guzzling cars amid a bid for energy independence, Yaghi’s work is vital. He was listed by Reuters in 2011 as the second most important chemistry researcher on the planet.
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9. Khalid Al Falih
\nSaudi Aramco
\nSaudi Arabia
\nWhile the oil industry is facing a seachange due to shale oil and gas discoveries in the US and elsewhere, for Khalid Al Falih, it’s business as usual.
\n“We’re committed to the US market,” Al Falih said last month, noting that Saudi Arabia provided more crude to America than it did in 2011. As boss of the world’s biggest unlisted company and the world’s largest oil company, Al Falih can lay claim to being possibly the most influential energy executive on the planet.
\nWith a workforce of around 55,000, crude oil reserves of 260 billion barrels of oil and revenues of $210bn in 2010, the superlatives just keep on coming for Saudi Aramco. It is also widely believed to be the most profitable company in the world. Al Falih took charge of this giant firm in January 2009 from Abdullah Juma’ah, at a time of great significance in the industry due to the fluctuating price of oil. He joined Aramco in 1978, and was sponsored by the firm to take a degree in mechanical engineering at Texas A&M University in 1982.
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7. Ahmad Al Sayed
\nQatar Holding
\nBanking & Finance
\nName any blue chip in the world, and the chances are that Ahmad Al Sayed either has, or is thinking about, a stake in it.
\nAs head of Qatar Holding, a subsidiary of Qatar Investment Authority, Al Sayed is the man whose nod means everything. Among the investments that Qatar Holding has been involved with during 2012 are: a 20 percent investment in Ferrovial, a one percent stake in luxury goods behemoth LVMH and an undisclosed chunk of Credit Suisse. The firm also played a key role in the biggest merger of last year, between Glencore and Xstrata. Expect Al Sayed to be just as busy this year.
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4. Mohamed Alabbar
\nEmaar Properties
\nHe has built the world’s tallest tower and the world’s most popular tourist attraction.
\nThe accolades just keep coming for Mohamed Alabbar, who has done more than most to cement the reputation of Dubai as a global hub for tourism. As boss of Emaar since 1997, Alabbar’s place in history is already secure. He will be long remembered as the driving force behind the development of the iconic Burj Khalifa, though equally impressive has been the manner in which he has successfully diversified the company. Emaar is now involved in hospitality and leisure, malls, education, healthcare and financial services. With six business segments and more than 60 active companies, Emaar has a collective presence in several markets spanning the Middle East, North Africa, Pan-Asia, Europe and North America. The Dubai Mall saw a whopping 65 million visitors last year.
\nBut away from the property giant, the company’s boss has been spending an increasing amount of time on his own private venture, a mining company with extensive operations largely in Africa. The result is that, barely three years since Africa Middle East Resources (AMER) was created, Alabbar has created a mega mining empire.
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3. Mo Farah
\nUK (Somalia)
\nWhen Mo Farah picked up an astonishing two gold medals at last year’s Olympic Games in London, the Arab world was jubilant.
\nNewspapers and media outlets across the region celebrated his Arab heritage as the Briton completed victories over top-class opposition in the 5,000 and 10,000-metre finals.
\nMohamed Farah was born in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia in 1983, and spent the early years of his childhood in Djibouti. He moved to the UK aged eight, and began running in earnest from 2005 onwards. He is considering upgrading to the marathon.
\nFarah is a sponsor of the UK-based Muslim Writers Awards and launched the Mo Farah Foundation after a trip to Somalia in 2011. He was awarded a CBE in the UK’s 2013 New Year’s honours list.
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2. Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum
\nChairman and CEO
\nEmirates Group
\nThere aren’t many airports in the world that don’t see a constant procession of Emirates flights taking off from their runways.
\nAt some point this year, the Dubai carrier is likely to become the world’s second-biggest airline, with the number-one slot clearly within its sights. The man behind this feat is HH Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, who over the past 25 years has spearheaded the growth of both the airline and Dubai, which is now one of the world’s most important aviation hubs. More recently, he has also formulated economic, investment and fiscal policies and strategies in support of the emirate’s overarching vision.
\nOf course, the airline is only part of Sheikh Ahmed’s story. He is chairman of Dubai’s biggest bank, Emirates NBD, and of Dubai World, the conglomerate that includes the world’s third-biggest ports company, DP World.
\nSheikh Ahmed is also the chairman of Dubai Airport Free Zone Authority, Dubai Air Wing, Alliance Insurance Company, The British University in Dubai, and The Dubai Power & Energy Committee. He is the chairman of Wasl Hospitality and chairman of Noor Investment Group and the chairman of Noor Takaful.
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1. Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Al Saud
\nKingdom Holding Company
\nSaudi Arabia
\nBanking & Finance
\nAfter nine years of the Arabian Business Power List, Prince Alwaleed remains at the top of the tree. Last year, when we interviewed him in the Kingdom Tower in Riyadh, the shares of Kingdom Holding, the company he chairs, had shot up 147 percent in twelve months.
\nAnd it’s the last year that has, even by his standards, been extraordinary, with KH’s investment strategy across thirteen different sectors paying off big time. He withstood calls to withdraw from News Corp after the phone hacking scandal, and has now seen its share price hit a five-year high. He resisted the pressure to jump on the Facebook bandwagon before its disastrous IPO, and was savvy enough to nab a $300m investment in Twitter, which observers suggest has rocketed in value. And his decision to stick with Citigroup through many years of thick and thin also now looks completely vindicated. But it’s the prince’s key investments that have made a huge difference, including a 34 percent jump this year in News Corp’s share price. “I have a very structured life: every day the same thing,” the prince told us last year. “That it is like I am on autopilot and why should I change it? It is a recipe for success. If it ain’t broke, why fix it?” Why indeed.