REVEALED: Most powerful Saudis
See photos of some of the most influential Saudis of the year
364 Abdullah Al Othaim
\nAbdullah Al Othaim Markets
\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.
\nSee the full list of the 500 most influential Arabs in the world here
348 Muna AbuSulayman
\nCommentator, former TV host
\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 Glowork.net; which aims to enhance female employment opportunities and Muna World.
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.
284 Abdullah Juma’ah
\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.
276 Abdul Mohsen Al Hokair
\nAl Hokair Group
\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.
265 Mona Khazindar
\nInstitut du Monde Arabe
\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.
254 Sheikha Nadia Al Dossary
\nCEO and partner
\nAl Sale Eastern Co
\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.
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).
251 Dr Tariq Al Fayez
\nChairman and CEO
\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.
227 Ziad Al Labban
\nSadara Chemical Co
\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.
214 Saleh Kamel
\nFounder and Chairman
\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.
204 Adeeb Al Sowilim
\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.
189 Ayman Hariri
\nVice chairman and deputy CEO
\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.
180 Lama Sulaiman
\nJeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry
\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.
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.
160 Nahed Taher
\nGulf One Investment Bank
\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.
152. Yousef Al Shelash
\nDar Al Arkan
\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.
108. Mona Al Munajjed
\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.
97. Eisa Al Eisa
\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).
74. Sobhi Batterjee
\nSaudi German Hospitals Group
\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.”
67. Abdulaziz Fahad Barakat Al Hamwah
\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.
65. Walid Al Ibrahim
\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.
64. Bakr Binladin
\nSaudi Binladin Group
\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.
55. Mohammed Al Mady
\nSaudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC)
\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.
50. Lubna Olayan
\nOlayan Financing Company
\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.
46. Adel Aujan
\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.
36. Fahd Al Rasheed
\nKing Abdullah Economic City
\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.”
31. Abdulla Al Zamil
\nZamil Industrial Investment Company
\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.
22. Haifa Al Mansour
\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.
20. Fahad Al Mubarak
\nSaudi Arabian Monetary Agency
\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.
9. Khalid Al Falih
\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.
1. Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Al Saud
\nKingdom Holding Company
\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.