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12.Abdulaziz Al Ghurair
\nLast week’s announcement that a number of Dubai-based lenders were being downgraded by ratings agency Moody’s has put a slight dent in what has been an optimistic year for the emirate. One of those banks - Mashreqbank is the cornerstone of Abdulaziz Al Ghurair’s business empire, and despite last week’s blip, the lender is in good hands. Al 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.
\nAbdulaziz is also one of the founders of the property giant Emaar, and is a former speaker of the UAE’s Federal National Council. 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. The family name has been a fixture within the UAE business community ever since. Ahmad Al Ghurair passed on his legacy to his sons Saif, Abdulla, Majid, Marwan and Jomaa. Until the 1990s Al Ghurair Group was led by Saif Ahmad Al Ghurair. This corporation was formed in 1960. In the 1990s, Saif Ahmad Al Ghurair and Abdulla Al Ghurair embarked upon creating two unique yet complementing diversified industrial groups. This decision led to the creation of Saif Ahmad Al Ghurair Group (now the Al Ghurair Group) and Abdulla Al Ghurair Group.
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17.Majid Al Futtaim
\nThe man who introduced shopping malls and hypermarkets to the region, Majid Al Futtaim has built an empire that is growing in line with the current boom in Gulf retail. Having established his company in 1992, Al Futtaim is most famous for building some of the emirate’s largest shopping malls and leisure centres, which have acted as a magnet for both consumers and retail businesses, and attract over 120 million visitors each year.
\nAl Futtaim opened his first shopping mall in 1995, City Centre in Dubai, and in September 2005 he opened the jewel in the company’s crown, the Mall of the Emirates. One of the largest shopping resorts outside North America, it is home to the five-star Kempinski and one of the world’s first indoor ski resorts. Majid Al Futtaim Holding, which also owns regional franchise rights for the French hypermarket chain Carrefour in 19 countries, is spending billions in expanding its portfolio of eleven malls in the region, by adding sites in Cairo and Beirut. Last week, the firm also announced that it was further diversifying its revenue stream into healthcare.
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21.The Gargash Family
\nWith an array of impressive and widespread interests in the UAE and the rest of the Gulf, the Emirates-based Gargash clan is well known in the business world. In the automobile sector, the Gargash family is the sole agent for Mercedes Benz in Dubai through Gargash Enterprises, whilst elsewhere, it is also involved in electronics, real estate, insurance, industrial development and construction. And, despite the turbulent economic climate, the growing Gargash empire continues to be prosperous. Founded in the last decade of the nineteenth century, the firm, which was built on the back of Abdul Gafour and his nephews, quickly emerged from a small body led by the late Ali Haji Abdulla Awazi Gargash, to one of the region’s leading trading houses today. Shehab Gargash has been particularly successful running Daman Investments, founded in 2000 and managing assets close to $1.4bn.