World's 100 Most Powerful Arabs - Leaders
Welcome to the 2014 Arabian Business Power List, our guide to the planet’s 100 most influential Arabs
Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Al Saud
\nNext year will see the Prince turn 60, but if you think that will mean him slowing down, you better think again. As the founder and boss of Kingdom Holding says: “The question is not where KHC is as a company right now, or even what it has achieved to date. The big question is what the future holds, and if we can continue to deliver the same spectacular level of growth and success? The simple answer is ‘yes’, and furthermore we’re well placed to even exceed what has been achieved before.”
\nIn the early 1990s it was almost unthinkable that a Saudi Arabian, and a Royal at that, would burst onto the global banking investment scene from seemingly nowhere — but in 1991 that is exactly what happened. Effecting a significant coup that would catapult him into the global spotlight, HRH invested heavily in Citibank (subsequently Citigroup) stocks in a bold move that surprised many. That surprise rapidly turned into admiration as the Prince’s guidance helped restore the banking giant to full health, returning it to its place as the world’s leading financial institution. Prince Alwaleed’s investment in Citigroup has since delivered an extraordinary level of return, and represents the largest proportion of HRH’s $30bn plus wealth.
\nBut that was just the beginning: today Kingdom Holding is a major player in 13 different sectors. He has stakes in everything from Newscorp to Twitter. He is not just one of the world’s most successful businessmen ever, but with more than $3bn given to good causes, one of the most prolific philanthropists on the planet.
\nBanking on success
\nPrince Alwaleed’s investment in Citigroup represents the largest proportion of HRH’s $30bn plus wealth.
Bader Al Kharafi
\nBader Nasser Al Kharafi was born on the 17th of August, 1977. He received his education from Kuwait University, attaining his Bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering in 2002. Today, Mr. Al Kharafi is one of the most active businessmen holding office as Chairman, VP and board member of several businesses both in and outside Kuwait as part of the Kharafi conglomerate with an exceptional track record in spearheading crucial business development as well as consultancy operations for many major firms and social institutions.
\nSoon after graduating he joined the Al Kharafi Group as a Coordination Engineer. With more than 135 registered companies operating in more than 28 countries in various sectors, the Kharafi Group of companies is one of the largest privately owned, diversified groups based out of Kuwait and is well known across the entire GCC and MENA regions. In a span of 10 years, he held the titles of Coordination Engineer, Department Manager, General Manager and since 2012, Mr. Al Kharafi is currently the Director of Group Executive Committee.
\nMr. Al Kharafi was appointed Board Member at Gulf Bank. Established in 1960, Gulf Bank has since progressed to become an industry-leading financial services provider complemented by a large network of 56 branches strategically positioned in key locations throughout Kuwait. The main groups of the bank are Consumer, Corporate and International Banking.
\nIn 2007, Mr. Al Kharafi was appointed Board Member of Foulath Holding B.S.C. (Bahrain Steel BSCC). Bahrain Steel has an annual production capacity of 5 million tons of high quality iron oxide pellets. Currently employing 330 people, the company reports an annual turnover of about $580M and net profits exceeding $200M.
\nThe Gulf Cables & Electrical Industries KSC is involved in the manufacturing of power cables, telephone cables, overhead conductors, special cables and cable joints. Listed in the Kuwait Stock Exchange and with ISO certification, The Gulf Cable Company has a workforce of over 900 employees between its Jordan and Kuwait factories. Joining the company as Managing Director in 2003, Mr. Al Kharafi charted an exponential career graph and was appointed as Chairman in 2007 in simultaniety with his existing position of Managing Director. Soon after, in 2010, the company achieved a tremendous increase in total assets, reaching over a Billion dollars.
\nMr. Al Kharafi is a fervent supporter of youth development. He is a Member of the Board of INJAZ, a non-profit, non-governmental organization which delivers educational programs on entrepreneurship, financial literacy and work readiness to students from KG to 12th Grade with the aim of inspiring and educating future generations.
\nMr. Al Kharafi was appointed as a Board Member at the Kuwait-British Friendship Society, an entity dedicated to boosting and maintaining the excellent relationship between Kuwait and the U.K. Since the bilateral relations of 1775 and until this day, the relations between the two countries have always been based on mutual understanding and respect through constant coordination and cooperation in all fields.
\nIn 2010, Mr. Al Kharafi spearheaded the $10.7 billion acquisition of African operations by Bharti Airtel from Kuwait's Zain in a deal that made the Indian firm the world's fifth biggest cellphone company by subscribers.
\nIn 2013, Mr. Bader Al Kharafi was appointed Managing Director of Al Khatem Telecommunications Company, Zain's JSC in Iraq.
\nIn April 2014, Coutts, the wealth division of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group, announced it had appointed Bader Al Kharafi to its Middle East Advisory Board.
\nMr. Al Kharafi's most recent appointment was his election as Vice Chairman of Zain Group, the telecommunications giant with commercial presence in 8 countries across the Middle East and North Africa with about 46.1 million customers and over 6000 employees. Zain group had generated $4.4 Billion in revenues for the fiscal year 2013.
\nThe Mohamed Alabbar story gets more remarkable each year. Only four years ago, there was no shortage of people waiting to write off both him and the property giant Emaar that he leads. A lot of humble pie is now being eaten. In the past year the company’s market value has almost doubled to $15bn. Its flagship Dubai Mall saw a record 75 million visitors, with last year’s Q4 profits jumping 48 percent to $206m. But this looks like just the start, with Emaar currently rolling out one new project launch in Dubai each week. A global entrepreneur, Alabbar is the founder and chairman of Africa Middle East Resources (AMER), which unlocks the value of natural resource opportunities in Africa and links them with large consumer markets in Asia.
\nHe is also the founder and chairman of Eagle Hills, an Abu Dhabi-based investment and real estate development company that funds and develops large-scale projects in high growth international markets. The chairman of Tradewinds, focused on world-class real estate developments in Malaysia and Southeast Asia, Alabbar also chairs RSH, the leading Singapore-based pan-Asian marketer, distributor and retailer of international fashion and lifestyle brands. He sits on the board of Noor Investment Group, an affiliate of Dubai Group, the leading diversified financial company of Dubai Holding. And what of the future? Last year Alabbar told Arabian Business: “In the next ten years, I hope that I will have built at least three more Downtowns. Will I do the world’s tallest tower again? Of course I want to. I am looking. I have a wish. I will try.” Only a fool would bet against \nhim succeeding.
\nAlabbar is the founder and chairman of Africa Middle East Resources (AMER).
\nChairman, Manchester City FC
\nYou wonder how Mubarak finds time to sleep. Running the Premiership club Manchester City FC would be a full-time job for most people, but not Mubarak. A 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. As 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, Ferrari, the Abu Dhabi Executive Council and he is chairman of the Executive Affairs committee. In addition, he is also the chairman of the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC).
\nResponding to the challenge
\nAl Mubarak is a vital cog in Abu Dhabi’s plan to diversify its economy away from oil.
Khalid Al Falih
\nWith a workforce of around 55,000, crude oil reserves of 260 billion barrels and revenues of $1bn per day in 2012, 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.
\nAl Falih is at the helm of the world’s biggest oil company.
Nasser Al Khelaifi
\nParis St Germain (PSG)
\nIf you are French and a football fan, chances are you are hanging on every word and every move this man makes. Former 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. Qatar Sports Investment acquired the remaining 30 percent in the club in a transaction that valued the entire club at €100m ($131m). Qatar has since spent an estimated $483m in transfers. This year, if PSG doesn’t win the Champions League, Al Khelaifi is likely to view that as a failure.
\nNasser Al Khelaifi led the buyout of Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) in 2011 before taking over as president of the club.
\nNayla Hayek is one of the world’s most powerful corporate leaders. Last year, Swatch, the world’s biggest watch firm, posted a 20 percent increase in annual profits to $2bn, with overall revenues coming in at just under $10bn. Hayek, whose father co-founded the company, has been an active member of the board ever since her appointment in 1995. Swatch’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. The firm’s stable of brands includes Breguet, Blancpain, Omega, Longines and Tissot. Last 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. Hayek is now the firm’s CEO.
\nTime is gold
\nNayla Hayek has been an active member of the board ever since her appointment in 1995.
Mohamed Al Mady
\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 40,000 with a market capitalisation in excess of $95bn.
\nThe right mix
\nUnder Al Mady’s stewardship, SABIC has grown from a company that employed six people in 1976 to one that employs 40,000.
\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. The two firms rank fourth in the global production stakes, behind Toyota, General Motors and Volkswagen. 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”.
\n’Mr Fix It’
\nCarlos Ghosn is also chairman and CEO of the Renault-Nissan Alliance.
\nThere isn’t a more successful franchiser in the Arab world, and probably anywhere in the world, than Mohamed Alshaya. 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 2,600 franchise stores on three continents and employs around 40,000 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.
\nMohamed Alshaya owns and operates over 2,600 franchise stores in Turkey, Russia, Europe and the MENA region.
\nOlayan Financing Company
\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.
\nLubna Olayan also sits on the board of trustees of the Arab Thought Foundation.
Ahmad Bin Byat
\nAhmad Bin Byat is one of Dubai’s most respected and successful corporate leaders, renowned for his business acumen and visionary leadership.
\nAs a senior figure in many of Dubai’s leading organisations, Bin Byat plays a key role in spearheading Dubai’s drive towards the creation of a knowledge-based economy. He is also the director general of Dubai Technology and Media Free Zone Authority, and the chairman of Du.
\nAhmad Bin Byat plays a key role in spearheading Dubai’s drive towards the creation of a knowledge-based economy.
Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi
\nMinister of International Cooperation & Development
\nThe UAE’s first-ever female cabinet minister, Sheikha Lubna was promoted to her current brief as Minister of International Cooperation and Development after a lengthy stint as Minister of Foreign Trade. Sheikha Lubna was appointed to her first ministerial post in November 2004 — becoming Minister of Economy and Planning. This year marks her tenth anniversary of serving her country’s government.
\nThe 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 vice president and prime minister of the UAE.
\nThe minister is currently working hard to sign off the US Middle East Free Trade Area.
\nBut amidst her whirlwind tours around the world, Sheikha Lubna has still managed to retain her own business interests, which have included setting up a perfume line.
\nThe minister also sits on the board of directors at the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, is vice chairman of the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation and is on the board at the National US Arab Chamber of Commerce.
\nSheikha Lubna also sits on the board of directors at the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry.