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Wed 10 Dec 2008 05:38 PM

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Rich List-Al Ghurair Family

Rich List-Al Ghurair Family

Abdulaziz Al Ghurair is the CEO of UAE-based Mashreq bank, the UAE’s fourth-biggest bank by assets, and is one of the founding fathers of property giant Emaar.

This year is likely to have been a tougher year than most for Al Ghurair. In the last quarter the bank’s third quarter profits fell 13 percent as it wrote down the value of its investments following a decline in regional share prices.

According to Gulf Finance House, however the bank has “been conservative in its approach and has a lower risk appetite than its peers”, which has stood it in good stead.

The bank, which his father Abdullah Al Ghurair, chairman, started from scratch with $1.6m worth of investment capital 40 years ago, is Al Ghurair’s prime concern. In November he told reporters this year the bank would not seek acquisitions until the global financial crisis clams but said he expected 2008 profits to grow by 12 percent. “We can no longer just continue to drive at 200km an hour; there is some rain and we have to adjust our driving because it’s rainy now,” he said.

The lender was the first bank to introduce ATM machines and credit cards to the emirates, and now has its sights firmly set on new acquisitions to expand operations across the Middle East and further afield.

This year the firm has also signed agreements with the Syrian prime minister to develop large transport and power project in Syria and, at the beginning of the year, established a joint venture to conduct a $2bn upgrade of Libya’s biggest oil refinery.

Not to be outdone, Al Ghurair’s uncle Saif owns several mega-malls across the region, his brother Essa operates the second-largest flour-milling company in the Middle East, and his grandparents didn’t do too badly either, having made a small fortune during the pearl-diving days.

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