Emaar Properties, Dubai’s top listed company by market value, quietly replaced its Group Chief Executive Low Ping late last year, appointing Abdulla Lahej as her replacement, industry sources aware of the matter said.
Neither Ping’s departure, which sources say happened towards the end of 2013, nor the appointment of Lahej was made public by Emaar, which has built the world’s tallest tower, the Burj Khalifa, and spearheaded a dramatic recovery in the emirate’s property market.
Emaar did not respond to emails seeking comment. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity and did not provide a reason for Ping’s departure.
Reuters could not reach Ping for comment. Emaar’s website now shows Lahej as the group CEO and says he joined the firm in 2000 as an assistant project manager.
Ping, a Singaporean, joined Emaar in 2002 and worked as an executive director for finance at the firm; one of the sources said she was made chief executive a few years later. The source said Ping had now returned to Singapore.
Property prices in Dubai tumbled by more than 50 per cent from their 2008 peak during the global economic slowdown. The emirate has recovered strongly over the last year, helped by its safe haven status following the region’s Arab Spring uprisings.
Emaar, whose chairman and founder Mohammed Alabbar is one of the most prominent business figures in the emirate, has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of the recovery; its share price soared 104 per cent in 2013. The firm has a current market value of about $13 billion, according to Thomson Reuters data.
“It’s a bit baffling that the biggest listed company in Dubai would replace its CEO and not tell the market about it. Emaar is doing exceedingly well, but you would expect that such matters are communicated to the investors,” a banker in Dubai said, adding that Ping was seen as a close aide of Alabbar.
The developer has announced a series of new projects in Dubai, including state-linked plans for a district that would include over 100 hotels.