Saudi nationals once again rank as the second largest group in Gulf Business‘ annual Arab Power list for 2020, with the number of entries tallying 23 this year.
Leading the pack this year, is the newly appointed chairman of the state-owned oil giant Saudi Aramco, while its CEO Amin Naseer also ranked among the top five most powerful Arabs from the kingdom.
In a remarkable feat and in line with the kingdom’s efforts to increase the participation of females in the workforce – two women made their way to the top five Saudi entries this year – Lubna Suliman Olayan, chairperson, Saudi British Bank, and HH Reema bint Bandar Al Saud, Saudi ambassador to the US.
Those on the list from the kingdom span across industries – from finance and energy to telecom.
1. Yasir Al-Rumayyan
Chairman, Aramco/Governor, PIF
Overall rank: 1
As the man who became the face behind the world’s biggest IPO – that of Saudi Aramco in 2019 – Yasir Al-Rumayyan has made his entry into the Gulf Business Power List at the very top. A close aide of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and an advisor to the Saudi royal court, he was appointed as the chairman of Aramco in September, ahead of the company’s gargantuan listing that raised a total of $29.4bn.
Al-Rumayyan, who turns 50 this month, also serves as the governor and board member of the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF), and has overseen its transformation from a small pension fund to a mega sovereign wealth fund with over $320bn in assets under management. He has been instrumental in key decisions such as acquiring a $3.5bn stake in Uber and committing $45bn to Japan’s SoftBank Group.
Formerly the CEO of Saudi Fransi Capital, Al Rumayyan also serves on the boards of SoftBank Group, Uber and the Saudi Industrial Development Fund and chairs the Saudi Decision Support Center and Sanabil Investments.
As Saudi Arabia diversifies its economy under its Vision 2030 agenda, Al-Rumayyan will no doubt play a significant role in shaping the kingdom’s future.
2. HRH Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud
Chairman, Kingdom Holding Company
Overall rank: 9
2019 rank: 8
Reported to be one of the key local investors that Saudi Aramco tapped when it listed in Riyadh, Prince Alwaleed has maintained a relatively low profile in the past year. Following his detention in late 2017, he admitted that there was some “confusion” in the market and promised last year to reveal more details on the terms of his release.
In the meantime, his Kingdom Holding Company is exploring IPO or REIT options for its $1.1bn real estate portfolio. The company also bought 4.76 million shares in US ride-hailing company Lyft and through its stake in Careem, now also has a share in Uber.
3. Amin Nasser
President and CEO, Saudi Aramco
Overall rank: 10
2019 rank: 12
“We are proud of the listing of Aramco”, CEO Amin Nasser told reporters in November soon after the behemoth IPO.
And rightly so. The much-delayed IPO of the world’s most valuable company was no mean feat, and Nasser played a key role in making it a success. But the company is taking other strides as well – it completed the $1.2bn acquisition of a 17 per cent stake in South Korea’s Hyundai Oilbank in December, while its Energy Ventures unit plans to launch a new $500m fund this year to invest in renewable and clean energy technologies.
4. Lubna Suliman Olayan
Chairperson, Saudi British Bank
Overall rank: 11
2019 rank: 20
Arguably the region’s most influential businesswoman, Lubna Olayan broke another record last year when she became the first woman to chair a listed Saudi bank.
She was appointed to the role following the merger of Saudi British Bank (SABB) and Alawwal Bank to create the kingdom’s third biggest lender. Active in promoting workplace opportunities for women in the kingdom, Olayan has long been at the forefront of breaking stereotypes, becoming the first woman to join the board of a Saudi publicly listed company – Alawwal Bank – in 2004.
Having served as the CEO of Olayan Financing Company for over 35 years, she currently chairs the board of Olayan Saudi Holding Company.
5. HH Reema bint Bandar Al Saud
Saudi ambassador to the US/Member of IOC committee
Overall rank: 16
2019 rank: 22
In April, Saudi Arabia took yet another historic step towards the empowerment of women in the kingdom by appointing Princess Reema bint Bandar Al Saud as its first female ambassador to the US.
Apart from being a diplomatic powerbroker, the businesswoman and social activist was also the first woman to take a senior position at the Saudi Sports Authority and is also a member of the International Olympic Committee Women in Sports Commission.
She has also gained a reputation as a commanding figure shaping the image and opinion of the Middle East among Western countries.