Revealed: Top 5 most powerful Arabs in the UAE

Sheikh Ahmed tops the list for the fifth consecutive year



The fifth edition of the annual Gulf Business Arab Power List 2016 is now out in our February issue and this time, the United Arab Emirates tops the list in terms of country of residence.

A total of 17 out of 50 – accounting for 34 per cent ­­­– ­of the Arab region’s most powerful people reside in the UAE.

Sector-wise, the entries from the Emirates come from a range of industries including finance, real estate, energy and media.

TOP FIVE MOST POWERFUL ARABS IN THE UAE

1. HH Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum

Designation: Emirates/Emirates NBD chairman

Overall rank: 2

Sector: Transport

Despite allegations against Dubai’s flagship carrier Emirates from airlines in the United States and Europe, Sheikh Ahmed still had plenty of reasons to smile in 2015. The overseer of the emirate’s aviation ambitions began the year with Dubai International Airport being crowned the world’s busiest international air hub with 70.5 million passengers carried in 2014.

Emirates Group then announced its 27th consecutive year of profit in May and a 65 per cent rise in profit at its half-year results in November.

There was also good news from the financial industry, where both banks he chairs enjoyed positive results. Emirates NBD delivered a 27 per cent rise in nine-month net profit in October and Noor Bank announced a record 26 per cent net profit rise for the first half of the year in May. Overall, the chairman of some of Dubai’s largest government vehicles, including the Dubai Expo 2020 Higher Committee and Dubai World, finished the year in good stead.

2. Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi

Designation: UAE Minister of international cooperation and development

Overall rank: 6

Sector: Diversified

Sheikha Lubna holds the distinction of being the first woman to hold a ministerial post in the United Arab Emirates. A member of Sharjah’s ruling family, she was appointed minister of economy in 2004 before becoming minister of foreign trade in 2008.

She now serves as minister of international cooperation and development and head of the UAE Committee of Humanitarian Aid.

In the roles, which she has held from 2013 and 2014 respectively, she has led the country to become one of the largest global foreign aid contributors per capita. In 2014, she was appointed president of Zayed University and last year became the first Emirati, and only the second person from a GCC country, to receive the Clinton Global Citizen Award.

3. Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair

Designation: Mashreq CEO

Overall rank: 8

Sector: Finance

Leading the bank founded by his father during the oil boom in 1967, Al Ghurair has been at the heart of the UAE’s financial industry for decades, with positions as chairman of DIFC Authority, chairman of Emirates Banks Association and board member of Emirates Foundation.

Last year, his family made headlines when it announced plans to give a third of its wealth – or more than $1bn – to charity through the Abdullah Al Ghurair Education Foundation. Al Ghurair himself was also in the news when he criticised a lack of saving among UAE nationals and announced measures to help small business owners pay their debts.

4. Mohamed Alabbar

Designation: Emaar chairman

Overall rank: 9

Sector: Real estate

Emaar did not have the brightest of starts to 2016 after the Address Downtown hotel fire but if anyone could convince the market the company would come out on top it was Mohamed Alabbar.

The real estate mogul’s ability to ease investor concerns showed just how well respected he has become in the region. The Emirati has been instrumental in shaping the region’s real estate landscape, is a trusted advisor to Dubai’s Ruler, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed, and is the face of UAE real estate across the world through Abu Dhabi based Eagle Hills and other entities.

Charismatic Alabbar also runs 60 global companies beneath the Emaar banner, spanning global real estate, health and services.

5. Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak

Designation: Mubadala CEO and managing director

Overall rank: 10

Sector: Finance

A drop in oil prices was always going to make 2015 a tough year for Al Mubarak, a prolific businessman and trusted advisor to Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince, HH Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

The Emirati saw Abu Dhabi’s multi-billion dollar sovereign wealth investment vehicle Mubadala post a 52 per cent drop in its first half net profit in September.

Outside of the business world the team he chairs, Manchester City FC, also had its own setbacks after being thoroughly beaten to the English Premier League title by Chelsea in May.

However, Al Mubarak still closed the year on a positive note. In December, the company extended its ties with China via a deal between Mubadala Petroleum and China National Petroleum, and was appointed manager and operator of a new UAE-China strategic investment fund.

Pick up the February issue of Gulf Business to browse the entire Arab Power List 2016