UAE nationals occupy the most number of spots on Gulf Business‘ annual list of the Top 100 Most Powerful Arabs in 2017.
Those on the list from the UAE span across industries – from real estate and finance to energy.
In total, 37 of the most powerful Arabs originate from the UAE. Here are the top five –
1. Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum
Chairman, Emirates/Emirates NBD
Overall rank: 2
It was a difficult year for some of the organisations under the watchful eye of Sheikh Ahmed. Currency issues, competition and economic uncertainty resulted in Dubai carrier Emirates posting a 75 per cent drop in first half net profit in November, while the slowing economy saw an end to 16 straight quarters of profit increases at Emirates NBD in Q3. But the Dubai royal still finished the year with plenty to smile about. Passenger traffic at Dubai International Airport was up 7.2 per cent in 2016 to 83.6 million and the chairman of some of Dubai’s largest government vehicles including the Dubai Expo 2020 Higher Committee, told Gulf Business in June that he was optimistic about the opportunities the mega event would bring as it draws ever closer.
2. Mohamed Alabbar
Sector: Real estate
Overall rank: 8
In 2016, Alabbar went from UAE real estate heavyweight at the head of Emaar and Eagle Hills to a big name in food and e-commerce after several acquisitions. He started the year by announcing a new landmark tower project in Dubai designed to be taller than Emaar’s Burj Khalifa as part of the Creek Harbour development and later caught headlines with a number of interesting acquisitions. These included a $138.6m joint venture with fashion retailer Yoox Net-A-Porter, the $2.35bn acquisition of Kuwait’s Americana by his Adeptio investment firm and the purchase of a minority stake in logistics company Aramex as part of an investment group. The trusted advisor to Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed, also took the time to announce $1bn e-commerce venture Noon.com in partnership with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and could be making more big moves in 2017 with a messaging app rival to WhatsApp said to be in the works.
3. Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak
CEO, Mubadala Investment
Overall rank: 9
It has certainly been an eventful 12 months for Al Mubarak, a prolific businessman and trusted advisor to Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince, Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Since our previous list his sovereign investment vehicle has made a number of interesting investments, including a 20 per cent stake in Bahrain-based alternative investment firm Investcorp, and was also linked to Japanese telecom giant SoftBank’s $100bn technology fund in January. But, As commodity prices continued to weigh on Mubadala Development’s financial results, the most interesting move was news of the company’s merger with sister firm International Petroleum Investment Co. Now complete, the combination has created a fund with combined assets worth around $125bn and Al Mubarak is sat right at the helm.
4. Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair
Overall rank: 10
The drop in oil prices and resultant impact on the UAE’s economy has meant testing times in the country’s banking industry but Al Ghurair has emerged as a rare voice of reassurance in the gloom. As the head of the bank founded by his father during the oil boom in 1967 and chairman of the UAE Banks Federation he was one of the most high profile figures lobbying the government to introduce insolvency regulation, even going as far as creating a joint industry rescue initiative to help SMEs restructure their debt in March last year before the new law was announced. Unfortunately though, conditions still weighed on Mashreq’s financial results, with profit down 24.8 per cent in Q3 to $112.98m. Separately Al Ghurair also made headlines with the launch of his father’s $1.1bn Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education for which he announced a number of initiatives with the world’s top universities as the year went on.
5. Mohammad Al Gergawi
Chairman, Dubai Holding*
Overall rank: 11
Al Gergawi is one of the most influential figures in Dubai and the UAE as chairman of Dubai Holding, minister of cabinet affairs and future and chairman of the executive office of the Dubai Government. In the last year he has played a key role in some of Dubai’s biggest projects including the Dhs1bn ($272m) Business Bay Canal, opened in November, and the new $20bn Jumeirah Central master development, which will take the previous Mall of the World site on Sheikh Zayed Road. In his position at Dubai Holding he also oversees some of the emirate’s most well known entities including TECOM Group, Jumeirah Group, Dubai Properties, Dubai Group and Dubai International Capital.
(*Editor’s Note: This week, it was announced that Mohammed Al Gergawi has resigned from his role as chairman of Dubai Holding. Read more: Dubai Holding chairman Mohammed Al-Gergawi resigns)