Revealed: Top 5 most powerful Arabs in the UAE
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Revealed: Top 5 most powerful Arabs in the UAE

Revealed: Top 5 most powerful Arabs in the UAE

The highest ranking entries originating from the UAE in Gulf Business’ annual Arab power list


UAE nationals are the largest group in our 2018 Arab Power list with 38 entries.

This year an Emirati also holds the number one spot and there is significant UAE representation in the top 20 with 11 entries.

Read: Revealed: Top 5 most powerful Arabs in Saudi Arabia

Among the most prominent new additions the list in 2018 include Dubai Holding and Meraas chairman HE Abdulla Al Habbai.

We have also included First Abu Dhabi Bank CEO Abdulhamid Mohammed Saeed.

Read on to find out the top five most powerful Arabs from the UAE –

1. HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum

Chairman, Emirates / Emirates NBD

Sector: Diversified

Overall rank: 1

The uncle of Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum takes his position at the top of our list this year in part due to the diminishing fortunes of those around him, but few would argue he doesn’t deserve to be here after decades overseeing some of Dubai’s most important businesses, and a particularly impressive 2017. He was appointed as president of Dubai’s Department of Civil Aviation in 1985 and has since led its associated businesses – Dubai Airports and Dubai Duty Free – plus the carrier founded at the same time, Emirates, to punch far above their weight and become global leaders in their respective fields. Among the highlights of the last 12 months was a return to form at Emirates, which saw net profit rise 111 per cent in the first half of its fiscal year despite challenging conditions. He also oversaw a partnership of the airline and its low cost sister flydubai and major Boeing aircraft orders by the two at the Dubai Airshow worth $42.1bn at list prices. This is of course not to mention the progress at the various other entities Sheikh Ahmed chairs including rising passenger traffic at Dubai International Airport, a 17 per cent Q4 profit rise at Dubai’s largest bank Emirates NBD and the ground breaking of the UAE pavilion at the Expo 2020 site.

2. HE Mohamed Alabbar

Chairman, Emaar / Eagle Hills

Sector: Real estate

Overall rank: 6

Despite mostly being known for his property empire via Emaar and Abu Dhabi venture Eagle Hills, it was Mohammed Alabbar’s moves in e-commerce that captured media attention in 2017. After missing out on the acquisition of to Amazon, the Emirati billionaire made a series of deals in the space including the purchase of a large stake in regional venture capital fund Middle East Venture Partners (MEVP), the acquisition of online selling platform JadoPado via an investment consortium and Emaar Malls’ deal to buy 51 per cent of fashion site Namshi for $151m. These moves were followed by the September launch of his long-awaited $1bn e-commerce platform in the UAE after it achieved new backing from investors including Kuwaiti retailer MH Alshaya. A Saudi launch followed in December and in the time in between Alabbar led Dubai’s first major IPO in three years with the listing of Emaar’s development unit for around $1.3bn. On top of this, Emaar opened a new mega mall in Turkey, laid the foundation for a new record-breaking tower to rival its Burj Khalifa at Dubai Creek and saw its Q3 profit increase 32 per cent. All showing property was still very much on Alabbar’s mind.

3. HE Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak

Group CEO and managing director, Mubadala Investment Company

Sector: Diversified

Overall rank: 8

It has been a landmark year for Al Mubarak, a prolific businessman and trusted advisor to Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince, HH Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, after the official unveiling of new state investment vehicle Mubadala Investment Company. This followed the January merger of Mubadala Development Company and International Petroleum Investment Company. He now has a business with $127bn of assets under management, a presence in 13 sectors and more than 30 countries and 68,000 employees, and initial indications are positive. Mubadala made a net profit of Dhs4.2bn ($1.14bn) in the first half of the year from a net loss of Dhs4.7bn in the first half of 2016 and made a number of key announcements including the setting up of a venture capital arm. The San Francisco-based operation will also oversee a confirmed $15bn commitment to SoftBank’s Vision fund confirmed earlier in the year through which 15-16 investments have already been made. Mubadala also said in November it would invest up to $1.2bn in French businesses under a deal signed with French investment vehicles CDC International Capital and Bpifrance.

4. HE Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair

CEO, Mashreq

Sector: Finance

Overall rank: 10

The Al Ghurair family has had an unquestionable impact on the UAE’s banking community since the founding of Mashreq in 1967, with Abdul Aziz only growing this perception in recent years as chairman of the UAE Banks Federation. Among his main moves in 2017 were to direct Mashreq towards a more digital future, with the launch of a digital banking platform and plans to shrink physical branches in favour of online banking services over the next three years. Outside of the UAE’s third largest lender, which posted a 12 per cent increase in profit for the first nine months of 2017, Al Ghurair is also playing a major role in his family’s philanthropic efforts. The Abdullah Al Ghurair Foundation for Education said in December it had provided 787 scholarships to Arab students less than two years after Al Ghurair’s father pledged to donate a third of his wealth – or $1.1bn – to form the philanthropic organisation. Even with these efforts, the Al Ghurair family is still the second richest in the UAE, according to Forbes, with a net worth of $7.3bn in January 2018.

5. HE Dr Sultan Al Jaber

Director general and CEO, ADNOC

Sector: Energy

Overall rank: 11

Sultan Al Jaber has led a major shake-up of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company since taking the reins in February 2016, with a focus on efficiency and consolidation in a period of low oil prices. An oil rally since then has given ADNOC some breathing space but Al Jaber shows no sign of slowing down the firm’s 2030 strategy to boost oil production and triple petrochemical output. Among the key moves he oversaw in late 2017 was the initial public offering of the company’s fuel distribution unit. The December listing was the first on the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange for six years and raised $851m. ADNOC also awarded engineering design contracts worth hundreds of millions of dirhams for the production of sour gas from its Hail, Ghasha and Dalma marine fields, while on the renewable side of things the firm he previously led as CEO, Masdar, has gone from strength to strength with work progressing on major projects in Dubai, Scotland, Oman and Sharjah.


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