The Middle East magazine presents its 2014 listing of the 50 most influential Arabs in the region and the world, as voted for by a selected group of our subscribers, individual reader’s votes and an independent panel of academics, writers, bankers and businessmen. As is our custom, our listing for 2014 brings into focus- in no particular order- those Arabs who have brought their skills and talents, wisdom and expertise to bear in raising the international profile of the Middle East region across the globe.
HRH Prince Alwaleed Alsaud (Saudi Arabia) Prince Alwaleed Al Saud is certainly among the most recognisable faces of the contemporary Arab World and not only for his role as a successful global businessman. In addition to his commercial interests, which are spread across multiple, diverse international organisations, from hotels to social media, Prince Alwaleed has gained a reputation as a spokesman for social reform in Saudi Arabia. He is also a generous philanthropist, committed to bringing together people of all races and religions in an attempt to develop a climate of understanding and peace in which all sections of the global community might prosper.
Bahder Abdullah Al Darwish (Qatar) Bahder Abdullah Al Darwish is head of the family-owned company Darwish Holding, a conglomerate whose activities include retail, business services and real estate. Al Darwish introduced the largest multi-brand luxury store in the Middle East to Qatar, Fifty One East, and also developed the $348m luxury Lagoona West Bay Mall. Darwish has mooted a proposal to offer shares in the latter on the Qatar bourse but recent months have seen no developments in this quarter.
Rashad Bin Muhammad Al Zubair (Oman) Rashad Bin Muhammad Al Zubair is the Deputy Chairman and Group President of the Zubair Corporation as well as holding office as the Chairman of Oman Arab Bank SAOC, the main subsidiary of Ominvest. He is the Director of Dana Gas PJSC and served as a Director of Capital Market Authority for more than six years until 2008. Al Zubair He serves as Deputy Chairman of Barr Al Jissah Resorts and is also the founder of the unique Bait Al Zubair Museum in Muscat, which preserves and exhibiting ethnographic material relating to Oman past and present. Inaugurated in 1998, the museum is dedicated to the memory of his grandfather, Sheikh Ali bin Juma
Dr Amina Al Rustamani (UAE) Dr Amina Al Rustamani is CEO of TECOM Business Parks, the umbrella organisation for nine of Dubai’s free zones. Al Rustamani joined TECOM in 2001 as a project engineer for Samacom before taking control of Dubai Media City, Dubai Studio City and International Media Production Zone. Al Rustamani has also played a significant role in establishing Dubai International Film Festival. She is a keen supporter of Dubai’s role in hosting EXPO2020 and is on record as saying she believes the event will be a catalyst for the ongoing diversification and development of Dubai’s knowledge economy.
Majid Jafar (UAE) In addition to running the Middle East’s largest private oil & gas group as CEO of Crescent Petroleum and Managing Director of the Board of its publicly-listed affiliate Dana Gas, this Harvard MBA is actively engaged in trying to address the region’s youth unemployment issue, as author of the Arab Stabilization Plan, which envisages coordinated large-scale infrastructure investments to enhance job creation and stability across the MENA Region. Majid Jafar was also appointed Vice-Chairman of the Global Agenda Council on Youth Unemployment at the World Economic Forum, and in the past year he has founded the Centre for Economic Growth (CEG) in partnership with INSEAD in Abu Dhabi, as a new centre for research and policy development on issues of enhancing economic growth and employment in the wider region, and was named as global Co-Chair of the ‘Business Backs Education’ Campaign launched by former US president Bill Clinton with the GEMS foundation.
Omar Hamad Almana (Qatar) Omar Hamad Almana set up the Almana Group in 1961. The holding company currently represents some of the biggest international firms operating in the Gulf States, including the Ford Motor Company, Chrysler, Dodge & Jeep, Peugeot, IBM, Coca-Cola, Pizza Hut and KFC. The Doha-headquartered Almana Real Estate is a provider of luxury villas and residences. He is keen to develop commercial ties with Turkish business and h is group is currently working on forming a Qatari-Turkish Business Council. Outside the business world, Almana was instrumental in setting up the American School in Qatar in the 1980s.
Wael Ghonim (Egypt) Google’s head of marketing for the Middle East and North Africa came to prominence when he was abducted and held in captivity during the uprising against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. His bravery resulted in a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize. His social networking company is credited with keeping protestors in touch during the Arab Spring and is now considered by many an emblem of change in Arab world. He continually features prominently in polls of popular influential Arabs and is amongst the top ten Tweeters.
Tawakkul Karman (Yemen) The youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011, aged 32, Tawakkul Karman has toured the world, bringing Yemen’s plight before diplomats and decision makers, as well as highlighting the struggle for women’s rights. As a champion of free speech for many years, in 2005 Karman set up the campaign group Women Journalists Without Chains. She is considered by many to be the female face of the Arab Spring.
Said Khoury (Palestine) Born in Safad, Palestine, Khoury founded Consolidated Contractors International Company (CCC) in 1952, one of the first Arab construction companies. CCC has built landmark projects from Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison to the Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington DC and has undertaken other major projects in Azerbaijan, Turkey, Africa and the Gulf. He chairs the Palestinian Businessman’s Association and is governor of the Arab Monetary Fund. He recently sponsored the establishment of the Said Khoury IT Center of Excellence (SKITCE) at Al Quds University.
Issad Rebrab (Algeria) Born in May 1944, Issad Rebrab is a self-starter who began his career as a teacher of business and accounting. Today he runs Algeria’s biggest conglomerate, involved in steel, automobile importing, agricultural foodstuffs and an oil refinery (Cevital). In 1998, Rebrab launched the project to create an industrial/ energy complex, Cap 2015, about 60kms east of Algiers, together with a small town of 250,000 inhabitants with the ambition of generating 100,000 direct jobs and a further million indirect jobs.
Sheikh Mohammed Bin Issa Al Jaber (Saudi Arabia) As head of MBI international, his business influence spans tourism with JJW Hotels and resorts, foodstuff with the AJWA group (one of the largest Middle Eastern food companies), as well as oil industries with Continentoil. Sheikh Mohammed has funded scholarship programmes through his MBI Al Jaber Foundation and is the founder of the London Middle East Institute at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS).
Wadah Khanfar (Palestine) Born in Jenin in 1969. Khanfar studied engineering at the University of Jordan and went on to complete postgraduate studies in philosophy, African studies, and international politics. He learned his journalistic trade from the ground up, working in various war zones including Iraq, and Afghanistan. He became Managing Director of the Al Jazeera Channel in 2003, and was Director General of the Al Jazeera Network in from 2006 to 2011. He is co-founder and President of the Al Sharq Forum.
Mohammed Alabbar (UAE) The charismatic and articulate Chairman of Emaar Properties, one of the world’s largest real estate companies and a key player in the development of Dubai’s real estate sector, Alabbar runs more than 60 companies under the Emaar umbrells. He also serves as Director General of Dubai’s Department of Economic Development and is a senior aide to Dubai’s Ruler, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
Yousra (Egypt) Yousra is among the the Arab world’s biggest entertainment superstars who has reached a point where her popularity and appeal often give her words more impact than those of elected politicans. Born Suhair Mohamed Nasim, Yousra first started making films in the 1970s, and quickly developed a strong working relationship with the legendary Egyptian actor Adel Imam. Perhaps her best-known collaborations were with director Youssef Chahine, with whom she made three films Egyptian Story (1982); Alexandria Again & Again (1990) and The Emigrant (1994). Yousra made no secret of her admiration for Chahine, describing working with him as an ongoing process of education in the art of movie making. Yousra’s portfolio also includes a number of TV shows, and a supporting role in The Yacoubian Building, which had the highest budget of any Egyptian film at the time it was made in 2006 and brought Egyptian film making to a truly global audience. She is also a well-known singer, and has worked as a UN Goodwill Ambassador.Bona fide superstar,Yousra has acted in more than 50 feature films.
Akbar Al Baker (Qatar) Akbar Al Baker has spearheaded the growth and development of Qatar Airways into one of the fastest growing and most highly acclaimed airlines in the world. Prior to his appointment as CEO in 1997, Qatar Airways operated just four aircraft in a regional capacity. Today, the airline flies more than 120 aircraft to over 125 destinations across six continents. Born in Doha, he is a graduate of economics and commerce and worked at various levels in the Civil Aviation Directorate before becoming Qatar Airways’ CEO. He is former Chairman of the Qatar Tourist Authority and a current member of the Executive Committee of the Arab Air Carriers Organisation (AACO), a member of the board of governors of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and a non-executive director of Heathrow Airport Holdings. In April 2014 he announced that Qatar Airways will be eliminating first-class almost entirely from its fleet, Baker believes that higher-yields are more consistent from business class, marking a turning point in regional aviation traditions.
Pierre Choueiri (Lebanon) It’s now nearly 50 years since Pierre Choueiri’s father, Antoine, put in place the foundations of one of the region’s biggest media empires. At its height, the Choueiri Group controlled the advertising to most of the Middle East’s TV stations, including those in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Today, headed up by Pierre, the group manages the advertising space of 23 satellite and terrestrial TV stations, as well as 14 print titles and nine radio stations. It has clients in 11 markets across the MENA region, as well as in Japan. Under the guidance of CEO Pierre Choueiri, the company now also manages the advertising space of 23 satellite and terrestrial TV stations.
Fadi Ghandour (Jordan) Born in 1959, Ghandour is the founder and CEO of ARAMEX, the world’s fifth-largest courier company. A board member of Abraaj Capital, he has served on the advisory board of the Suliman S. Olayan School of Business at the American University of Beirut and retains an involvement in the socio-economic development of underdeveloped communities. Ghandour is also a founding partner of Maktoob. com, the largest Arab online community.
Mazen Rawashdeh (UAE) Mazen Rawashdeh operates at the cutting edge of social media, one of the internet’s biggest potential money-makers, in his position as Head of Operations at Twitter, which he took up in 2011. With half a billion tweets worldwide in any 24-hour period, Twitter has become a major phenomenon. As firms like Google and Facebook try to work out a way to monetise the amount of time people spend searching their pages, Twitter looks as if it has already cracked the conundrum. By using promoted tweets, promoted trends and promoted accounts, companies such as Al Jazeera have already seen a phenomenal increase in traffic (up to 2,500%) in just a short period of time.The world’s biggest micro-blogging site has attracted significant investor potential raising $1.2bn privately from the likes of Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Prince Alwaleed Al Saud. If the Twitter goes public, as seems likely, some projections estimate that an IPO could value the firm at as much as $11bn.
Sultan Ali Al Jaber (UAE) Sultan Ali Al Jaber is CEO of the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company, which is mandated by the UAE government to undertake and drive the Masdar Initiative – Abu Dhabi’s vision of investment in the future of energy and environmental sustainability. In 2012 he was the winner of the prestigious UN Champions of the Earth award in recognition of his efforts in this area. Al Jaber has held positions at companies including ADNOC/GASCO and served as managing director of the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce in Los Angeles. He has also been appointed as a board member of the Young Arab Leaders Organisation.
Miloud Chaâbi (Morocco) The dynamic octogenarian Miloud Chaâbi is the founder of Ynna Holding and the owner of the Ryad Mogador hotel chain and the Aswak Assalam group of supermarkets. His story has been one almost of rags to riches since the age of 15, when he worked as a goat herder and teaching in his local mosque until he had saved money to start his own construction company. Chaâbi is renowned for his philanthropic and charity work and operates of one of the largest charity organisations in Morocco, the Miloud Chaâbi Foundation.
Mohammed Al Shaibani (UAE) Mohammed Al Shaibani is director general of the Ruler’s Court, the prime government body of the emirate and the CEO and executive director of the Investment Corporation of Dubai (ICD), the holding company that manages the government’s investment portfolio. Additionally, he was appointed a board member at Dubai World in 2010. Shaibani is also the vice chairman of The Supreme Fiscal Committee of Dubai and serves as a board member of Dubai Aerospace Enterprise (DAE) Limited, The Knowledge Fund and International Humanitarian City (IHC) and as the chairman of Dubai Islamic Bank. Since 1998, he has held the position of president at the Dubai Office, a private management office for the royal family of Dubai. In this capacity he was based in London for eight years and he now oversees the functioning of this office from Dubai. He is widely regarded as one of the region’s most influential ‘behind-the-scenes’ personalities.
Khaldoon Mubarak (UAE) Khaldoon Mubarak has responsibility for running the Premiership Manchester City Football Club, he is also CEO of Mubadala, the company established by the Government of Abu Dhabi as a principal agent in the diversification of Abu Dhabi’s economy, through which he has overseen many of Abu Dhabi’s strategic investments and key development projects. Mubarak is also a trusted aide and advisor to the Crown Prince of the UAE, HH Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Educated in the US and a graduate of Tufts University, Al Mubarak sits on a number of boards, including First Gulf Bank, Ferrari and Abu Dhabi’s Executive Council. He is also Chairman of the Executive Affairs committee and of the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC).
Fawzi Ahmed Kanoo (Bahrain) Fawzi Ahmed Kanoo is Deputy Chairman of the Gulf-based shipping, industrial, financial and travel conglomerate founded in Bahrain in 1890 by his forefather, Yusuf Bin Ahmed Kanoo. He is the fifth generation of the Kanoo family to serve in the company and also currently holds additional positions as Executive Director of the Bahrain Ship Repair & Engineering Company, as well as directorships of Aluminium Bahrain and of the Gulf Hotels Group in Bahrain
Dr Aamal Abdullah Al Qubaisi (UAE) Dr Amal Abdullah Al Qubaisi chaired the UAE’s sixth House session, in January 2013, becoming the first ever woman to do so. She is currently the first deputy speaker of the Federal National Council (FNC) and represents the success of Emirati women in achieving participation in the country’s decision-making process. Her academic qualifications include a Bachelors degree in Architecture from UAE University in 1993, a Masters degree from University of Sheffield (UK) in 1995 and a PhD Degree from University of Sheffield (UK) in 2000.
Othman Benjelloun (Morocco) The Chairman and CEO of BMCE Bank successfully pioneered the transformation of BMCE Bank, which was privatisation in 1995, from a public company to a universal private banking group. He is an Honorary Fellow of King’s College, London, President of the Maghreb Bankers’Association and has been the Chairman of Morocco’s Bankers’ Association since 1995. He is also a keen supporter of South-South cooperation and a member of the World Union of Arab Bankers.
Lubna Olayan (Saudi Arabia) The Chief Executive Officer of the Olayan Financing Company (OFC), she is considered an important spokesperson for women’s rights in the Middle East, who leads by quiet example. Olayan was the first woman to speak at a “mixed” conference of men and women delegates – the Jeddah Economic Conference of 2004 which, at its time, was groundbreaking stuff and reported internationally. She currently sits on the board of trustees of the Arab Thought Foundation and is also a board member of Al Fanar, which supports grassroots organisations in the Arab world.
Elie Saab (Lebanon) Born in 1964 and sometimes known simply as ‘ES’, Saab is a fashion designer who has achieved worldwide recognition. Launching his Beirut-based fashion label at the age of 18, he became an overnight success on becoming the first Lebanese designer to dress an Oscar academy winner; his creation was worn by Halle Berry in 2002. Saab repeated this coup dressing Emily Blunt and Jessica Biel at the 2012 Golden Globes and Sandra Bullock at the Oscars in 2013. At the Oscar ceremony in Hollywood in 2014, Angelina Jolie was resplendent in ES couture. His perfume brand, Le Parfum, launched in 2011, has become an international bestseller.
Mohamed Al Mady (Saudi Arabia)
Al Mady joined SABIC in 1976 with a master’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Wyoming, USA, and held various key positions within the company before his rise to the top. SABIC is the largest listed company in the Middle East, and the world’s biggest chemical maker. And, as its CEO since 1998, there is no doubt Al Mady still boasts considerable influence on the industrial markets. Under Al Mady’s stewardship, SABIC has grown from a company that employed six people in 1976 to one that employs 40,000 with a market capitalisation in excess of $95bn. Under Al Mady’s stewardship, SABIC has grown from a company that employed six people in 1976 to one that employs 40,000.
Mohamed Latif Jameel (Saudi Arabia) The owner of the company ALJ, which is active in real estate, financing, advertising, media and the distribution of electronics and household appliances, employing more than 10,000 people. Through his company ALJ, Jameel also owns the largest Toyota dealership in the world, with operations in the Middle East, UK, Central Asia and China. As an art philanthropist he has funded galleries around the world, including one showcasing more than 10,000 Islamic artifacts at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, where he also promotes modern Arab art with the bi-annual Jameel prize. He is also a keen yachtsman.30 Adel Ali (UAE)Founder of Air Arabia, Adel Ali is credited for his efforts to make air travel accessible to everyone. He launched the Middle East and North Africa’s first low-fares airline, which began operations in October 2003. Ali previously served as Vice President of Commercial and Customer Services for Gulf Air and has also held senior management positions with British Airways. Considered something of an aviation pioneer, Ali is keen for Arab countries to open up more secondary airports in and around their most populous cities, to aid the freeflow of low-cost airline passengers and freight. He has received several awards for his contribution to the industry.
Helal Al Marri (UAE)
As Director General of Dubai Tourism & Commerce Marketing, Al Marri played a key role in helping win Expo 2020 for Dubai. It all of course means even more work for him as he aims to bring 20 million visitors a year to Dubai. Al Marri previously worked as a strategy consultant with McKinsey & Co, one of the world’s leading consulting firms. He also worked with KPMG in London, holds an MBA degree from the London Business School and is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.Prior to his DTCM job, he was CEO of the Dubai World Trade Centre, and was instrumental in establishing Dubai as a global financial and commercial hub. Al Marri was appointed its head in 2004.
The DWTC, which is headed by Al Marri, has been instrumental in establishing Dubai as a global financial and commercial hub.
Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid bin Sultan Al Qasimi (UAE) Minister for Foreign Trade appointed on November 2004, Sheikha Lubna was the first woman to hold a ministerial post in the UAE. In 2000 she founded Tejari, the Middle East’s first business-to-business online marketplace, which now has franchises across the Middle East. Sheikha Lubna sits on the board of directors at the Dubai Chamber for Commerce and Industry, and is also on the board of the National US Arab Chamber of Commerce.
Ibrahim Dabdoub (Kuwait) Chairman of the Arab business council of the WEF, Dabdoub has been at the helm of the National Bank of Kuwait as its CEO since 1983. Dabdoub first joined NBK in 1961 where his career progressed from Head of Credit to Deputy Chief Executive Officer in 1969, to CEO in 1983 and to Group CEO in 2008. Before embarking on his banking career Dabdoub studied in Bethlehem, Turkey, and at Stanford University, California.
Fairouz (Lebanon) Still known as the Arabs’ ambassador and the ‘Jewel of Lebanon’, Fairouz is considered one of the greats of the Middle East music scene. Born Nouhad Haddad in November 1935, she received her education in Beirut and started her musical career as a chorus singer at the Lebanese radio station. In the 1950s, her career took off after she teamed up with the Rahbani Brothers, Assi and Mansour, who also worked at the radio station as musicians. Assi started to compose songs for Fairouz, one of which was Itab, which was an immediate smash hit in all of the Arab world, establishing Fairuz as one of the most prominent Arab singers on the regional music scene. Assi and Fairuz were married on 23 January 1955 and had four children, one of whom, Ziad Rahbani is a musician and a composer, who continues to work with his mother. Today, she is revered in the region and is often received by royalty and presidents. Although she has never sung in Jerusalem, the key to the holy city is among her most prized possessions.
Nawal El Saadawi (Egypt) No list of important Arabs could ever be complete without this grande dame of Arab literature and progressive thinking. Born in 1931 she is a novelist, a playwright, a medical doctor, a psychiatrist, a non-fiction writer and a lifelong political activist. Her novels and books on women and society are written in Arabic and translated into as many as 30 languages. A long outspoken critic of the Egyptian government of Hosni Mubarak, she actively participated in the Arab Spring uprisings in and around Tahrir Square and has vowed never to give up the struggle for truth and democracy.
Majid Al Futtaim (UAE) Majid Al Futtaim’s company (MAF) reported an 11% increase in pre-tax profit to AED3.3bn ($898m) in 2013 on the back of improved profitability in the company’s shopping malls and hotels. The shopping mall magnate, is responsible for bringing indoor skiing to Dubai’s deserts and presides over retail real estate spanning the Middle East from Egypt to Oman, after taking control of his family’s mall assets. He also operates the Carrefour brand of supermarkets throughout Middle East and continues to invest, working with the Omani government building one of the country’s first luxury residential developments.37 Ali bin Ibrahim Al Naimi (Saudi Arabia)Al Naimi has held the position of Saudi Arabian Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources since 1995. He joined Saudi Aramco in 1957 and began climbing the managerial ladder to become the first Saudi president of the company in 1983. His experience of the oil industry is extraordinarily detailed making him a popular participant at industry meetings, much valued for his wit and wisdom, as well as his expertise in the field. He completed his Masters degree in geology at Stanford University in the United States,
Adnan Ahmed Yousif (Bahrain) The CEO of Albaraka Banking Group (ABG), he is one of the premier names in the Arab world in terms of Islamic banking. In addition to a distinguished career with the Arab Banking Corporation, he is also the Chairman of Albaraka Turk Participation Bank, Banque Albaraka d’Algérie, Albaraka Bank Ltd South Africa, Albaraka Lebanon and the European Islamic Investment Bank. He is currently chairman of the Union of Arab Bankers. 39 Amr Al Dabbagh (Saudi Arabia)After gaining a BA degree in Business Administration from King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah; he gained experience in banking and finance at Merrill Lynch in New York, Coutts of London and Banque Worms in Paris. As Governor of SAGIA, Saudi Arabia’s General Investment Authority, he has led the groups’ expansion into housing, real estate and telecommunications. Al Dabbagh notably founded the Jeddah Economic Forum in 1999 and has since put into practice his vision for the future of Saudi Arabia.
Khalaf Al Habtoor (UAE ) Chairman of Al Habtoor Group and Dubai National Insurance & Reinsurance Company, he is a member of the Dubai Economic Council, formed in March 2003. Habtoor was given honorary membership of the Arab American Medical Association in recognition of his contribution to the establishment of the Arab Cultural Awards by the AAMA in February 2008.The General Council Secretariat recognised him as GCC Economic Pioneer for the year 2008 at the headquarters of Arab Leagues States.
Mohamed Alshaya (Kuwait) As Chairman of the retail division of the Alshaya Group, he is one of the most successful retailers in the Middle East. The Alshaya Group has diverse holdings including real estate, construction, hotels, multiple retailing, IT and advertising. Alshaya was appointed CEO of the retail division in 1990 and oversees its franchising operations throughout Europe. He is also a member of the Arab Thought Foundation.
Dr Muhammad Sulaiman Al Jasser (Saudi Arabia) Vice Governor of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency, Dr Muhammad Al Jasser is Chairman of the Board of a variety of organisations, including the Arab Investment Company. His opinions are frequently sought by the IMF; he was a member of the Negotiation Team on the accession of Saudi Arabia to the WTO in 2005 and was honoured in 2009 with the King Abdulaziz Medal of the First Order for his services to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Sheikha Hanadi bint Nasser bin Khalid Al Thani (Qatar) Was named “Woman CEO of the Year” in 2006 for developing Qatar’s economic and social presence in the Arab world. She is founder and Chairperson of Amwal and CEO of Al Wa’ab City. Sheikha Hanadi won the accolade ‘Businesswoman of the Year’ at the Arabian Business Achievement Awards Qatar 2010 and was recently voted among the world’s top 20 female banking and finance role models. Actively involved in community initiatives, she serves as a trustee on the board of the Arab Women’s International Forum.
Zaha Hadid (Iraq) The Iraqi-born architect was the first woman to win the Pritzker Prize for Architecture in 2004. She has designed one of the iconic London 2012 Olympic stadiums, the performing arts centre at Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island project, the modern art museum of Rome (MAXXI) and the Opera House in Guanzhou, China. Her London-based firm has been commissioned to design the new Baghdad HQ for the Central Bank of Iraq HQ, Hadid’s first ever project in her homeland. She was made a Dame of the British Empire in 2012.
Sultan Soud Al Qassemi (UAE) Non-resident fellow at the Dubai School of Government, Al Qassemi’s editorial is published regularly by the UAE’s The National newspaper. He has developed an influential social media network and is an active tweeter (5th on the Arabian Business tweeter list). He has held the position of Chairman of Young Arab Leaders’ UAE chapter since 2008 and is also Chairman of Barjeel Securities in Dubai.
Abdel Bari Atwan (Palestine/UK) Born in Palestine in 1950 and one of 11 children London based Palestinian journalist, commentator was editor-in chief of the Arabic newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi until he resigned in 2013. Atwan famously interviewed Osama bin Laden in 1996. Atwan has become a well-known public figure in the western media and the Arab media for his lively and intelligent approach to news analysis. He is currently the editor-in-chief of Rai al-Youm, the Arab world’s first Huffington Post-style digital news and opinion website.
Suad al Humaidi (Kuwait) Suad Al Humaidi is considered an ambassador for businesswomen across the Middle East region. She is the owner of a group of commercial and residential complexes both in Kuwait and abroad and is a leading member of The Property Owners Union of Kuwait. She is also a member of the board of management for Saradar (Saudi Bank) in Lebanon and has a stake in several banks, including the National Bank of Kuwait.
Sulaiman Al Rhajhi (Saudi Arabia) Is the Chairman of the largest Islamic bank, Al Radjhi in Saudi Arabia, established by royal decree in 1988. The bank includes retail, corporate an investment banking. Al Rhajhi is also a philanthropist founding the SAAR Foundation, a flagship corporation representing charities, think tanks and business entities. Al Rajhi also has financial interests in the Al Rajhi Bank, the Yanbu Cement Company and the National Agricultural Development Company (Nadec).
Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair (UAE) He was appointed Chairman of DIFC Authority Board of Directors in April 2012. Born in 1954, he trained as an industrial engineer in the United States before taking over as head of Mashreq Bank, which was founded by his father in the 1960s. In addition to his role as the CEO of the Mashreq Group, this billionaire businessman is Chairman of the Al Ghurair Group and a supporter of many charitable organisations at home and abroad, including UNICEF and the UAE’s Disabled Sports Federation.
Emad Burnat (Palestine) Emad Burnat is a Palestinian freelance cameraman and photographer with experience filming for Al-Jazeera and Palestinian Television. He has contributed to several documentaries, including Bil’in my love, Palestine kids, Open close, and Interrupted streams. Burnat is believed to be the first Palestinian filmmaker to be nominated for the Best Documentary Feature at the Oscars. Although his film, Five Broken Cameras – a first-hand account of life in Bil’in – didn’t win in Los Angeles, Burnat received the Directing Award at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.