After nine years of the Arabian Business Power List, Prince Alwaleed remains at the top of the tree. Last year, when we interviewed him in the Kingdom Tower in Riyadh, the shares of Kingdom Holding, the company he chairs, had shot up 147 percent in twelve months.
And it’s the last year that has, even by his standards, been extraordinary, with KH’s investment strategy across thirteen different sectors paying off big time. He withstood calls to withdraw from News Corp after the phone hacking scandal, and has now seen its share price hit a five-year high.
He resisted the pressure to jump on the Facebook bandwagon before its disastrous IPO, and was savvy enough to nab a $300m investment in Twitter, which observers suggest has rocketed in value. And his decision to stick with Citigroup through many years of thick and thin also now looks completely vindicated. But it’s the prince’s key investments that have made a huge difference, including a 34 percent jump this year in News Corp’s share price. “I have a very structured life: every day the same thing,” the prince told us last year. “That it is like I am on autopilot and why should I change it? It is a recipe for success. If it ain’t broke, why fix it?” Why indeed.
2. Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum
There aren’t many airports in the world that don’t see a constant procession of Emirates flights taking off from their runways.
At some point this year, the Dubai carrier is likely to become the world’s second-biggest airline, with the number-one slot clearly within its sights. The man behind this feat is HH Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, who over the past 25 years has spearheaded the growth of both the airline and Dubai, which is now one of the world’s most important aviation hubs. More recently, he has also formulated economic, investment and fiscal policies and strategies in support of the emirate’s overarching vision.
Of course, the airline is only part of Sheikh Ahmed’s story. He is chairman of Dubai’s biggest bank, Emirates NBD, and of Dubai World, the conglomerate that includes the world’s third-biggest ports company, DP World.
Sheikh Ahmed is also the chairman of Dubai Airport Free Zone Authority, Dubai Air Wing, Alliance Insurance Company, The British University in Dubai, and The Dubai Power & Energy Committee. He is the chairman of Wasl Hospitality and chairman of Noor Investment Group and the chairman of Noor Takaful.
3. Mo Farah
When Mo Farah picked up an astonishing two gold medals at last year’s Olympic Games in London, the Arab world was jubilant.
Newspapers and media outlets across the region celebrated his Arab heritage as the Briton completed victories over top-class opposition in the 5,000 and 10,000-metre finals.
Mohamed Farah was born in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia in 1983, and spent the early years of his childhood in Djibouti. He moved to the UK aged eight, and began running in earnest from 2005 onwards. He is considering upgrading to the marathon.
Farah is a sponsor of the UK-based Muslim Writers Awards and launched the Mo Farah Foundation after a trip to Somalia in 2011. He was awarded a CBE in the UK’s 2013 New Year’s honours list.