UAE’s Arabianbusiness Magazine regularly publishes the list of the most Powerful Arabs in the Middle East. The current list is as under.
No 1 Most Powerful Arab 1# Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Al Saud
He is the Chairman, Kingdom Holding Saudi Arabia
Prince Alwaleed bin Talal With more than 40 investments in ten industrry and service sectors, he has been hard hit by the global financial crisis, resulting in a sharp drop in the share price of his Kingdom Holding Company (KHC), which is listed on the Saudi Stock Exchange. Nevertheless, due to his diverse scale of his globe-spanning investments, he still managed to top rich list in December last year, with a $17.08bn fortune.
Al-Waleed began his business career in 1979 upon graduation from Menlo College. Meru the \Pro Swimmer The Prince’s activities as an investor came to prominence when he bought a substantial tranche of shares in Citicorp in the 1990s when that firm was in difficulties. With an initial investment of $550 million ($2.98 a share after adjusting for stock splits, acquisitions and spin-offs, according to Bloomberg calculations) to bail out Citibank caused by underperforming American real estate loans and Latin American businesses, his holdings in Citigroup now comprise for about $1 billion. His investments in Citibank earned him the title of Saudi Warren Buffet. This title has come under shadow considering that many of his most prominent investments have performed quite poorly.
Although his stake in Citibank once accounted for approximately half of his wealth, by January 2009 this holding had lost nearly all of its value. At the end of 1990 he bought 4.9% of Citicorp’s existing common shares for $207m ($12.46 per share)—the most that he could without being legally obliged to declare his interest. In February 1991, as American troops stationed in Saudi Arabia were preparing for war with Iraq, the prince spent $590m buying new preferred shares, convertible into common shares at $16 each. This amounted to a further 10% of Citicorp and took his stake to 14.9%. In January 2008, the Prince participated — together with the Singapore government investment coporation and other investors — in a $12.5 Billion capital raise, in an unsucessful effort to shore up Citi’s capital position, but the value of these shares continued to plunge
Chairman, Emaar Properties, UAE
It’s been a difficult year for Emaar Properties; probably its toughest yet. Latest figures show that Emaar Properties declared a loss of AED1.77bn ($482m) during the fourth quarter of 2008. Revenue fell to AED3.50bn ($953m) from AED5.14bn ($1.4bn) in the fourth quarter of 2007. Nevertheless the developer still managed to report annual net operating profits of AED5.6bn ($1.519 bn).
But while the figures are heading south, Mohammed Alabbar’s own stock continues to steadily rise.
As Chairman of Emaar Properties, Alabbar has played a key role in the development of Dubai’s real estate sector. Emaar, a Public Joint Stock Company established in 1997, is listed on the Dubai Financial Market and is majority-owned by the Government of Dubai. Emaar Properties is the largest construction and development company in the UAE and has built over a thousand residential units and office complexes during the real estate boom in Dubai. Emaar is also responsible for the development of Burj Dubai, which is expected to be the tallest tower in the world on completion.
Under Alabbar, the Department of Economic Development has initiated public policies to strengthen trade and business in Dubai and establish greater transparency and openness.
Alabbar has also contributed to the growth in Dubai’s non-oil sector as Vice Chairman of Dubai Aluminium Company Ltd (DUBAL) from 1992 to 2003. From 1992 to 2002 he served as Vice Chairman of the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC), developing Dubai into a regional hub for exhibitions and conferences.
Alabbar is also the chairman of Emcredit, the first independent credit information company in the UAE.
In 2007 Alabbar flew to North Korea to investigate investment opportunities there.
3# Muntadar Al Zaidi
The world knew nothing about Al Zaidi until he attended a press conference in Baghdad, held by the outgoing US president George Bush. Before the world’s media, Al Zaidi hurled his shoes at the president, calling him a “dog”. He was acting, he said, for “widows and orphans and all those killed in Iraq”.
On November 16, 2007, al-Zaidi was kidnapped by unknown assailants in Baghdad. He was also previously twice arrested by the United States armed forces serving in Iraq. On December 14, 2008, al-Zaidi threw his shoes at then-US president George W. Bush during a Baghdad press conference. Al-Zaidi suffered injuries as he was taken into custody and allegations have been made that he was tortured during his initial detention.
On February 20, 2009, al-Zaidi received a short 90-minute trial by the Central Criminal Court of Iraq. On March 12, 2009, al-Zaidi was sentenced to three years in prison for assaulting a foreign head of state during an official visit. Al-Zaidi’s attorneys expect to appeal the sentence.
4# Dr Sulaiman Al Fahim CEO, Hydra Properties UAE
In August last year Dr Al Fahim became an overnight star after leading the Abu Dhabi takeover of Manchester City football club. The deal, worth a reported $400m, made the Emirati tycoon a household name in every continent.
Dr. Sulaiman Al-Fahim is also a Goodwill Ambassador of the Intergovernmental Institution for the use of Micro-algae Spirulina Against Malnutrition, IIMSAM, to help the organisation realise a world free of malnutrition and hunger by mainstreaming the use of Spirulina to eradicate malnutrition, achieve food security, and bridge the health divide with a special priority for the Developing and the Least Developed Countries.