Our 50 top Arabs 2016.



The research for our annual 50 Top Arabs Report is always an interesting time for us at The Middle East magazine.


This year has been particularly memorable since all the voting has been conducted online.

Our decision to go digital in 2015 was not met with universal approval and I confess to my own myriad concerns about the future of an online magazine as opposed to our 40 year old, monthly printed publication.

However, the immediacy of an online edition has, I confess, won me over.

I was particularly impressed when, earlier this month, a single online exclusive story, reposted to our facebook page, reached more than 83,000 people worldwide in just a few days. These are audience numbers that as a monthly print magazine we could only have dreamed of reaching in such a short space of time.

Today, without the hassles of printing or the vagaries of global distribution we are able to bring you the results of Our TOP 50 Arabs right here, right now.

We have seen many favourites re-emerge in the 2016 listing but also a significant number of new entries. A selected panel of readers were able to give us some interesting feedback on why they made the choices they did. Our most voted for contender, HRH Prince Alwaleed, is clearly admired for his business acumen but also for his philanthropy and genuine concern for those less privileged than himself. He was cited as an "entrepreneurial genius" but--by the same reader--as an "admirable Muslim" who has not "lost sight of the charitable teachings of his Islamic faith."

We have seen a plethora of exciting new entrepreneurs mentioned for the first time in our listing and increasing numbers from particular geographical locations. For example, it is clear that UAE nationals feature more prominently in the 2016 listing than in previous years but there are also impressive and increasing numbers of nationals from Egypt and other North African states.

Somewhat surprisingly the overall numbers of Saudi Arabian and Qatari nationals to gain a place on our annual listing is down on recent years.

As always, we are fascinated to hear your opinions and these will form an important part of our post-survey exclusive articles. Over the coming weeks we will be looking at just what the UAE is doing to get the balance right and where other nations may be getting it wrong. In a completely separate article, we will examine which states are forging ahead with their gender equality programmes to ensure that women play an essential part in moving society and the economies of their countries forward.

Please contact me, the editor-in-chief, Pat Lancaster at info@themiddlemagazine.com with your thoughts. I very much look forward to hearing from you.

Rashad Bin Muhammad Al Zubair (Oman)

Rashad Bin Muhammad Al Zubair is the Deputy Chairman and Group President of the Zubair Corporation but this art-loving businessman also holds the office of Chairman of Oman Arab Bank SAOC, the main subsidiary of Ominvest. The latter estab lishment is actively involved in financing Oman's ongoing mega-construction programme, the Duqm free zone expansion project. Al Zubair is a Director of Dana Gas PJSC and also served as a Director of the Muscat Capital Market Authority for more than six years until he stepped down in 2008. Since 1984, he has been advisor to His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said for Economic Planning Affairs, Omanization and SME's. Between 1997 and 2001, he was President of Sultan Qaboos University. Al Zubair also serves as Deputy Chairman of Barr Al Jissah Holiday Resorts and is the founder of the unique Bait Al Zubair Museum in the old town of Muscat, which preserves and exhibits ethnographic material relating to Oman past and present. Inaugurated in 1998, the internationally acclaimed museum is dedicated to the memory of his grandfather, Sheikh Ali bin Juma.


Khaldoon Mubarak (UAE)


Khaldoon Mubarak is Chairman of the UK Premiership football club Manchester City. He is also CEO of Mubadala, the company established by the Government of Abu Dhabi to work as principal agent in the diversification of that emirate's economy. Through Mubadala, Mubarak has overseen many of the oil-rich emirate's strategic investments and key development projects. He is also 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 the Abu Dhabi Executive Council. He is Chairman of the Executive Affairs committee and of the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC). Mubarak's other responsibilities include his position as Chairman of Imperial College London's Diabetes Centre and his role as ambassador for the Global eHealth Foundation (GeHF), which was created to become a catalyst for transforming healthcare from its current position as a developed world privilege to becoming a human right globally. As chairman of the Abu Dhabi Motor Sport Management Company, Mubarak was a key figure in negotiating for the Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi and was influential in getting the FIFA Club World Cup to be held there. A member of the Board of Trustees for New York University, Mubarak began overseeing the development of a NYU campus in Abu Dhabi in 2013.

Issad Rebrab (Algeria)


Issad Rebrab is a self-made entrepreneur who began his career as a teacher of business and accounting. Born in 1944, today Rebrab heads up Algeria's biggest conglomerate, an entity 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, 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. Rebrab also runs the newspaper Liberte and is president of Hyundai Motors Algerie, which he manages with his son Omar. Expanding his media empire, in April 2016, he acquired the El Khabar media group for $45 million. The company is the publisher of El Khabar newspaper, one of Algeria's highest circulation publications (over 300,000 copies daily). The company also owns a television channel, a printing press and a distribution firm.

Lubna Suliman Olayan (Saudi Arabia)


The Chief Executive Officer of the Olayan Financing Company (OFC), Olayan is considered an important spokesperson for women's rights in the Middle East, who tends to lead by quiet example. Although already well known in Saudi Arabia, Olayan came to international prominence when she became the first woman to publicly address a mixed gender audience at the Jeddah Economic Conference of 2004. Since that time she has continually reinforced her credentials as an accomplished businesswoman. She is a member of the Board of Trustees of Cornell University and also of the Board of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST). Olayan also sits on the board of trustees of the Arab Thought Foundation and is a board member of Al Fanar, which supports a variety of grassroots organizations in the Arab world. She has been a consistent champion of women's employment rights; in 2001, she was the only woman employed by the Olayan Financing Company (OFC); today there are more than 400 women employed across 28 companies, with an active female recruitment plan in place.

Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi (Sharjah)


Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi founded Kalimat Publishing in 2007, to help develop and nurture publishing in the UAE and to fill a gap in the market for good Arabic children's books. Eight years later, Kalimat has published over 100 titles and won many awards at regional and international book fairs. Sheikha Bodour currently heads up the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) and is the leading light of the "Knowledge without Borders" organizing committee, an initiative launched by the Ruler of Sharjah with the aim of establishing a library in every house in the Emirate.

Sheikha Bodour has enthusiastically championed the rights of woman in Sharjah; since 2002 she has held the post of Vice President of the Sharjah Ladies Club, an entity of the Government of Sharjah, which works to promotes the position of women.

Elie Saab (Lebanon)


Born in 1964 and often referred to 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 since become an international bestseller. In 2014, he launched an e-magazine, The Light of Now, focusing on fashion, art and perfume.

Nabila Ramdani (Algeria)


A British-based, French born freelance journalist of Algerian descent who specialises in Anglo-French issues, Islamic affairs, and the Arab World, Ramdani has become one of the most trusted Arab journalists working with contemporary western media. She is objective and incisive but always with the human touch.

With an MPhil in International History from the London School of Economics (LSE), and an MPhil in British and American History and Literature from Paris 7 University, Ramdani began her career in journalism covering the 2007 French presidential elections for a number of UK newspapers, and as a commentator for the BBC. She writes regular columns for a range of quality British, French and Middle Eastern publications and appears as a commentator for the BBC, Al...

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