Arab World’s Movers And Shakers Of 2017


The year 2017 was an eventful year for the Middle Eastern businesses. Several big deals and projects that were announced during the year will have a substantial impact on the region in the coming years. Behind these stories were influential individuals who brokered these deals, leaving an indelible mark on the business and investing world.

Through the ‘Movers and Shakers 2017’, Forbes Middle East presents a list of individuals or groups of people who have altered the business landscape of the region in the past year.

Ronaldo Mouchawar (Amazon Deal)Ronaldo Mouchawar, co-founder and CEO of, made waves across the Middle Eastern startup ecosystem when he announced in July 2017 that he was selling his startup—the region's largest e-commerce player—to Amazon for a cool $580 million, making it the region's largest exit at the time.
Shaikh Ahmad Bin Saeed Al Maktoum and Ghaith Al GhaithThe biggest aircraft deal this year was signed by U.A.E.-based low cost carrier flydubai and Boeing. Flydubai, chaired by Shaikh Ahmad Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, agreed to buy 225 Boeing 737 MAX for $27 billion. Ghaith Al Ghaith, CEO of flydubai said, "We ordered this model as it has given us the versatility and flexibility to carry 44 million passengers since our first flight."
Yasir bin Othman Al-RumayyanYasir bin Othman Al-Rumayyan, CEO of the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF), has had a significant impact on the region in 2017. Among Saudi PIF's big ticket deals and investments have been a $20 billion investment in Blackstone's $40 billion infrastructure fund, and a commitment of $45 billion to Softbank's $100 billion vision fund. Saudi PIF will also be among the main backers of the $500 billion NEOM city project.
Saeed Mubarak Al RashdiSaeed Mubarak Al Rashdi, acting CEO of ADNOC, oversaw one of the region's biggest IPOs in 2017. The listing of the retail arm of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company—ADNOC Distribution—will help the company raise up to $851 million in exchange of 10% of the company, valuing the company at $8.5 billion. ADNOC Distribution is the largest fuel distributor in the U.A.E. It also has a chain of convenience stores called ADNOC Oasis.
SophiaSophia is the first artificial person in the world to be granted citizenship. This was a largely symbolic move by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to signify their intent of embracing technology and reduce their reliance on oil.
Talal Said Marhoon Al MamariTalal Said Marhoon Al Mamari, CEO of Omantel, Oman's largest telecom company, oversaw the acquisition of close to 20% of leading Kuwaiti telecom company, Zain for $1.8 billion in 2017. Omantel acquired 10% in August and added an additional 12% in October.
Prasanth ManghatPrasanth Manghat became CEO of NMC Healthcare in March 2017, and in September the company emerged as the first in the Middle East to be included in the prestigious FTSE 100 index, which is made up of the top 100 companies listed on the London Stock Exchange. NMC Healthcare's stock has appreciated almost six times (600%) in the last three years, almost doubling over the last year alone.
Mohamed El-KhayatMohamed El-Khayat heads the New and Renewable Energy Authority (NREA), which is setting up the world's largest solar power park in Egypt. A 37-square kilometer plot near the southern city of Aswan has been allocated by the Egyptian government to NREA for the park. The project is expected to provide power to over 350,000 residents in the country.
Saudi, Egyptian, Tunisian and Moroccan football teamsFor the first time in the history of FIFA World Cup, four Arab teams qualified for the tournament. In 2017, Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco and Saudi Arabia bagged tickets to the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, defeating Libya, Congo, Ivory Coast and Japan.
Sarah Al-SuhaimiIn February 2017, Sarah Al Suhaimi became the first woman to head the Saudi stock exchange—Tadawul—the largest stock exchange in the region. Al-Suhaimi may head the stock exchange through the world's biggest IPO when Saudi Aramco lists later in 2018.


Jason Lasrado