50 Most Influential Expats In The UAE 2018

50 most influential expats in the uae

The UAE is a melting pot of nationalities, with individuals from all over the world choosing to live in the country. In fact, it is among the few countries in the world where expats outnumber the local population. They contribute significantly to the economy and work in both the private as well as public sectors.

With the success of the Top Indian Business Leaders in the Arab World, we decided to exclude Indians in this list as they were recognized earlier in our May issue.

Of the millions of expats that come to the UAE, only a few start large businesses, head global companies or have taken over the management of local companies. The list of 50 Most Influential Expats in the UAE looks to highlight the achievements of those expats who have been immensely successful in their respective professions or businesses.

Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports—one of the busiest airports in the world for international travel, tops the list. He is followed by Alain Bejjani, CEO of UAE-based retail giant Majid Al Futtaim—a rare non-family CEO of one of the largest family owned conglomerates in the region.

This list is among the most diverse lists that we have produced, and it includes 50 individuals from 20 nationalities serving across 21 industries, truly reflecting the cosmopolitan nature of the country.


To produce the list, we based the 50 Most Influential Expats in the UAE on revenues, or other key figures that are specific to that particular business or which have an impact on the country’s economy. Other factors that were considered were the experience of the individual, the scope of their role and the number of employees they manage.

1Paul GriffithsCEODubai AirportsAirportsBritish
2Alain BejjaniCEOMajid Al FuttaimDiversifiedLebanese
3Nabil HabayebPresident & CEO, GE MENATGE Middle East, North Africa & TurkeyDiversifiedLebanese/ American
4Yves ManghardtChairman & CEO, Middle EastNestléConsumer ProductsSwiss
5Atiq Ur RehmanCEOCiti GroupBankingBritish
6Mohamed SamirPresident, Indian Subcontinent, Middle East & AfricaProcter & Gamble IMEAConsumer ProductsEgyptian
7Takreem El TohamyGeneral ManagerIBM Middle East & AfricaTechnologyEgyptian
8Shayne NelsonCEOEmirates NBDBankingAustralian
9Dietmar SiersdorferCEO Middle EastSiemensDiversifiedGerman
10Sjoerd LeenartGlobal Head, Corporate Banking & Regional Head, CEEMEAJ.P. Morgan ChaseBankingDutch
11Samer Abu LtaifPresident - Microsoft Middle East & AfricaMicrosoftTechnologyLebanese
12Georges ElhederyGroup General Manager, CEO, MENA & Deputy Chairman, Middle EastHSBC HoldingsBankingFrench
13Hamish TyrwhittGroup CEOArabtec HoldingReal Estate & ConstructionBritish
14Mohammed AminSenior Vice President, MEATDell EMCTechnologyEgyptian/ Canadian
15Colm McLoughlinExecutive Vice Chairman & CEODubai Duty FreeRetailIrish
16Luciano PoliPresident, Dow India, Middle East and TurkeyDow ChemicalOil & GasSwiss
17Ashraf El AfifiPresident of Henkel IMEA & Corporate Senior Vice President of Laundry & Home Care MEA & Asia PacificHenkelConsumer productsEgyptian
18Ghassan AboudChairmanGhassan Aboud GroupAutomobilesSyrian
19Lino CattaruzziManaging Director, MENAGoogleTechnologyArgentinean
20James HaroldPresident & Head, MENANovartis Pharma ServicesPharmaceuticalsBritish
21Norm GilsdorfPresident Middle East, Russia, Turkey & Central AsiaHoneywell InternationalTechnologyAmerican
22Jose SilvaCEOJumeirahHospitalityPortuguese
23Michel ChaloubChairmanChaloub GroupRetailFrench
24Peter EnglandCEORAKBANKBankingBritish
25Magnus OlssonCo-founderCareemTechnologySwedish
26Mudassir SheikhaCo-founderCareemTechnologyPakistani
27Abdul Rehman AlokozayChairmanAlokozay GroupConsumer ProductsAfghani
28Yu TaoPresident & CEO, Middle EastChina State Construction Engineering Coorperation Middle EastReal Estate & ConstructionChinese
29Kez TaylorCEOALECReal Estate & ConstructionSouth African
30Ahmed KenawiSenior Vice President, Middle East and North AfricaHalliburtonOil & GasEgyptian
31Pierre SironvalGeneral Manager Business Unit Middle East / Managing Director Six ConstructSix ConstructReal Estate & ConstructionBelgian
32Gergi AbboudManaging Director, MENAPSAPTechnologyLebanese
33Alida ScholtzManaging Director & CEOG4SSecuritySouth African
34Bernd van LinderCEOCommercial Bank of DubaiBankingDutch
35Mark BeerCEO & Registrar GeneralDubai International Financial Center CourtsRegulatorBritish
36Nour SulimanCEODHL International—DHL ExpressLogisticsBahraini
37John IossifidisCEONoor BankBankingAustralian
38Cedric CharpentierCEO, AXA Insurance GulfAXA InsuranceInsuranceFrench
39Benjamin AmpenManaging Director, MENATwitterTechnologyFrench
40Ronaldo MouchawarFounder & CEOSouq (Amazon)EcommerceSyrian
41Anan FakhreddinCEODamas JewelryRetailJordanian
42Huda KhattanFounder & CEOHuda BeautyCosmeticsAmerican/ Iraqi
43Zhang JunguoGeneral Manager, Middle EastICBCBankingChinese
44Jonathan LabinManaging Director, MENAPFacebookTechnologyAmerican
45Paul KennyManaging DirectorAYM CommerceE-CommerceIrish
46Patrick Allman-WardCEODana GasOil & GasBritish
47Michael RaynesCEOWaha CapitalFinancial ServicesBritish
48Mark RobinsonCEOCommercial Bank InternationalBankingAmerican
49Michael PomeranceVice President & Managing Director, MEACernerHealthcare TechnologyAmerican
50Mirwais AziziFounderAzizi DevelopmentsReal Estate & ConstructionAfghani