Irrespective of the economic environment, market conditions, and other factors, it is the CEO who bears most of the responsibility for the success or failure of the company they lead. This is becoming more apparent in the Middle East, where corporate governance has been improving for several years. There is now a clear separation between ownership and management in companies throughout the region. This trend is particularly strong in government-owned businesses, with even sectors such as defense and utilities now being incorporated and even being listed on stock exchanges. This has made CEOs focus more on long-term benefits that stem from innovation, technology, and ESG initiatives.
When we released our first Top CEOs ranking in 2021, the mood among the Middle East’s CEOs was focused on safety and the protection of business. This year has seen a reversal in fortunes, with record profits, new investments, large IPOs, and mega deals taking center stage. For example, so far in 2022, Amin H. Nasser has led Saudi Aramco to become the world’s most valuable company by market value again, usurping Apple. Meanwhile, Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber led ADNOC as it took three of its subsidiaries—ADNOC Drilling, Fertiglobe, and Borouge—public, with Borouge’s $2 billion IPO becoming Abu Dhabi’s largest-ever IPO.
This year’s list of the Top 100 CEOs in the region consists of leaders from 26 nationalities. Emiratis dominated with 19 entries, followed by Egyptians with 16, and Saudis with 15. Banking and financial services is the most represented sector on the list with 27 CEOs, followed by eight telecom CEOs, and seven that each head energy and logistics companies. Combined they managed revenues of over $1 trillion last year. Their companies are collectively worth more than $5 trillion.
To create this ranking, we sent out questionnaires and collected information from stock market disclosures, industry reports, annual reports and financial statements, and other primary sources. Only CEOs of companies headquartered in the MENA region were considered. Business owners were excluded.
We ranked the CEOs based on:
• The impact that they have had on the region, their country, and the markets that they serve.
• The CEO’s overall experience and time in their current role.
• The size of the company in terms of revenues, assets, and market cap.
• The achievements and performance of the CEO in the last year.
• The innovations and initiatives that the CEO has implemented.