Who’s Who

A guide to the most influential, non-royal officials in the United Arab Emirates.


Mohammed Al Shaibani
Chief executive of Investment Corp. of Dubai and director of the ruler’s court in the emirate.

Dubai’s “Eliot Ness,” who has spearheaded a crackdown on corporate corruption in the city since 2008. Right-hand man of Dubai’s ruler Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Playing central role in the restructuring of Dubai World’s $22 billion debt pile. Works behind the scenes and prefers to keep out of the public eye.

Khaldoun Al Mubarak
Chairman of Abu Dhabi’s Executive Affairs Authority and chief executive of government-owned investment firm Mubadala Development.

Drives a Maserati sports car and was instrumental in bringing Formula One Grand Prix racing to Abu Dhabi. Thrust into the international spotlight last year when he was appointed chairman of the newly acquired Manchester City Football Club. Oversees one of the emirate’s largest investment funds. Right-hand man of Abu Dhabi’s powerful Crown Prince.

Mohamed Alabbar
Chairman of Emaar Properties.

Architect of Dubai’s property boom, which has now run out of steam. At its peak Emaar Properties was the world’s most valuable real-estate developer, its shares trading at over $7 each. His company has so far survived a 50% plummet in Dubai property prices but its shares are worth less than a dollar each. He enjoyed a moment of glory in January with the opening of the “Burj Khalifa,” the world’s tallest skyscraper.

Yousef Al Omair Yousef
Chief Executive of Abu Dhabi National Oil Co.

The man who keeps Abu Dhabi’s oil flowing. Known for his prudence and caution, Mr. Yousef is said to personally review all employee expense claims at the company. A trusted technocrat, his family is among the wealthiest in Abu Dhabi. Held in high regard by Abu Dhabi’s ruler, he’s the longest-serving head of a state-owned oil company in the Gulf.

Sultan Nasser Al Suweidi
Governor of the Abu Dhabi-based Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates.

The longest-serving head of a central bank in the Gulf states and an ardent defender of the dirham peg to the U.S. dollar. Controversially pulled the U.A.E. out of a proposed plan to create a single Gulf currency after Riyadh was selected as the location for a regional central bank. He’s playing a key role in trying to solve Dubai’s financial problems.

Dhahi Khalfan Tamim
Commander of Dubai Police.

The Lieutenant General is responsible for keeping the streets of Dubai crime-free. He’s been tested this year by the murder in the emirate of Hamas commander Mahmoud Al Mabhouh—an assassination that Dubai is blaming on Israel at the risk of drawing the city-state into a wider Middle East conflict. A close friend of Dubai’s ruler, Sheik Mohammed.

Abdulaziz Al Ghurair
Al Ghurair family patriarch and chief executive of Mashreq Bank.

Mr. Al Ghurair and his family are ranked by Forbes among the world’s wealthiest people with a fortune close to $8 billion. A paraglide pilot in his spare time, Mr. Al Ghurair controls business assets including cement, mineral water and petrochemicals.

Khalifa Mohammed Al Kindi
Chairman of Abu Dhabi Investment Co., board member of Abu Dhabi Investment Council and International Petroleum Investment Co.

Mr. Al Kindi is one of a select group of technocrats who aren’t members of the ruling family in Abu Dhabi to have a say in the emirate’s investment strategy, both at home and abroad. He started his career at the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, the Middle East’s largest sovereign wealth fund, where he managed the treasury department for five years.

Ahmed Humaid Al Tayer
Chairman of Emirates NBD and the governor of Dubai International Financial Center, or DIFC.

A long-serving aide of the Maktoum family, Mr. Al Tayer represents Dubai’s old school of businessmen. Very conservative, he was brought in to head the DIFC as the financial crisis began to expose some of the emirate’s riskier ventures. His family has extensive business interests in Dubai, including the local franchise for Range Rover and Ferrari.

Ahmad Ali Al Sayegh
Chairman of Aldar Properties and chief executive of Dolphin Energy.

Mr. Al Sayegh has built a reputation in Abu Dhabi for getting the job done. His greatest achievement was the construction of a giant underwater gas pipeline from Qatar to the U.A.E. despite the objections of Saudi Arabia, which claimed it ran through its territory. He’s now trying to build real estate in the capital.


Tim Clark
President of Emirates Airline.

Mr. Clark is one of the original management team that created Emirates Airline in 1985. He’s spent the last 20 years along with group vice-chairman Maurice Flanagan turning the carrier into a giant now capable of challenging the world’s biggest airlines. One of the most accessible executives in town, he’s part of a trusted management team around his boss and chairman, Sheik Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum.

Simon Pearce
Director of Strategic Affairs for the Executive Affairs Authority.

Nothing happens in Abu Dhabi without the knowledge of Mr. Pearce, a former Burson-Marsteller executive. He controls the door to some of Abu Dhabi’s most powerful officials, including Khaldoun Al Mubarak. Played a prominent role in smoothing the communication of the Manchester City Football Club takeover.

Khater Massad
Chief executive of RAK Investment Authority.

Lebanese adviser to the Crown Prince of Ras Al Khaimah, one of the U.A.E.’s smaller emirates after Abu Dhabi and Dubai. He narrowly failed to bring the America’s Cup yacht race to the sheikdom last year. He is well respected and is attempting to drag Ras Al Khaimah out of the shadow of its bigger neighbors.

Ziad Makhzoumi
Chief financial officer of Arabtec Construction LLC.

Mr. Makhzoumi, a lifetime fan of former U.K. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, was instrumental in building Arabtec into the biggest construction firm in the U.A.E. He’s had his hands full recently chasing unpaid bills from clients in Dubai and helping to manage the company that’s now subject to a takeover by an Abu Dhabi investment company.

Gerald Lawless
Executive chairman of Jumeirah Group.

The Irishman can often be seen briefing Dubai’s ruler, Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum over Chinese food at the Noodle House restaurant in Emirates Towers. Mr. Lawless has helped build Jumeirah into the Middle East’s largest hotel operator. He’s responsible for some of Dubai’s most luxurious hotels, such as the seven-star Burj Al Arab.

Michael Tomalin
Group chief executive of National Bank of Abu Dhabi.

The former Rothschild’s banker is one of a dying bread of British expatriates occupying senior positions in the U.A.E.’s financial industry. A member of the Order of the British Empire, he has managed National Bank of Abu Dhabi, the sheikdom’s oldest bank, since 1999.

Yusuffali M.A.
Managing director of Emke Group.

One of the most respected expatriates from the U.A.E.’s vast Indian community, the largest group of foreigners living in the country.

Made his name managing the Lulu food retail chain in the emirates and was the first foreigner to be elected to the board of the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industries.

Aidan Birkett
Chief restructuring officer of Dubai World.

Mr. Birkett holds the fate of Dubai in his hands through the restructuring of Dubai World’s $22 billion pile of debt. The managing director of Deloitte’s corporate finance department is hired out to Dubai to help hammer out a deal with creditors of the troubled company. Failure could trigger a default that would take Dubai decades to recover from.

Frauke Heard-Bey
Author of From Trucial States to United Arab Emirates. A Society in Transition.

Leading academic writing on the U.A.E. and daughter of the German World War II commander of the battle cruiser Scharnhorst, Ms. Heard-Bey wrote the definitive history of the country: From Trucial States to United Arab Emirates. A Society in Transition.

A resident of Abu Dhabi since 1967, few writers have come close to equalling her understanding of the seven emirates.

Zaki Anwar Nusseibeh
Vice Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage.

Born in Jerusalem, Mr. Nusseibeh is a personal adviser to the ruler of Abu Dhabi and president of the U.A.E., Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Few people know the workings of Abu Dhabi’s royal household better than Mr. Nusseibeh. As personal translator for the ruler he’s played a key role in the country’s development. He’s now active in trying to make Abu Dhabi a cultural hub for the Middle East.

These profiles were compiled by Zawya Dow Jones.

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