Five business leaders from the UAE are tonight due to go head-to-head with the best from the Middle East in their bid to be crowned the World Entrepreneur of the Year.
The finalists from the Emirates are among 18 people from 10 Middle East countries vying for the title of Ernst & Young Middle East Entrepreneur of the Year Awards 2008.
The successful candidate will then go on to battle it out in Monte Carlo for the global title, which organisers say “recognises outstanding entrepreneurs who are building and leading dynamic and growing businesses”.
Finalists representing the UAE include Arif Naqvi, CEO of Abraaj Capital, Omar Ayesh, President of Tameer Holding Investments, Sunny Varkey, Founder of Varkey Group from Dubai, Dani Safi, CEO of Tabreed and BR Shetty, Managing Director of UAE Exchange Centre. Tonight’s awards ceremony marks the highpoint of three days of celebrations during which the five business leaders, along with the other regional finalists, were invited to Dubai to present their success stories to a panel of independent judges.
In turn, they will pick a winner based on criteria including financial performance, entrepreneurial spirit, strategic direction, national or global impact and innovation. The winner, to be announced at a gala dinner at the Madinat Jumeirah this evening, will have the chance to compete with 50 other national entrepreneurs from around the world in May.
Arif Naqvi, CEO of Abraaj Capital, said: “By shortlisting not one but 18 individuals, any of whom can go on to win the global award in May, shows clearly the Middle East has come of age and that globally celebrated businesses have been born in our region. It is an initiative that we must all support, and coming from a firm of its stature, it is definitely an award to be cherished.”
BR Shetty, Managing Director of the UAE Exchange Centre, said: “It sends a strong message to young entrepreneurs about how loyalty, discipline, integrity and hard work are the key ingredients for success.”
Although this is the first-of-its-kind award in the region, the Ernst & Young awards celebrated its 20th year in 2006 and are held annually in more than 125 countries, with one main winner selected at the global awards. Entertainment company Cirque du Soleil’s founder Guy Laliberte (pictured above) was selected as the World Entrepreneur of the Year last year.
Regional contenders for the Ernst & Young Middle East Entrepreneur of the Year Awards 2008
Atif Abdulmalik, CEO, Arcapita Bank BSC, Bahrain
Esam Janahi, Chairman, Gulf Finance House, Bahrain
Saud Kanoo, Partner, Amwaj Islands, Bahrain
Ayedh bin Farhan, MD, Al Oula Real Estate Development Co, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Sobhi Batterjee, President and CEO, Saudi German Hospitals Group, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Samih Darwazah, Chairman, Hikma Pharmaceuticals Plc, Jordan
Fadi Ghandour, CEO, Aramex PJSC, Jordan
Faisal Al Ayyar, Managing Director and CEO, Kuwait Projects Company Holding, Kuwait
Abdulfatah Marafie, Chairman and Managing Director, The Commercial Real Estate Co, Kuwait
Mohammed Al Alloush, Chairman and Managing Director, First Investment Co KSC, Kuwait
Marzooq Al Rashdan, Vice Chairman and MD, Abyaar Real Estate Development Co, Kuwait
Samir Fancy, Chairman, Renaissance Services SAOG, Oman
Maqbool Al Saleh, Chairman, Oman Holdings International (OHI) SAOG, Oman
Wasim Daher, CEO, Azadea Group Holding SAL, Lebanon
Abdulaziz Al Hoshan, Chairman, Vodatel, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Five UAE entrepreneurs vie for 2008 title