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26 February 2024

Five UAE execs in running for Ernst & Young award

By Mohamed Aly Sergie


In a region focused on work, and with businesspeople rushing to meetings to close the next big deal, the most unlikely workaholics – accountants – decided to slow things down a bit and celebrate the hard wins regional entrepreneurs have accomplished in 2007.

Ernst & Young will name the Middle East’s entrepreneur of the year this February – five from the UAE are among the list of 20 finalists that include a who’s who of the regions top executives.

Fouad Alaeddin, Ernst & Young’s Middle East managing partner, spearheaded the effort to bring the award, which has been going on globally for 22 years, to the Middle East. The winner for the region, who will be announced in Dubai on February 23, will compete against 49 entrepreneurs for the global award in Monte Carlo in May.
“When we picked the 20 finalists, we looked at three main criteria. First, we look at financial statements, we look at growth, and the other two criteria are looked at by independent judges,” Alaeddin said.

An independent panel evaluates the finalists and personally interviews the contenders. The deciding factors are that the entrepreneur provides something unique in the marketplace and the extent of his contributions to society and how he helps develop his country.

Last year’s global winner, Guy Laliberte, the Canadian dancer who founded Cirque de Soleil, undoubtedly delivered in all categories.

“He has taken the idea of a circus and transformed it into something that looks like a circus but with a focus on talent, art, and breathtaking esthetics,” said Alaeddin.

To be eligible for consideration, entrants must be an owner or manager who is primarily responsible for the recent performance of a privately held business that is at least two years old.

The finalists from the UAE are: Abu Dhabi’s Dani Safi, CEO of Tabreed, and BR Shetty, Managing Director of UAE Exchange Centre; Dubai’s Arif Naqvi, CEO of Abraaj Capital, and Sunny Varkey, Chairman and Founder of the Varkey Group; and Sharjah’s Omar Ayesh, President of Tameer Holding Investments.