Revealed: Top 5 most powerful Arabs in Saudi Arabia

Time: 12 April 2021

The highest ranked Arabs originating from Saudi Arabia in Gulf Business’ annual Arab power list

BY GULF BUSINESS

Saudi nationals once again stood out as the second largest group in Gulf Business‘ annual Arab Power list for 2021, with the number of entries tallying 20 this year.

Leading from the front is the chair of the state-owned oil giant Saudi Aramco, while its CEO Amin Naseer also sat among the top five most powerful Arabs from the kingdom.

Lubna Suliman Olayan, chairperson of Saudi British Bank and a trailblazer in her own right, made it into the top five ranking.

Those on the list from the kingdom span across industries – from finance and energy to telecom.

1. Yasir Al-Rumayyan
Chairman, Aramco/Governor, PIF

Sector: Diversified
Overall rank: 1
2020 rank: 1

In what has been an incredibly tough year, one person who has been keenly investigating opportunities – backed by a massive pool of resources – is Yasir Al- Rumayyan, the governor and board member of the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF). The kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund – among the world’s largest with roughly $400bn in assets – has been frequently making headlines as it snaps up investments in diverse sectors including video games and fintech.

Al-Rumayyan has also pledged that the fund will invest $40bn annually in the kingdom to boost the economy. Also chairman of the world’s biggest oil producer Saudi Aramco, Al-Rumayyan confirmed last month that the company still intends to sell more shares following its historic IPO in 2019, when it sold less than 2 per cent of its shares and raised $29.4bn. A close aide of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Al-Rumayyan also serves on the boards of Soft-Bank Group and Uber and chairs Sanabil Investments.

As Saudi Arabia embarks further on its ambitious Vision 2030 agenda, Al-Rumayyan will play a significant role in making that vision a reality.

2. Amin Nasser
President and CEO, Aramco

Sector: Energy
Overall rank: 7
2020 rank: 10

Calling the pandemic the “biggest crisis in a century” for the oil industry at a recent conference, Amin Nasser, CEO of the world’s biggest oil producer, however stressed that he was optimistic about demand recovering this year. He is also leading Saudi Aramco’s diversification into hydrogen and ammonia – it made the world’s first blue ammonia shipment from Saudi Arabia to Japan for use in power generation in 2020. In April last year, Aramco also achieved the highest single day crude oil production in its history, reaching up to 12.1 million barrels per day.

3. HRH Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud
Chairman, Kingdom Holding Company

Sector: Finance
Overall rank: 10
2020 rank: 9

While the Saudi businessman’s Kingdom Holding has not been much in the news, the humanitarian organisation he chairs, Alwaleed Philanthropies has taken several initiatives in the past year including the allocation of up to $30m on various projects to combat the Covid-19 pandemic. It has also taken up educational and housing projects in Yemen.

Meanwhile his independent record label, Rotana Music, also announced in February that it had received an undisclosed amount of investment from Warner Music Group (WMG). The deal will see Rotana’s music released outside the region to a global audience.

4. Yousef Abdullah Al Benyan
Vice chairman and CEO, SABIC

Sector: Industry
Overall rank: 1
2020 rank: 1

Serving as the chair of the Business Twenty (B20) Saudi Arabia, Yousef Al Benyan led the two-day talks in the kingdom in October as global business leaders discussed and made policy recommendations to the G20 to reinvigorate the global economy and ensure inclusive growth. Meanwhile he also led petrochemicals heavyweight SABIC to post a profit in 2020, beating analyst expectations of a loss.

SABIC is “cautiously optimistic” for a gradual recovery in the year ahead, he said. Al Benyan also chairs Yansab, Nusaned and the Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association (GPCA).

5. Lubna Suliman Olayan
Chairperson, Saudi British Bank

Sector: Finance
Overall rank: 16
2020 rank: 11

Lubna Olayan, one of the region’s most influential businesswomen and the chairperson of Saudi British Bank (SABB) led the bank’s successful integration with Alawwal Bank, following their merger in 2018. Olayan became the first woman to chair a Saudi-listed company when she took on the role in 2018 and was reappointed for a three-year term in January 2020. A strong propagator for women empowerment in the kingdom, Olayan served as CEO of Olayan Financing Company for over 35 years, and presently chairs its executive committee and the Olayan Saudi Holding Company.

She also serves as a board member of Schlumberger.

This article was first published in Gulf Business

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