The world's 50 most powerful Arabs

For the second year running, Arabian Business counts down the 50 most powerful Arabs in the world.

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By  Richard Agnew Published  February 26, 2006

|~||~||~|For the second year running, Arabian Business counts down the 50 most powerful Arabs in the world. By Massoud A. Derhally, Anil Bhoyrul, Tamara Walid, Alicia Buller, Andrew White and Richard Agnew. For the second year running, Arabian Business can reveal the the world’s fifty most powerful Arabs. And it is a list full of surprises, risers, fallers and newcomers, proving that Arab power is as widespread as ever, stretching different fields and countries. This year’s list consists of entrants from the world of business, art, academia, medicine, music, media and charity. It is, in our view, a definitive guide to who really wields power in the Arab world. The big question is of course, how have we chosen the order of power? This is no easy task, and our starting point was to define power in its purest form. The answer, we concluded, is that power is influence. It’s the ability of an individual to perform a single act that will influence the lives of others. The more people that individual can influence, than the more powerful he or she is. The clearest examples are in business — essentially, the bigger a company, the bigger the workforce. Should the chairman of that company one day close it down, not only would he put thousands of employees out of work, but depending on the nature of the business, such a move could literally affect millions. That is why the likes of Nasser Al Kharafi — who runs several major food franchises — and Prince Alwaleed, who employs 30,000 people, are again at the top end of our list. But once again, our list includes individuals in other hugely influential fields. Take Yousef Chanine, the Egyptian filmmaker whose work continues to have an impact on millions. Take Nagwa Abdel Meguid, one of the world’s top clinical researchers. Although not a household name, some of her work is likely to affect millions for the better. Other examples include the Syrian television presenter Faisal Al Qassem, who has built up a cult following in the Arab world because of his willingness to tackle “taboo” subjects. We examined a provisional list of over 200 names, and have spent the past three months evaluating the relative influence of each individual on our list. Though it wasn’t completely scientific, we used a “weighting” system for each individual. For example, in the case of musicians we studied the total number of records sold by an individual, and in media the total reach of an individual mode of delivery. In business, we examined total revenues, employees, the number of shareholders and most importantly, the world-wide reach of a firm’s products. Not surprisingly, the list is male dominated, with 86% men. There are ten new entries, 14 risers, 26 fallers and only one name remaining in the same position as 2005. The happiest man on the list is likely to be Emaar chairman Mohammed Alabbar, who rose 44 places to sixth. Nakheel’s Sultan bin Sulayem is another big winner, rising 38 places to number 10. Once again, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon dominate the list — each with 13 entrants — followed by Egypt with seven. (*We have, once again, deliberately not included politicians or royalty in the list. Prince Alwaleed is the exception, although he makes the list purely because of his business credentials. Saad Hariri also makes the list by way of his involvement in Saudi Oger). - For further reading see Arabian Business Vol. 7 Issue 8 dated February 26 - March 4, 2006. ||**||

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