Meet UAE’s Top 10 Maverick CEOs


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In a land where ambition meets opportunity, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) stands tall as a hub of innovation and entrepreneurship. At the helm of this dynamic ecosystem are visionary leaders who navigate challenges and steer their companies toward success. The UAE is home to some of the most dynamic and forward-thinking CEOs. There are UAE’s top 10 maverick CEOs, from energy giants to financial institutions. These leaders have guided their companies to success. From banking giants to tech innovators, these CEOs embody the spirit of innovation and resilience that defines the UAE’s business landscape.

The UAE’s Top 10 Maverick CEOs

Let’s meet the UAE’s top 10 Maverick CEOs who changed the UAE’s business landscape.

  1. Michael J. Padilla Pagan – CEO, Al Thuraya Holdings
UAE's top 10 maverick CEOs

Michael J. Padilla-Pagan is a pioneer in the world of investment and development. With a career spanning decades, Padilla-Pagan has revolutionized the industry in the UAE. His visionary leadership and strategic acumen have propelled Al Thuraya Holdings to new heights, making it a cornerstone of the nation’s economy.

Read more about Michael J. Padilla-Pagan

  1. Hana Al Rostamani – Group CEO, First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB)
UAE's top 10 maverick CEOs | Hana AI

Hana Al Rostamani is a powerhouse in the banking sector, as she leads FAB, the largest bank in the UAE. Her innovative approach to finance and unwavering commitment to customer satisfaction have cemented FAB’s position as a market leader. Under her leadership, FAB has embraced digital transformation and expanded its reach globally, setting new standards for excellence in banking.

Explore more about Hana Al Rostamani

  1. Nasser Abdulla Al Awadhi – CEO, Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB)
UAE's top 10 maverick CEOs | Naseer-Al-Awadhi

Nasser Abdulla Al Awadhi, the driving force behind Islamic banking in the UAE, has significantly shaped ADIB’s trajectory with his visionary leadership. Under his leadership, ADIB has strengthened its position by focusing on innovation and ethical finance. His unwavering commitment to Islamic banking principles and customer satisfaction sets ADIB apart in the market. His commitment to guiding ADIB through difficult times demonstrates his visionary approach, ensuring the bank’s long-term success and sustainability in the dynamic regional landscape.

Know more about Nasser Abdulla Al Awadhi

  1. Shayne Nelson – CEO, Emirates NBD
UAE's top 10 Maverick CEOs | Shayne-Nelson

Shayne Nelson, a visionary leader known for his innovative prowess, has guided Emirates NBD to remarkable success during his tenure. Under his leadership, Emirates NBD has expanded its reach and gained recognition as one of the UAE’s premier banking institutions. Nelson’s strategic decisions, combined with his unwavering commitment to putting customers first, have helped solidify the bank’s position in the financial sector. His foresight and dedication to excellence have established Emirates NBD as a pioneer in the industry, setting new standards for success.

Read more about Shayne Nelson

  1. Shamsa Al Falasi – CEO, Citibank UAE
UAE's top 10 maverick CEOs | Shamsa-AI-Falasi

Shamsa Al Falasi is a financial pioneer who led innovation and customer engagement while at Citibank UAE. Through her leadership, Citibank has become synonymous with excellence in the UAE banking sector, earning the trust of both businesses and individuals alike. Al Falasi’s strategic vision and unwavering commitment to excellence have propelled Citibank to new heights, solidifying its position as a trusted partner in the competitive market. Her relentless pursuit of innovation and dedication to top-notch customer service have set Citibank apart, reinforcing its prominence in the industry.

Discover more about Shamsa’s journey

  1. Najla Al Midfa – CEO, Sheraa (Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center)
UAE's top 10 maverick CEOs | Najla-Al-Midfa

Najla Al Midfa’s impactful work at Sheraa has helped to foster entrepreneurship and innovation in the UAE. Sheraa has established herself as a key player in the country’s entrepreneurial ecosystem as a result of her unwavering commitment to supporting startups and SMEs. Al Midfa’s passion for nurturing talent and empowering aspiring entrepreneurs has made Sheraa a beacon of hope for those looking to start businesses in the UAE. Sheraa has transformed into a dynamic launchpad for success under her visionary leadership, playing a critical role in empowering the next generation of business leaders to thrive and leave their mark on the industry.

Learn more about Najla’s impactful work

  1. Hazeem Sultan Al Suwaidi – CEO, Borouge
UAE's top 10 maverick CEOs | Hazeem-Sultan-AI-Suwaidi

Hazeem Sultan Al Suwaidi is a visionary leader in the petrochemical industry. His strategic vision and commitment to excellence have propelled Borouge to the forefront of innovation, making it a global leader in its field. Al Suwaidi’s dedication to sustainability and growth has positioned Borouge for long-term success.

Explore Hazeem’s journey

  1. Talal AI Dhiyebi- Aldar Properties
UAE's top 10 maverick CEOs | Talal-Al-Dhiyebi

Talal Al Dhiyebi is a driving force behind real estate development in the UAE, demonstrating visionary leadership and strategic acumen that have propelled Aldar Properties to new heights. Under his leadership, Aldar Properties has become synonymous with industry innovation and excellence, reflecting his dedication to pushing boundaries and setting architectural milestones. Al Dhiyebi has elevated Aldar Properties and contributed to reshaping the UAE skyline by combining innovative projects and sustainable development practices.

Discover more about Talal Al Dhiyebi

  1. Hatem Dowidar – Group CEO, e&
UAE's top 10 Maverick CEOs | Hatem Dowidar

Hatem Dowidar, CEO of one of the UAE’s largest companies, is a transformative leader in the telecommunications sector. Under his guidance, E& has established itself as a market leader in the UAE and expanded globally, showcasing strategic vision and innovation. Dowidar’s leadership has driven exceptional financial performance, with E&’s market capitalization soaring. His strategic acquisitions and growth-focused approach have positioned E& as a dominant force in telecommunications. Additionally, his dedication to technological advancement and customer satisfaction has bolstered E&’s reputation as a reliable telecom services provider, strengthening its market position.

Read the full story on Hatem

  1. Syed Basar Shueb – CEO, International Holding Company (IHC)
UAE's top 10 Maverick CEOs | Syed-Basar-Shueb

Since 2019, Syed Basar Shueb has transformed IHC from a relatively unknown conglomerate into the Arab world’s second-most valuable company. With a market cap of US$235.94 billion, IHC has invested billions in green-focused companies, expanded into Latin America, and listed eight subsidiaries. Shueb’s strategic vision has propelled IHC to new heights.

Learn more about Syed Basar

These UAE’s top 10 Maverick CEOs embody resilience, innovation, and strategic thinking. Their impact extends beyond their companies, shaping the UAE’s business landscape. As we look to the future, their leadership will continue to inspire and drive progress.

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