Tuesday, 29 April 2014 10:34

The Power List: Where Wealth And Influence Lie In Jordan’s Business World

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Even though Jordan’s economy has matured greatly down the years, a group of long-established families still dominate the Kingdom’s business world. This month, we’ve decided to list some of these families and individuals. 

TALAL  ABU-GHAZALEH

CURRENT POSITION: Talal Abu-Ghazaleh, Chairman of Talal Abu-Ghazaleh Organization.

MAIN SECTORS: Education, IP, IT, accounting.

WHY HE MATTERS: Talal Abu-Ghazaleh is the region’s champion of intellectual property.

Talal Abu-Ghazaleh was born in 1938 in Jaffa. He studied at the American University of Beirut, after which he started working for an auditing company. But he only ventured into intellectual property after attending an event in the United States that addressed this particular issue. He then established Talal Abu-Ghazaleh Company (TAGCO) and Abu-Ghazaleh Intellectual property (AGIP) in 1972. Over the years, Abu-Ghazaleh has expanded the scope of his work by establishing over a dozen companies that specialize in accounting, consulting, management, IT, and legal services.   

For his pioneering role in laying the foundation for IP in the Arab world, Abu-Ghazaleh has been dubbed the father of intellectual property in the region. He’s also a staunch advocate of education; he founded the Talal Abu-Ghazaleh Graduate School of Business, the Confucius Institute, which teaches Chinese language courses, and a Professional Training Group that trains individuals in management, finance, economy, law, and e-learning. 

His Talal Abu-Ghazaleh Organization (TAG-Org) is the umbrella for a number of firms operating across different sectors. AGIP was established in Kuwait and helped lay the foundations for the uptake of IP practices in the region. Since its establishment, the company assisted Arab governments and decision makers in drafting IP rights, laws, and regulations. Talal Abu-Ghazaleh Legal was founded in 1998 and specializes in providing legal services and solutions. Talal Abu-Ghazaleh and Co. International is a consulting firm that provides ICT-related consulting services and business solutions. 

 

MOHAMMAD ABU-GHAZALEH

CURRENT POSITION: Mohammad Abu-Ghazaleh, Chairman and CEO of Fresh Del Monte Produce.

MAIN SECTORS: Food and aviation.

WHY HE MATTERS: When it comes to producing and distributing fresh fruit and vegetables, few are bigger than Fresh Del Monte.

Born in Jerusalem in 1942, Abu-Ghazaleh amassed his fortune importing fruits into the Middle East. By the early 1970s, he had become one of the biggest banana importers in the Gulf. Then in 1996 his business empire grew further after he acquired US-based Fresh Del Monte, one of the world’s largest fruit and vegetable production companies, for a reported $120 million. The following year Fresh Del Monte was listed on the NYSE, selling 30 percent of its shares for $255 million. The company, which has over 38,000 employees, had net sales of $3.8 billion in the fiscal year ending April 2013. 

In 1997, Fresh Del Monte established the National Poultry Company, which is now one of Jordan’s largest poultry producers with over 1,400 employees. The vertically integrated company controls its production from breeder chicks to the distribution of poultry meat to outlets.

Abu-Ghazaleh is also Chairman of the International Wings Group, which was established in 2009 as the parent company of Royal Jordanian Air Academy, Queen Noor Civil Aviation College, Arab Wings, and Gulf Wings. These companies (overseen by CEO Ahmad Abu-Ghazaleh) provide everything from private jet chartering and management services, to pilot and aviation engineering and training.

 

THE ABU JABER FAMILY

PROMINENT INDIVIDUALS: Raouf Abu Jaber, Founder and Owner of Abujaber Investment, Ziad Abu Jaber, Chairman of Jordan Projects for Tourism Development and Tala Bay , Marwan Abu Jaber, Chairman of General Investment Company.

MAIN SECTORS: Telecommunications, pharmaceuticals, insurance, banking, tourism, real estate, and the beverage industry.

WHY THEY MATTER: Whether in business or academia, the Abu Jabers have excelled.

With a background in academia, as a historian of nineteenth century Transjordan, Raouf Abu Jaber is better known for his business investments under Abujaber Investment Group. Established in 1994, Abujaber Investment Group is now one of the 20 largest business conglomerates in Jordan with investments across a host of sectors. Raouf Abu Jaber’s two sons, Ziad and Marwan, also help run the group and have become prominent businessmen in their own right. 

One of the main projects recently undertaken by the group through the Jordan Projects for Tourism Development is the Tala Bay Resort in Aqaba. The project is worth around JD500 million and covers 2.7 million square meters. 

The Abu Jabers also own the United Insurance Company, and have a foothold in Jordan’s telecommunications industry. Ziad Abu Jaber took part in the country’s first mobile phone tender that earned him a share in Fastlink, today known as Zain. Marwan Abu Jaber is more focused on the beverage industry. Through the General Investment Company, the Abu Jabers opened Jordan’s first beer factory and also produce other non-alcoholic beverages. 

 

ZIAD AL-MANASEER

CURRENT POSITION: Ziad al Manaseer, Chairman of Manaseer Group for Industrial and Commercial Investments.

MAIN SECTORS: Construction, oil and fuel services.

WHY HE MATTERS: A self-made billionaire, Ziad al Manaseer is now a legend of the Jordanian business world.

Forbes magazine estimates Ziad al Manaseer to be worth $2.8 billion, ranking him 609 on its esteemed list of global billionaires. The 48-year-old rose from humble beginnings in Jordan (his father once worked as a truck driver). He graduated from the Azerbaijan Oil and Chemistry Institute in 1990. While studying, al Manaseer also worked to earn a living and made friends with influential Russian business families. 

In 1996, he established Stroygazconsulting, and in 2001 he founded the Stroygazconsulting Holding Company which today comprises more than 30 enterprises. The company specializes in the construction of oil, gas fields, compressor stations, pipes, roads, railroads, and bridges, as well as production of construction materials and equipment. With more than 60,000 employees, it grew into one of the largest construction and engineering holdings in Russia.  

He then began investing in Jordan in the late 1990s, building a number of companies that invest in gas stations, fertilizers, cement, chemical industries, and food, among others. Today, he is one of the Kingdom’s main investors, employing approximately 7,000 Jordanians. 

 

SABIH AL-MASRI 

CURRENT POSITION: Sabih Taher al-Masri, Chairman of the Arab Bank, Founder and Chairman of Arab Supply and Trading Company (ASTRA), Chairman of Palestine Telecommunication Company PLC (PALTEL), and Chairman of ZARA Investment Holding Company Limited

MAIN SECTORS: Banking, telecoms, logistics, real estate, and trading

WHY HE MATTERS: An indispensable cog in Jordan’s economic machine

The al-Masri family has produced a series of prominent business people and politicians, including billionaire Munib al-Masri who lives in Palestine and is widely known as the “Duke of Nablus.” Munib’s cousin, Sabih al-Masri is one of Jordan’s prime investors. He was born, raised, and studied in Nablus, then pursued his higher education in the United States. Sabih holds a B.S. degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Texas, where Munib also graduated. Sabih showed his savvy business side at an early age; although he started off waiting tables and correcting papers for his math professor while studying. Once he graduated Sabih borrowed money from his mother to start a business to supply the Jordanian army, then the Saudi army, with food.  

Yet, his big break was in 1990 when he won a US military catering contract. His main investments are in Saudi Arabia’s petrochemical industry, the UAE, and Palestine. One of his most prominent companies is the Arab Supply and Trading Company (ASTRA). The company, which Sabih established in Saudi Arabia in the late 1960s, has grown to become a big group of companies that invest in agriculture, trading, manufacturing, contracting and services, healthcare, banking, telecom, and real estate. He is currently its chairman. 

He’s also a main player in Jordan’s banking sector. Following Abdel Hamid Shoman’s resignation in August 2012, Sabih, who owns 1.3 percent of the bank’s shares, was elected as the bank’s chairman. He has also been following up on the lawsuits against the bank in New York, and is adamant to maintain the bank’s stability in the post-Shoman era. Sabih also owns 5.2 percent of the Cairo Amman Bank’s shares, and his son Khaled was its chairman until October 2012. 

Another important company is Zara Investment Holding which Sabih founded in 1994 with the late Khalil Talhouni. The company is a major name in Jordan’s tourism industry, owning some of the country’s main hotels, including the InterContinental Jordan, Grand Hyatt, Movenpick Dead Sea, Aqaba, and Petra. Sabih directly owns 1.3 percent of the company’s shares, his son Khaled owns 1.4 percent, and his daughter owns 1.4 percent. 

 

ABDULKADER AL-QADI FAMILY

PROMINENT INDIVIDUALS: Abdulkader Abdullah al-Qadi, Chairman of the Arab Jordan Investment Bank PLC (AJIB), Hani Abdulkader al-Qadi, AJIB CEO and General Manager.

MAIN SECTORS: Banking and tourism.

WHY THEY MATTER: With its takeover of HSBC’s assets in Jordan, AJIB has become a banking force to be reckoned with.

Abdulkader Abdullah al-Qadi started his career in Qatar, where he acted as a financial adviser to senior officials. He then came back to Jordan to establish the Arab Jordan Investment Bank (AJIB) in 1978. 

AJIB has a banking arm based in Qatar, the Arab Jordan Investment Bank (Qatar) L.L.C., which was founded in 2006 to serve clients in the Gulf region. It also has two subsidiaries; the United Arab Jordan Company for Investment and Financial Brokerage and the Arab Advisors Group, a research and consulting company.

Abdulkader al-Qadi is a main shareholder with 17.6 percent. His sons—Hani, Samer, and Wael—are also prominent shareholders with combined shares of 13.5 percent. The bank’s growing importance in Jordan’s banking sector is clear with the list of shareholders including the Libyan Foreign Bank (12.79 percent), the Arab Investment Company (10.25 percent), Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani (9 percent), and Jordan’s Social Security Corporation (4 percent).

AJIB’s investment capabilities have contributed to its growth locally and regionally. A major new $1.2 billion deal to acquire HSBC bank’s assets in Jordan proved the bank is a powerhouse and a force to be reckoned with.  

Following the agreement, AJIB decided to raise the bank’s capital to JD150 million, from JD100 million. Under the takeover plan, which is due to be completed by May-June of this year, AJIB will take on HSBC’s 36,000 retail and 2,000 corporate customers, as well as most of the bank’s 250 full-time employees. 

Commenting on the deal, Hani al-Qadi said the acquisition was part of AJIB’s growth strategy, and the business acquired complemented the bank’s existing product line and consolidated its market share in the Jordanian market.

Abdulkader al-Qadi and his sons are also major shareholders in the Mediterranean Tourism Investment company which owns the lavish Four Seasons Hotel Amman. Abdulkader al-Qadi is the company’s chairman.

 

THE ALAYYAN FAMILY

PROMINENT INDIVIDUALS: Khalid Alayyan, Cofounder of the Fresh Fruits Company , Mohammad Alayyan, CEO of Al-Ghad newspaper, Mohammad Alayyan, CEO of Al-Ghad newspaper.

MAIN SECTORS: Food, automotive, insurance, and media.

WHY THEY MATTER: Al Ghad can often set the news agenda of the day.

The Alayyan family wealth has its origins in the food industry of Palestine in the early part of last century. Khalid Alayyan's father, Mohammad grew fruits and vegetables in the Jordan Valley, and sold them regionally. In 1948 he migrated to Kuwait where his food business flourished. Khalid then carried on the father’s business and is now joined by his two sons, Mohammad and Majid. But more recently the Alayyans have expanded their business interests beyond fruits and vegetables, and are now involved in the automotive, insurance, and media industries.  

Khalid Alayyan cofounded the Dubai-based Fresh Fruits Company in 1979, sourcing produce from all over the world. The company is one of the biggest importers and exporters of fruits and vegetables in the Middle East. The Alayyans currently own fruit farms in several countries, including South Africa, Iran, and the Philippines. 

One of the main investments of the Alayyans is their cold stores in Dubai, Egypt, and Kuwait, costing as much as JD50 million. These cold stores place them in a strategic position in the region’s food industry. Their thriving fruit and vegetable business has provided them with the capital to invest more widely. And the Alayyans are currently the official dealers in both Iraq and Jordan for Kia and Hyundai. They have also branched out into the insurance sector in Jordan with the Jerusalem Insurance Company.

But the latest prominent investment of the Alayyans is their involvement in Jordan’s media sector. This began in 1999 when Mohammad Alayyan co-founded Al-Waseet, a Jordanian weekly classified advertisement publication. Today their investments also include Al-Waseet in Palestine and Kurdistan. He also founded Al-Ghad daily newspaper in 2004, which has the second largest market share among local Jordanian daily newspapers. 

 

THE DARWAZEH FAMILY

PROMINENT INDIVIDUALS: Samih Darwazeh, Founder and Non-Executive Chairman of Hikma Pharmaceuticals, Said Darwazeh, CEO of Hikma Pharmaceuticals, Mazen Darwazeh, Executive Vice Chairman of Hikma Pharmaceuticals

MAIN SECTORS: Pharmaceuticals and banking

WHY THEY MATTER: Hikma is a fast rising star of the global pharmaceutical industry

The Darwazeh family is best known for their billion-dollar global pharmaceutical empire that was established by Samih Darwazeh in the late 1970s. Samih’s two sons, Said and Mazen, joined their father’s business and expanded Hikma’s presence worldwide. The company has steadily evolved into a leading multinational pharmaceutical firm; acquiring multiple pharmaceutical companies and expanding their operations in numerous countries, including the United States, Portugal, the UK, Italy, and Germany. They also have partnerships in India and China. 

The Darwazeh family owns 30 percent of Hikma which is the biggest pharmaceutical company in the Kingdom and has a current market value of $1.95 billion. The largest business within Himka is its branded business that focuses on the MENA region. Other family business ventures include Capital Bank which was founded in 1995 to specialize in trade finance activities, and the Jordan Company for Antibody Production MONOJO, founded in 2005. Samih Darwazeh is both a partner of MONOJO and its chairman.

In addition to their business success the Darwazeh’s have also held positions of influence in Jordan. Samih was appointed the Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources and later became a member of Jordan’s Senate. His sons, too, have held notable positions with Said being appointed Minister of Health from 2003 to 2006, and he is currently a member of the Central Bank’s board. Mazen was also a member of the Senate for four years. 

 

TAWFIQ FAKHOURI FAMILY

PROMINENT INDIVIDUALS: Tawfiq Shaker Fakhouri, Bank of Jordan’s biggest shareholder with 23.3 percent, Shaker Tawfiq Fakhouri, Chairman and General Manager of Bank of Jordan, Samer Tawfiq Fakhouri, Chairman of Al Eqbal Investment Company.

MAIN SECTORS: Banking, investment, and tobacco.

WHY THEY MATTER: The Fakhouri family owns a significant share of the Bank of Jordan, one of the Kingdom’s most prominent banks with a growing share of the local retail market.

Tawfiq Fakhouri got his start working in contracting in Saudi Arabia. On his return to Jordan, he bought a major share in the Bank of Jordan and kicked off it’s expansion drive. Founded in 1960, the bank is now one of the leading banks in the Kingdom with a network of branches and offices, almost 100, across Jordan and Palestine. They also serve their customers through more than 141 ATMs. 

Their other major investment is Al Eqbal Investment Company, which was formerly the International Tobacco and Cigarettes Company. With a capital of JD25 million, Al Eqbal Investment Company produces flavored tobacco, invests in renewable energy, and real estate through three subsidiaries; the International Tobacco and Cigarette Company, al Fakher Tobacco for Trading, and Spectrum International for Investment.

The International Tobacco and Cigarette Company specializes in the distribution of flavored tobacco within the Jordanian market and owns Al Fakher Tobacco Trading in Ajman, UAE.

Spectrum International invests in photovoltaic panels and real estate.

 

FADI GHANDOUR

CURRENT POSITION: Fadi Ali Ghanduor, Founder of Aramex, Managing Partner at MENA Venture Investments, Executive Chairman at Wamda, and Board Member at The Abraaj Group.

MAIN SECTORS: Logistics and investment.

WHY HE MATTERS: Fadi Ghandour is one of the region’s most prominent entrepreneurs who established Aramex, the region’s biggest logistics company.

Fadi Ghandour is one of the region’s most respected entrepreneurs. In 1982, he founded Aramex as an express operator that became the first Arab-based international company to trade on the NASDAQ stock exchange in 1997. 

But five years into trading, the company returned to private ownership in 2002. Then in 2005 Aramex went public on the Dubai Financial Market (DFM) as Arab International Logistics (Aramex). Today, the global logistics company employs more than 13,900 people across 60 countries. Aramex recently consolidated its presence in Africa and Asia by acquiring a number of logistics and transportation companies in Africa, and signing partnership agreements in Asia. 

In 2012, Fadi stepped down as the company’s CEO, but remains its vice chairman.

But Aramex was not Fadi’s sole endeavor. He strongly believes in the role entrepreneurs play in boosting the region’s economies and reducing the number of unemployed Arabs. He was one of the founders of Internet startup maktoob.com, which was sold to Yahoo! in 2009 for $164 million. He is also on the board of Jabbar Internet Group, the owner of souq.com which has a current value of $500 million. He cofounded the MENA Venture Investments which supports entrepreneurs and startups in the region.

He is also a board member at the Abraaj Group, a multi-billion dollar Dubai-based investment firm. 

 

HIJAZI AND GHOSHEH

PROMINENT INDIVIDUALS: Isam Hijazi, Hijazi and Ghosheh Group’s Chairman , Abdul Razzaq Ghosheh, The group’s Vice-Chairman.

MAIN SECTORS: Food.

WHY THEY MATTER: When it comes to manufacturing and distributing frozen meat and live cattle, Hijazi and Ghosheh are by far the market leaders.

Isam Hijazi and Abdul Razzaq Ghosheh established the Hijazi and Ghosheh Company in 1985. It started off trading in frozen meats, striking distribution deals with producers in New Zealand and Argentina. Then in 1990, they established Al Maraai Establishment for Food Industries that exported its own processed meat, poultry, and fish products to markets within the MENA region, in addition to Australia and New Zealand.

Then in 1995, with the help of a JD10 million investment, the pair established a private free zone in the Aqaba governorate that produces a variety of fresh and frozen meats from different sources, including livestock from Australia and Uruguay, as well as frozen meat from New Zealand, India, and China. 

Today, Hijazi and Ghosheh is the Kingdom’s biggest meat provider and one of Jordan’s most powerful companies.

Some of the company’s brands include: Maraai which specializes in luncheon meat and frozen products, and Anwar Al-Quds which also produces luncheon meat. They further expanded by diversifying their production lines to include barley drinks, juices, and soft drinks early in 2005. 

However, their main business remains in the meat sector. 

 

THE KAWAR FAMILY

PROMINENT INDIVIDUALS: Tawfiq Kawar, Chairman of the Kawar Group, Rudain Kawar, CEO of Kawar Group, Amin Kawar & Sons Company, major shareholder and Chairman of Optimiza, Board Member of Oasis 500 and Cofounder of D1G.com, Karim Kawar, President of Kawar Group, Chairman of Kawar Energy, Iris Guard and NatHealth, Board Member of the Ahli Bank and NatHealth, Trustee of the King Abdullah II Fund for Development, and Cofounder of Oasis 500.

MAIN SECTORS: Shipping, transport, tourism, ICT, healthcare, energy, and infrastructure.

WHY THEY MATTER: Aside from their major business interests, the Kawars have maintained a healthy appetite for investing in and supporting startups and local entrepreneurs.

Amin Kawar started his family business when he established Jordan’s first and only phosphate mining company, the Trans-Jordan Phosphate Company, in Ruseifa in 1935. It’s now a public shareholding company under the name Jordan Phosphate Mines Company. His son, Tawfiq, expanded into the shipping business in 1955 by starting Amin Kawar & Sons and transforming it into the Kingdom’s biggest shipping company.

The third generation of Kawars, notably Rudain and Karim, continued their involvement with the family business, starting the IT business in Jordan by representing Apple, followed by a dealership with Compaq. All of the family businesses now fall under the family brand name, the Kawar Group.

Amin Kawar & Sons Shipping Co. provides a complete package of logistics, maritime shipping, freight-forwarding, agencies and survey services, among others. 

Other notable tech companies under the Kawar Group include IrisGuard, an iris recognition camera systems manufacturer whose devices are currently in use in the UAE, Queen Alia International Airport, and the Cairo Amman Bank, and D1G.com, an Arabic social media and content sharing platform which, according to the website, enjoys over 1 million subscriptions and 4.8 million unique visits per month.

 

MAHMOUD  MALHAS 

CURRENT POSITION: Mahmoud Malhas, President of Mahmoudia Group, Chairman of the Palestine Commercial Bank, Board Member of Jordan Ahli Bank, Board Member of Arab Hotels Company PLC, and shareholder in the Four Seasons Hotel, Amman.

MAJOR INTERESTS: Automotive, tourism, banking, and finance.

WHY HE MATTERS: Mahmoud Malhas’ widespread investments, means he is an important player in several major business categories. 

After graduating from the American University of Beirut with a B.A. in Economics, Mahmoud Malhas started working in Amman in his family’s catering business in the late 1950s. Malhas’ ambitions led him to open Jordan’s first semi-wholesale supermarket, an ice-cream factory, and to eventually introduce the concept of hot meals on Royal Jordanian flights.

Malhas owns 23.5 percent of the Mediterranean Tourism Investment Company, which operates the Four Seasons Hotel in Amman. He also owns 50 percent of the Cote D’Azur Hotel in Beirut, as well as controlling stakes in The Marriot, Beirut, and The White House, London, to name but a few. Malhas also sits on the boards of the Jordan Ahli Bank and the Arab Hotels Company PLC.

He ventured into the banking and finance sector, cofounding the Qatar First Investment Bank, the Saudi American Bank, as well as a mutual-fund company in Dubai in 2009.

His sons, Bassem and Fahed, are also shareholders in the Palestine Commercial Bank, Bank al Etihad, and Jordan and Gulfmena Investments Ltd in the United Arab Emirates.

Malhas has ventured into several market sectors under the umbrella of the Mahmoudia Group, which includes Mahmoudia Motors, the official dealer for Jaguar, Land Rover, and Volvo, Al Mahmoudia for Watches and Jewelry, which owns the Chopard Boutique in Amman, and Tufenkjian, the largest seller of Jewelry in the Middle East.

 

THE MIQDADI FAMILY

PROMINENT INDIVIDUALS: Khaled Miqdadi, President of Agrimatco, Mustafa Miqdadi, Vice President of Agrimatco.

MAJOR BUSINESS INTERESTS: Agriculture.

WHY THEY MATTER: Setting an example for how a single, low-profile, family-owned business can grow to become an international player. 

Originally hailing from Palestine, Khalil Miqdadi studied in France in the 1920s before moving to Lebanon in the 1930s. Having learned about seed breeding from his father, he then established Agrimatco, an agricultural company specializing in fertilizing and seed-breeding in 1936. The company helped his family amass a fortune, and Khalil Miqdadi finally settled in Jordan in the 1950s. Over the following decade, he took Agrimatco to an international level by setting up in European markets. The family business really took off once it tapped into the desalination market, just when the Gulf started desalinating sea water for agriculture. 

Seed breeding remains, to this day, at the heart of the Miqdadi family business, and has proven to be an extremely profitable one. Agrimatco Ltd now operates in 47 countries, including markets in the Middle East, North Africa, Iran, the Balkans, and Russia. The company, whose main offices are now in Cyprus, also has export offices in Italy, France, and the UK.

As an international agricultural distribution company, Agrimatco deals with crop protection, specialty fertilizers, seeds, veterinary products, and agricultural tools. It also relies heavily on agricultural research, and acts as a mediator to provide farmers with agricultural technologies, which include agrochemicals, vegetable and agronomic seeds, fertilizers, agricultural sprayer tools and irrigation equipment. 

 

THE  MOUASHER FAMILY

PROMINENT INDIVIDUALS: Rajai Mouasher, Chairman of the Jordan Ahli Bank and Board Member of El Zay Ready Wear Manufacturer, Nadim Mouasher, Deputy Chairman of Jordan Ahli Bank and Chairman of Arab International Hotels PLC, Saad Mouasher, Deputy CEO of Jordan Ahli Bank, Managing Partner, Cofounder and Co-owner of ALNABIL LLC.

MAIN SECTORS: Tourism and finance.

WHY THEY MATTER: The Mouasher family is one of the oldest and perhaps shrewdest investors in the Kingdom. They are the founders of Jordan’s first bank and it would be fair to say that they have maintained their position as one of the most influential families in business in Jordan for well over fifty years.

The Mouasher family’s reputation as influential merchants and landowners in the region can be traced back to the 1940s. The late Saleh Mouasher was appointed MP in Jordan’s first elected parliament. In 1955, Yousef Mouasher and Suleiman Sukkar established the Jordan National Bank, which is now the Jordan Ahli Bank. Rajai Mouasher, aside from his role as chairman of the Jordan Ahli Bank, was also a member of the senate for a total of six terms and was appointed Deputy Prime Minister in 2010.

Their large family tree has immersed the Mouashers in several sectors of the Jordanian economy. ALNABIL for Trade and Investment Company, which Saad Mouasher co-owns, is a large investment holding company with strategic shares and board representation in major Jordanian firms. 

In the tourism sector, the Mouashers own a controlling stake in Arab International Hotels, a public shareholding company that operates a number of holiday resorts in Jordan, including the Marriott Hotels and Sheraton Amman Al Nabil Hotel and Towers.

The family is a major shareholder of the Jordan Ahli Bank, which is Jordan’s oldest and third largest financial institution. They also have shares in Jordan Worsted Mills, a textile materials manufacturer and distributer, El-Zay Ready Wear Manufacturing, a clothing company that exports to international markets, and Jordan Industrial Resources, which manufactures and markets vegetable oils and derivatives.

 

THE NADER FAMILY

PROMINENT INDIVIDUALS: Yousef Nader, Founder and Chairman of the Nader Group, Kamil Nader, Managing Director of the Nader Group.

MAIN SECTORS: Food and food distribution.

WHY THEY MATTER: Nader Group is one of the Kingdom’s main distributors of food staples like sugar and rice.

Yousef Nader started off in the mid 1950s trading in food products, and providing the now disbanded Ministry of Supply with sugar and rice. Then in 1980, he established the Nader Group. With the help of his two sons, Ramzi and Kamil, the business grew to become one of Jordan’s main foodstuff importers and suppliers.

The company, which is now managed by the two sons, is the main distributor for popular food brands like Nader Sugar, Sunwhite Rice, Kraft, Kellogg’s, Maxims, Unium Canned Foods, Afia, Kasih, and many others.

The company has more than 700 employees in its distribution and trading divisions. Companies in the group include Modern Arab Distribution Ltd, which is the main distributor of the brands the group represents, and the Arab Italian Trading Company, which was established in 1998 by Nader Group and G. Vincenti & Sons Company and represents alcohol brands like Bacardi and Grey Goose. They also run the Aqaba Processing Company, which is a joint venture between Rice growers Cooperatives Ltd. of Australia and Nader Group. The company handles rice packaging for Harvest and Sunwhite brands. Distribution extends to Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Lebanon, and other countries in the region.

 

THE NUQUL FAMILY

PROMINENT INDIVIDUALS: Elia Nuqul, Chairman of the Nuqul Group and Elia Nuqul Foundation, Ghassan Nuqul, Vice Chairman of the Nuqul Group and Elia Nuqul Foundation, Marwan Nuqul, Board Member of Nuqul Automotive.

MAIN SECTORS: Manufacturing and automotive.

WHY THEY MATTER:Nuqul’s Fine brand has become synonymous with tissue paper across the region.

Starting out as an accountant’s assistant, Elia Nuqul obtained an import/export license and brought Nescafe to Jordan. In 1952, he founded the Nuqul Brothers Company and in 1958, he established Fine Hygienic Paper Company and moved the family business into the pulp and paper manufacturing sector.

Elia’s sons, Ghassan and Marwan, continue to work on their father’s legacy. In 2005, Al-Sindian Paper Mill in Egypt was formed to provide integrated services to the Nuqul Group, which cemented the family’s regional hold on the market. In 2006, the Nuqul Group added automotive distribution to their portfolio with the establishment of Nuqul Automotive.

Today, the Nuqul Group has 31 regional and international companies, and employs over 3,000 people in Jordan alone. The majority of the company businesses lie in the pulp sector, such as Fine Hygienic Paper Company, and Perfect Printing Press Company.

But the family also owns Modern Aluminum Industries Company, Nuqul Engineering and Contracting Co, a provider of ready-made concrete mixtures, and Nuqul Automotives, the general distributor for Porsche, Audi, Volkswagen, and Skoda in Jordan.

 

THE SALFITI FAMILY

PROMINENT INDIVIDUALS: Isam Salfiti, Chairman of Bank al Etihad, Halim Salfiti, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Al Tajamouat for Touristic Projects, Tarek Salfiti, General Manager of Union Marketing Group.

MAJOR INTERESTS: Banking, retail, tourism, and pharmaceuticals.

WHY THEY MATTER: Bank al Etihad gives the Salfiti family a prime spot in Jordan’s fast-developing banking sector.

The late Halim Salfiti opened a small currency exchange in downtown Amman in 1949, which eventually grew into the giant regional conglomerate, the Union Group. At the heart of the group is Bank al Etihad, which is helmed by Isam Salfiti, one of Halim Salfiti’s three sons. The bank is one of Jordan’s biggest, and by the end of last year it expected to increase the number of its branches from 33 to 36 nationwide, in addition to one branch in Ramallah. The bank posted a 53 percent increase in net profit for 2013 to JD22.5 million, compared to JD14.7 million over 2012.

Halim Salfiti, one of the elder grandsons of Halim Salfiti, is chairman of the board and major shareholder in Al Tajamouat for Touristic Projects, which was established in 2004, and owns and operates Amman’s JD150 million TAJ mall. Over the second half of 2013, average daily footfall at the mall was around 24,000, and tenant occupancy was at 93 percent –both impressive figures for Jordan’s tough retail scene.

 

MICHAEL SAYEGH 

CURRENT POSITION: Michael Sayegh, Chairman of the Sayegh Group.

MAIN SECTORS: Paint manufacturing, banking, media, and IT.

WHY HE MATTERS: The Sayegh’s National Paints is a true Jordanian institution and an international success story.

The origins of the Sayegh Group can be traced back to 1932, when Faeq Sayegh established a modest bus assembly company in Jaffa. Then in 1949, he set up a store in Jordan selling imported paints, a sector that would eventually form the core of his family’s sprawling business empire through its successful National Paints brand. The Sayegh Group has 18 paint factories worldwide, producing 320 million liters of paint per year and sales of $250 million. The National Paints factory in Sharjah is considered the largest in the region. The company also controls more than 60 percent of Jordan’s paint market.

Even though National Paints dominates Sayegh Group’s activities, it’s still just one of 35 companies owned by the multinational conglomerate. In 2011, it shook up Jordan’s media sector with the launch of Roya TV. The satellite channel, which is run by Faeq Sayegh’s grandson Fares, broadcasts a mix of entertainment, sports, and news that has proved a big hit with local audiences. Faeq Sayegh’s granddaughter, Samar, runs DMTV, a men’s lifestyle satellite channel based in Dubai.

 

THE SUKHTIAN FAMILY

PROMINENT INDIVIDUALS: Munjed Sukhtian, Chairman and CEO of Munir Sukhtian Group International, Nidal Sukhtian, Chairman at Munir Sukhtian Group, Ghiath Sukhtian, Vice Chairman of Munir Sukhtian Group International and Founder of Tabuk Pharmaceuticals Manufacturing Co.

MAIN SECTORS: Pharmaceuticals, IT, agriculture, and logistics.

WHY THEY MATTER: It’s hard to think of a business sector the Sukhtian family hasn’t got a foothold in.

Munir Sukhtian Group has offices around the world and owns an eclectic array of companies operating across sectors such as pharmaceuticals (Beit Jala Pharmaceutical Manufacturing), IT (Arabian Office Automation Company), agriculture (Jordan Greenhouses Manufacturing Company), as well as contracting and logistics (ANHAM).

Munir Sukhtian, a qualified pharmacist, opened his first pharmacy in Tulkaram in 1933. He eventually went on to establish Palestine’s first pharmaceutical manufacturing plant. But there were other regional firsts over the following seven decades, including the first privately owned greenhouse factory, the first flower auction house, the first privately owned tissue culture, and the first company to export locally manufactured pharmaceuticals to Europe. 

Today, Munir Sukhtian’s sons—Munjed, Nidal, and Ghiath—run the family business. Part of the group’s success is arguably its flexibility. Following the 1973 oil crisis, the group wisely decided to diversify away from the oil-reliant agricultural and pharmaceutical manufacturing and distribution sectors, in favor of emerging industries at the time, including communication, and electromechanical and civil contracting.

Their businesses also include ANHAM which is a contracting company established by GMS Holdings (a principal founder of Munir Sukhtian International), Sabih al-Masri’s Arab Supply and Trading Company (ASTRA), and HII-Finance Corporation of Vienna, Virginia, United States. In June 2012, the company won a contract to supply the US army in Afghanistan with full-line food and non-food distribution. The company has also won several contracts to help the US military with infrastructure projects and cargo transportation, worth hundreds of millions.

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