To mark the launch of the MEED Awards 2019, MEED looks at ten companies shaping the future of the GCC
There is no shortage of pioneering organisations in the GCC. From regional behemoths such as Saudi Arabia’s national oil company Saudi Aramco, the most profitable company in the world, through to the array of fintech startups in the financial hubs of Dubai, Manama and Abu Dhabi, these are the firms that will guarantee the future success of this region.
While every successful organisation has its own unique offering that makes it stand out, the most influential companies also display many common traits that are key factors in their success. Not least among these are their ambitious agendas and willingness to innovate and to do things differently.
In the latest special report to mark the launch of the MEED Awards 2019, MEED looks at ten of the most influential companies shaping the future of the GCC.
With an estimated market value of about $2tn, Aramco is the world’s biggest oil producer and the only company capable of significantly moving global energy markets based on its output. As the influence of the world’s traditional swing oil producer has been eroded by the increase in production from unconventional sources such as US oil shale, the company is shifting its focus towards downstream refined oil products and petrochemicals. It is investing heavily to increase natural gas production in the kingdom as well as making strategic international investments, particularly in India and China. It is a key element for the delivery of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 goals. Its In-Country Total Value Add (IKTVA) initiative is developing skills, manufacturing, and intellectual property in the kingdom. The potential flotation of up to 5 percent of its equity will open the company to international investors and raise an estimated $100bn.
Arguably, this company is the region’s flagship brand. The organisation is celebrated for pioneering innovation, from 3D printed components and cutting edge technology in the cabins, to developing the Emirates Hub Monitor which tracks real-time information on the preparation of planes for departure, reducing delays and improving aircraft turnaround times. Providing a world-class service, Emirates Airline is central to Dubai as a global hub. It is a key partner in Expo 2020 and in the event’s legacy. Emirates plans to move to the Al-Maktoum International Airport underpins the development of the new facility, which has ambitions to be the new airline super-hub in the Middle East.
The second pillar of Dubai’s global hub strategy. DP World’s port and logistics freezone at Jebel Ali is a centre for regional trade and a logistics hub between Europe, Asia, and Africa. Unlike Emirates Airline, however, it is a major investor and operator of ports worldwide operating in 40 countries and serving over 70,000 vessels a year.
Backed by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, Public Investment Fund (PIF), which owns a 25 percent stake, Saudi power developer Acwa Power has emerged over the past five years as one of the most influential companies in the region, with some 54 projects across 11 countries. Acwa is a vital player in the market, but its growing reputation as a world-leading developer of solar energy is where it is really coming into its own.
PIF (Public Investment Fund)
PIF (Public Investment Fund) – Established in 1971 as a state pension fund for Saudi Arabia, PIF’s emergence as one of the region’s most significant companies has happened since 2015 following its restructuring as a sovereign investment fund with a mandate to drive domestic and international investment in projects and companies. As well as its recent takeover of Saudi Aramco, PIF is behind all of the Vision 2030 megaprojects such as Neom, the Red Sea Project and Qiddiya.
In Dubai’s dynamic real estate market, which is led by well-established government companies such as Nakheel and Meeras, as well as huge family-owned developers like Majid Al-Futtaim, Emaar stands out for its world-leading developments such as the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, and Downtown Dubai.
Alba – Established in 1971 to support diversification of Bahrain’s economy, Aluminium Bahrain (Alba) was the first major manufacturing enterprise in the GCC and has paved the way for huge investment in aluminium ever since. With its sixth potline under development, Alba is set to resume its position as the world’s biggest aluminium producer. It continues to be one of the region’s pioneers.
Dubai-based transport provider Careem represents the leading edge of GCC’s digital economy. Launched in 2012, the company was acquired by US ride-hailing company Uber for US$3.3bn in 2018. It showcased the region as a disruptive player in the world of shared economies and helped to bring investment to the region.
Since its high-profile launch in 2006, when it announced the creation of the world’s first zero-carbon city, Masdar has continued to seek to pioneer new technologies and systems for greater energy efficiency including utility-scale photovoltaic power plants, waste-to-energy, and energy storage systems. The company’s research is helping to shape the application and regulation of new technologies that can reduce carbon emissions.
The re-use of waste material as a primary resource is the core philosophy of the circular economy. Sharjah-based utility company Be’eath has emerged as a pioneer of recycling in the region with the launch of GCC’s first waste-to-energy plant. The company collects and separates as much as possible to generate electricity and minimise the volume sent to landfill. It has provided a benchmark for this important new sector in the region.