An attempt to buy Egypt’s biggest supermarket chain Mansour Group fell through last month — but that hasn’t dented Al Futtaim’s empire and finances. The man who introduced shopping malls and hypermarkets to the region, Majid Al Futtaim has built an empire that is growing in line with the current boom in Gulf retail. Having established his company in 1992, Al Futtaim is most famous for building some of the emirate’s largest shopping malls, which have acted as a magnet for both consumers and retail businesses, and attract over 120 million visitors each year. Al Futtaim opened his first shopping mall in 1995, City Centre in Dubai, and in September 2005 he opened the jewel in the company’s crown, the Mall of the Emirates (above). One of the largest shopping resorts outside North America, it is home to the five-star Kempinski and one of the world’s first indoor ski resorts.
The biggest family firm in Bahrain, the Kanoo Group has now been in existence for over 120 years. Established in Bahrain in 1890 by Haji Yusuf Bin Ahmed Kanoo, it has grown from its early trading and shipping business to become one of the most diversified and highly regarded business houses in the Gulf region and beyond. After the death of chairman and CEO Abdulla Ali Kanoo, Yusuf Ahmed Kanoo has stepped up to take the top role in the organisation.
Mishal Kanoo, one of the region’s most recognisable executives, remains as deputy chairman. It now has fourteen divisions in total, and employs 4,000 staff, with another 6,000 employed in its various joint venture operations. The company’s joint venture division was established over 25 years ago and has been linked to high profile names such as Axa Insurance, Norwich Union, Maersk and BASF.