Six key individuals heading up major central banks in the Middle East: Sultan bin Nasser al-Suwaidi, Farouk Abdul el-Baky el-Okdah, Muhammad al-Jasser, Faris Abdel Hamid Sharaf, Sheikh Abdullah bin Saud al-Thani, Mahmoud Bahmani
Sultan bin Nasser al-Suwaidi
Position Governor, Central Bank of the UAE
Biography Sultan bin Nasser al-Suwaidi has been governor of the Central Bank of the UAE since 1991. He has led the modernisation of banking processes and regulations in the federation, including tightening up laws on money laundering and terrorism financing. Al-Suwaidi began his career in 1978 in the finance and administration department of Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (Adia), the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund. During his time at Adia, Al-Suwaidi represented the fund on the boards of several banks and supervised the dealing room and accounting division. In 1982, he joined Abu Dhabi Investment Company as general manager. In 1984, he became general manager of Bahrain-based Gulf International Bank. A year later, he was tasked with leading the three-bank merger that would create Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank. Al-Suwaidi has a degree in business administration and finance.
Contact Tel: (+971) 2 665 2220
Farouk Abdul el-Baky el-Okdah
Position Governor, Central Bank of Egypt
Biography Farouk Abdul el-Baky el-Okdah has been governor of the Central Bank of Egypt since December 2003. He helped steer the central bank through a wave of political and economic instability in early 2011. El-Okdah’s reputation as a careful manager of the Egyptian pound and prudent regulator helped boost his reputation ahead of this period. He started his second four-year term in December 2007. El-Okdah also serves as governor of the African Development Bank and Arab Monetary Fund and sits on the board of several commercial banks. He is also alternate governor at the Washington-headquartered IMF. Previously, El-Okdah was chairman and chief executive of National Bank of Egypt in 2003, managing director at the local International Company for Leasing between 1997-2002, and regional manager at The Bank of New York. He has a doctorate in applied economics from the University of Pennsylvania in the US.
Contact Tel: (+202) 2 770 2770
Position Governor, Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (Sama)
Biography As head of Sama since February 2009, Muhammad al-Jasser has presided over a period in which the Saudi banks have become increasing liquid and shown the benefits of the stringent regulations they have to adhere to. As vice-governor since 1995, Al-Jasser can claim some credit for that. He started his career at the Finance and National Economy Ministry in 1981 as head of financial and economic analysis in the budget department. He acted as an adviser to the executive director of the IMF in Riyadh from 1990-95 and was involved in talks for accession to the World Trade Organisation. In 1995, he was appointed acting deputy minister of finance and national economy. Al-Jasser graduated with a degree in economics from the University of San Diego in the US. He has a master’s degree and doctorate in economics from the University of California, also in the US.
Contact Tel: (+966) 1 463 3000
Faris Abdel Hamid Sharaf
Position Governor, Central Bank of Jordan
Biography Faris Abdel Hamid Sharaf was appointed head of Jordan’s central bank in November 2010 for a five-year term. It marked his second stint at the central bank, after serving as deputy governor between 2003-07. In between, Sharaf was chairman and chief executive officer of the Social Security Investment Fund, the investment arm of the Social Security Corporation. In 2007-08, he was managing director of the UAE’s Dubai International Capital. Between 1997 and 2003, Sharaf served as executive manager for investment banking and capital markets at the Export & Finance Bank in Jordan. He worked as an investment analyst at the Washington-based International Finance Corporation and an economic researcher at the Amman Financial Market between 1992-93. Sharaf has a master’s in economics and a degree in economics and political science from Georgetown University in Washington DC in the US.
Contact Tel: (+962) 6 463 0301
Sheikh Abdullah bin Saud al-Thani
Position Governor, Qatar Central Bank
Biography Sheikh Abdullah bin Saud al-Thani’s appointment as governor in May 2006 marked his return to the organisation he first joined in 1982. Al-Thani rose through the ranks at the central bank to serve as deputy governor between 1990-2001. He left to become chairman of the State Audit Bureau, before rejoining the central bank in 2006. Qatar’s banking sector avoided the fallout from the financial crisis as under Al-Thani the central bank bought equity and real-estate exposure, allowing lenders to avoid provisioning. Al-Thani sits on the board of directors of the Qatar Investment Authority and the Qatar Development Bank. He is also a council member of the Kuala Lumpur-based Islamic Financial Services Board, a key regulator of the Islamic finance sector. The central bank has asked conventional banks in Qatar to stop Islamic banking services by the end of the year.
Contact Tel: (974) 4 445 6456
Position Governor, Bank Markazi
Biography Mahmoud Bahmani was named governor of Iran’s central bank in September 2008 by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad following the removal of his predecessor Tahmasb Mazaheri. Since joining the bank, Bahmani has supported Ahmadinejad’s move to bring subsidies to an end. Although there has been an associated rise in inflation, Bahmani is confident it will fall after the subsidy reforms are completed. Since becoming governor of the central bank, he has criticised Western nations for economic stimulus spending, saying it would lead to a rise in worldwide inflation. Prior to Mazaheri’s dismissal, Bahmani was secretary general of the bank. He has a degree in economics, a master’s in banking and a doctorate in business administration. Previous roles include director of the investment department and also director of the transactions and loans and project feasibility department at Bank Melli Iran between 2000-07.
Contact Tel: (+98) 2 1299 51