Position: CEO, Zain Iraq
Biography: Ali al-Dahwi , CEO of Zain Iraq, caught the attention of Zain's overall CEO, Saad al-Barrak, when he helped Egypt's Orascom Telecom set up its Iraqi subsidiary, IraQna, in December 2003. IraQna's CEO at the time found Al-Dahwi's family connections in Baghdad invaluable in helping to launch the new network. Within five months, Al-Barrak had appointed Al-Dahwi as head of Kuwaiti operator Zain's fledgling Iraqi subsidiary. In December 2007, Al-Dahwi acquired the assets of his former employer when Zain bought IraQna for $1.2bn. Zain Iraq was the fastest-growing mobile phone operator in the Middle East in 2007, increasing its customer numbers by 123 per cent. Al-Dahwi is responsible for maintaining the relationship with Zain Iraq's majority shareholders. Some 70 per cent of the company is owned by anonymous Iraqi businessmen. Zain refuses to say who owns this.
Contact: Tel: (+9641) 541 0960
Position: Chief operating officer, Zain Bahrain
Biography: Ahmed al-Shatti's predecessor as senior manager of Zain's Bahraini subsidiary was a tough act to follow. Marwan al-Ahmadi launched the Bahraini operation in 2003. Bahrain was the first licence that Zain, a Kuwaiti company, acquired outside its domestic market. Al-Ahmadi's experience in Bahrain - and his Saudi nationality - led to him being asked to head the company's ultimately successful bid for the third Saudi licence in 2006. Al-Shatti, however, has had a good first year in charge, with customer numbers increasing by 92 per cent from 230,000 to 450,000. Al-Shatti's first job at Zain was as its group chief human resources officer, a post he held between 2004 and 2006. Before that, Al-Shatti, who is a Kuwaiti, held a variety of human resources jobs for Kuwaiti companies and public sector bodies, including the country's cabinet and its Defence Ministry.
Contact: Tel: (+9677) 333 3333
Position: CEO, Nawras
Biography: Oman is an unusual candidate for one of the Middle East's fastest-growing mobile phone markets. However, Ross Cormack, CEO of the country's second licence holder, Nawras, a subsidiary of Qatar's Qtel, managed to grow his customer numbers by 78 per cent in 2007. Nawras now has a little over 1 million customers and the company made its first net profit in the third quarter of the year, two and a half years after launching in Oman. Qtel hired UK-born Cormack to develop mobile services in its domestic market. He joined as Qtel's executive director of wireless services in May 2003 after a stint as CEO of Virgin Mobile Asia, a Singapore-based joint venture of Singtel and Virgin Group. The venture, which used the Virgin brand to market services from Singtel, was the first virtual network operator in Asia. Cormack has also been a senior manager of Hong Kong CSL and AirTouch in Italy.
Contact: Tel: (+9689) 510 9000
Position: CEO, Mobinil
Biography: Alex Shalaby, chief executive officer (CEO) of Mobinil, is the biggest name in the fastest-growing mobile phone market in the Middle East: Egypt. Shalaby decided at the beginning of 2007 that Mobinil needed to capture as large a share as possible of the Egyptian market as it began to open up at speed. Shalaby gained his early telecoms experience working for US operator AT&T, both in the US and the Middle East. He managed AT&T's relations with the Egyptian government between 1993 and 1995 when he joined Orascom Telecom. When Orascom launched Mobinil in 1998, Shalaby became the new mobile operator's chief officer of regulatory affairs, a position he held until CEO Osman Sultan left to join start-up operator Du in the UAE. Shalaby has combined the roles of Mobinil CEO and main board director of Orascom Telecom since November 2005.
Contact: Tel: (+2012) 320 6760
Position: CEO, Vodafone Egypt
Biography: Vodafone Egypt's choice of a new CEO last year was obvious to everyone who worked at the company, according to Richard Daly, who was promoted from chief operating officer to CEO in September. Daly won his promotion when incumbent CEO Ian Gray was promoted to CEO of the UK mobile phone giant's Eastern Europe division. He has gained control of the operator just as the Egyptian mobile market begins to liberalise. Vodafone Egypt's customer numbers climbed by 53 per cent last year to 13 million. Daly comes from a retail background. He expanded Vodafone's store network in the UK from 150 to 450 outlets in just 15 months before arriving in Egypt in 2005 to take charge of the operation's distribution network. His career started at retail chains Marks & Spencer and British Home Stores (BHS) in the UK. Daly's first international experience was opening BHS outlets in Hong Kong.
Contact: Tel: (+2022) 529 2000
Position: CEO, Nedjma
Biography: Lebanese-born Joseph Jed was identified as a future CEO shortly after Nedjma launched in the summer of 2004. He worked as chief operations officer while Andre Halley acted as an interim CEO. “Halley was bringing Joseph on until he was ready,” says one executive from Nedjma's parent company Qtel. Halley finally stood aside towards the end of 2007. Jed became CEO at a good time for Nedjma. The operator, which had struggled against Algeria's market leader, Djezzy, expanded its customer numbers by 52 per cent in 2007 as a price war between the two ended. Jed's task in 2008 will be to close the gap between Nedjma and Djezzy. Nedjma has already complained about Djezzy's price war to the Algerian telecoms regulator. One Qtel executive described the price war as “ruinous”. Jed will need to manage his company's relationship with the regulator and generate the company's first net profit in its short history.
Contact: Tel: (+9714) 367 2330
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