Six figures working in the UAE’s food sector: Nasser Ahmed Khalifa al-Suwaidi, Jamal al-Ghurair, Ilias Assimakopoulos, Ahmed Eltigani Abdul Rahim, LK Pagarani and Najieb Khoory
Nasser Ahmed Khalifa al-Suwaidi
Position Board member, Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA)
Biography Al-Suwaidi is a prominent politician and businessman in Abu Dhabi and his role at the ADFCA is to develop a sustainable agriculture and food sector. ADFCA’s remit is to oversee the delivery of safe food to the public, as well as implementing new policies, standards and regulations. The body also carries out research and tries to raise awareness of the importance of effective food controls. Al-Suwaidi is a board member of several other Abu Dhabi government-linked entities. He is chairman of Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development, the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange and National Bank of Abu Dhabi. In his early career, Al-Suwaidi led Abu Dhabi National Oil Company’s directorate for the upstream sector. He has a degree in economics from California State Polytechnic University in the US.
Contact Tel: (+971) 2 403 1111
Position Managing director, Al-Khaleej Sugar Company
Biography Jamal al-Ghurair is a member of the well-known Dubai business family that has interests across sectors including food, retail and banking. He is the chairman and managing director of Al-Khaleej Sugar Company in Jebel Ali, which owns the world’s largest sugar refinery. With a capacity of 5,000 tonnes a day, the complex provides the UAE with its refined sugar needs and the surplus is exported to more than 70 countries. Under his umbrella company, Jamal al-Ghurair Group, he runs several other firms with interests in real estate and construction materials. Al-Ghurair is also the vice-chairman of Emirates Investment & Development, which is a company supported by several Dubai business leaders and the government to promote industrial projects in the emirate. He is a former member of the UAE’s Federal National Council and director of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority.
Contact Tel: (+971) 4 295 7777
Position Chief executive officer, Agthia Group
Biography Ilias Assimakopoulos has been chief executive officer of Abu Dhabi-based food major Agthia Group since 2006. Agthia is majority owned by the Abu Dhabi government and is one of the UAE’s largest food firms. It has interests in key markets across the Middle East and North Africa. Brands include Al-Ain Drinking Water. The firm owns Grand Mills Flour & Feed Company and the Al-Ain Vegetable Processing and Canning factory in the UAE. Assimakopoulos oversees production from all of Agthia’s facilities by the company’s 1,600 staff. After graduating in 1990 from Boston University in the US with a master’s in business administration, he joined the US’ Gillette Company. From 1999 to 2001, he was regional manager for the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Prior to his current role, Assimakopoulos was the general manger for the Mena region for the UK’s Reckitt Benckiser.
Contact Tel: (+971) 2 414 6444
Ahmed Eltigani Abdul Rahim
Position General manager, Al-Rawabi Dairy Company
Biography Rahim has been running the UAE’s largest dairy farm since its inception in 1989. The farm produces about 75 tonnes a day of milk, yoghurt, cheese and butter from its 7,000 cows, and also makes juice products. The produce is processed and then bottled or packed at an adjacent facility at the complex, which is located close to Dubai airport. Output is sold in the UAE, Oman and Kuwait. Rahim is a trained veterinarian and obtained his doctorate from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Khartoum after receiving his bachelor and master’s degrees from Zagreb University in the former Yugoslavia. Before joining Al-Rawabi, Rahim worked as a veterinary surgeon, lecturer and farm director in the US, Saudi Arabia and Sudan. He has authored two books and several papers. Rahim is a visiting lecturer at Al-Ain University and chairman of UAE Dairy and Juice Association.
Contact Tel: (+971) 4 289 2123
Position Chairman, Al-Maya Group
Biography LK Pagarani established Al-Maya Group in 1982, when he opened a standalone grocery store in Ajman. Since then the entrepreneur has built up the grocery store business into a large supermarket chain. Al-Maya Group has a food production arm that has several leading brands of ice-cream, frozen foods, drinks and beverages, as well as dry goods that it sells in the UAE. Pagarani started the company with his brother-in-law in a partnership that lasted until he took full control in 2003. The group also operates several retail franchises, including the UK clothing stores BHS, Tammy and US bookstore Borders. Pagarani runs the firm from its headquarters in Al-Quoz in Dubai, with major warehousing facilities located in Al-Ain and Abu Dhabi. He started his career with the T Choithram Group in Sierra Leone in 1947. He worked his way up to the position of director and he was posted to roles in London and Hong Kong.
Contact Tel: (+971) 4 282 1555
Position Managing director and co-owner, Mirak Group
Biography The Mirak Group operates one of the largest farms in the UAE. It has about 200 hectares of land in Al-Ain and Sharjah on which it farms 8,000 tonnes of produce a year. Khoory, a UAE national, started the business in 1985 with the aim of becoming a major local producer of fresh fruit and vegetables at a time when the UAE relied solely on imported goods. The group now farms lettuces, tomatoes and strawberries using hydroponic farming techniques, as well as producing vegetables using conventional farming. Over the past 10 years, Khoory has initiated a research and development plan, which has resulted in a 90 per cent reduction of water usage in its hydroponic farming facilities. He graduated from the University of Denver in the US in 1978. Khoory previously worked for Mirak Trading, which imports and distributes meat products from Australia, Brazil and France.
Contact Tel: (+971) 4 333 9778