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Mena Insurance Review’s 2014 Power 50 highlights the most influential individuals in the Mena insurance industry. Compiled by reader nominations, the list is not ranked in order of influence, although we have highlighted 15 people who were particularly highly regarded by our readers. Several people also feature in the list for the first time BY ILONKA OUDENAMPSEN


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INSURERS Isam Abdel Khaliq, CEO of Arab Orient Insurance Since his appointment as CEO in 2000, Abdel Khaliq has been leading Arab Orient Insurance’s growth story, making it the biggest insurer in Jordan with a market share of 12.2% in 2012, according to the Jordan Insurance Commission. In February, the firm’s parent company, Gulf Insurance Group, appointed Abdel Khaliq as its chief operating officer, which will surely give him even more influence in the insurance market in the future. NEW

Khalifa Al Subaey, group president and CEO of Qatar Insurance Company QIC is one of the biggest insurance firms in the Mena region and as such, Al Subaey is an influential man. Earlier this year, QIC announced the acquisition of Antares, a specialist insurer and reinsurer

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operating in the Lloyd’s market. This will provide QIC access to the Lloyd’s market, thus further growing the firm’s presence in the region. Jamal Asfour, CEO of Asia Insurance Asia Insurance is one of Iraq’s main insurers and a pioneer in health insurance in the country. As its CEO, Asfour is promoting insurance awareness and international standards, and consulting the government in Kurdistan on insurance initiatives. Michael Bitzer, CEO of Daman After having won two awards at this year’s Mena Insurance Awards, Daman has also met the strict requirements of the Dubai Health Authority to become a participating insurer in the Dubai health insurance scheme. Bitzer continues to expand the health insurer’s business, with the Sharjah office being one of its latest additions.

Insurers Imad Abdel Khaleq, CEO of Jordan Insurance

Company Nominated numerous times by his peers, Abdel Khaleq deservedly made it on the list again this year. As the CEO of one of Jordan’s biggest insurance firms, Abdel Khaleq is also at the forefront of driving change in the Jordanian insurance market, as he told Mena IR last month that he is in constant talks with the Ministry and regulator.

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Insurers Patrick Choffel, CEO of Oman Insurance

Company Choffel was consistently praised by readers for his innovative thinking. His strategy at Oman Insurance Company has paid off, as the firm recorded annual growth of 19.5% for 2013. The company has 15 branches and a presence in all seven Emirates, as well as Oman and Qatar, and was selected as one of the seven participating insurers for Dubai’s mandatory health insurance scheme.

Steve Dixon, regional managing director at ACE MENA Dixon has been instrumental in building up ACE’s reputation across the Mena region, particularly within financial lines, energy and construction. In September 2013, the company opened an office in Tunisia, thus adding further to its wider Mena capabilities.

most active managers in the region by his peers, Elamin was a popular choice to feature once again on the Power 50 list. As president, Elamin has grown Orient Group into one of the region’s main insurance companies, with one of its most recent successes the opening of its Turkish subsidiary Orient Sigorta Anomin Sirketi.

Jerome Droesch, CEO of AXA Insurance As the CEO of one of the main insurance companies in the Gulf, Droesch continues to help shape the industry. Testament to AXA’s success in the region is its recent appointment as one of the seven participating insurers of the Dubai health insurance scheme. AXA Gulf is also pursuing a majority stake in Abu Dhabi-based health insurer Green Crescent, which will further increase its footprint in Mena.

Lufti El Zein, CEO of MEDGULF Industry veteran El Zein is on the list for the third year in a row. The chairman and CEO of one of the largest private insurance companies in the region has grown MEDGULF into an international company with operations in Lebanon, Bahrain Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the UK. In June 2013, Japanese insurer ORIX acquired a 25.7% stake in the firm, which recorded a net profit of $13.55bn in Q1 2014.

Omer Elamin, president of Orient Group Described as one of the

Michel Khalaf, president of EMEA at Metlife Alico As president of the EMEA

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Reinsurers Christian Kraut, CEO for MEA at Munich Re As the head of the MEA operations of one of the world’s largest reinsurers, Kraut is a very influential figure. It is therefore no surprise that he was often mentioned by his peers to feature in this year’s list. Munich Re recorded a profit of €3.3bn ($4.46bn) last year, up from €3.2bn for 2012, and was voted global reinsurer of the year at the Mena Insurance Awards 2014. HIGHLY REGARDED

readers. ADNIC’s net profit grew by 25% year-on-year to stand at $49.3m at 31 December 2013. Sidani recently told Mena IR that the company is looking at regional expansion, which will surely further cement ADNIC’s position in the market.

REINSURERS region, Khalaf heads up MetLife Alico in the Mena region. The company has had a presence in the region for more than 50 years, with offices in Egypt, the UAE, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait and Qatar. Recently MetLife Alico was selected as a participating insurer in Dubai’s health insurance scheme, and with life insurance penetration in Mena expected to increase, Khalaf’s influence is likely to grow further. James Portelli, general manager at United Insurance Company Portelli makes the list for the second year in a row, thanks to his excellent network of contacts and incisive analysis. His experience in the insurance sector spans more than 25 years. United Insurance Company operates in the UAE, with five offices across the seven Emirates and a staff of around 100 people.

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Ali Regae, director and deputy general manager

of Libya Insurance Company Libya’s largest insurance company is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Regae was nominated by readers as someone who is helping to shape the insurance market in Libya, while the country is going through a difficult period.

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Brian Reilly, CEO at Zurich General Insurance Middle

East In April, Zurich signed a memorandum of understanding with Dubai SME to provide insurance awareness and risk insights to the 100 top performing SMEs in the Emirate. Reilly is a pioneer in the market, as he and his team bring insurance and risk management to smaller firms who were previously less targeted by the insurance market. Walid Sidani, CEO of ADNIC As CEO of one of the top three insurance companies in the UAE, Sidani was voted one of the most active managers in the region by Mena IR HIGHLY REGARDED

Mahomed Akoob, managing director at Hannover Re Akoob was a popular choice to feature in this list. Hannover Re was the first major reinsurance group to focus on retakaful and with Shariah-compliant in-

surance expected to keep growing in future, Akoob’s influence in the market is likely to become even greater. Fahad Al-Hesni, managing director and CEO at Saudi Re As the CEO of Saudi Arabia’s first reinsurance firm, Al-Hesni is a powerful figure in the Mena insurance market. Saudi Re’s success continues, with gross written premiums for 2013 recorded at $112m and the opening of a Malaysian office in late 2013. Khalil Eid, general manager at QBE’s Dubai branch

Reinsurers Cherif Chentir, CUO for Middle East & South Eastern Europe at SCOR A popular choice among NEW Mena IR readers, Chentir was named by one as the “best Mena reinsurance treaty underwriter”. While SCOR does not have an office in the Middle East aside from Tel Aviv, it is an important reinsurer in the region, with a net income of €549m ($759m) in 2013, compared to €418m for 2012. HIGHLY REGARDED

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Brokers Wael Khatib, executive chairman of Lockton

(MENA) Renowned for his leadership, Khatib was also described as a good strategist with a long-term view and he played a key role in Lockton’s success in the Mena region. The firm’s growth story is expected to continue, as Tony Saaba was hired as CEO in November 2013.


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Eid has been leading QBE’s Middle Eastern success since its office opened in Dubai in 2009. Both the Dubai team and its product offerings have expanded significantly in the last year, with a few major new hires and the launch of environmental liability products and an aviation excess liabilities product.

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Lukas Müller, director for EMEA at

Swiss Re As one of the main global reinsurers, Swiss Re is an important player in the Mena insurance market. Müller was nominated by many industry figures and deservedly made it on the list again this year. The firm earned a profit of $4.4bn last year, up from $4.2bn in 2012. Gunther Saacke, CEO of Qatar Re Due to its successes over the last 18 months, Q-Re was recently renamed as Qatar Re. Saacke has been leading these successes for over a year, including the 43% growth in the January 2014 renewals. At his appointment as CEO in February 2013, he said the firm aims to be one of the top 10 global reinsurers by 2025. Prem Sagar, CEO of ACR Retakaful MEA Sagar deserves a place on the list for his dedication to the retakaful market.

Brokers George Kabban, CEO of UIB (DIFC) Mena IR readers praised Kabban for driving the agenda for regulatory reform in the Mena region. UIB’s Mena offices are based in Dubai, Libya, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iraq. Kabban recently told Mena IR that the firm is also looking to expand into sub-Saharan Africa. HIGHLY REGARDED

ACR Retakaful collected the retakaful provider of the year award at the Mena Insurance Awards 2014 for the fourth consecutive year. Hadj Mohamed Seba, CEO of CCR Algeria HIGHLY REGARDED Seba was nominated several times for his outstanding personality and for his continuous investment in building the knowledge of the Algerian insurance market. As the country’s national reinsurer, CCR continues to reinsure over 50% of the country’s risks, despite Algeria going through a politically challenging period. NEW

Christian Vogel, CEO of Gulf Re Vogel has been a key asset of Gulf Re since he joined in December 2010. Following his appointment as CEO in November 2013, he has been, as one reader put it, “a steady hand in an otherwise crazy market”. Last year the firm celebrated its fifth anniversary, in which time it has grown from a NEW

firm with four employees to 22. BROKERS Joseph Azar, general manager of NASCO Karaoglan Renowned for his level of expertise, Azar was often nominated and makes the list for the second year in a row. Founded in Lebanon in 1969, NASCO currently operates in Lebanon, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Syria, Turkey, Iraq and Tunisia, as well as in the UK, France and Cyprus. Paul Holmes, managing director of Al Futtaim Willis Middle East Holmes was appointed managing director of Willis’ Middle Eastern business

in January 2011. With more than 25 years’ experience in the industry, he is leading Willis’ continued success in the region. Kenneth Maw, president and group CEO of JLT Insure Direct (brokers) Following JLT’s acquisition of Insure Direct, Maw is now the leading man for JLT Insure Direct (Brokers) in the Mena region. The acquisition has strengthened both JLT’s as well as Insure Direct’s position in the market, making Maw an influential figure in the Mena insurance industry. Chris Pleasant, managing director for Mena at Guy Carpenter For over 30 years Pleasant has been the managing director of Guy Carpenter in Mena. With so much experience and industry knowledge, he deservedly features in the Power 50 list for the third year in a row. Guy Carpenter was founded in 1922 and now has 50 offices worldwide, including its Dubai office.

Brokers Farid Chedid, chairman and CEO of Chedid Re Chedid is known for his outspoken views on the Mena insurance market and it is therefore no surprise that he was often nominated by his peers. Chedid has grown Chedid Re from a small firm in Cyprus to a company offering solutions to more than 170 insurers in 22 countries in the Mena region and Europe. Chedid Re recently signed a strategic partnership with PartnerRe. HIGHLY REGARDED


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Ahmed Rajab, CEO for Mena at Aon Benfield Rajab has been heading up Aon Benfield’s growth story since the firm opened up office in Dubai in January 2013. Having been in the industry for more than 15 years, he brings a wealth of knowledge and experience and successfully restructured Aon Benfield’s operations in the region. Atish Suri, divisional director at Willis Re Suri was relocated to Dubai in 2011 to establish an on-the-ground presence for Willis Re. He has helped grow the company’s business in the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Oman ever since. NEW

William Wakeham, CEO of AAIB Insurance Brokers As founder of AAIB, Wakeham and his team specialise in insurance solutions for emerging and post conflict locations such as Iraq, Libya and Sudan. He also promotes the

Others Wayne Jones, partner at Clyde & Co As a partner at one of the region’s biggest law firms, Jones is described by his clients as outstanding, active and very helpful. Jones and his team provide expert advice, insight and information, both to their clients and to Mena IR readers through a quarterly regulation update in the magazine. HIGHLY REGARDED

insurance agenda in these politically volatile markets. Wakeham recently told Mena IR that he believes insurance is just as an intrinsic part of building up an economy as banking and finance are.

businesses, updated the dispute committee rules, and pushed for a more cautious assessment of insurers’ reserve adequacy, among other things. Husain Al Ajmi, assistant director and head of centre for insurance at BIBF Al Ajmi deserves a spot in the list for his passionate work to improve the qualifications and standards of the Middle Eastern insurance market. He has been instrumental in making international qualifications available to non-English speaking candidates and has pioneered professional standards in the takaful market. NEW

OTHERS Khalid Althieb, director of insurance supervision at the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) Among Mena IR readers, SAMA is renowned for its efforts to enhance the technical level within Saudi Arabia. In the past year, the regulator has announced mandatory liability insurance for certain types of

Insurers Jawed Barna, CEO of NEW Zurich Global Life Middle East & Africa Zurich Life has recently launched a first-to-market life insurance proposition for SMEs in the Middle East. SMEs play a key role in the region’s economy but many leave their human capital uninsured. Customised products and education will hopefully increase insurance awareness and penetration among SMEs. As CEO of Zurich Life in the Middle East, Barna is at the head of this innovation.

Abdullah Rahman Mohamed Al Baker, executive director, financial institutions supervision at the Central Bank of Bahrain Al Baker is the main man responsible for insurance regulation in Bahrain. In the past year, the CBB has introduced a new takaful framework, incorporating some innovative practices. NEW

In February, Al Baker told Mena IR that the regulator also plans to introduce legislation on training and competence. Ebrahim Al Zaabi, director general at the UAE Insurance Authority Several industry figures have welcomed the Insurance Authority’s harder stance on regulating the plentiful insurance players in the UAE. With the introduction of the new broker regulations and withdrawing licences of a few firms earlier this year, the Authority has certainly been busy under Al Zaabi’s leadership. HIGHLY REGARDED

Nick ChaterisBlack, managing director, market development & information services at A.M. Best Together with the other rating agencies, A.M. Best plays a pivotal role in the Mena insurance industry. Chateris-Black made the list because of his industry knowledge and his insightful analysis. NEW

Walid Genadry, head of the Insurance Control Commission Lebanon Genadry was a popular choice for this year’s list, thanks to his promotion of education and training on a worldwide basis. As the head of the insurance regulator in Lebanon, Genadry is an influential figure in the region. NEW

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