Chairman of Dubai World until December 12, 2010, in Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem became the Chairman of DP World in 2007. The Sulayem family has been one Dubai’s most prominent business and political families since at least the early 20th century. Ahmed bin Sulayem’s father was a key advisor to Dubai’s ruling Maktoum family. Bin Sulayem’s first job after graduating from college in the late 1970s was as a customs inspector at Dubai’s then sleepy port. He told Fortune Magazine in 2008 that his future career was set when a man mistakenly came into his office one day and in the course of chatting suggested that Dubai could serve as a center for the tea trade if it created a tax-free zone at the port. That chance meeting encouraged him to travel the world studying tax-free trading zones. When he returned home he approached Dubai’s future ruler and family friend Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum with a proposal to build a free trade zone at the port. “If you really believe in it, you go run it.” Bin Sulayem said Sheikh Mohammed told him. “I was 30.”
That conversation led to Bin Sulayem serving as the first chairman of the Dubai government’s tax-free Jebel Ali Free Zone when it was founded in 1985. Since the 1980s, Bin Sulayem has been one of the most prominent businessmen in Dubai, with a string of governmentlinked ventures. In addition to chairing Dubai World he helped found Nakheel, one of the UAE’s largest property developers and Istithmar, a major investment holding company in Dubai. Both companies are Dubai World subsidiaries.
KEY ATTRIBUTES THAT MAKE HIM A LEADER
- He also served on the board of the Investment Corporation of Dubai, the emirate’s Sovereign Wealth Fund, until November, 2009.
- He received a B.S. in economics from Temple University in Philadelphia, the United States.
- He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Middlesex University in Dubai.
- Under the leadership of Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, DP World has become the fourth largest port operator in the world, while the Jebel Ali Free Zone (Jafza) is now an unrivalled business park with a global arm, Jafza International.
- He is also responsible for Nakheel , investment house Istithmar , and Limitless , another real estate firm.