He is a director of the Dubai Economic Development Department, represented the UAE at the World Economic Forum last year, and serves as chairman of Dubai Bank, Amlak Finance and the Dubai Aluminium Company. But his most influential role is that of chairman of Emaar Properties, a construction and real estate development company with annual revenue of more than $1bn.

fDi’s award comes just as Mr Alabbar celebrates another astounding success. A 10-day initial public offering of Emaar the Economic City (EEC), which opened on July 22, was oversubscribed in just three days. In the end, it fetched SR7.18bn ($1.9bn) with about 10 million Saudis – nearly half the national population – subscribing and setting a new record in the kingdom’s capital market history.

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EEC is a consortium headed by Emaar Properties and several high-profile Saudi investors that is carrying out Saudi Arabia’s largest ever private sector initiative, the SR100bn King Abdullah Economic City project, which Mr Alabbar says “will usher in a new era of economic prosperity to the kingdom”.

“The King Abdullah Economic City, the first fully private sector-funded economic zone and the single largest private sector investment in the kingdom, has the potential to attract increased foreign investment through its comprehensive development plan,” says Mr Alabbar. “The six key components of the project are all geared up to generate more employment opportunities for Saudi nationals, build the kingdom’s infrastructure and facilitate sustained investor interest.”

King Abdullah Economic City, spread across 55 million square metres of land, will include a seaport, industrial district, financial island, educational and health care zone, resorts and a residential area. In close proximity to the holy cities of Makkah and Madina, it will also have a dedicated Hajj terminal. The overall project will be completed in stages, with residents expected to take possession of the first batch of commercial houses in about three years.

With Mr Alabbar at the helm, the project can hardly fail.