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Global hires drive change at Mashreq Bank


Ahmed Abdelaal is the first non-Ghurair family member to lead Mashreq Bank. His first two Covid-marred years in charge as chief executive were a baptism of fire, but he has hired well and decisively, putting in place a cosmopolitan management team that is transforming the Dubai-based lender.

When Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair asked Ahmed Abdelaal take the reins as chief executive of Dubai-based Mashreq Bank in October 2019, he had a piece of advice for his successor.

“His message was simple: ‘Don’t mess this up,’” Abdelaal tells Euromoney.

It was blunt, but with good reason. This was not because Ghurair, who then moved upstairs to become chairman, was in any doubt about his choice of candidate.

Abdelaal was not a new face. His career includes stints at Arab Bank and American Express, and around 15 years at HSBC and ABN Amro. He joined Mashreq in late 2017 as group head of corporate and investment banking, giving the division cohesiveness, impetus and direction.

“He saw the way I’d changed corporate and investment banking, and the impact it had on the bank,” says Abdelaal.

Rather, Ghurair's message was delivered because Mashreq Bank is no normal Middle East lender. For one thing, it doesn’t fit into a neat regional box.

The Gulf region is home to three basic sorts of financial institution: international and local banks, and big regional lenders owned by central authorities.



Elliot Wilson headshot.jpg
Asia editor and Global Private Banking and Wealth Management editor
Elliot Wilson is Asia editor and Global Private Banking and Wealth Management editor. He joined the magazine in 2020 having been a regular contributor focusing on China and the Indian subcontinent, Russia and Eastern Europe/the CIS. He is based in Hong Kong.