Outstanding contribution to financial services: Adel El-Labban
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Outstanding contribution to financial services: Adel El-Labban

In his career, he has helped Egypt through a time of crisis and made Ahli United Bank a regional powerhouse.

For someone who had no great ambition to enter banking when he was a student, Adel El-Labban has carved out a remarkable career as one of the most effective chief executives of his generation. The leadership he has provided at the helm of some of the Middle East’s most successful banks, whether in Cairo, London or Manama, has been instrumental in raising the bar for banking in the region.

After graduating in economics at the American University in ­Cairo, El-Labban spent his early years with Arab Banking Corporation in Bahrain. He first appeared on the global radar as vice-president of corporate finance at Morgan Stanley’s investment banking team in New York. His success was picked up back home and he was swiftly brought back to Cairo to become chief executive of Commercial International Bank.

In the early 1990s Egypt was emerging slowly from a series of ­crises and economic stagnation. The country needed a new generation of financial leaders to restore stability to one of the key markets in the region; El-Labban’s role in Egypt’s return to prominence is one of the great success stories in the developing world.