Industry magazine Global Telecoms Business (GTB) has ranked Dr Saad Al Barrak in 20th position in its Top 100 most influential telecom executives for 2009, up nine places on his 2008 ranking.
Two other senior Zain executives, Zain Africa CEO Chris Gabriel and the company’s Chief Business Development Officer, Salah Al Fouzan, were ranked 46th and 95th respectively.
Dr Al Barrak was listed among some genuinely influential names, coming in ahead of such industry giants as Sprint’s Dan Hesse (22) and Apple’s Steve Jobs (27) and being piped by Vodafone’s Vittorio Colao (11) and Google’s Eric Schmidt (14)
GTB noted that Dr Al Barrak, having already expanded the Kuwait-based MTC into the Middle East, bought Celtel in Africa and then rebranded them both into Zain, had created one of the most powerful brands in a large chunk of the planet.
Under his leadership, Zain also launched such ground-breaking services as the company’s borderless ‘One Network’ platform, a product that reflects Zain’s commitment to reducing tariffs and making mobile communications genuinely affordable to all.
Calling him “inspirational”, “dynamic”, and “ambitious” the magazine’s citation concludes that he is “a towering figure…who has helped to drive innovation and expansion”.
“My charge up the rankings must be seen in the light of Zain’s global advancement,” said a delighted Dr Al Barrak.
“While our journey to global telecom player status is not over, this award is a nonetheless encouraging milestone and a welcome boost to spur us on to greater achievements.”
CEO of Zain Africa, Chris Gabriel, who ranked 46, was described by the magazine as the person “widely acknowledged as the person who has led Zain’s operations in Africa with enthusiasm.
Colleagues say that he is decisive, has a passion for community development and is accessible to all staff in all levels. He has instigated a culture of performance and ownership of the business and its results.”
“Working in Africa you learn to shed the ego and roll up your sleeves to get things done,” he said from his African office. “Zain is not only winning new market shares and entering new countries, it is also changing lives in a tangible, immediate and visible way and that is what makes this job so rewarding.”
Salah Al-Fouzan has overseen the company’s mergers and acquisitions, geographical expansion and adjacent business development activities for the group, including wireless broadband initiatives.
He started in the network engineering division of what was the Kuwait operator MTC in 1997 and moved to group business planning and strategy development in 2002.
There, he has managed $15 billion worth of international M&A acquisitions on behalf of the Zain, including the $3.4 billion purchase of Celtel, the $1.05 billion acquisition of V-Mobile in Nigeria, the $1.33 billion acquisition of Mobitel in Sudan and the $1.2 billion acquisition of Iraqna in Iraq, as well as the greenfield licences in Bahrain, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.
He has also worked on a variety of equity offerings and debt financings for Zain.