Majid Al Futtaim Holding appoints chief executive

Ahmed Ismail assumes the position from Alain Bejjani, who served in the role for eight years

DUBAI , UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – April 16 , 2017 : Ahmed Galal Ismail , Chief Executive Officer of Majid Al-Futtaim Ventures speaking during the press conference at Kempinsky Hotel at Mall of the Emirates in Dubai.  ( Pawan Singh / The National ) For Business. Story by Lucy Barnard. ID : 60770
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Majid Al Futtaim, one of Dubai's biggest private sector companies and the Middle East’s largest mall operator, announced that Ahmed Ismail has been appointed chief executive of Majid Al Futtaim Holding.

Mr Ismail assumes the position from Alain Bejjani, who served in the role for eight years.

As the chief executive of Majid Al Futtaim — Properties, Mr Ismail has been responsible for Majid Al Futtaim’s malls, hotels, communities and project management operations since 2018.

He previously served as chief executive of Majid Al Futtaim — Ventures and vice president of strategy of Majid Al Futtaim — Holding.

The new chief executive also previously worked for the management consultant Booz Allen Hamilton and Proctor & Gamble before joining MAF in 2007.

“I am committed to building on our strong, customer-focused strategy that has allowed us to deliver sustained growth,” Mr Ismail said.

“Our prudent financial discipline and strong governance mean that we are well-positioned to remain focused on sustainable value creation and creating great moments for everyone, everyday.”

MAF founder Majid Al Futtaim died in December 2021. The former bank clerk, who was a visionary entrepreneur, built an empire with $16 billion in global assets around the retail and leisure sectors that are among the main pillars of Dubai’s economy.

A special judicial committee was appointed to look into potential inheritance issues among 10 heirs of its late founder.

The late Al Futtaim founded MAF in 1992, and in 1995 opened City Centre Deira, the group's flagship mall, which kick-started its growth in the UAE.

MAF has helped Dubai — the commercial and trading hub of the Middle East — consolidate its position as a global leisure and tourism destination.

In the 2000s, the MAF portfolio expanded exponentially, with Vox Cinemas, the UAE's first multiplex cinema, opening in 2000.

Alain Bejjani served as chief executive of Majid Al Futtaim Holding for eight years. Bloomberg

The company owns and operates 29 shopping malls, 13 hotels across the Middle East, more than 400 Carrefour hypermarkets and supermarkets operated through franchise agreements, as well as entertainment and leisure assets.

Its success has been replicated outside the UAE, as it expanded into markets including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Oman, Bahrain, Lebanon, Kuwait, Qatar, Jordan and Uganda.

Mr Bejjani started working at MAF in October 2006, according to his LinkedIn profile. He held multiple roles at the company's property business, including chief corporate development officer, before taking over as chief executive of the entire conglomerate in February 2015.

MAF reported an 18 per cent increase in its 2022 first-half earnings as a sharp rebound in retail and leisure sectors amid steady economic recovery boosted revenue.

The group has assets valued at Dh62.9 billion, with net borrowings at Dh11.2 billion.

Updated: January 14, 2023, 12:08 PM