Egyptian-American economist Mohamed El-Erian named Great Arab Minds winner

Dr El-Erian is one of the world's most widely followed economists

Dr Mohamed El-Erian has won the economics category of the Great Arab Minds awards. Pawan Singh / The National
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A prominent Egyptian-American has won the economics category of the Great Arab Minds awards.

Dr Mohamed El-Erian, president of Queens' College, which is part of the University of Cambridge, has been recognised for his “exceptional contributions to the field of economics and his perceptive analysis of changes in economic and financial systems”, award organisers said.

He is also chief economic adviser at Allianz and a former chief executive at Pimco. In addition, he is a professor of practice at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and a senior global fellow at the Lauder Institute.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, who announced the award on social media, congratulated Dr El-Erian and praised him for his work to date.

“Great Arab Minds is an award for all Arabs to celebrate Arab minds and achievements and honours the creative individuals from this region who have made exceptional contributions” Sheikh Mohammed said on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“Congratulations to the winner in the Economics category of the Great Arab Minds award, Dr Mohamed El Erian, the President of Queen's College at the University of Cambridge.

“This recognition is a tribute to his contributions, writings, and books that played and continue to play a significant role in understanding the dynamics, trends, and future outlook of the economy, which many decision-makers around the world rely on today.”

The economist's research, books and publications “have provided in-depth analysis of the global economy's state, trends, and challenges”, award organisers said.

He has also played a “significant role in developing theories and analytical tools that led to more accurate economic forecasts”.

Dr El-Erian told The National the awards initiative provides "much-needed inspiration and vision"

"I am totally thrilled, extremely honoured and very humbled indeed," he said.

"I would like to express my deep gratitude to His Highness not just for this exceptional privilege but also for the initiative as a whole. It comes at a very important time for the region, providing much-needed inspiration and vision.

"The award reinforces my desire to make even greater efforts to encourage and enable more young people to understand, pursue and unleash their passion for economics and finance.

"It highlights the importance of hard work and persistence in the face of both expected and unexpected headwinds. And it emphasises the importance of unleashing, supporting and mentoring the considerable potential of our young people."

The Great Arab Minds initiative was set up by Sheikh Mohammed in January last year, to identify the brightest minds in the Arab world and harness their ideas.

Dubai's Museum of the Future is the base for the Dh100 million ($27.22 million) Great Arab Minds programme, which is overseen by four cabinet ministers.

First-class honours

One of the world's most widely followed economists, he has published six books on economics and global markets, and his works and theories have been adopted as key analytical tools.

Dr El-Erian's latest book, Permacrisis: A Plan to Fix a Fractured World, was co-written with former British prime minister Gordon Brown, Michael Spence and Reid Lidow. The book proposes ways to prevent crises and better manage the future for the benefit of the many and not the few.

In 2019, Dr El-Erian was named president of Queens' College, taking up the role in 2020.

He won a scholarship to study economics at Queens' in 1977 and graduated with first-class honours. He has been an honorary fellow there since 2013.

Since 2014, he has served as chief economic adviser at Allianz, the corporate parent of investment management company PIMCO, where he was chief executive and co-chief investment officer between 2007 and 2014.

He is chair of Gramercy Fund Management, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, and a contributing editor at the Financial Times.

He is a professor of practice at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and Senior Global Fellow at the Lauder Institute there.

Before Pimco, Dr El-Erian was a managing director at Solomon Smith Barney/Citigroup in London and before that he spent 15 years at the International Monetary Fund in Washington DC, where he served as deputy director before moving to the private sector. He also spent two years as chief executive and president of the Harvard Management Company.

From 2012 to 2017, he served as chairman of then-US president Barack Obama’s Global Development Council.

Dr El-Erian is the third recipient of the Great Arab Minds Award.

Previous winners this year include Fadil Adib, associate professor at MIT, who won the award in engineering and technology and US-based Saudi surgeon Dr Hani Najm, who won the medicine award for innovating new ways of performing operations on patients with complex heart conditions.

Dh100 million budget

The initiative has a fund of Dh100 million to support and empower innovative and talented Arabs, providing opportunities for success, creativity, and achievement in their respective countries.

It is intended to curb the growing trend of brain-drain in Arab nations by encouraging talented individuals to stay in their home countries and make the most of the available resources.

The initiative seeks to help Arab thought leaders, scholars, and scientists translate their ideas into real-life breakthroughs and solutions.

It also strives to empower a cluster of Arab scientists and thinkers, as well as build a network of exceptional talent in various fields.

Updated: December 12, 2023, 2:47 PM