Expo Leaders – Banking and Finance

Abdulfattah SharafSaeed Al Ghamdi
Adnan ChilwanShayne Nelson
Ahmed AbdelaalSunil Kaushal
Bal KrishenTareq Al Sadhan
Hana Al RostamaniWaleed A. Al Mogbel
Mohammed Qasim Al Ali
Abdulfattah Sharaf, CEO, HSBC Bank

Abdulfattah Sharaf



Abdulfattah Sharaf is the CEO for the UAE of HSBC Bank Middle East, and also serves as a board member of HSBC Bank Middle East, HSBC Saudi Arabia Limited and HSBC Bank Oman.

Now a senior figure in the global financial industry, he studied Political Science at the University of Denver in the United States. After graduating, he moved back to the UAE, where his first job was as the assistant head of documentation for Dubai Customs.

 He started at HSBC in 2008, after working for the National Bank of Dubai, and then Emirates NBD when it merged with Emirates Bank International in 2007. His roles at the National Bank of Dubai included Head of Cards and Business Development Manager.

 Since opening its first branch in Dubai in 1946 – the very first bank in what subsequently became the UAE – HSBC has played a significant role in the country’s economic and social development. HSBC showed its commitment to the UAE in 2019, when it officially opened its new $250m headquarters in Downtown Dubai, to house 3,000 employees.

 Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, chairman of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Foundation, led the inauguration in a ceremony to launch one of the world’s most sustainable buildings.

HSBC Tower accommodates innovation labs, a university, training studios and collaboration hubs. It also houses 236,000 sq ft of agile workspace and fosters the atmosphere of innovation. The new building also includes a gym, studio space for yoga classes, a reflection room, an outdoor terrace and a number of vibrant coffee shops and restaurants.

In early 2020, Sharaf revealed HSBC’s ambitious plans for the UAE, including the opening of a new private banking branch in Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM). That expanded the branch’s private banking footprint from its current base in Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC).

Adnan Chilwan, CEO, Dubai Islamic Bank

Adnan Chilwan


Dubai Islamic Bank

A leading authority in Islamic banking and finance, Dr Adnan Chilwan is widely seen as a driver of change and innovation and a key figure in the progression of this segment, which is quickly evolving into a global phenomenon.

With an extensive banking career spanning more than two decades, and with experience at both reputed conventional and Islamic banks in the region, he currently serves as the Group CEO of Dubai Islamic Bank, the world’s first Sharia-compliant player.

Not only is it the largest Islamic bank in UAE, but it’s also the second largest in the world. With group assets that are in excess of $80bn, a market capitalisation of over $9bn, and workforce of more than 10,000 employees across a vast network of branches and entities in all Emirates – as well as the growing international operations in countries across Asia, Middle East and Africa – he leads an organisation that is fast being recognised as a formidable force in Islamic finance and one of the most progressive institutions in the world today.

Earlier this year, despite the difficulties of the Covid-19 pandemic, Dubai Islamic Bank reported improved profitability with total income increasing by five percent quarter on quarter to reach AED5.8bn ($1.6bn), as well as a stable net operating revenue at AED4.6bn ($1.3bn).

“Dubai Islamic Bank’s profitability remained strong despite the challenging last 18 months, with a net profit of AED 1.9bn ($517m) during the first half of 2021,” said Chilwan, speaking about the news.

Chilwan’s contribution across the industry has led to him being honoured with numerous accolades and awards over the past few years. He represents DIB on the boards of various strategic investments, subsidiaries and associates, including being president commissioner at PT Bank Panin Dubai Syariah TBK, serving as the chairman at DIB Bank Kenya Ltd, and board member at Noor Bank, among others.

He continues to drive the proliferation of Islamic finance through his various consultative roles within and outside the UAE, and through numerous seminars in various educational institutions.

A passionate cricketer and sportsman, Chilwan has a PhD and a MBA in marketing to his credentials. He is a Certified Islamic Banker (CeIB), a postgraduate in Islamic banking and insurance, and he is also an Associate Fellow Member on the Islamic Finance Professionals Board. 

Ahmed Abdelaal, CEO, Mashreq

Ahmed Abdelaal



Ahmed Mohamed Abdelaal was appointed the new CEO of Mashreq in October 2019. Before that, he had been with the bank for two years, working as the head of the company’s corporate and investment banking group.

Abdelaal has more than 25 years of experience working within the financial industry. He has also served in senior roles across international and regional banks, including Arab Bank, ABN AMRO Bank, American Express and most recently, HSBC Middle East. At HSBC, he was Regional Head of Corporate Clients Coverage and Head of Commercial Banking UAE, and was responsible for managing the bank’s strategic direction in the region.

At the beginning of 2020, the bank reported AED2.1bn ($570m) net profit for 2019, on a par with the previous year. The bank said it had seen a significant growth in investment income, up from AED27m to AED150m while total assets grew by 11.8 percent to AED159.4bn and loans and advances increased by 10 percent to reach AED76.2bn. Since then, the bank has carried on going from strength to strength.

In September of 2021, Mashreq inaugurated its representative office in Shanghai, amid a strategic push to expand its presence in China. The Shanghai representative office will serve as a liaison office, with the primary objective of building Mashreq’s franchise in mainland China. The banking major reported that the office will be a key intermediary for Middle Eastern corporations with trade and investment flows into China, as well as for Chinese enterprises looking to establish operations within Mashreq’s existing international banking footprint. Mashreq now operates in 13 countries, including the UAE which is considered China’s largest non-oil trading partner in the Middle Eastern and North African region.

According to recent reports, UAE-China trade volume has reached over $50bn, and the target is to expand further to $200bn by 2030.

Bal Krishen, Chairman and CEO, Century Financial

Bal Krishen

Chairman and CEO

Century Financial

As a highly accomplished, ethical, and dynamic chairman and CEO of Century Financial and other network companies, Bal Krishen has two decades of experience and expertise across various investment sectors covering bonds, equities, currencies, commodities, and real estate.

He has an excellent track record in managing customer relationships, engaging teams, driving and delivering extraordinary results with utmost transparency. He has a proven track record of successfully leading the organisation from both an operational and strategic perspective.

He began his professional journey in the capital market and investment at Century Financial in 1999. He joined as a dealer, worked up his way in the organisation to an Investment Analyst, eventually to the Director of the Company and today serves as the Chairman. His meteoric rise in line with the organisation’s growth clubbed with his unique leadership style has made him a perfect role model for his employees and aspiring professionals in UAE.

Krishen has been instrumental in the company’s significant growth over the past three decades. Now, under his helm, the company has embarked on a significant diversification journey going beyond financial services into technology-related sectors.

Recently, the company has launched two new divisions – Century Private Wealth and Century Bank Brokers. As part of its geographical expansion strategy, Krishen is engaging with the relevant authorities to expand the company’s interests into the KSA and GCC markets.

Krishen is passionate about humanitarian causes and the upliftment of the underprivileged aptly demonstrated through his ongoing charitable initiatives in the UAE and India.

In July of 2021, Century Financial was honoured by Great Place To Work Middle East, topping the company’s list of the Best Workplaces For Millennials.

What do you expect the long-term legacy of Expo 2020 to be for the UAE?

Expo 2020 is set to coincide with the 50th-anniversary celebration of the UAE. It is aimed to drive millions of new advancements which will have a lasting effect on human existence. On the success of the event, the revenue generation will exceed up to $17.7bn. After the event, there will be more homogeneity amongst the Gulf and the West in terms of business and expat population migrating to the country. Hosting Expo 2020 will be a great achievement not just for the UAE, but for other GCC countries and the entire Arab region.

— Bal Krishen, Chairman and CEO of Century Financial
Hana Al Rostamani, Group CEO, FAB

Hana Al Rostamani

Group CEO


A seasoned C-suite executive with more than 20 years of experience in the banking and financial services sector, Hana Al Rostamani previously served as Deputy Group CEO and Head of Personal Banking at First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB).

She was responsible for leading the transformation of FAB’s consumer bank, instilling a customer and digital-first mindset across the firm.

In January 2021, FAB appointed Al Rostamani as the Group CEO, promoting a woman to the top leadership position in a male-dominated sector. Al Rostamani is the first female CEO of the $44bn lender, and she took over from Andre Sayegh, who spent less than a year in the role but had worked for the bank for 21 years. The banking group had total assets of around $250bn in 2020, and a net profit of $2.9bn.

She was previously the deputy group CEO and head of personal banking and chairperson of FAB Private Bank Suisse. She’d also worked as the Head of the Consumer Banking Group at First Gulf Bank since 2014, and held several other positions there, including Head of Strategic Planning, Head of Corporate Communications, Vice President of Retail Banking Group, and Director of Product Development and Marketing before the bank merged with the National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD) back in 2016. She helped lead the consumer bank’s charge towards digitisation.

Al Rostamani has also served as independent director at Emirates Integrated Telecommunication Co (EITC), vice chairperson of the Emirates Institute for Banking & Financial Services, and chairperson of the board of Aseel Islamic Finance.

She is among a growing number of women who have been tapped to lead companies in countries across the Middle East in recent years. Other women currently working in leadership positions in the region include Sarah Al Suhaimi, the chairwoman of Saudi Arabia’s stock exchange and head of NCB Capital Co, and Carmen Haddad, the vice chairperson of Citigroup’s operations in the Middle East.

At the time that her appointment was announced, FAB’s chairman, Sheikh Tahnoon Bin Zayed Al Nahyan said, “FAB has always been an organisation that champions diversity and the appointment of our first female Group CEO to lead our company into the future is truly something to value.”

 Al Rostamani is a graduate of George Washington University in Washington, DC, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration as well as a Master’s Degree in Information Management.

She is also currently a member of Mastercard Advisory, as well as the IMD Foundation Board and AW Rostamani Group’s board of directors.

Earlier this year, in April of 2021, the bank unveiled a new payments subsidiary, called Magnati. The new business is built around energy, potential and partnerships, and is underpinned by an intelligent payments platform.

Mohammed Qasim Al Ali, CEO, National Bonds

Mohammed Qasim Al Ali


National Bonds

Passionate about creating a savings culture in the UAE, Mohammed Qasim Al Ali has spearheaded a number of innovative public campaigns, all designed to inspire the public to adopt regular savings habits for achieving financial security and improved quality of life. Al Ali is driven by the desire to increase financial literacy across the nation.

In his role as CEO of National Bonds, Al Ali manages the company’s growing portfolio of products and services in the UAE. He is also responsible for conceptualising new and innovative savings and investment initiatives for the benefit of the community at large, as well as across the wider Arab region.

Crowned the CEO of the Year at the Islamic Retail Banking Awards back in 2015, Al Ali’s intuitive and results-oriented strategy has seen him successfully steer a leading UAE-based company, facilitating growth and drawing interest from across the UAE and GCC region. He earlier served as general manager for the UK and Ireland operations of Emirates Airline and as Vice-President of Customer Service and Operations at Dnata, the ground handling company at Dubai International Airport.

A dedicated family man, Al Ali is well respected among his peers and adopts a notoriously hands-on approach to business. Frequently spending one-on-one time with his team – sometimes for hours – he works hard to ensure the right decision is made for the benefit of the team, the business and the wider community.

With more than 20 years of experience in the airline and ground handling industry, and having held senior management positions at the commercial divisions within the Emirates Group, Al Ali wields a great deal of influence across the Arab world.

Al Ali also holds a graduate degree in Aviation Management from the Florida Institute of Technology (FIT) and an IATA Diploma in Airline Management.

Saeed Al Ghamdi, Chairman, Saudi National Bank

Saeed Al Ghamdi


Saudi National Bank

Saeed Al Ghamdi was promoted from CEO to chairman of Saudi Arabia’s biggest publicly traded bank in 2018. National Commercial Bank (NCB) – the second largest bank in the Arab world – has assets of over $115.9bn, and over 13,000 employees.

Al Ghamdi’s role is not one for the faint-hearted – upon his appointment, he was tasked with steering the financial behemoth through the coronavirus pandemic and supporting the kingdom’s ambitious economic diversification plans ahead of 2030.

In early 2021, National Commercial Bank (NCB) and Samba Financial Group (Samba) agreed to a merger that would create the largest bank in Saudi Arabia, with over SAR896bn ($239bn) in total assets, SAR127bn ($34bn) in shareholders’ equity and a combined net profit of SAR15.6bn ($4.2bn).

Shareholders of both voted in favour of the merger at separate extraordinary general assembly meetings, and the new entity, which is headquartered in Riyadh, was dubbed Saudi National Bank. The merger had previously received regulatory approvals from the Saudi Central Bank (SAMA), General Authority for Competition (GAC), Capital Markets Authority (CMA), and the Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul).

At the time, Al Ghamdi said, “The legacy banks NCB and Samba served the kingdom over the last 68 years and now, we combine their respective strengths to lead the future of banking that is committed to creating value for the nation and its people.”

The merging of these two major domestic banks is a key component of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s “Vision 2030” initiative, which aims to diversify the Saudi economy and move away from oil, by creating local champions in industries such as finance. The kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund – the Public Investment Fund – of which the crown prince is the chairman, will be the largest shareholder in the combined NCB-Samba entity with a 37.2 percent holding. Earlier this year, in April, the bank trading as a single listed entity on the Saudi Stock Exchange.

Shayne Nelson, CEO, Emirates NBD Group

Shayne Nelson


Emirates NBD Group

Despite having almost four decades of banking experience under his belt, Shayne Nelson’s career almost never started, when he missed his stop while getting the bus to an interview with ANZ Bank. Instead, he stopped in front of National Australia Bank, and remained with them for 14 years before eventually heading one of the UAE’s leading banks, Emirates NBD, since 2013. The lender saw its net profit rise 15 percent to AED8.35bn in 2017.

From bank teller to CEO, Nelson has been involved in most parts of the banking industry, firstly in Australia and later in Asia, when he moved between Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia with Standard Chartered, before taking over as CEO of its Middle East and North Africa business.

Nelson became group CEO of Standard Chartered Private Bank with additional responsibilities for small- and medium-sized enterprise banking in 2010 before returning to Dubai to take over at Emirates NBD.

Similar to the way in which he turned around Standard Chartered’s Malaysian business, and doubled it within two years, he saw plenty of opportunities to grow Emirates NBD’s prospects.

Nelson will soon celebrate four decades in the banking industry and what better way to do so than as the CEO of Dubai’s largest bank?

Emirates NBD may have lost its rank as the biggest in the country thanks to the merger of National Abu Dhabi Bank and First Gulf Bank, but analysts are confident that under Nelson’s leadership, it will continue to outperform.

Emirates NBD is in the unique position of being the Dubai government’s bank of choice and has continued to finance infrastructure projects of Expo2020.

Earlier this year, Emirates NBD announced plans to increase financing available to the Dubai diamond industry and double its diamond financing book in the UAE by 2025.

Sunil Kaushal, CEO, Standard Chartered

Sunil Kaushal


Standard Chartered

Sunil Kaushal is the CEO of Standard Chartered Africa and Middle East (AME), and a member of its Global Management Team, which is the bank’s highest executive body. He was previously regional CEO of Standard Chartered South Asia and CEO India. In March, he was appointed as a global advisor for MoneyTap.

Kaushal has 33 years of banking experience in diverse markets across North Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Throughout his nearly 23 years with the group, he has held senior roles across wholesale, retail, SME banking and country management. Kaushal has served as the head of Corporate Banking in the UAE; head of Originations and Client Coverage in Singapore; global head SMEs and New Ventures in Singapore; and the CEO of Standard Chartered Bank in Taiwan.

He has led the acceleration of Standard Chartered’s digital transformation in the AME region, with the launch of digital banks across nine key African markets.

The bank also digitised its wealth management offering and has grown accounts by 500,000. The successful establishment of these digital banks through Kaushal’s leadership testifies to the bank’s growing digital footprint in the region, as well as its presence as a leader in cutting-edge digital banking technologies.

In 2018 and 2019, he was named the Banking CEO of the Year by EMEA Finance and CEO Middle East, and was also featured amongst Forbes Middle East’s Top Indian Leaders in 2019 and 2020. Kaushal was also awarded Forbes’ Global Meets Local Top 50 Regional Executives Heading International Companies in 2020, and he was featured in Gulf Business’ top Indian leaders in the GCC during the same year.

Prior to joining Standard Chartered in 1998, Kaushal held positions in corporate finance and commercial banking and foreign exchange at NatWest Markets, SocGen-Crosby and American Express Bank in Mumbai. 

Tareq Al Sadhan, President and CEO, Riyad Bank

Tareq Al Sadhan

President and CEO

Riyad Bank

Tareq Al Sadhan has worked as the president and CEO of Riyad Bank, one of Saudi Arabia’s largest financial institutions, since April of 2019. Before taking over the role, he was the bank’s senior executive vice president. At Riyad Bank, Al Sadhan oversees the company’s network of branches, which includes 308 in Saudi Arabia and one in London, as well as offices in both the United States and Singapore.

He also spent 18 years working for KPMG Saudi Arabia, where he worked his way up through the ranks and ended up becoming one of the youngest partners in the company’s history. During his last five years at KPMG Saudi Arabia, he was both the CEO and chairman of the advisory committee.

Al Sadhan worked in the Saudi Arabian public sector, where he held roles such as adviser to the chairman in the Saudi Fund for Development, acting director general at the General Authority for Zakat and Tax, and the deputy governor for supervision at the Saudi Central Bank.

He studied Administration Science at the King Saud University in Riyadh, and also studied Business Management at the Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussees in France. Some of his other academic achievements include a diploma in International Business from the University of Edinburgh in the UK, as well as a diploma in Leadership Development and Strategy from INSEAD.

Al Sadhan was a member of the 2020 World Economic Forum’s Stewardship Board for the Middle East and North Africa, and a fellow of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants as well as the Saudi Organisation for Certified Public Accountants, or SOCPA. Since March of 2018, he has served as an advisory board member at Mastercard, as well as an audit committee member at the Public Investment Fund (PIF) since March of 2019.

Waleed A. Al Mogbel, CEO, Al Rajhi Bank

Waleed A. Al Mogbel


Al Rajhi Bank

Currently the CEO of Al Rajhi Bank, Waleed A. Al Mogbel previously served as both the Chief Operating Officer and the Deputy CEO for the company. Before that, he worked as the senior consultant for Westminster International Consulting.

Al Mogbel began working for the bank in 2007 and was appointed CEO in January of 2020, overseeing its network of over 9,600 employees. He’s been working in the banking industry for more than 23 years, and first worked for Al Rajhi Bank as an accountant in 1999.

He briefly worked as an assistant professor at King Saud University, and has sat on the board for Al Rajhi Takaful and the Saudi Credit Bureau.

He studied accounting at King Saud University, and also attended universities in the United Kingdom, where he gained a Master’s Degree in Accounting and Finance at the University of Southampton, as well as a PhD in Auditing from Cardiff University.

Having been appointed the CEO shortly before the pandemic hit, Al Mogbel was able to steer the firm through an unprecedented crisis. The bank adapted quickly, and helped to support the Saudi government. Thanks to the company’s recent investments in technology and moves to adopt new digital services, it managed to remain accessible to customers and kept staff members safe.

One of the world’s largest Islamic banks, Al Rajhi was founded in 1957 and boasts over 550 branches, 118 dedicated ladies’ branches, 233 remittance centres and 10,200 employees. The Sharia-compliant banking group has branches in Kuwait and Jordan as well as a subsidiary in Malaysia. It is listed on Tadawul, with around 75 percent of shares publicly owned, though the Al Rajhi family remains the bank’s largest shareholders. In 2020, Al Rajhi Bank reported that it had achieved net profits of $2.8bn, which showed an increase of 4.3 percent compared to the year before.