Omar Kutayba Alghanim is the CEO of Alghanim Industries, one of the oldest and largest companies in the MENA region, with more than 30 businesses in 40 countries. He is also the Chairman of Gulf Bank, among the largest commercial banks in Kuwait and one of the fastest-growing in the region. Both organizations have deep roots in the Kuwaiti community: Alghanim Industries has a local legacy that dates back to the 1800s; Gulf Bank was founded more than 50 years ago, making it one of Kuwait’s most enduring financial institutions.
Omar’s community roots also run deep: He is part of the Alghanim family, which played a key role in the founding and subsequent rise of Kuwait as a regional trading power. The family actively participated in the country’s rebuild after the Gulf War, and remains deeply involved in the local community and greater Gulf region.
As the CEO of Alghanim Industries, Omar is applying his detailed knowledge of the company (having started in sales with the company in 2002, working his way up to CEO in 2005) and unique management skills, which blend Western business expertise with a deep understanding of the ethos and history of the region. His goals are to turn Alghanim Industries into the region’s most successful conglomerate and to take Gulf Bank into its next chapter by raising its visibility, reach and regional impact. In recognition of his efforts, he was awarded ‘Businessman of the Year’ in 2013 by Arabian Business Magazine. More recently, Omar was awarded CEO Middle East ‘Visionary of the Year’ award in 2015.
Prior to joining Alghanim Industries, Omar worked in the Investment Banking Division of Morgan Stanley in London, where he worked on several large global transactions. Additionally, he played a key role in the founding of two major financial services firms: Asiya Investments and Perella Weinberg Partners.
Beyond his role as CEO of Alghanim Industries and Chairman of Gulf Bank, Omar is involved in promoting the economic development of the MENA region, serving as the World Economic Forum’s (WEF’s) Chair of the MENA Regional Business Council (2014-2015), and Chair of the initiative, ‘A New Vision for Arab Employment’ (2014-present). His commitment to the WEF and its mission to ‘improve the state of the world’ spans over 10 years, having first participated in 2005. In recognition of his contributions, he was appointed by the WEF as a ‘Young Global Leader’. In addition, Omar was selected as the Co-Chair of the WEF’s MENA meeting in Jordan (May 2015), along with ex-Prime Minister of the UK, Gordon Brown and other prominent figures. For the 2017 WEF Annual Meeting, he was selected to serve on the Stewardship Board of the Education, Gender, and Work System Initiative. In 2019, he became a member of the International Business Council (IBC), which acts as a community to identify and address globally relevant business issues, and to develop practical solutions.
Omar also takes an active role in addressing the dire challenges facing refugees in the region, acting as a member of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) MENA Sustainability Board, and signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to help fund education programs for Syrian youth and children.
His interest in empowering youth, particularly through teaching entrepreneurship, goes even further and he is a founding and board member of INJAZ-AL ARAB, and serves as the Chairman of INJAZ-Kuwait, part of the international non-profit NGO, Junior Achievement.
Having earned his MBA from Harvard Business School (HBS) in 2002, Omar continues to maintain close ties with the school. He is a member of the HBS MENA and Central Asia Advisory Board, developing and strengthening relationships with business and academic leaders in the region. He also serves on the Leadership Council of Harvard Kennedy School´s Center for Public Leadership (CPL), which is a network of business, philanthropic, and civic innovators who serve as intellectual partners to the CPL. Omar is also a member of the Board of Dean’s Advisors at HBS.
In line with his leadership role within the MENA region, Omar was appointed as Chairman of the Family Business Council – Gulf (FBCG) in April 2018. FBCG is the GCC chapter of the largest global family business organization, Family Business Network (FBN). It is a private, non-profit organization launched in 2012, inspired by the view that the continuity and prosperity of family businesses is vital for the economic sustainability of the region, and can play an important positive role in society.
Omar’s family history figures prominently in his world view. He is the eldest son of Sir Kutayba Alghanim, grandson of Sir Yusuf Alghanim and great-grandson of Ahmed Alghanim, a prominent pearl merchant who laid the foundation for Alghanim Industries in the 1890s. Each member has created a legacy; Yusuf Alghanim signed landmark deals with iconic global brands, including General Motors, and was a pioneer in many areas, while Kutayba Alghanim boldly applied Western-style management techniques to turn the family business into a true regional power.
Omar received a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Commerce from New York University’s Stern School of Business in 1997 and has an MBA from Harvard Business School (Class of 2002).