Complex Made Simple

7 key expert talking at TOP CEO 2019

Organized by the Dubai-headquartered multi-dimensional media firm Mediaquest, the Top CEO Conference and Awards is going to Bahrain for its fifth edition on April 11, 2019, at Al Areen Palace and Spa, where business leaders, and more than 30 expert speakers from across the region and the world, will gather to discuss various topics weaved around the central theme of “Growth in a Volatile Future”.

Below, we look at 7 key speakers, their talks, and the impact they had on their respective industries.   


Nasser Bin Sulaiman Al Nasser, is STC Group CEO, and will talk at TOP CEO on the “Future of Growth, Amid Volatility”.

 Nasser Bin Sulaiman Al Nasser holds a Bachelor Degree in Electrical Engineering, He has extensive experience in the telecommunications sector started with the launch of mobile services in 1996, where he played a key role in the establishment of the mobile network and its expansions.  

“Our aspiration over the next five years is to substantially grow and become one of the top 15 telecom players in the world,’ he is quoted as saying in media.

In 2018, he was appointed CEO of Saudi Telecom Company, and today he is the Chairman of the Board of Directors of STC Solutions.  

STC has a lot to be excited about its $100 million investment in regional start-up unicorn Careem,  a 10% stake that has now been bought by Uber for $3.1, a 200% return for the Saudi telecom company.

STC has eyes on the future looking to invest in AI and VR as part of increasing data footprint with more data centres, and enabling digital services, cloud computing, cybersecurity, data analysis and smart cities, according to Nasser telling media.

STC  has recently signed a total of at last 10 agreements aim at building partnerships to increase Saudization of leadership positions, supporting small and medium-sized enterprises and nationalizing the industry.



Dr. Kotilaine is Chief Economist, Bahrain Economic Development Board and will participate in the panel on “Bahrain’s Growth Dynamics”.

Dr. Kotilaine has been the Chief Economist of the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) since 2012. He also joined Tamkeen as the Chief Planning and Monitoring Officer in 2016. He previously worked as Chief Economist of the National Commercial Bank (NCB) of Saudi Arabia.
Dr. Kotilaine worked for a number of years as an economic and financial consultant with a primary focus on emerging markets.

Bahrain’s headline real growth rate increased sharply in the second quarter of 2018 to an annual rate of 2.4%. GCC growth is expected to accelerate to 3% in 2019.

Dr. Kotilaine said: “Bahrain’s impressive improvement in the second quarter was thanks to a broad-based recovery across the whole economy. In particular, the expansion of Bahrain’s non-oil GDP stands out in the regional context. With the oil industry now only accounting for less than 20% of Bahrain’s GDP, growth dynamics are critically linked to non-oil drivers. This compares to the situation in much of the rest of the region where the stronger growth has been led by higher oil prices and production.”


Hisham AlRayes is CEO & Board Member, GFH Financial Group and is participating at the “Future of Growth, Amid Volatility” discussion at Top CEO 2019.

 Hisham AlRayes is the Chief Executive Officer as well as the member of the Board of Directors of GFH Financial Group, one of the regional leading financial groups with $6.5 billion assets and funds under management and shares listed in the Kingdom of Bahrain, Dubai and Kuwait.

Prior to his role as the Group’s CEO, AlRayes was GFH’s Chief Investment, is now the chairman of Balexco, Gulf Holding Company and holds directorship in GFH Financial Group, Khaleeji Commercial Bank, Falcon Cement Company and GFH Capital.

“The group, listed on Bahrain Bourse (BHB), Boursa Kuwait, and the Dubai Financial Market (DFM), will exit another transaction worth $100 million or $200 million from its real estate portfolio during 2019,” AlRayes said in an interview with CNBC Arabia.

AlRayes noted that Saudi Arabia is the region’s largest market to invest in.

GFH Financial Group announced continued growth in profitability and strong performance for the financial year ended 31 December 2018, with consolidated net profits of $115 million as compared with $103.19 million from the previous year, an increase of 11.4%.

“We entered 2019 with strong confidence and expectations for further top and bottom line growth both overall and from across our various business lines including greater contributions from our real estate activities. We plan to start the process to launch operations in Saudi Arabia and the UK and to establish dedicated healthcare and education platforms,” AlRayes said.  


Khalid Saad is CEO, Bahrain FinTech Bay (BFB) and will participate at the “Bahrain’s Growth Dynamics” discussion and another entitled “The Blockchain Opportunity”.

 Khalid Saad is the man catapulting the country into digitalisation and the CEO of arguably the largest FinTech hub in the Middle East. He works with financial players, financial associations, Central Bank, government entities, FinTechs, lawyers and others to drive development of the FinTech ecosystem.

Previously, he was focusing on financial services with the Bahrain Economic Development Board, which is dynamic public agency that is responsible for attracting inward investment into Bahrain.

Launched just a year ago, BFB is attracting more than 50 partners from local and international organisations.

“We are offering a platform where people, individuals and institutions, can collaborate, co-create, challenge each other, and talk about things differently,” Khalid is quoted as saying. “We want to be a catalyst in this shift to a digital economy.”

“We provide our partners with a physical hub where they can incubate and produce insightful, skilful and impactful fintech ideas. BFB is a platform from which ideation, development and acceleration ensure the future-proofing of our banking and financial services. We strongly believe in partnerships.”



Yasser AlSharif is CEO, Jabal Omar Development Company (JODC) and will participate in the TOP CEO panel discussion “Do Structural Reforms attract direct Investments?”

Yasser Al-Sharif, transformed JODC into a multi-dimensional company focusing on mixed utilization of urban development. He presently leads a team who attracts and retains international hospitality trademarks to Makkah and prior to his joining JODC, he was CEO & MD of various multinational companies in Saudi.

Al-Sharif is currently the Chairman of Central District Cooling Company (CDCC) as well.

“We always aim high; our strategy is to be the national, world-class urban developer,” AlSharif says.

“We anticipate an immensely positive reception to the new Jabal Omar Hyatt Centric Makkah, which will stem from our strong relationship with the Hyatt brand and its success in the region,"  Al-Sharif is quoted in media as saying. We are confident in delivering a unique hospitality experience that will support the goals of Saudi Vision 2030 to promote religious, social and commercial activities in Saudi Arabia.”

On an area of more than two square kilometres, 40 towers are reaching for the sky in the holy city of Makkah. Run by 29 of the world’s top hospitality service providers, the hotel rooms and suites in these towers will host some 34,000 guests on any normal day, and up to a whopping 100,000 visitors on any given day during the Hajj and Umra seasons.  


Willumsen is CEO of Above & Beyond Group and Founder of The Diversity Council. She will be presenting “Promoting Diversity in Middle East and North Africa” and participate in the talk “Future of Growth, Amid Volatility”

Tine is a global expert in Diversity & Inclusion and as owner and CEO of Above & Beyond Group and Founder of the international Diversity Council, she has partners such as: McKinsey & Co, Maersk, Microsoft, Vestas, PwC, the Central Bank of Denmark and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

According to research by McKinsey & Co., women only contribute 37% of global gross domestic product (GDP). As much as $12 trillion could be added to global GDP by 2025 if the gender gap was narrowed. Women today represent 56% of college graduates but hold just 15% of senior roles and only 9% of CEO positions worldwide. 

“At Above & Beyond, we consult numerous large companies on their diversity strategy and have pinpointed and created several key tools to accelerate female empowerment in the corporate sphere. This kind of transformational change must be led from the top, by the personal vision of the CEO, while inclusive leadership must be practiced across the entire organization in order to appreciate all the talents of a diverse workforce,” according to Willumsen.


Dr. Hashmi is the Executive Director for the Health & Wellbeing NEOM, and will participate in the discussion “The Future of Women Business Leadership”

 Dr. Maliha Hashmi is the Executive Director for the Health & Wellbeing at NEOM. Dr. Maliha Hashmi also served as the Executive Director for Strategic Partnerships at NEOM. Dr. Maliha Hashmi has also served as an Executive Director, Senior Legal Advisor, Director for Research Programs, Partnerships & Legal, and Legal Consultant for various sectors and globally renowned non-profits organizations, companies, foundations, think tanks, firms, start-ups, hospitals, research centres, and universities including but not limited to the Massachusetts General Hospital, Emaar the Economic City, Red Sea Foundation, KFCRIS at the King Faisal Foundation, DLA Piper, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard Medical School, Harvard Law School, Harvard Graduate School of Arts & Sciences and the United Nations.

At the 2018 version of TOP CEO, Dr. Maliha Hashmi commented: “There has never been a more exciting time for women empowerment in the region. There have been landmark announcements over the last few months in KSA, including lifting the ban on women driving, removing the requirement for women to have a male guardian to register a business, and encouraging more women to join the workforce.”