Hussain Jasim Al Nowais, a highly respected businessman, is among the pioneers in the business and finance sector in the United Arab Emirates. His contributions to both the private and public sector are recognized in the Gulf region.
The below takes you on a journey through this man’s incredible life — from childhood to his most recent efforts in the renewable energy field.
Childhood and Schooling
Hussain Jasim Al Nowais was born into a family with a flourishing trade practice in the mid-1950s. Al Nowais spent his childhood in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and started his studies at the area’s schools. Eventually, he moved abroad to attend Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon, USA, and achieved his Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, focusing on Finance.
After graduating in June 1979, he trained at a prestigious investment bank in New York. Few years later, Al Nowais took it upon himself to gain extra training; he took executive management courses in two schools — the widely acclaimed London Business School in Britain and the French INSEAD University.
After his studies, Al Nowais decided to jump right into the business field and started enlarging the family business, Al Nowais Investments. Under his management, the company began working in multiple fields. The timing was impeccable — he took advantage of the competitive benefits set by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
These days, the ever-expanding Al Nowais Investments- Family Holding consists of approximately 20 companies that operate in several industries, including:
- Engineering & Construction
- Health care
- Information Communications Technology (ICT)
- Real estate & Hospitality
- Oil, gas, and petrochemicals
The Industrial Renaissance
Alongside this, he was a member of the board of the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry for five years in the early 2000s. Not to mention he was a member of the team that developed the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030.
Perhaps evident by now, Al Nowais played a massive role in the field of industry. He became the Chairman of the Board of Directors of SENAAT (the General Holding Company) until May 2019. Throughout his term, he was heavily involved in developing the non-oil industrial base in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. Al Nowais increased the company’s assets from 2004 to 2018 to reach a record-number of 27.3 billion dirhams.
How did he manage to do this so spectacularly? Hussain Jasim Al Nowais focused on restructuring the business and implementing a unique privatization scheme. He offered sections of the company to the public and strategically partnered with other businesses to keep everything moving in the right direction.
The passion Al Nowais demonstrates in any company-transforming efforts is one of the critical elements of his unparalleled success.
Public and Private Tasks
Amazingly, it wasn’t just the private sector that drew Al Nowais’ attention. Holding senior positions in both the public and private sector, Al Nowais has been actively involved in the creation of strategies, policies and regulations on a national and regional level.
In the recent past, Al Nowais was appointed to several positions in government and private roles, such as:
- Chairman of the Board of Directors of Khalifa Fund For Entreprises Development (from 2007 to 2020)
- Chairman of the Board of Directors of Emirates Steel (until 2019)
- Chairman of the Board of Directors of Waha Capital (from 2006 to 2018)
- Chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Petroleum Construction Company (from 2009 to 2019)
- Chairman of Mena Infrastructure Fund (until 2017)
- Vice Chairman of Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (from 2019 to present)
- Chairman of AMEA Power (from 2016 to present)
- Chairman of AlNowais Investments (1979 to Present)
- Member of the Board of Directors of Rotana Hotels & Real Estate Investments (1992 to present)
Al Nowais sat on many companies’ boards; he was on the board of directors of Abu Dhabi Aviation, Abu Dhabi Ports Company, the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange, Emirates Development Bank, Al Dhafra Insurance Company among many other important institutions within the Gulf region.
Hussain Al Nowais made many major contributions to the education and training fields too. He was a founder and chairman of the Abu Dhabi Institute for Vocational Training and Education Board of Directors back in 2008. Al Nowais was also a member of the Board of Trustees of Khalifa University.
As business flourished, Al Nowais started working his way through international markets, becoming a member of the Asian Business Council located in Hong Kong. Asia’s most prolific executives and global CEOs were on the board alongside him. He has been a member of the World Economic Forum since 1984. He was also a member of Arab Business Council (WAF) , the French Arab Chamber of Commerce. Emirati German Business Council, Russian Arab Chamber of Commerce and US Arab Chamber of Commerce.
Focusing on Renewable Energy
Al Nowais started his new venture; focusing on Renewable Energy through his company AMEA Power, the energy arm of AlNowais Investments, founded by himself in 2016.
The company has plans to enter the African, Middle Eastern and Asian markets. Today, the company has a presence in 15 Middle East and African countries with a total capacity of 2K MW of Solar and Wind power.
Recently, AlNowais Investments revealed that it is putting $1 billion in two renewable energy plants in Egypt via its energy company AMEA Power. The first project consists of a solar plant in Southern Egypt, and the second consists of a wind farm on the Red Sea. Both have a capacity of 500 MW each.
AMEA Power is currently in primary discussions with the Egyptian government regarding investments to establish desalination plants in the country while showing interest in investing in the green hydrogen sector in the African country.
In December 2020, Hussain Al Nowais declared that his company is arranging a consortium, including German, Japanese and Italian companies, to produce green ammonia that could be used as a clean fuel source.
The Final Note: Philanthropy and Awards
If his achievements don’t speak for themselves, Al Nowais’ awards do! Over his 40-year career, he has received a bounty of honors and accolades and his philanthropic work goes beyond the borders of his homeland making a positive impact on the causes that matter to him.
- He was awarded the Commander of the Order of Mono – the highest civilian Honour in Togo in 2021.
- His company was selected among Forbes Middle East top 100 list of the most powerful Arab family companies in 2020 and 2021.
- He was awarded the Asian Business Leadership Forum Lifetime Achievement in 2017.
- He sits on the board of Al Fanar, a UK-based venture philanthropy organization.
- He is a founding member of Rahma Charity Association; a cancer patient care society.
- He is a founding member of Sandooq Al Watan (The Nation Fund); a fund that reinforces social participation and strengthening national unity to bring forth a bright future for the UAE Youth.
- A contributor to Emirates Red Crescent humanitarian work on both domestic and international
- Through his own Foundation, Hussain Al Nowais is helping students; both females and males, to pursue their education dreams by sponsoring their studies in schools and universities in various geographies.
- Hussain Al Nowais encourages his various companies to be a dynamic player in CSR activities of their respective communities. AMEA Power, for instance, is an ESG company and very active in Africa: it is building schools and dispensaries, training local youth and creating jobs.
- During the challenging time at start of the Covid pandemic; Al Nowais’ companies delivered essential products, including food and hygiene products to several countries across the continent of Africa.
To conclude this surfing on the journey of Hussain Jasim Al Nowais, Here is a quote he said in the Asian Business Leadership Forum 2017
“Entrepreneurship is a journey of passion, perseverance, focus and choosing the right team to compliment your skills and confidence” Hussain Al Nowais.