The DIFC’s most senior bodies consist of the Higher Board and Board of Directors, each with unique responsibilities to ensure the highest standards of oversight and governance.
DIFC Higher Board
The Higher Board exercises oversight over all aspects of the Centre’s operations to ensure
compliance with international best practice and fulfillment of the Dubai Plan 2021
His Highness Sheikh Maktoum Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum
In little more than a decade, the DIFC has established itself as the premier financial free zone in a region that offers infinite possibilities for future opportunities and growth. By offering outstanding advantages such as security of contracts, independent courts, 100 percent ownership and other free zone benefits, the Centre has established a reputation as a world-class environment for businesses and investors. The next decade will see the implementation of an ambitious strategy to consolidate the DIFC’s and Dubai’s position as a pivotal hub in the global financial network.
H.E. Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair
His Excellency Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair is the CEO of Mashreq Group and he is the member of the Board of Directors of Abdullah Al Ghurair Group of Companies, one of the biggest and most successful business groups in the United Arab Emirates & the Middle East. With operations spanning more than 20 countries and business roots stretching back half a century.
H.E. Abdul Aziz held various dignitary positions, which had its impact both regionally and internationally. His unprecedented experience in the banking industry specifically and in the business industry generally makes him one of the most well-known personalities, both locally and regionally.
In 2012, His Excellency was appointed as Chairman of UAE Banking Federation. His Excellency's expertise particularly in the banking industry is set to contribute to the mission of the UAE Banking Federation. His vision is manifested through the various steps taken since his appointment to elevate the performance of all banks in the UAE and the industry.
His Excellency's current positions include Vice Chairman of the Higher Board of Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) and he is on the Board of Emirates Foundation. He is also the Chairman of Masafi Company, Oman Insurance, President of FBN GCC, a non-profit international network that is run by family businesses, for family businesses with the aim of strengthening family business governance and ensuring success over generations.
H.E is also a member of New York University President's Global Council.
H.E. was elected as The Speaker of the United Arab Emirates Federal National Council (UAE Parliament) for tenure of four years, which ended in February 2011. Previously, he sat on the Board of Directors of major companies such as Emaar, Dubai Investments, Visa International, MasterCard, Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Co-Chairman of the Arab Business Council – World Economic Forum (WEF). He was also a member of the Constitutive Council for GCC Leaders and President of The Knowledge Fund.
His Excellency was recognized multiple times in leading platforms, such as awards, conferences and seminars, both international and local. His endeavours have earned him various local and international accolades most significantly, a five time recipient of Lifetime Achievement Awards.
- Innovator of the Year Award – Gulf Business Industry Award 2014
- Lifetime Achievement Award - Gulf Business Industry Awards 2012
- Best CEO Award - CEO Middle East magazine 2008;
- Lifetime Achievement Award - The Arab Bankers Association of North America (ABANA) - USA in 2008;
- Best CEO Award for supporting Emiratisation initiative in UAE from the National Career Fair - Banking and Finance in 2008;
- Lifetime Achievement Award - Euromoney in 2008;
- Lifetime Achievement Award - Banker Middle East 2009
- Best Banking Contributing Personality Award – Banker Middle East 2011
- MEED Leadership Award 2011
- The Arab Banker of the Year in the Private Sector Award 2010-2011 from The Union of Arab Banks (UAB) in Rome, Italy.
H.E. earned an honours degree as an industrial engineer received his education from California Polytechnic State University and graduated as an industrial engineer with Honours Degree.
H.E. Al Ghurair continues to play a pivotal role in providing substantial views to the UAE's financial and banking industry.
Hussain Al Qemzi
A seasoned banker renowned for his wise leadership and proven expertise in adopting, steering and managing strategic projects and business development and innovation initiatives, Hussain AlQemzi has impressive and Broad experience of over 28 years in the banking and financial services field working with the leading financial institutions in the UAE. He is now the Group CEO of Noor Investment Group (L.L.C) and its flagship entity Noor Bank (PJSC).
During his tenure as CEO, Noor Bank has received 19 prestigious industry awards, amongst which are Best New Bank in the Middle East, Banker Middle East Industry Awards 2009; Best Deal of the Year 2008, Islamic Finance News; Best New Product Award, Banker Middle East Product Awards 2011 and Deal of the Year 2011 in the Islamic Finance category for the European regional awards, The Banker. As a result of his achievements AlQemzi was awarded the prestigious 2010 'CEO of the Year Award' in the Islamic Banking category at the CEO Middle East Awards.
Prior to this, AlQemzi was the Chief Executive of Sharjah Islamic Bank and a former Board member of Dubai Financial Market (DFM), and Dubai International Financial Exchange (DIFX). He also served as Chief Operating Officer of the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), and is credited with laying the ground for the world class financial hub.
In addition, to his current role, AlQemzi is the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Awqaf and Minors Affairs Foundation, Chairman of Emirates Institute for Banking and Financial Studies, Vice Chairman of Emaar Properties PJSC and is a member of the Board of Directors of the DIFC Supreme Council and DIFC Authority. He is also a member of the Dubai Higher Committee for the Development of the Islamic Economy Sector.
H.E. Essa Kazim
His Excellency Essa Kazim is the Governor of Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), Chairman of Borse Dubai, Chairman of Dubai Financial Market (DFM), Deputy Chairman of Supreme Legislation Committee in Dubai and a member in Dubai Supreme Fiscal Committee.
His Excellency Kazim began his career as a Senior Analyst in the Research and Statistics Department of the UAE Central Bank in 1988 and then moved to the Dubai Department of Economic Development as Director of Planning and Development in 1993. He was then appointed as Director General of the DFM from 1999 to 2006.
His Excellency Kazim holds an honorary Doctorate from Coe College, a Master's degree in Economics from the University of Iowa, a Master's Degree in Total Quality Management from the University of Wollongong and A Bachelor degree from Coe College.
His Excellency Kazim currently sits on a number of official advisory committees and boards; he is Member of the Higher Board of Directors of the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), Chairman of DIFC Authority Board of Directors, Chairman of DIFC Investments Board of Directors, Board Member of Nasdaq Dubai, Board Member of Free Zones Council, Board Member of Noor Bank, Board Member of Nasdaq, Member of the Board of Etisalat, and Member of the Board and Secretary General of Dubai Islamic Economy Development Center.
His Excellency Essa Kazim also serves as a board member for a number of educational institutions, both in the region and around the world.
Abdulfattah Sharaf is the Chief Executive Officer, United Arab Emirates, a Board Member of HSBC Bank Middle East Limited (HBME), of HSBC Saudi Arabia Limited (IBSA), and HSBC Bank Oman S.A.O.G. (HBON). Prior to his appointment as CEO UAE, he was the CEO Personal Financial Services, Middle East and North Africa, and responsible for all of HSBC's Retail Banking business in the MENA region.
Before joining HSBC Bank Middle East Limited, Abdulfattah was Chief Executive Officer of NBD Securities, a subsidiary of Emirates NBD.
Abdulfattah is currently a member of the Higher Board of the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) and a Board member of the Emirates Telecommunications Corporation (Etisalat) and Noor Dubai Foundation. He is also a member of the Advisory Board Council of the American University of Sharjah's School of Business and Management and a Board Member of the Emirates Golf Federation.
Abdulfattah is a graduate of the University of Denver, USA.
H.E. Abdulla Ghobash
H.E. Abdulla Ghobash joined the Federal Government in 2013 as Minister of State. Besides his ministerial responsibilities, H.E. is currently the Chairman of The National Human Resources Employment and Development Authority "Tanmia" Board Directors, a board member of DIFC, and a board member of Noor Bank PJSC.
H.E. has many career achievements, such as being a board member in: Etisalat, Borse Dubai, NASDAQ Dubai, Emirates Institute for Banking and Financial Studies, Awqaf and Minors Affairs Foundation, and Chairman of the Human Rights board in Dubai Police.
H.E. has a Bachelor's degree from UAE University, Banking Diploma from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Banking Diploma from Citi Bank institution in Athena, and Bankers Trust in London.
H.E. was born in Dubai 1958. His hobby is reading Financial and Economics books, and the history of UAE books.
Commencing a career in banking with an Australian banking group in London in 1964, he joined HSBC Bank Middle East (formerly The British Bank of the Middle East), a principal member of the HSBC Group, in 1968. In January that year he took up his first position in Dubai, remaining in the Middle East undertaking a variety of roles in different countries until 1979, when he was transferred to the Group's operations in Hong Kong.
Subsequent roles took him to Saudi Arabia, back to Hong Kong and then Malaysia. In 1990 he was appointed a General Manager of the Group.
He returned to Hong Kong in April 1992 where, after a temporary assignment as General Manager Hong Kong and China, he took up the position of General Manager in The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation's International department. Mr. Eldon was made an Executive Director of the Bank in January 1994, Chief Executive Officer in January 1996 and Chairman in January 1999. In June 1996 Mr. Eldon became Chairman of Hang Seng Bank, a member of the HSBC Group, and was appointed a director of HSBC Holdings plc on 1 January 1999. He retired from the Group in May 2005.
In 2005 he became Chairman of the Dubai International Financial Centre Authority until June 2011 and Senior Adviser, PricewaterhouseCoopers until June 2014.
He made a return to Banking in 2011 to become non-executive Chairman of HSBC Bank Middle East Limited, and in 2013 took on an additional role as Chairman of HSBC Bank Oman, a subsidiary of HSBC Bank Middle East. He chairs the Risk Committee of HSBC's Global Commercial Bank. He is Lead Independent Director of Singapore listed Noble Group Limited, a Member of the Government of Dubai's International Financial Centre Higher Board, and a Member of the Board of KC Maritime Ltd. He is Chairman of the Advisory Board of Asiya Investments a Middle East based investment company with interests in Asia; he is also a member of the Advisory Board of Hong Kong based New Lily International, an Adviser to Singapore-based Southern Capital Group, and to Alexander Proudfoot, Hong Kong. He holds a number of Government and community appointments in Hong Kong.
He is Past Chairman of the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce, and was from 2005-2012 Adviser to the Office of the President, South Korea. He is a Founding Member and past Chairman of the Seoul International Business Advisory Council.
Mr. Eldon is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Bankers (FCIB). He was conferred Honorary Doctor of Business Administration by the City University of Hong Kong in November 2003. He was named the DHL/SCMP Hong Kong Business Person of the Year for 2003 and in 2004 was awarded the Gold Bauhinia Star (GBS) by the Government of the Hong Kong SAR. In 2005 he was made a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) for his contribution to banking, and awarded Honorary Citizenship of Seoul in recognition of his work for the city. He was awarded the Asian Banker Lifetime Achievement Award for 2005. In 2011 Mr. Eldon was conferred Honorary Doctor of the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts. Mr. Eldon is a Justice of the Peace (JP).
Saeb Eigner was appointed DFSA Chairman in August, 2011. He has been a member of the Board since October 2004 and served as Deputy Chairman since 2007.
Formerly a Senior Manager at ANZ Grindlays Bank PLC, in London, Mr Eigner headed the Middle East and Indian Subcontinent Division of the private bank, which he left to found a private investment group in the early 1990's
Mr. Eigner holds a Master's Degree in Management from London Business School. He is a Governor of London Business School and Chairman of its Audit and Risk Committee.
He is the co-author of the management books Sand to Silicon (2003) and Sand to Silicon-Going Global (2009) and author of Art of the Middle East (2010 and 2015).
He holds and/or has held a number of Board appointments in banking, strategy, education, regulation and investment.
Justice Michael Hwang
Justice Michael Hwang was educated at undergraduate and postgraduate levels at Oxford University where he was a college scholar and prizewinner. He was called to the Singapore Bar in 1968, when he joined Allen & Gledhill, now Singapore's largest law practice. He became a partner in 1972 and retired from the firm at the end of 2002 after serving as Head of its Litigation and Arbitration Department for 10 years.
He served as a Judicial Commissioner (fixed term High Court Judge) of the Supreme Court from 1991 - 1992, and was appointed one of the first twelve Senior Counsel of the Supreme Court of Singapore in 1997.
Michael now practices mainly as an International Arbitrator, with a selective advisory practice as Senior Counsel.
He has received specialist training in both domestic and international arbitration (as well as mediation), and has lectured and written extensively on international arbitration and mediation. He is active in domestic and international disputes including investment treaty disputes (under ICC, UNCITRAL, LCIA, ICSID, AAA/ICDR, BANI, CIETAC, HKIAC, Swiss and SIAC Rules). His arbitrations and mediations have involved disputes in Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brunei, China, Dubai, Egypt, Guam, Hong Kong, Indonesia, India, Italy, Japan, Korea, Russia, Malaysia (West and East), Mauritania, Macau, Mauritius, Pakistan, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, the Seychelles, St Kitts, Taiwan, Thailand, Tanzania, Turkey, UK, USA, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe.
Michael is a former Vice Chairman of the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), a former Vice President of the International Council for Commercial Arbitration (ICCA), a former member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), a former Court Member of the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) and a former Trustee of the Dubai International Arbitration Centre (DIAC). He has also served as a United Nations Compensation Commissioner (adjudicating claims against Iraq arising from the First Gulf War) and a Vice-Chair of the International Bar Association's (IBA) Arbitration Committee.
He is a Council Member of International Council of Arbitration for Sport (ICAS) as well as a panel member of more than 25 national and international arbitration centres.
He has given expert evidence on Singapore law and international arbitration before the courts of England, California, New York, Thailand, Hong Kong and Indonesia as well as before international arbitral tribunals.
Between 2004 and 2013 he served as a Singapore's Non-Resident Ambassador to Switzerland and between 2005 and 2013 he was an Adjunct Professor at the National University of Singapore.
Between January 2008 and July 2010 he served as the President of the Law Society of Singapore, having previously served as its Vice President in 2007.
In 2010 Michael was appointed as the Chief Justice of the Dubai International Financial Centre Courts, having served as Deputy Chief Justice since 2005.
In 2014 he was conferred an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws (Hon LLD) by the University of Sydney.
DIFC Authority Board of Directors
The DIFC Authority Board of Directors ensure that all of the Centre’s activities, ranging from infrastructure development, financial management and client relations, are structured and implemented in such a way as to serve the strategic vision of Dubai’s leadership
HIS EXCELLENCY ESSA KAZIM
Since its inception in 2004, Dubai International Financial Centre has become a strategic gateway for regional and international investment. Today, the Centre allows a diverse portfolio of businesses to access a wealth of opportunities in the fast-growing emerging markets of the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA). The Centre has continued to expand over the years, driven by the tireless efforts of its many stakeholders, who have championed the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. With the passing of each milestone achievement, DIFC has built a vibrant commercial ecosystem and a dynamic community of expert professionals. It is now internationally recognised as a financial hub, a byword for new thinking and best practice. Looking forward, and reflecting the objectives of the Dubai Plan 2021, DIFC will introduce further innovations to consolidate its role as an investment gateway, ensuring the DIFC remains a catalyst for economic growth now and in the future.
Abdulla J M Kalban
Mr. Kalban has served as Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Company since its formation in 2014. He joined DUBAL as a graduate trainee in 1985 and progressed up through the ranks before becoming Chief Executive Officer of DUBAL in 2005, then President and Chief Executive Officer in 2008.
In addition, Mr. Kalban serves as Chairman of the Gulf Aluminium Council, Vice Chairman of the Federal Electricity & Water Authority and as Board member of the International Aluminium Institute, Dubai International Financial Centre Investments, Dubai International Financial Centre Authority and Hamdan Bin Mohammed Smart University. He is active on the Dubai Executive Council Committee for Infrastructure and Environment and the Supreme Council of Energy in the UAE.
Mr. Kalban holds a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering from the University of New Haven, Connecticut, USA.
Holding his current position since 2006, Hamad Buamim is the President & CEO of Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry. He is also the Deputy Chair of the World Chambers Federation - ICC in Paris.
In addition to his role on the Dubai International Financial Centre Authority Board, Buamim also serves as a Board Member of UAE Central Bank and Dubai World and acts as Chairman of National General Insurance and Hawkamah, the Institute for Corporate Governance.
In previous roles, Hamad served as Chairman of Emirates Financial Services and Emirates NBD Capital as well as a Board Member of Emirates NBD and Network International.
Buamim holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with honor in Finance from the University of Missouri, Kansas City, United States. He also obtained a Bachelor of Science with Magna Cum Laude in Electrical Engineering from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles.
Hesham Abdulla Al Qassim
Mr. Hesham Abdulla Al Qassim is the Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for Wasl Asset Management Group and is responsible for leading the organisation's transformation into a world-class asset management company. He is also the Vice Chairman and Managing Director of Emirates NBD Bank PJSC, the Chairman of Emirates Islamic, Emirates NBD Egypt, and Emirates NBD Capital KSA.
Mr. Al Qassim's leadership role at wasl has seen him spearhead asset management, real estate, hospitality and project development. Under his stewardship, wasl has achieved remarkable success in the management and ownership of large-scale real estate projects undertaken for the government of Dubai.
Mr. Al Qassim's current Chairmanship roles at Emirates NBD and Emirates Islamic reflect his prominent role in shaping the future direction of these prestigious institutions. His senior level financial experience and innovations within the banking industry, led these banks to become leading financial institutions in the United Arab Emirates.
Mr. Al Qassim is also the Chairman of the Emirates Institute for Banking and Financial Studies (EIBFS) and Dubai Sports Corporation and the Vice Chairman of Dubai Autism Centre. His other board memberships include Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Authority, Emirates Telecommunications Corporation (Etisalat), DIFC Investments LLC., Federal Authority for Government Human Resources, National General Insurance Co., Amlak Finance, Pak Telecom Mobile Ltd, Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited as well as the International Humanitarian City. His professional and vocational qualiﬁcations include a Bachelor’s Degree in Banking and Finance and a Master’s Degree in International Business Management and in Executive Leadership Development.
Hussain Al Qemzi
A seasoned banker renowned for his wise leadership and proven expertise in adopting, steering and managing strategic projects, business development and innovation initiatives, Hussain Al Qemzi has an impressive and broad experience of over 30 years in the banking and financial services sector. He has worked with leading financial institutions in the UAE, and was formerly the Group Chief Executive Officer of the Noor Investment Group and Managing Director of its flagship entity Noor Bank.
Al Qemzi has a firm belief in innovation as a pillar of growth. Under his leadership, Noor Bank has received several prestigious industry awards. As a result of his achievements , Mr AlQemzi was named ‘Islamic Banking CEO of the Year’ at the prestigious CEO Middle East Awards 2015.
Prior to this, Al Qemzi was the Chief Executive of Sharjah Islamic Bank and a former board member of the Dubai Financial Market (DFM), and Dubai International Financial Exchange (DIFX). He also served as Chief Operating Officer of the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), and is credited with laying the groundwork for the world-class financial hub.
Al Qemzi is currently the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Awqaf and Minors Affairs Foundation, Vice Chairman of Emaar Properties, and a member of the Board of Directors of the DIFC Supreme Council and DIFC Authority. He is also a member of the Dubai Higher Committee for the Development of the Islamic Economy Sector.
Rashid Saif Al-Jarwan
Rashid Al-Jarwan is the Vice Chairman of the Board of Dana Gas, and a Board Member of the Emirates General Petroleum Corporation (Emarat), Oman Insurance Company, DIFC Investments (DIFCI), Mashreq Bank, and Chairman of the Al Ghurair Holding company.
His extensive oil and gas experience extends to over 40 years, having latterly held the position of General Manager in Dana Gas for 3 years and ADGAS for 8 years and held various executive and technical positions in the Adnoc Group of companies for 28 years in Abu Dhabi.
Mr. Al-Jarwan holds Bachelor's Degree in Petroleum & Natural Gas Engineering from Pennsylvania State University.
Salem Al Sharhan
Mr. Salem Ali Al Sharhan worked in Emirates Telecommunication Corporation (ETISALAT) for 23 years until May 2011. During his time with Etisalat, Mr. Al Sharhan served as Group Chief Financial Officer for seven years, where he was responsible for all aspects of group financial strategy and served as a member of the corporate management team, evaluating both technology and potential acquisition targets.
As part of his role in Etisalat, Mr. Al Sharhan also represented the company on the boards of a number of international telecom companies. He served as a board member of Mobily in Saudi Arabia and as a member of Sudatel in Sudan for ten years. In addition, Mr. Al Sharhan was a board member of EMTS in Nigeria, a board member of Atlantique Telecom in West Africa and was Chairman of Zantel in Tanzania.
Mr. Al Sharhan also served as a trusted advisor to His Highness Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah.
At present, Mr. Al Sharhan is a Chairman of RAK Insurance, Board member of the National Bank of Ras Al Khaimah as well as Member of Board of Trustees of the American University of Ras Al Khaimah.
Mr. Al Sharhan holds a BSc in Accounting and Business Administration from United Arab Emirates University, UAE.