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DIFC Higher Board


Providing strategic guidance for the DIFC's central bodies

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

His Highness Sheikh Maktoum Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum
H.E. Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair
Vice Chairman

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.

H.E. Abdullah Mohammed Saleh
Board Member

H.E. Abdullah Mohammed Saleh was appointed Governor of the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) in July 2011 by a Royal Decree issued by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Prime Minister and Vice-President, and Ruler of Dubai. Mr Saleh's term as Governor expired on 31st December 2013 but he remains a Member of the Higher Board of DIFC. With over 40 years ofexperience in the financial services sector, H.E Saleh, a former advisor on financial matters to the Late Ruler of Dubai, H.H. Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum held numerous key positions in several leading organizations.

Mr. Saleh was Chairman of the DFSA( Dubai Financial Service Authority) from June 2007 to August 2011, having served as a Director of the DFSA since 2004.

Mr. Saleh is a former Vice Chairman of Emirates NBD Bank PJSC, the largest banking entity in the Middle East. Emirates NBD Bank PJSC was formed by the merger of National Bank of Dubai (NBD) and Emirates Bank International (EBI).

Mr. Saleh was one of NBD's founders in 1963, the Managing Director from 1982 until January 2004, and Chairman from 2005 until the merger with EBI.

Mr. Saleh served as an Arbitrator on the Paris-based High Board of the Euro-Arab Arbitration Centre, from 1988 to 2000. He has been a Member of the Board of Qatar Fuel Additives Company since 1990 and has been Chairman of International Octane Limited since 1990. He is the Deputy Chairman and major shareholder of Dubai Transport Company LLC (DUTCO), the holding company of the DUTCO Group of Companies. He has been Chairman of MARSH INSCO (insurance brokers) since 1976.

He was educated in Sharjah and London and also attended the Institute of Bankers after completing his academic studies.

Hussain Al Qemzi
Board Member

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
Board Member

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
Board Member

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
Board Member

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.

David Eldon
Board Member

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
Board Member

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
Board Member

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.

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