Biography

“Be bold, be daring, be different”

Saad Al Barrak has been a pioneer of the Arab renaissance as the most prolific catalyst of private enterprise in the Arab world over the past 15 years.

CEO of the Zain Group from 2002 until his resignation in February 2010, Al Barrak in seven years transformed a moribund, state-controlled telecoms operator (known then as MTC) with 500,000 customers in Kuwait into the international giant Zain, a company that reached over 72 million customers across 23 countries.

Over the same period, revenues leapt from $570m to $8 billion, while the company’s market capitalization went from $2.5 billion to peak at $32 billion, creating enormous wealth for many stakeholders.

Al Barrak also masterminded the creation of the Zain brand, which 2 years after its launch in 2007 was valued at $2.9 billion, the 2nd most valuable brand in the region. Zain became the sweetheart of the telecommunications industry through innovative and appealing media campaigns and ground-breaking customer services.

Al Barrak has received many distinguished leadership awards throughout his professional career: in 2009, he was ranked the 20th most influential telecoms executive worldwide by Global Telecoms Business Magazine. His entrepreneurial taste for risk and his understanding of emerging markets led Zain to expand rapidly across the Middle East and in a single breath-taking and multi-billion dollar takeover to expand into sub-Saharan Africa, where other CEOs were afraid to invest.

His approach to business comes from the souks of his native Kuwait, but is shaped also by an American and British education, living through occupation and war including the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait in 1990, and his unique philosophy of leadership. Prior to his appointment joining Zain, Al Barrak was Managing Director of International Turnkey Systems (ITS), one of the leading IT companies in the Middle East.

Al Barrak earned a double major in Electrical Engineering and Industrial and Systems Engineering from the University of Ohio; he undertook Harvard Business School’s Program for Management Development (PMD) in 1999; and completed his PhD in IS/IT Management from the University of London in 2001.

Al-Barrak is a much sought out motivational and management speaker at prestigious higher educational institutions, industry conferences and corporate events across the globe.

At the end of 2010, Al Barrak founded ‘ILA’, an advisory firm capitalizing on the emerging opportunities arising from the convergence between IT and telecoms.

In March 2012, he launched his biography, “A Passion for Adventure”: Turning Zain into a Telecom Giant - Published by: Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Publishing.