Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor

Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor

Founder and Chairman of the Al Habtoor Group

Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor is a prominent and highly respected citizen of the United Arab Emirates. A self-made man, he is Chairman of the Al Habtoor Group – one of the most successful conglomerates in the Gulf.

Al Habtoor is known not only for his many business achievements but also his extensive knowledge of international political affairs; his philanthropic activities; his efforts to promote peace; and the fact that he has long acted as an unofficial ambassador for his country abroad. Writing extensively on both local and international politics, he publishes regular articles in the media and has released a number of books. Al Habtoor’s articles are available on

Al Habtoor began his career as an employee of a local UAE construction firm and in 1970 established his own company, Al Habtoor Engineering. The UAE Federation, which united the seven emirates under one flag for the first time, was founded in 1971 and this inspired him to undertake a series of innovative construction projects – all of which proved highly successful.

The company later became the Al Habtoor Group and for over 45 years it has grown with the United Arab Emirates. Today, it is recognised as one of the most prominent business corporations in the region with interests not just throughout the Middle East, but around the world.

What started out as a small engineering firm in 1970, is today one of the region’s largest and most respected conglomerates with interests in the hospitality, automotive, car leasing, real estate, education and publishing sectors. The Group employs thousands of people and continues to grow.

Khalaf Al Habtoor’s long list of awards and achievements does not only reflect his business acumen. He believes it is his strength in the face of adversity; his willingness to take calculated risks; and the fact that he is always looking ahead, that has enabled the Al Habtoor Group to grow and diversify.

Known for his optimistic outlook and warm personality, Al Habtoor is well respected by his associates and considered a well-balanced and progressive man. An active member of society, he feels it is his civic duty to contribute to his country in any way that he can. He is also a devoted family man who loves meeting new people; enjoys acquiring knowledge; and looks forward with pleasure to each new day.

Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor's Life Journey

In November 2017 Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor opened the ‘Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor Life Journey,’ a retrospective collection spanning the course of Al Habtoor’s personal and professional life. It covers everything from his early years to present day.

The exhibit takes visitors on a high-tech, interactive tour of various aspects of Al Habtoor’s life, including Al Habtoor’s early years living in a barasti in Al Shindagah with his family; a tribute to his Emirati heritage and ancestors; Al Habtoor’s family life; business achievements; local and global advocacy leadership; philanthropic and charitable initiatives; as well as his love for tennis and his contribution to the development of sports in the UAE. The immersive experience ends in The Heart & Soul, a central hub which encapsulates all facets of the man.

Current positions held by Khalaf Al Habtoor

  • Founding Chairman of the Al Habtoor Group
  • Chairman of Dubai National Insurance and Reinsurance Company

Former positions held by Khalaf Al Habtoor

  • Member of the Federal National Council
  • Member of the Board of Directors of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry
  • Chairman of the Commercial Bank of Dubai
  • Member of The John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
  • The only non-US member of The World Board of Governors of the American United Services Organisation (USO) (1994 – 1997)
  • Vice Chairman of Al Jalila Foundation Board of Trustees

Awards given to Khalaf Al Habtoor    

  • Received the Dubai Appreciation Award for Community Service (January 2022)
  • The Humanitarian Award from the Global Gift Foundation for his work with people in need in the UAE (December 2019)
  • Honoured by the UAE Investors Council at its ‘Men from UAE’ for significant contribution to the nation’s economic development for five decades (November 2019)
  • Received the Golden Peacock Lifetime Achievement Award for Leadership for Business Excellence & Innovation (May 2018)
  • Received the Golden Peacock Lifetime Achievement Award for Business and Social Inclusiveness in recognition for exemplary leadership in the UAE and abroad (April 2017)
  • Recipient of The Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit of Hungary, Civil Division honoured by the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (May 2016)
  • Al Arabiya English News Columnist of the Year for outstanding contribution in bridging the communication gap between the Arab world and the West for bold positions, insights on global affairs and ability to influence public opinion (December 2015)
  • UAE Red Crescent Shield of Honour in recognition for lifelong humanitarian contributions over the years (November 2015)
  • Received HH Shaikh Isa Bin Ali Al-Khalifa Award for Volunteer Work in Bahrain in recognition for philanthropic work. Bahrain (September 2015)
  • Honoured by Emarat El Youm to mark the 10th anniversary of the Arabic newspaper published by Dubai Media Incorporated (September 2015)
  • Awarded Best Arab Tourism Investor by Abu Dhabi-based Centre for Tourism Media   (September 2015)
  • Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor honoured by Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan for his ongoing charitable and humanitarian support of the Red Crescent Authority (July 2015)
  • Lifetime Achievement Award from the C3 US-Arab Summit in New York in recognition of Al Habtoor›s long-term contribution to regional peace and prosperity and support to building understanding between east and west (October 2014)
  • Global Humanitarian and Business Achievement Award from the National Council on US-Arab Relations at the 23rd annual Arab-US Policymakers Conference in recognition of his leadership in education, philanthropy, and building bridges between East and West (October 2014)
  • Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy from the American University of Cairo (AUC) in recognition for his continued efforts in fostering cross cultural understanding, supporting humanitarian causes, and advance academic inquiry (June 2014)
  • Hungarian language edition of best-selling autobiography ‘Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor: The Autobiography’ launched at Lotz Hall, Paris Department Store in Budapest (June 2014)
  • Recognition from the 1st UAE Clinical Simulation Conference for his commitment and support to Dubai’s healthcare sector (February 2014)
  • His book ‘Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor : The Autobiography’ was awarded ‘Best International Book on Business and Economics’ at the Sharjah International Book Fair (August 2013)
  • India-UAE Business Icon Award from the Asian Business Leadership Forum Awards (December 2013)
  • Lifetime Achievement Award at the Gulf Business Industry Awards (September 2013)
  • Lifetime Achievement Award from The Arabian Hotel Investment Conference for his contribution to the UAE’s hospitality and tourism industry (May 2013)
  • A number of awards and medals over the years from The Red Crescent Society of the UAE, in recognition of ongoing financial support, the most recent being the prestigious ‘Medal of the Red Crescent for Humanitarian Action’ (July 2012)
  • Honour from The American University of Sharjah, in recognition of contribution to the AUS endowment fund (February 2011)
  • The Shield of Merit Award from The United Nations, in recognition of support for the Palestinian cause (November 2011)
  • The American University of Cairo Honour, as a generous benefactor and in particular for funds donated to build the ‘Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor Football Stadium and track’ (November 2010)
  • Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Illinois College (May 2010)
  • Honorary Member of the Phi Alpha Literary Society, a sorority which counts amongst its members the sixteenth American President, Abraham Lincoln and US Congressman, Paul Findley (May 2010)
  • Outstanding Business Leadership Award from the All-Party Group on Entrepreneurship and the British Institute of Technology and E-commerce at the World High Tech Forum in London, for exceptional leadership qualities, acumen and vision (October 2010)
  • Sharjah Voluntary Work Award from His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan Bin Mohamed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council of the UAE and Ruler of Sharjah (January 2010)
  • Gold Laurels Award from ABI, for triumphant deeds based on excellence in numerous achievements in the field of accomplished leadership (2007)
  • World Forum Award from the British Parliament, for efforts to build bridges between the Arab World and the West (2007)
  • Businessman of the Year Award at the 2007 Arabian Business Achievement Awards in Abu Dhabi (2007)
  • Genius Laureate of the UAE from the American Biographical Institute, for ‘Distinguished progression and mastery in the field of accomplished leadership›, as recorded in the 500 Greatest Genius of the 21st Century (2006)
  • Honorary Doctorate degree in Humane Letters from the American University College of Science and Technology in Beirut (2005)
  • International Peace Prize from the United Cultural Convention of America, recognising achievements in peace and justice across political, religious and ethnic divisions.
  • Appreciation awards from International Indigent Orphan Relief Organisation, Palestinian Children›s Relief Fund, Al Ain Centre for Handicapped Children and Rashid Paediatric Therapy Centre
  • Gulf Excellence Award of the United Arab Emirates, presented by His Highness Prime Minister Sheikh Khalifa Bin Salman Al Khalifa at the Gulf Excellence Forum Bahrain (2005)
  • Included in the A.B.I. Leading Intellectuals of the World book, listed amongst an elite group of men and women, dedicated to making improvements in society (2005)
  • Grand Ambassador of Eminence award from the American Biographical Institute, in recognition of professional achievements and social contribution to the UAE (2004)
  • Knighthood from the President of Lebanon (1995)

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Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor