Khuloud AlOmian



I am proud to be the Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Middle East magazine. When I meet people I always tell them that Forbes is not just a magazine, it is the philosophy of the money industry. That said, I do not spend my days ruminating behind fancy desk: I am all about action. Indeed, success does not come easy—a lesson I have learnt both from leading my team and from my own career. My story began in 1994, when I graduated from Yarmouk University in Jordan with a BA in Broadcasting and Media. My first job was as News Editor for a Jordanian television station. There, reporting daily on wars, crime, terrorism, violence and conflict, it pained me that I was just the messenger, unable to enact any change on the world around me. As a result, I decided to step away from news broadcasting. In 2003 I left my home country of Jordan for the United Arab Emirates, where I became a producer with CNBC Arabia. It was the best decision I could have made. Working with an international mix of colleagues, I quickly learnt about numbers, financial reports, stock markets, profits, losses, CEOs and much more. I was fortunate that my CEO at CNBC, an Australian called Ward Edmonds, was hugely creative and inspiring. He offered a reward to the team who could deliver the channel’s first live 30 minute broadcast. Giving way to my competitive streak, I rallied my team; we delivered CNBC’s first live show, lasting not 30 but 60 minutes. The achievement was recognized in the form of a promotion, and in 2004 I became the first Senior Editor at CNBC Arabia. In the new role, I managed a multinational team of editors and producers and was responsible for shows such as Islam and Finance, Personal Investor and Real Estate. Then, in 2007, I bid CNBC Arabia a fond farewell, leaving behind strong ties but taking with me experience gained. My new position was with Forbes Arabia, then distributed under Dabbagh Information Technology (DIT) Publishing. Transitioning from broadcasting to print, as a Senior Correspondent I found myself in a very different world. My main responsibility was establishing a network of correspondents across the Arab world. It was not an easy job and required patience, persuasiveness and superb communication skills–qualities that often had to resonate down a telephone line. A year later I became Managing Editor and my role altered once more. I became a key force in redesigning the layout of the Forbes Arabia and invigorating the publication’s subscription, marketing, distribution and press processes. In 2009 the global financial crisis hit: the Middle East did not escape the mayhem. In April that year, DIT Publishing closed its doors and, without a job, I found myself cut adrift. However, with a solid CV and enviable network of contacts, opportunities quickly came knocking. Even with the global crisis raging, I received several calls from business leaders offering me jobs. But before I could choose between them, Dr. Nasser Al Tayyar, an inspirational person in my life, gave me some valuable advice: “Don’t be sad, instead, work to restore Forbes to its former glory in the Middle East. Look for ways to re-build and re-brand the magazine with a fresh vision under your leadership.” “But it is so risky,” I said. After all, the financial crisis was reaching fever pitch and many companies were shutting down. Advertising budgets had been slashed or cut altogether too. Dr. Nasser simply said, “Be ready the market will recover soon”. Trusting in his exceptional business acumen, I followed his advice. But the process of regeneration was not simple; I worked very hard designing a solid business plan while fighting off rival publishers bidding for ownership of the Forbes brand in the region. My competitive streak surfaced once again and the newly created Arab Publisher House was awarded a license in 2010 to publish Forbes Middle East magazine—both in English and Arabic—and create a regional website. Ever since, my sole purpose has been to rebuild the Forbes brand in the region. Drawing on my vast media experience and excellent industry connections, I have succeeded in my vision and raised the company to great heights. I have a great team behind me, many of whom were part of the original Forbes Arabia cohort. They have joined me in my mission to make the magazine the most reliable source of business information in the Middle East. Although editorial work forms an important part of my job, my journey has always been guided by honoring and strengthening the Forbes brand. It is a voice that is totally unique. I never follow other publications in the market, but that doesn’t stop them from copying us. I am proud that Forbes is a trend-setter in all its operations, from marketing to events. I adopt a distinctive approach to operations because it keeps our readers engaged, a group that I will forever view as partners, rather than customers. My other partners are my team. The Forbes Middle East sales, editorial and research divisions are full of experienced, innovative individuals. Through their collaboration we have delivered such pioneering issues as Leaders Inspiring a Kingdom, Saudi Arabia’s Entrepreneurial Elite. This list, introduced in 2013, was the first of its kind in the region and enjoyed enormous publicity. Indeed, the ranking was so popular it has become an annual fixture in the Forbes Middle East calendar. We plan to introduce similar listings for Qatar, Kuwait, UAE, Egypt and Jordan in the coming years. As a flagship of entrepreneurial success, Forbes Middle East is keen to promote and guide the region’s future business leaders. Meanwhile, on a personal level, I am profoundly interested in encouraging entrepreneurs to start new businesses, something I channel through a weekly column in Al-Riyadh newspaper, one of the most respected newspapers in KSA. In recognition of my innovative work, I was recently honored with an award from iiGlobal Business Information, Abu Dhabi, for ‘Best Woman Media Personality 2015’. The accolade included me in a group of other transformational leaders making their mark on the region. Forbes Middle East is now in its fifth year of operation; it is amazing what can be achieved in half a decade. The brand is now recognized as a powerhouse publication throughout the region and is respected by a wide range of individuals and organizations in both the public and private spheres. I look forward to what the next five years will bring.