Board of Directors
Our Board of Directors is comprised of seven distinguished and highly-experienced professionals. They provide strong governance, as well as access to an exceptional network.
Chairman of the Board
Chairman of the Board
Abdullah Bahamdan is Chairman and a Board Member. He is also the Founder and Chairman of the Bahamdan Group, a global investment holding group. He is a seasoned banker, with more than 40 years of experience.
Mr. Bahamdan previously held positions as CEO and Chairman of The National Commercial Bank of Saudi Arabia, which he helped to build into one of the Middle East’s largest financial services groups. He sits on the boards of the Bahamdan Group, Health Water Bottling Co. Ltd, Aluminium Products Company and Farabi Petrochemicals.
Mr. Bahamdan is a Founding Member and Member of the Board of Directors at the Saudi Society for the Preservation of Heritage, an Honorary Member at The Consultative Council and the Founding Member of the Prince Khalid Al Faisal Center for the Development of Managerial Leadership.
Lubna Olayan is a Board Member. She served as Chief Executive Officer of the Olayan Financing Company (“OFC”), a subsidiary and the holding entity for the Olayan Group’s operations in the Middle East.
Mrs. Olayan remains the Deputy Chairperson of the Board of Directors of OFC. She also serves as Chairwoman of the recent merger between Alawwal Bank and the Saudi British Bank (SABB).
Since 2011, she has been a board member of Schlumberger, a leading global provider of oilfield services. Additionally, Mrs. Olayan sits on several international advisory boards, including those of Akbank, Allianz SE, McKinsey & Co and Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Mrs. Olayan holds a B.Sc. degree from Cornell University and an MBA from Indiana University.
Chief Investment Officer
Chief Investment Officer
Joseph Azrack is Safanad’s Chief Investment Officer in addition to being a Board and Investment Committee Member. He brings over 30 years of real estate investment experience to the Safanad team.
Previously, Mr. Azrack was the Chairman and Managing Partner of Apollo Global Real Estate. Prior to joining Apollo, he was Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Citi Property Investors (“CPI”) where he chaired the firm’s Management and Investment Committees and directed investment policy and strategy. Prior to that, Mr. Azrack was Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of AEW Capital Management, L.P., Founder and President of the AEW Partners Funds, Founder and Chairman of the Board of IXIS AEW Europe and a Member of the Board of Curzon Global Partners.
Mr. Azrack is an Adjunct Professor at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business where he has taught Real Estate Entrepreneurship since 2014 and is a member of the Real Estate Program Advisory Board. Mr. Azrack holds an M.B.A. from Columbia University and a B.Sc. degree from Villanova University.
Marty Edelman is a Board and Investment Committee Member. He is of counsel in the real estate practice of Paul Hastings LLP, a leading global law firm.
Mr. Edelman has more than 40 years of experience and concentrates his practice on large international real estate, corporate mergers and acquisitions transactions. Mr. Edelman is on the Board of Directors of Equity Commonwealth, BXMT and Aldar, an Abu Dhabi public company. He is an advisor to Grove Real Estate Partners, The Related Companies and Mubadala, the strategic investment arm of the Government of Abu Dhabi. He is a frequent speaker at international conferences and in 2011 was selected by the National Law Journal as one of the 34 most influential lawyers in the US.
Mr. Edelman is on the boards of Manchester City, New York City and Melbourne City football clubs and is an advisor to the Miami Dolphins. He is a graduate of Princeton University and Columbia Law School.
Abdul Kareem Abu Alnasr
Abdul Kareem Abu Alnasr
Abdul Kareem Abu Alnasr is a Board Member and Chairman of the Audit Committee of Safanad, bringing extensive banking and managerial experience to the role.
He previously served as the Chief Executive Officer and Board Member of The National Commercial Bank of Saudi Arabia, one of the leading financial institutions in the GCC region. Mr. Abu Alnasr currently serves as a Board Member of Abdul Latif Jamil United Finance Company where he is also Chairman of the Audit and Risk Committees. He is also a member of the Board and Audit Committee of Yanbu National Petrochemical Company.
Mr. Abu Alnasr was named ‘Saudi Arabia Banker of the Year 2009’ in World Finance magazine and received The Banker magazine’s ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ in 2008 for his “considerable contribution to financial services in Saudi Arabia and the region”. He holds a M.B.A. degree from the American University in Cairo and a B.B.A. degree from California State University.
David Sproul is a Board Member and Member of the Nominations and Remuneration Committee of Safanad, bringing extensive experience to both.
David is also Chairman of the Board of Starling Bank. The bank is one of the UK’s leading unicorns and challenger banks, focused on providing personal and business accounts in an entirely digital manner. He is also a member of the Board of London First.
Prior to Starling, David was the former Global Deputy Chief Executive of Deloitte, until May 2021. He served on the Global Executive and led the Global Client and Business Executive, which oversees, sets strategy, and serves as the decision-making body for overall Deloitte Client and Business matters. In addition to providing the leadership, management, and vision for the firm’s Client and Business organizations, David also oversaw Deloitte’s Alliances, Ecosystems and Assets, Bold Plays, and Corporate Development strategy.
His career with Deloitte and predecessor firms has spanned over 30 years. In addition to serving as Chief Executive of Deloitte UK and Deloitte North West Europe for eight years, he has led some of the firm’s key business areas, including Tax, Consulting and Advisory Services.
Founder & CEO
Founder & CEO
Kamal Abdullah Bahamdan is an entrepreneur and investor with a 25-year career establishing and growing businesses around the world. Simultaneous to his business career, Kamal is a competitive athlete. He is a five-time Olympic equestrian and bronze medal winner in the London 2012 Olympic Games. Across his professional and sporting endeavors, Kamal is driven by a relentless focus on lifelong learning, excellence, and a determination to push beyond boundaries. His success has been complemented by his ability to attract the very best talent and build industry-leading teams that support him in executing his vision be it in business, sport, or philanthropy.
Currently, Kamal is the Vice Chairman of the Bahamdan Group and Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Safanad, a New-York based, global principal-led investment house established in 2009. Throughout his career, Kamal has created numerous world-class platforms across education, healthcare, financial services, technology, telecommunications, and digital infrastructure, among others. He has a rigorous approach to investing that starts with assessing unfolding macro trends and their resulting micro dislocations. He then identifies opportunities to address business and social challenges that have emerged. With an owner-operator mindset, he brings the ecosystems, networks, and key talent to bear to build scalable platforms. Kamal has leveraged this approach to launch greenfield and start-up ventures, assemble and scale businesses through a buy and build approach, and manage challenging and complex turnaround and restructuring situations across the US, Europe, Asia, and Middle East. He has replicated this success time and again including during some of the most turbulent market events of the past three decades.
Most recently, under his leadership, Safanad has executed over $10 billion in transactions and established multiple market-leading platforms. These include a fast growing K-12 education company with over 50,000 students worldwide, which was established to capture opportunities from increasing demand for high-quality private education globally, the UK’s largest care home operator, which was acquired as part of a restructuring process, turned around and scaled, and a leading US-based datacenter operator that was built after identifying the need for co-location datacenter operators and then executing additional bolt-on acquisitions to grow the business. He has also led sizable investments that have created multiple operationally-intensive real estate platforms across the US.
Prior to Safanad, Kamal was the CEO of the Bahamdan Group, a family-owned global investment group with a 70-year history of investing in the Middle East and global markets, and previously co-founded the Washington, DC-based private equity firm BV Group.
At the Bahamdan Group, Kamal led a major turnaround of an industrial and consumer goods portfolio which included a water bottling company, repositioning the business from significant distress into a market leader, acquired, turned around, and significantly expanded a petrol station chain by increasing the sophistication in its real estate strategy and adding quality adjacent services and retail before exiting to one of the world’s largest energy companies, and created a telecommunications company in the first wave of the industry’s liberalization, before leading a complex nine-way merger and exiting to Saudi Arabia’s leading mobile operator. He also built one of the largest private school operators in the Kingdom and. served as an early investor in the world’s largest online education company supporting the company’s expansion into MENA through the launch of the region’s first online school.
Similarly, at the BV Group, Kamal led the early identification of numerous greenfield and buy-and-build opportunities across real estate, technology, education and other areas in the US, Europe, and Asia. Key among these include the 2002 launch of a $1.0B property-focused real estate fund to acquire US government real estate and capitalize on the rapid growth in the size and scale of the federal government, investment in a credit research firm that was transformed into a market leader, seizing on the emergence of the tech industry and impact of increasing data on society, and investing early in a higher education company that has served millions of students in response to a growing need for high-quality and affordable university education globally.
Beyond making investments across his businesses into social-impact sectors for more than 20 years, Kamal is an education philanthropist. With an aim to giving children the best chance to succeed, he is dedicated to supporting early childhood development through his contributions to numerous initiatives and related organizations in the Middle East and globally. In 2022, he endowed the Bahamdan Professorship for Early Childhood Well-Being at Boston University, his alma matter, supporting greater research and innovation in the field, and serves on the Wheelock College of Education’s Dean’s Advisory Board.
He is also an active participant in global forums focused on enhancing quality and access to education including serving as a member of the B20 Taskforce on Education and Employment for both the 2020 G20 meeting in Saudi Arabia and 2021 meeting in Italy. Kamal is also a member of the Swedish-Saudi Business Council’s Education Committee.
In 2006, Kamal was recognized as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and holds a BSc in Manufacturing Engineering from Boston University.