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.