Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem (born 1955 in the UAE) is the former chairman of Dubai World, a diversified holding company based in the United Arab Emirates and owned by the government of Dubai.
The Sulayem family has been one Dubai's most prominent business and political families since at least the early 20th century. Ahmed bin Sulayem's father was a key advisor to Dubai's ruling Maktoum family.
Mr. Bin Sulayem's first job after graduating from college in the late 1970s was as a customs inspector at Dubai's then sleepy port. He told Fortune Magazine in 2008 that his future career was set when a man mistakenly came into his office one day and in the course of chatting suggested that Dubai could serve as an entrepot for the tea trade if it created a tax-free zone at the port. That chance meeting encouraged him to travel the world studying tax-free trading zones. When he returned home he approached Dubai's future ruler and family friend Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum with a proposal to build a free trade zone at the port. "If you really believe in it, you go run it." Bin Sulayem said Sheikh Mohammed told him. "I was 30."