Omar Zaafrani | Influence 100

Omar Zaafrani 

SVP Group Communications 
Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) 



 As head of group communications for the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, Omar Zaafrani has a particularly complex brief. Since joining the state-owned company in 2016 he has built the company’s first communications team, playing an integral role in the company’s transformation efforts, responsible for engaging with and securing buy-in from a diverse range of stakeholders—efforts that earned the company two Diamond SABRE Awards in our EMEA region competition last year.

In his role, Zaafrani was instrumental in unifying the company and its 14 subsidiaries under a single brand and driving its culture transformation program. He also led the communications around the successful public offering of ADNOC's fuel retail business.

Prior to joining ADNOC, Zaafrani was head of energy communications at Mubadala, the investment and development company supporting the diversification of Abu Dhabi’s economy. He also served as Manager, Corporate Communications at Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company.

Can you share a moment in your career when you saw PR's direct impact on business performance?Reputation is a vital currency for businesses. Any PR or brand driven campaign that is adding value to that currency is delivering a direct and positive impact on business performance. I see it every day.

What are the comms industry's biggest challenges and opportunities in the year ahead?
The biggest challenge ahead for the industry will revolve around helping organizations shape their reputation as they navigate the economic and social challenges posed by the pandemic. At the same time, this offers an opportunity to reinvent and create brands that stand for something; that resonate with various audiences and address numerous prevailing issues.

What have you most admired about this industry in 2020?
Despite how challenging 2020 has been, it has been encouraged and inspiring to see how creative and agile our industry’s response to the pandemic has been. Most importantly, it has shed light on the strategic value and importance of communications.

What has most disappointed you about this industry in 2020?
At times, the industry moved to fast to try and gain reputational mileage without understanding the risks. Put simply, we need to be better at “reading the room”.

How have you switched off from work and maintained wellness in lockdown?
It’s difficult to switch off a PR professional, but the lockdown did offer an opportunity to create new habits that supported my overall wellness.

Which book/movie/TV show/podcast/playlist/other cultural source has helped you get through this year or provided inspiration?
Podcast: The Joe Rogan Experience. Book: The Power of Habit. Movie: The Last Dance

If I wasn't working in marketing/communications, I would be...
Making movies.

Sum up 2020 in one word.