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.

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.

Before 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 corporate communications manager 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?
I see it every day. The way an organization tells its story, engages with communities and creates value for shareholders – it’s all driven through effective PR and communications, which is delivering direct and indirect business impact.

What are the communications industry's biggest challenges and opportunities in the year ahead?Brands are navigating a transition from owned content to user-generated content. Effectively, more and more brands will need to have the courage and trust to place content generation in the hands of customers, employees and community. This may sound frightening, but it also represents a tremendous opportunity for authentic brand building.

What have you most admired about this industry over the past year?
Over the past year, the industry has proven just how agile and adaptive it can be in times of uncertainty and crisis. But more importantly, the commitment the industry has made on today’s social issues such as diversity and inclusion as well as ESG.

What has most disappointed you about this industry over the past year?
I can’t say much has disappointed me about the industry over the past year. On the contrary, it’s been a pivotal year where many organizations have appreciated the importance of having communications executives at the decision-making table.

How have you switched off from work and maintained wellness in lockdown?
Not a lot of switching off took place unfortunately, but it did present an opportunity to pursue my MBA.

Which book/movie/TV show/podcast/playlist/other cultural source has helped you get through this year or provided inspiration?
This American Life is by far my go to podcast. It never lets me down.

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

Sum up 2021 in one word.