Born in Syria in 1958 to a middle class professional family, Ayman Asfari is the group chief executive of Petrofac, a leading international oilfield service company based in the United Kingdom. The son of former Syrian ambassador to Turkey and the Czech Republic, Asfari completed his high school studies in Syria before pursuing bachelor’s and master’s degrees in engineering from the University of Pennsylvania in the United States.
Prior to joining Petrofac, Asfari moved to Oman, where he worked as a resident engineer for a consulting group before assuming the position of managing director for a major civil and mechanical construction contractor. In 1991, he joined the U.S.-based Petrofac then moved to the United Kingdom to establish Petrofac International. Asfari spent the next three decades growing the business, expanding its range of services and firmly establishing the company in its core markets. He led a corporate reorganization in 2002, becoming the group chief executive, and led a successful initial public offering in 2005.
Under Asfari’s leadership, the business has evolved into a leading oilfield service company, providing services to customers throughout the oil and gas asset life cycle on both a standalone and integrated basis. Petrofac’s services include the design and construction of oil and gas infrastructure, operations and maintenance, development and management of oil and gas assets, and training of personnel. Today, Petrofac has operations in 29 countries with 15,000 employees worldwide. It is the largest UK-listed oil field service company and a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index, with a market capital of around $5 billion.
In 2010, Asfari was heralded as Ernst & Young’s UK Entrepreneur of the Year, and in both 2011 and 2012, he was named Oil Services Executive of the Year at the World National Oil Company Congress. He was elected a fellow of the Energy Institute and a fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in the United Kingdom. After more than 25 years, Asfari still serves as Petrofac’s group chief executive and remains the company’s largest shareholder.
In 2006, Asfari and his wife Sawsan founded The Asfari Foundation to provide educational opportunities in the United Kingdom for young Middle Eastern scholars and to promote civil society in the Arab world. He serves as the foundation’s chairman and principal benefactor. In 2012, The Asfari Foundation helped set up the Asfari Institute for Civil Society and Citizenship at the American University of Beirut. In light of the recent crisis facing Syria, the foundation has increased its humanitarian aid efforts, especially for Syrian refugees, and has spent tens of millions of dollars supporting refugee education and civil society initiatives.
Asfari is a member of the Board of Trustees of the American University of Beirut and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He was appointed and continues to serve as a Business Ambassador to the prime minister of the United Kingdom and sits on the Chatham House Panel of Senior Advisers.