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Global experts urge MENA family businesses to maintain spirit of entrepreneurship
Family businesses in the region were challenged to keep their spirit of entrepreneurship alive as they consider new approaches to leadership and governance at the Family Business in the Arab World (FBAW) virtual conference on November 4 to 5. The conference was hosted by the School of Business Administration (SBA) at American University of Sharjah (AUS), as a joint initiative of the Sheikh Saoud Bin Khalid Bin Khalid Al Qassimi Chair in Family Business at AUS and the Tharawat Family Business Forum, in partnership with Invest in Sharjah.
The FBAW conference attracted more than 380 participants, including academics, business experts, family business representatives and students, representing 54 universities from 46 countries. Held over two days, the event included an Academic Day, with more than 40 presentations and case studies from scholars from Europe, North and South America, Asia and the Middle East; and a Family Business Day, with a practical agenda for those from the region's family businesses.
Sheikh Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi, Deputy Managing Director, Al Saud Company opened the conference, sharing his personal experience of assuming leadership of his family’s business after the passing of his father Sheikh Saoud Bin Khalid Bin Khalid al Qassimi in 2004. Sheikh Sultan said seeking support from others more experienced than him was vital to his family’s business success and longevity, leading him to establish the Sheikh Saoud Bin Khalid Bin Khalid Al Qassimi Chair in Family Business at AUS.
"It is a great pleasure to see the Family Business in the Arab World conference grow from strength to strength. The quality of academics, researchers, experts, scholars and family business owners attending truly make a compelling case for an optimistic outlook into the future for family businesses in the region, despite the pandemic landscape. Continuous learning and passing on of knowledge to the future generation of family businesses help us, at the very least, to mitigate the effects of uncertainty in the economy, and on a more positive note, to even thrive in spite of it,” he said,
Professor Rodrigo Basco, who currently holds the chair position at AUS, said the conference brought to light various issues faced by second and third generation family business leaders as they seek to find balance between maintaining a family legacy while being open to new opportunities for growth and change.
“Most family businesses were born out of a spirit of entrepreneurship, and as business environments continue to change, it is important for family businesses to adapt, drawing from their tradition of entrepreneurship, to meet future challenges,” he said.
“Many AUS students, across our wide range of majors, plan to make their career in a family-owned business. By providing them with access to initiatives such as the FBAW Conference, we are transferring critical knowledge, practical guidance and a strategic business network that can influence the success and future of their own family business endeavors,” said Professor Basco.
Farida F. El Agamy, General Manager of Tharawat Family Business Forum, said: “It was wonderful to be able to host the largest family business research conference in the MENA. With contributions from experts and participants from such diverse backgrounds, the gathering greatly contributed to building a unique network of researchers and family business owners to address the most pressing questions facing family enterprises today. Through our partnership with the Sheikh Saoud Bin Khalid Bin Khalid Chair for Family Business at AUS we will continue developing the FBAW platform to include stakeholders across the MENA.”
As conference partner, Mohamed Al Musharrkh, CEO of Invest in Sharjah, said: “The FBAW Conference 2020 is timely as family-owned businesses represent a large portion of the UAE business community and contribute significantly to the growth of the national and regional economy. Sharjah’s infrastructure is fully equipped to support the unique needs of family businesses. We at Invest in Sharjah are fully committed to offering the consultative guidance and support investors and family businesses need to thrive in the sectors of their choice in our emirate’s fast-growing and diversified economy.”
“Growth is an essential ingredient to continued business success, and with its stable, secure and resilient economy, Sharjah presents the ideal location for family businesses to grow and flourish. The emirate recorded AED 100 billion in GDP in 2019, a growth of 5.1 percent over the previous year; AED 30 billion in capital formation; and 10 percent growth rate in new issued licenses. Invest in Sharjah can offer its expert consultancy and be the trusted adviser to family businesses in the UAE and the GCC, supporting their diversification into major sectors. We are fully equipped to guide and advise family businesses to unlock their full potential for growth.”
For more information about the Sheikh Saoud Bin Khalid Bin Khalid Al Qassimi Chair in Family Business at American University of Sharjah and its initiatives, visit www.aus.edu/sba.