Dubai Government

Strategic partnership between Dubai Economic Council, Family Business Council - Gulf and Bryanston Advisors Middle East

August 16, 2016

The Dubai Economic Council (DEC), Family Business Council - Gulf (FBCG) and Bryanston Advisors Middle East have forged a strategic partnership to develop governance minimum standards for family owned businesses (FOBs) in the UAE, with the ultimate objective to sustain and enhance their pivotal role in local private sector economies. His Excellency Abdul Aziz A. Al Ghurair, Chairman of FBCG, His Excellency Hani Al Hamli, Secretary-General at DEC, and Mr. Marc Dahlke, Head of Bryanston Advisors Middle East signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) at the headquarter of FBCG in Dubai. 

The agreement covers a joined project to develop a governance manual for recommended minimum standards to make FOBs "ready" for growth and next generation transition. The parties of the MOU will exchange information to develop this high-quality framework, leveraging the FBCG's recent work "GCC Family Business Governance Code", as well as DEC's and Bryanston's knowledge and experience, DEC as Dubai government's think-tank in the economic-decision making, and Bryanston as an advisor for GCC and international FOBs. Bryanston will also (in cooperation with DEC) lead the development of a comprehensive program to encourage FOBs to invest into priority sectors as per Dubai Plan 2021, Dubai Industrial Strategy 2030, and programs like Dubai Future Accelerators.

His Excellency Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair: We support the continuity of Family Businesses
On the sidelines of the party, His Excellency Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair stated that FOBs play a crucial role in GCC economies. “They contribute about two thirds of GCC GDP, in addition to their role in bringing long-term economic stability”, Al Ghurair said. “However, one of the significant challenges for FOBs is continuity – about 80% of them are facing this critical phase in the context of dominating traditional regulations”, Al Ghurair added. “Thus, providing an adequate legislative system and governance guidelines are key for the continued success of family businesses”, Al Ghurair said. 
Commenting on the role of FBCG in confronting the “Continuity” challenge, Al Ghurair said that FBCG’s activities support FOBs in preparing for the stated challenge through strengthening their capacity in three areas: (1) developing a rigorous legal framework for family businesses; (2) implementing governance frameworks; and (3) qualifying the next generation of FOBs to bear the responsibility as owners and directors of their businesses.   
“We are delighted to sign the MOU with our partners, it complies with FBCG’s aim to support family businesses in achieving high standards of governance”, Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair concluded. 

His Excellency Hani Al Hamli: Governance and Entrepreneurship are key drivers for Family Businesses’ success
His Excellency Hani Al Hamli stated that Dubai Economic Council has paid close attention to FOBs, and currently is involved in a comprehensive study aiming to develop the legislative and regulatory framework that organize and enhance FOBs’ sustainability.

“FOBs in the UAE and in other GCC member states live in a changing business environment that implies a number of economic, financial and administrative challenges – thus, GCC member states should cope with and mitigate these challenges”, Al Hamli said. “The priority should be given to governance, namely the critical determinant of FOBs’ trends and programs. The first step on the sustainability route, however, is raising awareness with family members as well as their executives, and to set the ‘game rules’ for the next generation of family leaders”, Al Hamli added. He also praised the critical role of FBCG in that direction.     

Marc Dahlke: “Family Businesses are ‘Family’ and ‘Business’ – good Family Governance sets the basis for successful business!”
Marc Dahlke, Head of Bryanston in the Middle East, said: "I am personally honored to contribute – in cooperation with DEC and FBCG– to this essential initiative. GCC Family Businesses are the engine of the private sector. They can drive diversification of local economies and investments into new technologies. In Dubai, they will be material for fulfilling the Strategic Plan 2021, Industrial Strategy 2030, and programs like Dubai Future Accelerators. Together with other local stakeholders and international players, Family Businesses of all sizes can contribute here. Therefore, this initiative sets the right focus”.
Mr. Dahlke added: “Family Businesses are literally 'Family' and 'Business'. Shortfalls on the ‘Family’ side likely impact the ‘Business’ side - and often vice versa. Adopting minimum standards for Family and Corporate governance can make Family Businesses more stable overall, more immune to unexpected succession events, more reliable for international partners, and generally ‘fit for expansion’."
"Upgraded governance can also make Family Businesses of all sizes more creditworthy for regional and international sources of funding, 'IPO-ready' where this is the ambition, and attractive for cross-border mergers or JVs with other Family Groups – a recent trend we observe in the region", Dahlke concluded.

The Family Business Council - Gulf, is a private not for profit organization aiming at strengthen family business governance and ensure their continuity over generations. The council seeks to identify and address issues unique to the GCC region through research, education, capacity development, and networking among peers. The council is governed by a Board of Directors, represented by 11 leading GCC family businesses, which steers and builds the organization. The board shares a common view that the continuity and prosperity of family businesses is vital for the economic sustainability of the region. The council is a member of a worldwide organization - the Family Business Network International (FBN) - which is the largest global network ‘by families, for families’ representing leading family businesses all over the world.
Bryanston Advisors Middle East is an advisory firm with a particular focus on Family Businesses, Family Offices and Governments. Located in Dubai, Bryanston Middle East is a member of a global network with offices in the EU and Switzerland, the US, and numerous emerging markets. Its advisory services cover strategy (portfolio, growth, go-to-market, investments), transaction support, governance, sector development / FDI attraction, and operations. Bryanston Middle East also hosts a highly profiled New Media & Technology team, advising on operating model evolution and technology startup investments.
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