Corporate transformations vital to drive radical change in Middle East’s economy

April 11, 2018

KAEC — The “Top CEO Conference and Awards” and the “Arab Women Forum” have drawn a successful conclusion at the King Abdullah Economic City in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where business leaders and more than 30 expert speakers from across the Middle East gathered to discuss the burning issues facing the corporate world today. The three-day events concluded Wednesday and included more than 30 key sessions under the “Paradigm Shift” theme, aiming to drive radical change in the region’s society and economy.

Julien Hawari, Co-CEO of Mediaquest, the company behind the “Top CEO Conference and Awards,” said: “This year, we proud to enhance the ‘Top CEO Conference and Awards’ with our newly launched ‘Arab Women Forum,’ which fully captured our ‘Paradigm Shift’ theme by acknowledging and exploring the growing contribution of Arab women to the region’s rapidly evolving business environment. Together, these three events provided participants with deep and wide-ranging insights into how business leaders and governments can transform old bureaucratic administration and implement new strategies to navigate challenges, embrace a new reality and take their organizations forward in the right direction.”

The first day of the conference kicked off with the newly launched “Arab Women Forum,” which featured sessions on “The Economic Revolution,” “Entrepreneurs,” “Arab Women’s Image,” “Balance,” “The Community-Based New Economy” and “Political Representation.” These ran alongside the “Top CEO Conference,” which included a private SFO Roundtable, a private meeting of the “Society of Family Offices,” and the “AMEX CFO Summit” organised by Strategic Sponsor American Express, which focused on “The Top 5 Challenges for 2018 and Beyond,” “Beyond Numbers,” “Harnessing Data Technology,” “The Cash Flow Drain” and “The Challenging Regulatory Environment.”

The second day saw attendees at the “Top CEO Conference” participating in a comprehensive agenda of sessions covering topics ranging from “The Execution Challenge,” “Moving Away from Bureaucracy” and “Maintaining Momentum” to “The Social Model,” “The Private Sector” and “A New Era.” Other topics include “Levelling the Playing Ground,” “Internationalizing Business,” “Lean and Mean” and “Startups: Rethinking the Ecosystem,” as well as forward-thinking sessions on “Beyond Vision 2030” and “Securing the Future.”

While emphasizing on the concept of restricting businesses, Iyad Malas, Partner, Gateway Fund, said: “Adapting to a changing economic and political environment is a normal process for any business. Many companies have had to deal with low oil prices, financial crises and political upheavals in the past. Companies with strong risk management systems and dynamic management teams in place have been able to adapt and come out stronger. While in the past it was difficult to restructure companies, many businesses have learned from their predecessors and have become more open to the idea of corporate transformations.”

Khaled Al Maeena, Managing Partner, Quartz Communications, commented on the ongoing women empowerment drive in the region: “The women empowerment drive will succeed no matter what. In my office there is a sign that says “the best man for the job is a woman.” Gulf women are dedicated, productive and have the drive to accomplish more. Some need mentoring and encouragement. The gender bias also has to be wiped out forever.”

Emphasizing the need to ensure a robust planning for successful execution of projects, Ghada Elkeissi, Director, Software Engineering & Analytics GE Digital, Middle East & Africa, said: “One key element for successful execution is to select your right ecosystem of partners and vendors to get the right industrial and technological solutions with the right expertise appointed. Understanding the scope and adopting agile delivery technique with the appropriate governance is critical for success.”

The conference drew a fitting conclusion with the “Top CEO Awards” organized by TRENDS magazine and INSEAD, the leading international business school, which celebrate the region’s best-performing CEOs from companies that are listed on the stock exchanges of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman. The transparent ranking process is based on hard facts such as growth, profitability and size, and supported by corporate governance institute Hawkamah to ensure that governance and disclosure criteria are strictly adhered to, as well as a number of global auditors to ensure full transparency. — SG

April 11, 2018
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