Attracting renowned academics from across the world, international industry experts, regional thought leaders and prominent names in family business, the Family Business in the Arab World Conference began today, March 7, at American University of Sharjah (AUS). The conference, which will be held over two days, is the first event of its kind in the region.
Held in collaboration with the Tharawat Family Business Forum and the Sharjah Enterpreneurship Center–Sheraa, the event focuses on the phenomenon of family businesses in the Arab world and creates a collective experience and common knowledge to face the future of family businesses. It also aims to provide a unique opportunity to interact and connect with leading researchers and academics discussing family business in the region.
Welcoming the delegates to the event, Dr. Rodrigo Basco, Associate Professor of Management, and Sheikh Saoud bin Khalid bin Khalid Al-Qassimi Chair in Family Business at AUS, and one of the organizers of the conference, said:
“We would like to welcome our guests to this first of its kind conference in the region and to the beautiful campus of American University of Sharjah. We are very happy to be organzing this conference in collaboration with the Tharawat Family Business Forum and Sheraa. Over the course of the next two days, we look forward to hearing from some of the leading experts on family business and benefitting from their insights on the wide range of challenges that confront family businesses in the region today.”
Farida F. El Agamy, General Manager of the Tharawat Family Business Forum and co-organiser of the event highlighted: “Family businesses are the key contributors to economic growth in our region. However, there is hardly any structured and strategic research to better understand these important pillars of our economies. With this conference, we are aiming to build a long-term platform to contribute to the development of knowledge and academic analysis in this field and start to transfer that knowledge to the family businesses directly.”
Divided into two distinct sections, the first day of the conference focussed on an exchange of research between leading academics from around the world. For the first time in the Middle East, more than 30 researchers from 17 countries gathered to discuss this key topic for the region. Entitled “Contextualising Family Business in the Arab World,” the day began with a keynote speech delivered by Dr. Rania Labaki, Associate Professor of Family Business and Finance, at the EDHEC Business School in France. The day’s sessions focused on a wide variety of pertinent issues related to various aspects of family business that included topics such as “Family Business and entrepreneurship in the Arab World,” “Women entrepreurship in the Arab world,” and “Family business management in the Arab world and beyond” among others. Dr. Norris Krueger, Professor of Entrepreneurship Northwest and Research Fellow for Advanced Studies, from the University of Phoenix, USA; and Dr. Marcel Bogers, Full Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, University of Copenhagen, Denmark; also delivered keynote addresses during the day.
During the conference, participants will benefit from opportunities to learn from family business peers and experienced business leaders as well as to explore with them the challenges of development, growth and innovation.
Sheikh Saud Majid Al Qasimi, Deputy Managing Director, Al Saud Company, LLC, will deliver the welcome address tomorrow, the second day of the conference. Entitled “Business Families Day,” the day will feature leading members of some of the prominent family businesses in the region, including His Excellency Sheikh Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi, Director’s Fellow, MIT Media Lab, and Founder of Barjeel Art Foundation, UAE; Sultan Al Turki, COO, Al Nahla Group, KSA; Badr Jafar, CEO, Crescent Enterprises, UAE; Esam Abdulaziz Alkadi, Chairman, Kadi Group Holding, KSA, and Anees R. Sultan, Head of Supply Division of WJ Towell, Oman; among others. These thought leaders will engage in panel sessions that will address a wide range of topics such as “Entrepreneurial Spirit in Family Firms,” “Disruption and Innovation in Traditional Industries,” and “Managing Today’s Family Business Ecosystem”.