Industry experts, international academics, regional thought leaders and prominent names in family business featured at the Family Business in the Arab World Conference, which was held at American University of Sharjah (AUS), March 7—8, 2018. As the first event of its kind in the region, the conference was held in collaboration with the Tharawat Family Business Forum and the Sharjah Enterpreneurship Center – Sheraa.
The two-day event explored the phenomenon of family businesses in the Arab world and created a collective experience that allowed for the exchange of thoughts on the future of family businesses. The conference also provided a unique opportunity for family firms to interact and connect with leading researchers and academics discussing family business in the region. The two-day Conference also provided family businesses with a platform to learn from peers and experienced business leaders, as well as to explore with them the challenges of development, growth and innovation.
Entitled “Contextualising Family Business in the Arab World,” the first day of the conference focused on an exchange of research between leading academics from around the world. For the first time in the Middle East, more than 30 researchers hailing from 17 countries gathered to discuss this key topic for the region. The following day – Business Families Day – saw members of prominent business families address topics such as “Entrepreneurial Spirit in Family Firms”, “Disruption and Innovation in Traditional Industries”, and “Managing Today’s Family Business Ecosystem”.
Commenting on 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 are very pleased to be holding this conference along with the Tharawat Family Business Forum and Sheraa. As one of the first events of its kind in the region, we are looking forward to hearing the views of experts on the wide range of challenges that confront family businesses in the region today.”
As Farida El Agamy, General Manager of the Tharawat Family Business Forum pointed out:
“We are delighted to be able to jointly organise this conference with such great partners as AUS and Sheraa, with whom we share the common purpose to host a regionally unique conference, which will bring together academics and family business leaders to gather expertise and research outcomes of unique value for our region”.
Divided into two distinct sections, the first day of the conference focussed on an exchange of research between leading academics from around the world. 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.
Sheikh Saud Majid Al Qasimi, Deputy Managing Director, Al Saud Company, LLC, delivered the welcome address on the second day of the conference. Entitled “Business Families Day,” the day featured 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 engage din panel sessions that addressed 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”.