The Gulf region’s business community celebrates a decade of collective action with the Pearl Initiative


The Pearl Initiative, a leading Gulf-based, business-led, non-profit organisation, hosted its global virtual forum: “The State of Affairs of Corporate Governance in the Gulf Region”. Attended by over 200 business leaders and executives from across the Gulf region, the forum celebrated the Pearl Initiative’s 10th anniversary and the journey of the collective business community in the Gulf region in achieving economic and sustainable business growth.

The forum featured fifteen prominent business leaders, entrepreneurs, international and regional policymakers and government ministers from the Ministry of Youth and Sports Affairs of Bahrain, the Basel Institute on Governance, OECD, World Economic Forum, Careem, GetBee, Jubaili Bros., KPMG, Letswork, Meta (Facebook), Nesma, stc, talabat, and Tharawat Family Business Forum. All delegates reflected on how corporate stewardship and governance improved their organisations and the wider business community.

The forum welcomed His Excellency Aymen Tawfiq Almoayed, Minister of Youth and Sport Affairs of Bahrain, who discussed the Gulf region’s next-generation business leaders and incoming workforce and ways to employ governance, measurement, and evaluation into government entities. His Excellency stated, “A hopeful community, becomes a productive community, and therefore the mandate of the Ministry of Youth is to simply synthesise hope. In order to turn this into operational excellence, we have developed dashboards to measure whether Bahraini youth feel safe, seen, supported, wanted, trusted, and hopeful. It is also important to ensure that young individuals know and understand their psychometric readings, and can identify their strengths and skills, while readily providing them with the opportunities that fit their unique skillsets and personality traits. Such insights are shared with the business community to develop programmes and initiatives to support our future business leaders.”

Global and regional experts from the World Economic Forum, Basel Institute on Governance, stc and Meta (Facebook), shed light on the significant developments in the anti-corruption landscape, and the shift towards making it a business priority to create a proactive and holistic model that combines business ethics and integrity.

As micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) account for over 90% of all companies operating in the Gulf region and contribute to the bulk of the economic growth and job opportunities, the forum hosted prominent leaders of start-ups and tech companies to discuss the importance of ethics and values as the underpinnings of a company’s culture and key drivers of business growth.  The panel agreed that corporate governance is an important investment that will pay off for the growth and sustainability of businesses who are attracting investment and expanding their business beyond their borders. Omar Al Mheiri, Co-Founder of Letswork, stated, “As an Emirati tech start-up, our main concern is culture as we grow our team from two to twenty employees.  This involves integrating the culture into a formal structure of corporate governance and that means bringing the right people in to help us make decisions while still maintaining our own internal ethics and culture”.

The forum’s program included a dedicated session on family firms, a segment that contributes to over 60% of the Gulf region’s non-oil GDP. During the session, prominent family business owners shed light on the importance of good governance for business sustainability and longevity, especially through succession planning and diversity in leadership. With an imminent generational shift in leadership and 1 trillion USD in assets expected to be passed onto the next generation in the next decade, the Gulf region family business community is increasingly adopting high standards of governance and accountability.

Jamal Fakhro, Managing Partner of KPMG-Bahrain & Chairman of Pearl Initiative’s Board of Governors highlighted the Pearl Initiative’s vision, and said: “The COVID-19 pandemic from 2020-2021 highlighted that corporate stewardship and environmental, social and governance principles (ESG), are not ornamental, but are rather fundamental to the resilience and prosperity of our businesses and future generations.”

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