Munir Majid, Chairman, Malaysia Airlines, Malaysia explained that ‘we must join hands to create a viable, internationally applicable model for Islamic banking so that the Islamic financial industry may attain its proper station within the global fiscal system.’As Arab companies and funds grow, they need to start thinking about global positioning,and more and more, they are seeing Europe and North America as more than just a places to trade their products and services,’ stated Minoo Saher, Group Chief Executive Officer, Mustafa Sultan Enterprises, Oman. We will build global firms of Arab origin, also in highly value-adding industries like IT,’ Tidu Maini, Executive Chairman, Qatar Science & Technology Park, Qatar added.
Phillip Namundjebo, Chief Executive Officer, Offshore Development Company, Namibia, felt that globalization requires rules of the game that align private and social incentives to undertake actions that enhance welfare.
Further discussion topics for the meeting included topics of specific interest to the corporate sector like financial services, merger & acquisitions, oil and gas, branding, human resources, deployment of the rule of law, and the efforts to ensure sustainable growth – all rather practical topics to support Arab firms efforts to globalize their operations. Growing into a global firm means much more than establishing a portfolio of units in different countries around the world.
‘We need new models of cooperation to integrate our global activities and to generate knowledge for the achievement of sustainable growth,’ said Ahmad Al-Sari, Founder and Executive Partner, Malaz Capital, Saudi Arabia.‘I met at the Global Arab Business Meeting with peers from around the world to discuss and create such models of cooperation,’ Mike Singh, Chairman,Telkom Caribe, Barbados, continued.
There was also a focus at the meeting on ‘how global investors should look at the Arab world, and how Arab investors should look at global markets, along with sector-specific discussions,’ as Hee-Beom Lee, Chairman, STX Energy, Korea, explained in one of the boardroom sessions.
Arab corporations are bound to adapt to an unfamiliar operating environment when targeting acquisitions overseas.‘What are the right strategies and processes to address the M&A-challenge,’ asked Tom Thraya, Baker & McKenzie, UAE. Pre-economic crisis, the region’s sovereign wealth funds often invested in trophy assets abroad, but the market for inward investment into the Gulf countries and pan-Arab mergers proved harder to crack.
‘There is evidence of more merger activity in the Middle East, reported Tamer Bazzari, Chief Executive Officer, Rasmala Investment Bank, UAE. The sectors in focus are energy, health, education, telecoms and consumer goods.
According to Zhang Genguang, Managing Director, Jiang Zhe, China, there is a need for consolidation in often crowded sectors. Jason
Peers, Group Chief Executive, Jasper Capital Group, United Kingdom, predicted that ‘if regional players decide to look outside, their focus will primarily be on investments in China and India.’ Leaders from business, government and civil society closed the inaugural Global Arab Business Meeting with a commitment to show leadership for change and development in the region.
They reflected on the need to build global firms of Arab origin.‘Improving corporate performance has to be a priority for the governments and companies of the region,’ argued Aman Merchant, Chief Executive Officer, Leading Concepts, UAE.
‘To do so will entail such measures as the moving up of human resources practices to the global level playing field,’ Mohamed A Bahabri, Chairman, Qanawat, Saudi Arabia, concluded.‘What are the key stumbling blocks that must be overcome to succeed globally and what are the practices that make a difference for Arab firms?’ asked Medhat Khalil, Chairman, Raya, Egypt.
‘Aspiring global Arab firms have to increase their interactions on all levels with their counterparts from foreign countries,’ said Naif Al Al-Mutawa, Founder and Chief Executive Officer,Teshkeel Media Group (THE 99), Kuwait.‘And we need to learn to apply global best practices.’
Sheikha Lubna Bint Khalid Al Qasimi, Minister of Foreign Trade, UAE addressed the Gala Dinner on 27 September. In a lively session, she painted an optimistic picture on the region’s future. She said that for a region such as the Middle East which has been among the least affected by the global financial crisis, conditions are ripe for gaining more competitive and advantageous positions within the global markets.‘Rising global energy demands have brought abundant financial liquidity, she said.‘Now we have to promote the transfer of technology and business knowledge to the region.’ And: ‘We have to give back to society.We have to be aware that we remain embedded within a wider social framework.’ Her statement drew a round of applause.
Horasis has created the Global Arab Business Meeting to bring together CEOs of Arab firms with business leaders from the world. The presence of eminent politicians, entrepreneurs and experts in this inaugural Global Arab Business Meeting is not only an indicator of the interest in the event, but a clear signal of readiness for mutual cooperation. We envision to attract leading Arab and global leaders year after year, creating a community of engaged citizens from business and government. Participants from the Arab world shall perceive the meeting as a global platform for a constructive dialogue with leaders from other world regions.The Global Arab Business Meeting shall serve as backbone for advancement on issues related to trade, entrepreneurship, competitiveness, and investment.
The Global Arab Business Meeting is held in the recognition that growth strategies require thought leadership and mutually beneficial peer-to-peer networks.The meeting is structured to provide a maximum amount of knowledge exchange and interaction in a variety of formal and informal settings.The meeting shall permit candid and intensive dialogue whilst incorporating a diversity of views and experience.The Global Arab Business Meeting is a process, not a one-time event.
Many of the ideas and proposals discussed at the meeting are of a far-reaching nature and require consensus and cooperation within the Arab world and beyond.The Global Arab Business Meeting should not be seen as an end in itself but as the beginning of a sustained process to adapt and better prepare the Arab world for the challenges of the 21st century.
The Global Arab Business Meeting called for stronger collaboration between private and public sector initiatives to address the global economic turbulences. Nasr-Eddine Benaissa,Managing Partner, Eastgate Capital Group, UAE highlighted that ‘there is a need for closer integration at a global level, while at the same time the unique nature of the countries constituting the Arab world must be respected,’ Ram Shanmugam, Chief Executive Officer, Sacrum Services, USA, voiced the opinion that ‘the world is now too small and too interconnected to walk our separate paths.’ Still, as Omar Agha, Managing Director, Saraya Development Group, Jordan, noted, regional integration ‘is not something that should be focused upon countries.
What is more, each region is specific in its own right, which is why there is no universal model of integration.’ Khater Massaad, Chief Executive Officer, RAK
Investment Authority, UAE, emphasized that ‘the strong engagement of leaders joining the Global Arab Business Meeting illustrated the spirit of business leaders who look beyond the crisis and see opportunities.’
‘The Arab world is home to creative people, and tremendous resources,’ Jaafar Rasool Jaafar Al Ghrairi, Chairman, Federation of Iraqi Chambers of Commerce, Iraq, assessed.
Hamdan Mohamed, Chairman and President, Arab Business Club, UAE, added: ‘Our hope is that the meeting will encourage a close partnership between the region and the world in order to stabilize the global financial system through entrepreneurship, innovation and internationalization. In short, to allow a future in which the Arab world is a place of piece and engine of growth for our global economies.’ Rawya Mansour, Chairperson, Ramsco, Egypt, suggested ‘urgent efforts to integrate the Arab world into the global economy.’ And:‘There is a need for the Arab world to step up,’ as Salman Al Jishi, Chairman, GCC Industrial and Promotion Committee of the Federation of GCC Chambers, Saudi Arabia, concluded.
It is with immense gratitude that I thank H.H. Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi, The Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah for having had the foresight and commitment to partner with Horasis to make the Global Arab Business Meeting not only possible but also successful.Without his support and guidance, this ambitious meeting would not have been possible.
Horasis looks forward to welcoming you back to next year’s edition of the Global Arab Business Meeting. I can give to all participants who contributed to make the inaugural meeting a reality the promise that Horasis will act as forceful catalyst for nurturing economic growth in the region and beyond.