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Dubai announces initiatives to ‘future-proof’ family business sector

Family businesses sector contributes more than 40% of Dubai's GDP

Dubai announces initiatives to ‘future-proof’ family business sector
[Source photo: Anvita Gupta/Fast Company Middle East]

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Family businesses play a significant role in the UAE’s economic growth and value creation, contributing more than 40% of Dubai’s GDP. To further promote the growth of family businesses, Dubai has set out a number of initiatives to “future-proof” the sector and bolster its competitiveness in the evolving global economy.

Operating in a range of vital sectors, including real estate, construction, retail and wholesale trade, hospitality and tourism, manufacturing, financial services, health care, education, and technology, about 90% of private companies in the country are family-owned, as per a report by the UAE Ministry of Economy. They also employ more than 70% of the private sector workforce. Family businesses are “exceptionally promising” in the country as financial wealth in the UAE is projected to surge 6.7% annually to reach $1 trillion in 2026, up from $700 billion in 2021, which will spur significant growth in this sector, according to the Dubai Media Office

“The significant contribution of family businesses to the emirate’s economy underlines their key role as an engine for economic growth,” said Abdulaziz Al Ghurair, chairman of Dubai Chambers, which helps family-owned businesses explore new growth areas.”

“This impact will be further enhanced through legislation designed to develop a favorable business ecosystem, together with specialized training aimed at helping family businesses to overcome challenges, elevate governance standards and ensure a smooth leadership transition between generations,” he added.

The sector still needs help to adapt to digitization, global competitiveness, governance, and succession planning. Dubai has addressed these road bumps by introducing new legislative and support measures. Dubai Chambers launched the Dubai Centre for Family Businesses to educate family-owned companies on leadership transition, succession planning, and growth earlier this year. 

The center also introduced a new set of guidelines to assist family-owned companies in establishing governance frameworks for a succession of family businesses and a series of programs to raise the global competitiveness of family businesses on topics such as leadership, training, governance, and developing certified advisers.

Dubai International Financial Center launched the DIFC Family Wealth Center in March, offering advisory services, certification, adviser accreditation, and education. 

The emirate’s geographical location, business-friendly environment, modern infrastructure and economic strengths make it an “ideal global base” for family businesses seeking to tap high-growth markets, the Dubai Media Office added.

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