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Dubai’s next-gen family businesses prioritize expansion and AI adoption

The majority expressed interest in generative AI

Dubai’s next-gen family businesses prioritize expansion and AI adoption
[Source photo: Krishna Prasad/Fast Company Middle East]

Family-run businesses play a vital role in the economy. The UAE Ministry of Economy reports that approximately 90% of private firms in the UAE are family-owned, employing over 70% of the sector’s employees and accounting for around 40% of the Emirates’ GDP.

A new survey by the Dubai Centre for Family Businesses, in collaboration with PwC, sheds light on the evolving priorities of the next generation of family business leaders in Dubai. 

For Dubai’s family business heirs, expanding into new sectors and markets takes the top spot for the next two years. This focus on growth surpasses the global trend, where business development reigns supreme. Talent acquisition, a top three priority for the world, is lower on Dubai’s agenda.

Dubai’s next generation is also strongly interested in leveraging artificial intelligence (AI). About 87% expressed interest in generative AI, exceeding the global average of 82%. 

This enthusiasm stems from a belief in AI’s potential to boost profitability, efficiency, and customer experience. Notably, 32% of Dubai respondents believe AI will increase profits within a year, compared to the global average of 21%.

The survey also delves into family business dynamics. While 42% of Dubai respondents are aware of succession plans, many still need to participate in crafting them. Interestingly, understanding family protocols and constitutions seems less of a hurdle. A significant portion (45%) identifies the current generation’s reluctance to step down as a potential challenge for smooth succession.

Increased operational efficiency, employee productivity, and a more engaging customer experience are key benefits of AI. Additionally, it’s viewed as a catalyst for broader technology adoption, workforce digital upskilling, and overall business growth.

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