The Arab Regulators Conference, hosted by the Arab Monetary Fund, took place on 8-9 March in Abu Dhabi.
The conference was held in collaboration with the Union of Arab Securities Authorities, the OECD, the IFC and the GCC Board Directors Institute (GCC BDI).
The two-day conference was an opportunity for regulators, bankers, and board directors to engage in an open dialogue on how to strengthen the development of corporate governance across the region. The conference was attended by over 160 delegates from 17 different countries from both the regulatory and the private sectors.
Opening the conference on day one, HE Abdullatif Al Othman, Chairman of Saudi Arabian Industrial Investments Co (SAIIC) and the first chairman of GCC BDI, highlighted the importance of corporate governance in today’s economic and political climate.
During his keynote address, Al Othman urged attendees to adopt the highest international standards of corporate governance, to help move the region from frontier markets to emerging markets to developed markets. This, he believes, is the key to economic growth.
“Companies in this region lag behind when it comes to the adoption of corporate governance practices by comparison with global standards. We need regulation that meets international standards and we need consistent and systematic enforcement,” said Al Othman.
A wide-range of issues affecting organisations and boards of directors were discussed at this year’s conference including conduct risk, structural reform in the the banking sector and how to build bridges with Boards of Directors from the Directors view. This year, board diversity and women’s role on the board were also widely discussed as were governance trends and best practices.
“We need organisations which understand the underlying principles and benefits of effective corporate governance. We need board directors who understand their roles and responsibilities, who promote leadership with strong ethical values, setting the right tone at the top. I am certain, once we achieve this, the region can finally realise its economic and social ambitions,” said Al Othman.
Al Othman was the first chairman of GCC BDI when he was Senior Vice President of Finance for Saudi Aramco. GCC BDI was founded in 2007 as a not-for-profit company to promote professional directorship and raise the level of board effectiveness across the GCC. Today the organisation has trained over 700 senior board directors and continues to make a significant contribution to corporate governance across the region.
The GCC BDI guides board directors of organisations, from family-owned businesses to listed companies, to acquire the know-how and the tools to reach and sustain effective governance.
GCC BDI is founded by four leading regional corporations–Investcorp, SABIC, Saudi Aramco and Emirates NBD–and it is supported by five advisory firms: Allen & Overy, Heidrick & Struggles, McKinsey & Company, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Hill+Knowlton Strategies, as well as regional regulatory authorities: the Emirates Security and Commodities Authority of the UAE, the Capital Market Authorities of both Saudi Arabia and Oman, the Central Bank of Bahrain and the Qatar Financial Centre Regulatory Authority.
GCC BDI now works with over 700 members who benefit from an active network of business leaders and a variety of workshops designed for senior directors. Notably, the Institute hosts an annual Chairman Summit that brings together regional leaders and actors to explore the evolving role and value of Boards as well as appropriate corporate governance standards.
Today the Institute is globally recognised as the most influential senior Board Directors network in the Gulf and the only Directors Institute from the region to be admitted to the Global Network of Directors Institute.
By Jessica Combes
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