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UAE family businesses: ‘bigger cake, bigger problem’

Inefficient governance and incomplete succession planning are the two main challenges facing UAE family businesses, says the chairman of Dubai Chambers.

Over the past 50 years family businesses have evolved from being small operations to multi-billion-dollar conglomerates. The sector now accounts for 60 percent of the country’s GDP.

“The bigger the cake, the bigger the problem,” Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair, chairman of Dubai Chambers, said during a video interview with AGBI at the inauguration of the UAE’s Centre for Family Businesses.

Dubai Chambers, along with the government of Dubai, is in the process of setting up an independent family dispute centre to address succession planning issues.

Al Ghurair said that succession often involves convincing founders that their sons and daughters may have different wishes from their own, and emphasising the importance of addressing these concerns before the death of the prime business owner.

“The older generation also paid more attention to men’s participation in the business, while sisters and mothers were sidelined,” he said.

Watch the full video above to learn more about the family business centre, and the Chamber’s views on family business and IPOs.