Local Business

Family businesses urged to adopt practical steps to avert possible conflicts

Issac John /Dubai
issacjohn@khaleejtimes.com Filed on April 20, 2021
In August 2020, Dubai issued a law regulating family-owned businesses in the emirate to help protect family wealth and grow their contribution to the country’s economic and social development

Family businesses in Dubai need to adopt certain practical steps, including a common vision and establish a family council and rules, to address possible conflicts that might arise due to the changing dynamics of the entrepreneurial ecosystem segment, experts at the webinar said.

The virtual event, hosted by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry in cooperation with the Family Business Council Gulf (FBCG) recently, also addressed a wide variety of issues and topics including risks and causes of family conflicts and case studies.

Sessions led by PwC also tackled issues such as practical ways to prevent, minimise and manage conflicts in the family business sector, which is undergoing a dramatic transformation with the authorities putting into place a roadmap to regulate operations of family-owned firms in the country in order to ensure their continuity over successive generations.

In August 2020, Dubai issued a law regulating family-owned businesses in the emirate to help protect family wealth and grow their contribution to the country’s economic and social development.

In January this year, the UAE Minister Abdulla bin Touq Al Marri, emphasising the importance of developing a legislative structure to streamline the operations of this powerful segment in accordance with international best practices, said that family businesses are a major focus area in the country’s efforts to build a more flexible and sustainable economic model.

The webinar, attended by nearly 50 participants representing family businesses in Dubai, was organised as part of a strategic partnership between Dubai Chamber and FBCG.

Hamad Buamim, president & CEO of Dubai Chamber, noted that although the pandemic has posed many challenges for family businesses, it has also given them a new opportunity to re-evaluate their priorities and find new ways to become more productive and manage their overheads more efficiently.

Buamim described the Chamber’s partnership with the Family Business Council Gulf as an important development that has helped the organisation expand its support and guidance to family businesses in Dubai during challenging times.

An informative presentation from PwC shared recommendations for family businesses to take early on to avoid such issues, which also include decoupling family issues from business issues, developing a concept of fairness in the family and agreeing on a conflict resolution mechanism. Other critical steps in conflict resolution include establishing the facts to address the concerns raised by all parties and conducting a thorough review and valuation of existing assets.

A poll during the session indicated the most common issues that often cause conflicts in family businesses. These include breakdown of trust and miscommunication among family members, differences in management decisions and roles, and dividend distribution, among others.

The webinar also included peer group discussions in smaller groups supported by international facilitators from FBCG’s global network. Participants agreed that effective means to prevent and manage conflict entails clearly defining the family roles and responsibilities in the business, engaging external advisors on the family board and professional mediators in the event of a conflict.

A new research conducted by Dubai Chamber and the Family Business Council has pointed to a consensus among families on the need to diversify their businesses, invest in start-ups, and develop a succession plan and governance structure, he added.

Last year, Dubai Chamber and FBCG signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the objectives of providing transparency and insight on key trends and issues impacting family business in the emirate and helping companies make informed business decisions and plan ahead for post-Covid-19 recovery.



Issac John

Editorial Director of Khaleej Times, is a well-connected Indian journalist and an economic and financial commentator. He has been in the UAE's mainstream journalism for 35 years, including 23 years with Khaleej Times. A post-graduate in English and graduate in economics, he has won over two dozen awards. Acclaimed for his authentic and insightful analysis of global and regional businesses and economic trends, he is respected for his astute understanding of the local business scene.

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