GCC CEOs face numerous challenges

Some of the CEOs at 2015's Top CEO awards evening in Dubai. The event this year will be held on April 5.

As the combined market capitalization of GCC stock markets slipped below $1 trillion last year, there are numerous challenges before the CEOs in the region.

To celebrate the achievements of business leaders and discuss the challenges in the market, Mediaquest is organizing a conference and awards ceremony on April 05, 2016, in Dubai.

The Top CEO Conference and Awards will not only award CEOs of the best performing listed companies in the GCC but it will also provide a platform to brainstorm the major disruptions to the businesses.

Knowledge fuels growth. Challenges lead to innovation. In 2016, the C-suite management of listed companies faces an enormous task of creating value for shareholders in an environment where GCC stock markets shed a whopping $200 billion in combined market capitalization in 2015.

Last year, the combined market cap of GCC bourses was more than $1 trillion. It has now slipped to $902bn, according to research reports.

So, what are the issues on the mind of regional CEOs?

The issues range from the drive to diversify the economy, the introduction of taxes and what the technology disruption will bring to old models; to cybersecurity, the growing role of women in business, education and talent; to corporate governance and transparency. The current global and regional situation is complex and requires CEOs and leaders to be on top of things.

Growth is a necessity in order to transform the economy and create jobs, and some companies and CEOs in this region are doing a wonderful job in achieving this. Recognizing these CEOs who are transforming our region for the benefit of stakeholders and society is of increasing importance.

TRENDS magazine, in association with the INSEAD Business School, launched the Top CEO Conference and Awards. The Conference will take place on April 5, 2016, and is aimed at creating an open dialogue among the regional executives on ways to help improve their business and the region. The second edition of the TOP CEO Awards ceremony will be held on the evening of the same day.

The TOP CEO Conference and Awards have been organized by TRENDS and INSEAD, which was recently ranked the number one business school by the UK’s The Financial Times. The conference and awards aim also at further pushing the anti-corruption and transparency agendas in the region.

CEOs and attendees at the last year's Top CEO awards evening in Dubai.
CEOs and attendees at the last year’s Top CEO awards evening in Dubai.

The themes of the TOP CEO Conference in 2016 are diverse and are very relevant to the region’s business environment.

Some of them are listed below:

  • ECONOMIC DIVERSIFICATION: As the region moves away from oil, there are strong indications of the disintegration of old business models. What will be the effects on businesses in the next few years? Is there a risk-proof business model?
  • WHEN TECH KILLS YOUR BUSINESS: Old jobs and businesses are disappearing, while new ones are being created. Is this affecting your business? How will you deal with it and adapt to new realities?
  • VAT AND ITS CONSEQUENCES: Subsidies are the past and taxes are the future of the GCC. How this will affect your consumers? How tax-ready is your company? What we can learn from other markets? What legal know-how is required?
  • WOMEN IN BOARDROOMS: Under-represented in the region’s job market, it’s high-time women professionals are given their due. Women in boardrooms bring the point of view of almost 50 percent of your consumers. What can companies do to create women business leaders of the future? GCC governments are moving in the right direction, but how can businesses keep up with the changes?
  • ANTI-CORRUPTION AND TRANSPARENCY: One of biggest hurdles is achieving good corporate governance. Where should we start? Are the problems identified? What are the perks of finding good corporate governance solutions?
  • ADAPTING TO THE END OF AMERICAN UMBRELLA: Quite certainly, the United States has taken a few steps back from this region. Will this leave a strong void? Who will fill the vacuum? Russia? How this will affect the businesses in the region?
  • EDUCATION AND TALENT: With the increasing digital components in business and the rise of Artificial Intelligence, the future of jobs looks challenging yet full of opportunities. How can businesses help to create the workforce of the future? Are more tie-ups with educational institutes needed? What can be done to infuse scientific spirit into young population of the region?
  • CYBERSECURITY: As the world gets more and more connected, the risks of attacks resulting in financial and data loss are increasing. Is there an iron wall? How to deal with the increasing costs of cybercrime?
  • THE ASPIRATIONS OF YOUTH: With more than 100 million youth, the Middle East and the GCC region have a reserve of human energy that can help them transform for the better. How can the government and the private sector help unleash this energy and focus it on initiatives that will create jobs and transform the region?


The forthcoming Top CEO Awards will celebrate the very best in GCC business leadership. The prestigious annual event, organized by TRENDS magazine and INSEAD – the leading international business school – sets the standard for business awards programs in the region by honoring only leaders from publicly listed companies.

Top CEO was established to acknowledge industry heads at the helm of growth in the Gulf equities market. Recognizing that the region’s stock markets are the engines of the economy, the program celebrates the business acumen of senior GCC business figures and highlights those individuals who have excelled as supreme guiding lights for their respective listed organizations.

“Top CEO is a major awards ceremony held to recognize and celebrate the achievements of the region’s leading CEOs. Along with independent auditors, TRENDS and INSEAD will ensure the transparency of the process The awards’ stringent and open evaluation procedures make them the foremost leadership awards program in the region and a benchmark for business heads and their companies,” says Julien Hawari, Co-CEO at Mediaquest, the media company organizing the event and publisher of TRENDS magazine.

First launched in 2011, Top CEO has stood out as a uniquely distinctive ceremony, as only the CEOs of listed GCC companies are evaluated. The awards are bestowed following an analysis of the financial statements of these companies, with the assessment process being fully audited and transparent. TRENDS magazine works with INSEAD to make sure that the ranking formula is accurate and with Hawkamah to ensure that corporate governance is part of the overall ranking. Applying an evaluation process of the highest standards makes Top CEO one of the most credible business leadership awards in the region.

Attendees and CEOs at the last year's Top CEO event in Dubai.
Attendees and CEOs at the last year’s Top CEO event in Dubai.

“INSEAD was founded on ideals that still resonate today. One of them is that, by training global managers and facilitating economic ties across countries and cultures that create a joint stake in common prosperity, we can contribute to human development, stability and prosperity. In this sense, the INSEAD Middle East Campus in Abu Dhabi is a natural continuation of our founding ideals,” says Miguel Lobo, Associate Professor of Decision Sciences and Director of the Abu Dhabi campus at INSEAD.

“We are delighted to partner with TRENDS magazine and formally honor those industry heads, who contribute to the region’s economic growth and the betterment of society through their commitments and endeavors,” he adds.