The agenda has been released for the ‘Top CEO Conference and Awards’, which will return to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the second time on 10th and 11th April at King Abdullah Economic City, and feature the ‘Top CEO Arab Women Forum’ for the first time. Under a ‘Paradigm Shift’ theme, business leaders and over 50 expert speakers from across the Arab Gulf and Middle East will gather to discuss the burning issues facing the corporate world today at a series of key sessions.
Commenting on the theme of the conference, Julien Hawari, CO-CEO, Mediaquest Dubai — the company behind the conference — said: “A new ecosystem is needed to cement the profound transformation unfolding in the region. This paradigm shift is paving the way for new cooperation and geopolitical equations. There’s a dire need for the Gulf countries to expand international trade relations to create more opportunities for the industry, and at the same time, bring tangible benefits for society as well.”
The ‘Lean & Mean’ session will consider the importance of restructuring businesses in the Middle East to adapt to the end of the era of abundance. A recent survey from Deloitte revealed that 57% of organisations prefer the restructuring path, while IBM research shows that 27% of companies are outsourcing to cut costs and 36% to innovate.
While another session ‘The Execution Challenge’ will address the fact that the majority of C-suite executives consider poor execution the single biggest hindrance to the growth of their industry. In a recent survey by PwC, 95% of respondents stated that their projects are running behind schedule, with an astounding 45% delayed by over six months whereas 71% over-budgeted. The session will discuss common project delivery challenges and how they differ across industries.
Commenting on the execution challenge in the region, Khaled Al Maeena, Managing Partner of Quartz-Communication Company, said: “The fundamental change should be one of mindset, with a new focus on productivity and delivery. Megaprojects need careful monitoring and craftsmanship. They also require a professional approach, but unfortunately bureaucracy is the enemy of progress.”
With centralized governments, red tape and bureaucracy holding the public services sector back from realizing its maximum potential in the Arab world, the ‘Moving away from Bureaucracy’ session will consider how hurdles can be removed at an administrative level to allow the sector to come into its own. The aim of the session is to devise strategies that will allow the public service sector to grow into a lifeline that infuses new life into the sagging economy.
Celebrating women power
Running alongside the ‘Top CEO Conference and Awards’, the new ‘Top CEO Arab Women Forum’ aims to enhance and support the growing contribution of Arab women to the region’s economy and society. During the forum, an elite gathering of top female executives, decision makers, professionals and experts on women empowerment and business leadership will gather to discuss pressing topics including ‘The Economic Revolution’, ‘Entrepreneurs’ and ‘The Community-Based New Economy’.
Dr. Maliha Hashmi, Executive Director of Strategic Partnerships at Neom Project, Public Investment Fund in Riyadh, commented: “There has never been a more exciting time for women empowerment in the region. There have been landmark announcements over the last few months in KSA, including lifting the ban on women driving, removing the requirement for women to have a male guardian to register a business, and encouraging more women to join the workforce.”
Setting a positive momentum
‘The Economic Revolution’ will discuss the benefits of including more women in the workforce in Arab countries and how it could further boosting the GDP of the region. With credit representing the key constraint to female entrepreneurship, the ‘Entrepreneurs’ session will explore the venture capital and investment situation, and debate whether women-led projects should be fast tracked. Finally, ‘The Community-Based New Economy’ session will focus on how technologies and the sharing economy could pave the way for Arab women to become active economic members of society.
The ‘Top CEO Conference and Awards’ and the ‘Top CEO Arab Women Forum’ are supported by American Express as the Strategic Sponsor, King Abdullah Economic City as the Strategic Partner, Al Aan and DHL as Silver Sponsors, KPMG as Bronze Sponsor, INSEAD and IPSOS as Knowledge Partners and the Capital Club Bahrain, ECA, Hawkamah and the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce as Supporting Partners. Communication sponsors of the event include Cicero & Bernay Public Relations as PR Partner, Arab News as Official English Media Partner, the BBC World News as International TV Partner and The New York Times and Nabd App as Media Partners.