Dubai, UAE, 24 February 2016: Prominent Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO) members and influential regional business leaders engaged in a Twitter discussion last night offering their business confidence and economic outlook for the Middle East and North Africa. The business leaders highlighted the importance of innovation and inclusive growth as well as the potential for creating a vibrant entrepreneurial culture for the region’s expanding young demographic of 200 million, according to the World Economic Forum.
In a conversation led by YPO, award winning ‘serial entrepreneur’ and clinical psychologist, Dr. Naif Al-Mutawa (@DrNaif) was joined by the CEO of Crescent Enterprises, Badr Jafar (@BadrJafar), and Christine Sfeir (@ChristineSfeir), the CEO at Treats Holding (Semsom) and Meeting Point (Dunkin Donuts). These three YPO members came together to debate the challenges and opportunities for the coming business year in the Middle East.
All three participants are members of the Young Presidents’ Organization, the world’s premier network of over 23,000 chief executives and business leaders in 130 countries.
Kicking off the discussion on the topic of the MENA region’s business challenges, Mr. Jafar highlighted that “the MENA region is not homogeneous. In the GCC, government diversification policies are crucial to business confidence and entrepreneurship.”
Following YPO’s recent Global Pulse survey results, the trio unanimously agreed that despite a dip in oil prices, the region remained a hub for business innovation. Dr. Al-Mutawa stated that “innovation comes in all shapes. From new ideas to new ways of doing old things. The MENA region is a challenge but also an opportunity.”
Mr. Jafar added, “Ninety percent of non-oil MENA GDP is created by family businesses, and they have a long-term outlook. The Middle East needs to start exporting more ground-breaking products and services, and less negative headlines to the world.”
Ms. Sfeir said that the dip was “the best time to dive into your business model and grow from there.” She elaborated, “Something positive can come out of uncertainty. It is the time to review business models. Innovation is key.” Continuing on the topic of innovation, Mr. Jafar felt that “smart firms in MENA are innovating culturally to unlock immense value from women – fifty three per cent of population – and youth.”
When developing and growing your business, Mr. Jafar explained that it was important to have a mentor because “there is no lack of knowledge out there, just a shortage of asking for help and advice.” Dr. Al-Mutawa emphasised this point, saying “I would be lost without my mentors.” Ms. Sfeir concurred and said that she had “guardian angels”. She explained that that becoming a mentor can be just as beneficial as having a mentor as well “I also mentor three amazing entrepreneurs. The experience is great on both sides.”
When the participants were asked about their experience of being a YPO member, Dr. Al-Mutawa said, “I didn't just join YPO. I was made in YPO from investment partners, to close friends, to mentors.”
Mr. Jafar highlighted the organization’s flagship YPO EDGE event in March as “an unparalleled forum to exchange ideas and share experiences with CEOs from different cultural and professional backgrounds.”
The significance of the YPO EDGE event in Dubai was outlined by Ms. Sfeir as “a great way to highlight and promote our part of the world.” Mr. Jafar added, “for a region with a young population – thirty per cent of MENA between ages 15-29 – events like YPO EDGE in Dubai are key platforms to inspire youth and entrepreneurs.”
Search #YPOEDGEDubai on Twitter to see the full discussion with @YPO.