Public Private Partnerships Create New Opportunities for Youth to Shape the GCC Future


Benefiting from the digital revolution and financial technology is the main pillar for shaping the digital transactions future.

Business and government leaders at the Harvard Business School GCC Alumni Club’s Crossroads GCC Future Impact Forum’s final day highlighted the great importance of public-private partnerships to create new opportunities for youth, the role of the digital financial revolution in shaping the future of financial transactions as well as the significance of achieving happiness in work environments in Gulf countries.

His Excellency Ghannam Al Mazrouei, Secretary General of the Emirati Talent Competitiveness Council, said that UAE government is driving engagement with the private sector to facilitate increased access for Emirati talents.

“The private sector is the main engine for economic development in any country,” he said. “We are asking the private sector to support and to provide more opportunities to Emirati graduates”.

He said that the Emirati Talent Competitiveness Council created a program to provide graduates experience at private sector companies for one year.

“At the end of the year the company has the choice to recruit them or not, other than the fact that this increases the governments access to talent,” he said.

Khaled Alsaleh, Senior Vice President and Managing Director, MENA at digital transformation company, Sutherland said that education in the region has to evolve to serve the developing global employment trends.

“We have good news and bad news, the bad news is that within five years only, 85 million jobs will disappear, im sorry to those who hold jobs such as executive assistants, data entry other jobs like that because digitalization and automation are thing over these roles,” he said.

“The good news is that we will have another 100 million new jobs available in these fields and others, I think it’s very important to establish foundations from now to serve these labour markets through education,” he said.

Dr Lamya Al Haj, Professor, Sultan Qaboos University, Muscat, Oman questioned why there is a common belief in the region that government positions are the only the way.

“Youth themselves should be encouraged to empower themselves making use of online courses, free lectures or whatever there is, it’s easy to achieve. We have to be a proactive society and put our hands together and support each other,” she said.

Executive Director of the Arab Youth Centre, Sadek Jarrar said that the challenges faced in the region are similar to the challenges in the Arab world.

“Over the years we have seen a trend of large number of talents migrating from Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, and other Arab countries, however recently their primary destination was to the UAE ahead of the US and Europe. This shows that the region is on the right track, attracting talents and setting an example,” he said.

Finance Decrypted

In a session titled The Future of Finance Decrypted, speakers discussed the future of financial technology, cryptocurrency, and investment in the digital environment.

Fadi Ghandour, Chairman of Wamda Capital, said: “We are witnessing a massive revolution in the digital field and FinTech’s to become an economy in its own. The strong momentum on digital platforms has also contributed to create promising opportunities for investment in these sectors, despite the lack of clarity regarding the ability of some companies to continue their operations.”

Navin Gupta, Managing Director, South Asia and MENA at Ripple said that the  virtual space represents the future of many sectors, especially the financial sector.

“This requires us to move forward with educational and training efforts for workers in various sectors, especially start-ups and SMEs, to develop effective ways to make full use of these technologies. In addition, there is a responsibility on decision-makers to develop policies and legislation with the aim of strengthening FinTech’s and the disruption of the digital payments, which contributes to upgrading economic sectors and facilitating business,” he said,

Yasmeen Al Sharaf, Director of FinTech and Innovation at the Central Bank of Bahrain said that there are many challenges facing the expansion of the FinTech sector in the virtual space, the most important of which are the architecture of FinTech models, the complexity of that technology and its regulatory environment, understanding its risks and facing them, as well as ensuring its optimal application

“These challenges would put more pressure on policy makers to organize the scene while avoiding creating negative repercussions on the financial and economic policies of GCC countries. In Bahrain, we are keen to address all this by conducting more analysis to fill potential gaps and work to meet the market needs,” she said.

Abdullah Al Tuwaijri, CEO of Boubyan Bank in Kuwait said they have launched many initiatives for financial sector professionals and the public, to benefit from their visions of employing innovation to develop services.

“Fintech represents an opportunity to develop these services within the banks, and it also has a remarkable role in enhancing the reliability of investing in companies operating in this field. As for us at Boubyan Bank, we are already considering investing in start-ups working in FinTech and virtual space”.

Preparing GCC Retailers for the Happiness Economy

Retail leaders in the region are working on achieving ‘happy‘ organisations while adapting to changing ways and market trends.

Ralph Debbas, CEO W Motors explained the meaning of dose happiness in his company.

“its is hard to define happiness, so I would say joy instead because it is something that could be achieved on a daily basis with a good work environment and good goals,” he said.

“Being based here in Dubai, we are in a lucky position because we are in a country with focus on the future, empowerment, and attracts talents. Happiness is about achieving, about being part of something great and about having a challenge to deliver on a daily basis,” he said.

Abdul Aziz Al Loughani, Chairman and CEO of Floward  expressed his company’s pride of affiliating their goods and services with happiness.

“We capture a lot of our audience celebrating different occasions. We have a great value pyramid designed for what make our customers happy, and this pyramid starts with functionality including the right prices, variety, customer service, and user experience and the quick response. I think we are please by our culture in this part of the world, a culture that encourages gifting. We measure happiness by how much our clients are loyal to us and how much we are offering them,” he said.

Hala Matar Choufany, President of consultancy HVS Middle East, Africa and South Asia said: “I look at happiness not from perspective of teams or companies, however from the perspective of happy people. What is very interesting at this event is that every initiative and challenge we have spoken about and how to come over it is clearly meant to create happier place. Today happiness is expanding to be about empowerment, contribution and making an impact to your team and your company”.

Ashish Panjabi, COO Jackey’s Group said that everyone has a different answer to the same question.

“Happiness is about things we take for granted. When we go through hard times like COVID, we start to appreciate things that we have here in UAE, the fact that we didn’t have to stress about any needs from vaccine, to airlines running helped us to be connected with the world. These are examples of the undeniable facts that make us happy”.

The HBS GCC Crossroads Future Impact Forum 2022 concluded on Thursday with break out sessions which will deliver programs that will be conducted over the year and reviewed next year.

A dedicated knowledge repository will draw from the vast amount of ideas that were collected over the two days of the forum  and developed into white papers and strategic initiatives.

The forum will be held next year in Riyadh Saudi Arabia and rotate annually between GCC capitals to emphasize the importance of addressing common challenges in every country.

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