Abu Dhabi – Family business leaders, experts, and entrepreneurs came together to discuss the founding histories of leading regional family-owned conglomerates and the pivotal impact of family-owned businesses on economic growth and social change in the MENA region.

Speaking at the event were President of Saudi Arabia’s Almajdouie Group Abdullah Ali Almajdouie; Founder and CEO of Koita in the UAE Mustafa Koita; Director of startAD at NYU Abu Dhabi Robyn Brazzil; General Manager of Tharawat Family Business Forum Farida El Agamy; and Vice Provost for Academic Policies and Governance, and Program Head of History at NYU Abu Dhabi Martin Klimke, all of whom shed light on some of the long-lasting enterprises’ unique attributes.

This event was part of “Family Business Histories” – a globally unique research project in collaboration with the Tharawat Family Business Forum and NYU Abu Dhabi, with the goal to research the founding history and entrepreneurial legacy of family-owned enterprises in MENASA. It was launched following the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that was signed between both parties in April 2017.

"This research initiative and partnership with Tharawat highlights the significance of family businesses from an interdisciplinary perspective, bringing together historians, economists, as well as area experts. The histories of individual family businesses and their founders are not only an essential part of the economic history of the MENASA region; they are also a fascinating prism through which to explore the region’s culture and its intertwinement with local, national, as well as global developments," said Klimke.

“Our partnership with NYUAD for the Family Business Histories project has allowed us to address key questions regarding the founding years and longevity of family businesses across the wider region. Throughout the event, it was a pleasure to share and discuss observations and first insights with our network. The interactive sessions have shown that learning from historic founders can be very inspiring and instructive for today’s and tomorrow’s business leaders,” said El Agamy.

This interdisciplinary project brings together scholars from NYUAD’s Arts and Humanities and Social Science divisions to compile, document, and analyse the history of selected regional family businesses and better understand their past challenges and decision-making processes.

To date and as part of this flagship project, five family businesses have been researched across several countries including Algeria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE; the oldest company that has been assessed was founded in 1919. These companies span a variety of industries from manufacturing, automotive, and logistics, to food, real estate, and construction, among others.


About NYU Abu Dhabi

NYU Abu Dhabi is the first comprehensive liberal arts and science campus in the Middle East to be operated abroad by a major American research university. NYU Abu Dhabi has integrated a highly-selective liberal arts, engineering and science curriculum with a world center for advanced research and scholarship enabling its students to succeed in an increasingly interdependent world and advance cooperation and progress on humanity’s shared challenges. NYU Abu Dhabi’s high-achieving students have come from 120 nations and speak over 120 languages. Together, NYU's campuses in New York, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai form the backbone of a unique global university, giving faculty and students opportunities to experience varied learning environments and immersion in other cultures at one or more of the numerous study-abroad sites NYU maintains on six continents.

About Tharawat Family Business Forum

The Tharawat Family Business Forum is an independent, non-profit, private sector business network dedicated to the sustainability, innovation, and growth of MENA family businesses.

With around 80% of businesses in the Arab world being family-owned, their sustainability is crucial for the region and its economy. Founded in 2006 by leading family enterprises from across the Middle East, over the years Tharawat has grown into a strong peer community and key platform for knowledge transfer and innovation.

Tharawat supports the family business community by providing educational and experiential learning programs, thought leadership, and networking opportunities. Tharawat’s programs include the “Future of Family Business”, “Women in Family Business”, “Wealth&Investments”, “Family Business Governance Centre”, and the “NextGen Network” for future business leaders.

© Press Release 2019

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