The Pearl Initiative, the leading Gulf non-profit organisation promoting a corporate culture of accountability and transparency, hosted 37 CEOs of leading regional and international corporations along with UAE ministers at Expo 2020 Dubai for its annual CEO Council meeting to discuss the increasingly important role of the private sector in realising national policy agendas.
The distinguished gathering of the Pearl Initiative’s network of corporate partners from across the Gulf region included CEOs and senior executives from Shell, KPMG, Chalhoub Group, FedEx, PwC, Crescent Enterprises, stc, Majid Al Futtaim, Tecom Group, Enoc, Sabic, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Crescent Petroleum, Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul), Talabat, LetsWork, Coursera, Al Tamimi & Company, Tharawat Family Business Forum, Wamda Capital, and ASDA’A.
The convening also reviewed the Pearl Initiative’s updated vision strategy, PI Vision 2025, which builds on a decade of progress and looks to realise its mission to be the leading Gulf business-led organisation promoting corporate governance as a key driver of competitiveness, job creation, and sustainable economic growth. The discussion also addressed the development of corporate governance best practices in businesses across the region, particularly in light of a global push towards embracing environment, social, and governance (ESG) measures as a business imperative.
Mariam Bint Mohammed Almheiri, Minister of Climate Change and the Environment, and Dr. Thani Bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, joined the discussion on ways the private sector and policy makers can work together to ensure alignment in achieving economic, environmental and social resilience and excellence across the Gulf Region.
Almheiri said, “Embarking on a journey of sustainability has brought new economic opportunities to the UAE. The country has invested $40 billion in clean energy ventures locally, and is home to three of the largest-in-capacity and lowest-in-cost solar energy plants in the world. As a major driver of energy diversification worldwide, the UAE has invested close to $17 billion in renewables projects in 70 countries. In addition to improving electricity access for the countries’ populations, the projects the UAE helps bring to life create job opportunities, support the development of local communities and economies, and cut down on pollution.”
Dr. Al Zeyoudi highlighted, “The UAE has been engaging in efforts to retain talented expatriates through revising visa policies and regulations. This includes the roll out of Golden visas and Green Visas for skilled professionals, entrepreneurs, investors, and young talents, the extension of residency durations and grace periods for skilled workers, and the introduction of freelance visas on the mainland.”
Badr Jafar, CEO of Crescent Enterprises and Founder of the Pearl Initiative, stated, “It is inspiring to witness the Pearl Initiative’s evolution over a decade of unwavering commitment by its community of partners and stakeholders, building a unique action platform by business and for business. It is becoming clearer by the day that the individual components of E, S, and G, are not mutually exclusive, but rather strongly interlinked. While environment and social goals are two sides of the same coin, the governance dimension is really the edge of this coin which binds everything together. Strong corporate governance is the ultimate enabler of financial, social and environmental progress.”
Jamal Fakhro, Managing Partner of KPMG Bahrain and the Chairman of the Pearl Initiative Board of Governors, added, “The Pearl Initiative’s annual CEO Council and Board of Governors meeting is an opportunity for the organisation’s leadership to align and engage with our corporate executives, stakeholders, as well as leading government ministers on the strategy and actionable ways to work together in the upcoming years on the key corporate governance and sustainability priorities.”
Meanwhile Sheikh Khaled Bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Office, has toured the Youth pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai.
During the visit, Sheikh Khaled praised the young Emirati team behind the design and implementation of the pavilion, which aims to connect youth from around the world.
He toured the pavilion with Shamma bint Suhail Al Mazrouei, Minister of State for Youth Affairs, and Vice President of the Arab Youth Centre, and Saeed Al Nazari, Director General of the Federal Youth Foundation and Chief Strategy Officer at the Arab Youth Centre.
He was briefed on the pavilion’s experiences, which take visitors on an interactive journey of empowerment. He also discussed with the team the message of the pavilion, which represents a global platform for youth from around the world, and serves as an incubator for youth activities at Expo 2020.