Four challenges for Middle Eastern family businesses

I recently attended two family business forums, in Riyadh and Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia. At these events, many of the big issues faced by family businesses were discussed, such as succession, governance and the separation of management and ownership.

But I was struck by a common theme throughout many of the round table discussions: namely, the challenges that face family businesses in the Middle East. These challenges are not unique to the region, but they are more prevalent than in other regions.

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Family businesses seek cash

In the future, how will families finance their businesses? And how might new sources of finance affect the structure of family businesses?

I ask these questions because I know of many businesses that are looking to expand outside of their home markets but lack the resources to do so.

Where can they find the money they need in order to expand?

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Can family businesses take hold in Russia?

Can former communist economies develop strong family business sectors? So far, there is no clear answer. In some ex-Soviet countries, there appears to be a strong dynastic will, or desire to pass a business on down the generations, among entrepreneurs, but in others this is less apparent.

Historically, Russia has been a place where money can be earned rapidly and entrepreneurs enjoy a lot of opportunities. Nevertheless, most of these entrepreneurs are focused on building their businesses and do not think about succession. Continue reading

In pictures: EY Global Family Business Summit, Monte Carlo

Peter Englisch, Global Leader of EY’s Family Business Center of Excellence, opens the first EY Family Business Summit.


The first EY Global Family Business Summit took place in Monte Carlo two weeks ago, during EY’s World Entrepreneur Of The Year event. Held over two days, the summit gathered together family business leaders from 17 countries, and provided a great opportunity for discussing some of the most crucial issues currently facing family-owned businesses.

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Family Offices in the Middle East

Despite having many substantially wealthy families, there are few single family offices (SFOs) and even fewer multifamily offices (MFOs) in the Middle East. Some estimates put the number of SFOs at between 60 and 75. Whether that’s right or not, most analysts think that there are many more families that could afford to run a family office than are currently doing so.

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