The “Top CEO Conference & Awards 2019”, organized by TRENDS magazine and Mediaquest in collaboration with INSEAD Business School, has kicked off at the Al Areen Palace & Spa in Manama, Bahrain. The conference, which addresses the overarching theme of “Growth in a Volatile Future”, brings together the top business leaders and more than 30 well-known speakers from across the GCC and the Middle East regions under one roof.
The Top CEO Conference & Awards will include key panel discussions on burning issues facing businesses in the GCC region amid volatility in oil prices, political schisms, tech disruptions, and growing diversity. The Top CEO Awards 2019 will also recognize the region’s most successful and trendsetting CEOs from a list of more than 700 companies listed on GCC stock exchanges.
“With talks of a slowdown in Europe and China, and looming trade wars, our region is at the center of the global economic dynamics. The theme of digital transformation and growth in a volatile future is extremely relevant to our region. As they say, there's no wealth like knowledge and no poverty like ignorance. Our conference is designed to raise some of the key business and economic issues in the GCC," said Alexandre Hawari, CEO, Mediaquest as he welcomed the dignitaries and delegates to the event.
“Digitalization in the GCC” and the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” are key phrases that have been doing the rounds in the business sphere as both established companies and promising startups attempt to reinvent themselves while facing pressing challenges in the region.
Jassim AlSeddiqi, CEO of Abu Dhabi Financial Group (ADFG) delivered a powerful keynote address at the Top CEO Conference & Awards 2019 focusing specifically on digital transformation and its relevance in the GCC’s financial sector, as well as the potential for the region to bloom into a fintech force to be reckoned with.
“Today, digital transformation is not a choice, it is a must. To grow exponentially, we have to seek double-digit growth through digital transformation. Today, the GCC has embraced digital transformation and technology, however, in my opinion, not as fast as India or China. We've seen governments, for example, in the UAE and Saudi Arabia coming up with initiatives to improve digitally, in financial services technologies and so on. The GCC has taken cognizance of this race and it is now catching up,” Jassim Al Seddiqi said.
For traditional financial institutions, digital transformation can seem like "changing a tire while the vehicle is moving," Jassim Al Seddiqi referenced in his keynote presentation. The main challenges facing digital transformation are modernizing and creating digital workplaces that resonate with all types of customers; having a complete omni-channel strategy; and managing security through both internal development and industry partnerships with market leaders.
Speaking on the next steps for the GCC to become a FinTech hub, Jassim Al Seddiqi called for the development and nurturing of the ecosystem's operating model and structure by close collaborations between financial institutions and governments. The UAE, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia have already begun focusing on the launch of fintech sandboxes. Revenue sharing opportunities and accelerators working with fintech startups have increased in the region.