Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Image Credit: @MaktoumMohammed via Twitter

A programme aimed at ‘boosting the growth, sustainability and continuity of family-owned businesses’ was launched in the UAE on Monday.

The initiative – Thabat - will assist companies in transforming their ideas into viable business projects with the support of advanced technologies. The programme will also help them enter sectors outside their traditional fields, and encourage them to embrace advanced knowledge-driven industries such as artificial intelligence (AI), biotechnology, agricultural technology, space sciences and renewable energy.

The programme – open to all family businesses based in the UAE -- aims to transform 200 family business projects into major companies by 2030 with a market value exceeding Dh150 billion and annual revenues of Dh18 billion.

“Family businesses represent one of the key pillars of the UAE’s economic vision and strategy, and are among the highest priorities on the country’s development agenda. Family businesses constitute a key engine of growth and are a vital element of our plans to promote development driven by knowledge, innovation and creativity,” said Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance of the UAE, as he launched the project.

The first cohort of companies joining the programme include Al Yousuf Group, Al Serkal Group, Al Zarooni Emirates Investments, Gracia Group and Lootah Holding. Another set of companies is expected to join the programme over the next two weeks.

Abdulla bin Touq Al Marri, the UAE Minister of Economy, said the country remains committed to introducing initiatives that promote growth and innovation as part of its strategic drive to enhance the sustainability of the economy, stressing that family businesses, which include some of the biggest conglomerates in the country, play an important role in the UAE economy.

Abdulaziz Al Ghurair, Chairman of Dubai Chambers and Chairman of Family Business Council - Gulf, said the ‘Thabat’ programme promotes a sustainable and strategic partnership between the public and private sectors.

‘Thabat’, which also seeks to promote smooth succession planning among family businesses, is supported by Investopia, Abu Dhabi-based technology ecosystem Hub71, Dubai Chambers, Family Business Council - Gulf, CSR UAE, Dubai Internet City’s in5 incubator and Bridgemaker.

Family businesses accounted for 90% of private companies operating in the UAE in 2021, covering various key sectors including real estate and construction (22%), retail (19%), hospitality, tourism and travel (14%), industry and manufacturing (10%), technology and electronics (8%), and shipping and logistics (7%).