Building trust will create a strong economy in UAE, officials say

Corporate accountability and responsibility are essential to create jobs and attract foreign direct investment to the Mena region, officials said on Thursday.

Corporate accountability is at the heart of the Pearl Initiative, a not-for profit, business-for-business organisation operating in the Arabian Gulf and the Middle East region to spread transparency.

“Trust helps companies generate value and resilience and enables them to grow. Growing companies create more jobs, stimulate economic activity and in return provide new opportunities for entrepreneurs,” said Badr Jafar, the founder of the Pearl Initiative, at a conference in Dubai.

“These professionals and new business owners gain the skills necessary and the markets that they need to create industry and jobs of the future, and all of this stimulates the economy as an ethical transparent place in which to do business, creating a nucleus for foreign investment.”

Employment in the GCC is a key issue. According to the IMF, the labour participation of GCC citizens is low, at 52 per cent for men and 25 per cent for women.

The labour force could grow between 3 to 4 per cent a year, leading to an additional 1.2 million to 1.6 million Gulf nationals coming into the labour market by 2019, according to the IMF.

These jobs cannot be created by the government, but should be created by healthy and strong businesses, Mr Jafar said.

The Pearl Initiative is working with the UN Global Impact, a policy initiative for businesses to align their operations with principles relating to human rights, labour, environment and fighting corruption.

“If a company has solid commitment and strong leadership and has transparency and accountability, then on average the company is better positioned to mitigate risk and seize on the opportunities,” said Georg Kell, the executive director of the UN Global Compact.

The governments should play a role in enforcing corporate accountability and businesses should not be left to their own devices, officials said.

“We do need regulation and sound government frameworks,” said Mark Moody-Stuart, the chairman of the Foundation for the UN Global Compact.

“We in business should be able to put on our statesman hat and support that. It is not good enough simply in our company to make sure that we have good work conditions, that we treat workers from other countries well, but we need to be supportive of governments putting in place frameworks that ensure that happens and that enforce those frameworks.”

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