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What can family businesses in Saudi Arabia learn from their German counterparts about sustainability and longevity?

Managing generational transitions and building long-term sustainability are amongst the top priorities for Saudi family businesses nowadays. Germany is home to some of the longest living family businesses in the world, with some dating back as far as the fifteenth century. Moreover, the number of German family businesses which are in the fourth or later generation is remarkably higher than in other parts of the world. Some of the most successful and well-known brands in the world are, in fact, German family businesses. That leads us to the question: How are Saudi family businesses doing in comparison and what can we learn about sustainability and longevity from the German family business experience?

On 20 October, KPMG and the National Center for Family Businesses of Saudi Arabia jointly hosted a webinar, speaking with Prof. Dr. Sabine Rau, an authority when it comes to German family businesses. After sharing her insights about the factors driving the success of family businesses in Germany, she engaged in a dialogue with Mr. Isam Majid AlMuhaidib, a prominent family business leader in Saudi Arabia.

The following themes were addressed:

  • Practices common to most German family businesses
  • Perspectives on Saudi family businesses in comparison with the German experience

Prof. Dr. Sabine Rau, Visiting Professor ESMT Berlin and University of Ottawa, Canada

Prof. Dr. Rau has served at renowned institutions including INSEAD, King’s College London, and the European School of Management in Berlin. A third-generation family business member herself, she worked for several years in her family’s firm before she started her academic and advisory career. She specialized in corporate and family governance and was the author of the first academic textbook on family businesses, among many other publications. She also led the newly founded European Family Business Center in Wiesbaden, Germany, and a founding member of the International Family Enterprise Research Academy.

Mr. Isam Majid AlMuhaidib, Family Business Leader in Saudi Arabia

Mr. AlMuhaidib is VP of Industrial and Infrastructure Investments for Al Muhaidib Group, one of the leading family businesses in Saudi Arabia. His division oversees leading companies such as Vision Invest, ACWA Power, Saudi Tabreed, Riyadh Cables, Masdar and Emdad. Mr. AlMuhaidib is the Chairman of Zahrawi Medical and Emdad Manpower, and sits on the board of many other companies such as Mayar Foods, Masdar, Panda, Thabat Constructions, Del Monte and Abyat.