Major Corporate Governance Initiatives to be Announced at Hawkamah’s Annual Conference

Dr. Nasser Saidi: Corporate Governance Critical Ingredient in GCC’s Ability to be a Major Global Player

The Third Annual Regional Conference of Hawkamah – The Institute of Corporate Governance, which starts tomorrow in Doha, Qatar, is all set to announce major initiatives aimed at further developing corporate governance in the region.

One of the major highlights of the event will be the release of Hawkamah’s policy brief for banks that identifies corporate governance issues affecting the banking sector in the Middle East and North Africa region. Produced after a year-long consultation with Central Banks, banks and other regulators in the region, the policy brief will make recommendations for standardising and harmonising corporate governance practices and policies across the region. Also eagerly anticipated is the launch of the Doha Declaration, which will chart the corporate governance policy agenda for the Middle East and North Africa region.

To be held from November 9 to 10, 2008, Hawkamah’s annual conference brings together corporate governance practitioners, regulators, and representatives of the public and private sectors to discuss the region’s pressing corporate governance concerns under the theme: “Corporate Governance: Is the Region Ready to Become a Global Player”.

The Hawkamah Conference will also highlight the recent progressive measures taken by Qatar to advance corporate governance. Leading organisations in Qatar have, over the past year, taken significant steps to raise governance standards. The Qatar Financial Market Authority, with the assistance of Hawkamah and its international partners, recently issued a corporate governance code for public comment. The Qatar Financial Centre, operating in a world-class environment, fully endorses corporate governance in its regulations. The Qatar Central Bank recently put in place a risk-based corporate governance framework for its banks.

Participants at the event will also discuss how the region, as a growing player in the global marketplace, can learn from corporate governance challenges in developed economies that have led to the current financial turmoil.

Speaking on the significant of the conference, Dr. Nasser Saidi, Executive Director of Hawkamah said: “The financial turmoil affecting advanced economies has given emerging markets including the GCC region an opportunity to play a more prominent role in the global economy. Good corporate governance is a key ingredient in the region rising to the challenge and becoming an international player.” “By ensuring the widespread adoption of institutions and corporate governance frameworks that further bolster investor trust, the GCC region has the opportunity to take its place among the leading economies of the world. The Hawkamah Annual Conference provides an opportunity to explore recent corporate governance developments in the MENA region, learn from experiences in other markets and understand the challenges we face so that we can formulate a way forward,” Dr. Saidi added.

Critical issues that the conference will dicuss include: corporate governance and the financial crisis; potential rise of shareholder activism; optimal regulations for advancing corporate governance; and strategies to involve private equity, future generation funds, and families in the corporate governance movement. The discussion of topical regional issues such as corporate governance for Islamic financial institutions, private equity, sovereign wealth funds, challenges faced by regional families and insolvency and creditor rights will generate insights into the unique governance challenges faced by the region.

The two-day Hawkamah Conference will include a meeting of the MENA-OECD Working Group on Corporate Governance co-chaired by Hawkamah and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in partnership with the World Bank’s Global Corporate Governance Forum (GCGF) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC). This meeting will be co-hosted by Hawkamah.

Hawkamah’s Third Annual Conference will be held from 9 to 10 November, 2008 at the Sharq Village and Spa, Doha, Qatar.

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