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The Gulf Family Business Council, in collaboration with McKinsey & Company, conducted a comprehensive study focusing on family businesses in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region. This report aims to provide valuable insights into the unique characteristics, challenges, and opportunities faced by family-owned enterprises in the GCC.

The GCC-focused Family Business Study delves into the dynamics of family businesses in the Gulf region, shedding light on their contribution to the economy and the factors that drive their success. The study highlights key findings and recommendations to support the growth and sustainability of family businesses in the GCC.

1. Economic Contribution: Family businesses play a significant role in the GCC economy, accounting for a substantial portion of GDP and employment. These enterprises contribute to job creation, wealth generation, and economic stability in the region.

2. Longevity and Succession: Family businesses in the GCC exhibit a remarkable ability to sustain themselves over generations. The study explores the practices and strategies employed by successful family-owned enterprises to ensure seamless succession planning and continuity.

3. Governance and Professionalization: Many family businesses in the GCC are transitioning from traditional family-led management to more professional governance structures. The study examines the challenges and benefits of adopting professional management practices and emphasizes the importance of balancing family values with corporate governance.

4. Innovation and Technology Adoption: The study highlights the growing recognition among GCC family businesses of the need to embrace innovation and technology to remain competitive in the rapidly evolving business landscape. It explores the barriers to innovation and recommends strategies to foster a culture of innovation within family-owned enterprises. 5. Family Dynamics and Conflict Resolution: The report delves into the unique dynamics of family-owned businesses, including the challenges of managing family relationships within the business context. It offers insights on effective conflict resolution strategies and the importance of open communication and transparency.

1. Develop tailored support programs: Governments and industry associations should collaborate to develop specialized support programs for GCC family businesses, focusing on topics such as governance, succession planning, and innovation.

2. Foster collaboration and knowledge-sharing: Encouraging collaboration and knowledge-sharing among family businesses can help address common challenges and promote best practices. Establishing platforms for networking and learning can facilitate the exchange of experiences and expertise.

3. Promote professional development: Family business leaders should invest in their own professional development and that of their successors. Offering training programs and executive education opportunities can equip family members with the necessary skills and knowledge to navigate the complexities of running a successful family business.

4. Embrace technology and digital transformation: GCC family businesses should actively embrace digital transformation and leverage technology to drive innovation, enhance operational efficiency, and reach new markets. This requires a mindset shift and a willingness to invest in technology infrastructure and talent.

The GCC-focused Family Business Study provides a comprehensive understanding of the unique characteristics, challenges, and opportunities faced by family businesses in the Gulf region. By implementing the recommendations outlined in this report, GCC family businesses can enhance their long-term sustainability, foster innovation, and contribute to the economic growth of the region.

GCC-Focused Family Business Study
Blue Skies


The transfer of wealth to the next generation in the GCC, particularly in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, is a significant event with substantial economic implications. Here's a detailed overview based on the latest available data:

- The GCC is experiencing a major transformation in wealth management, with a significant amount of wealth expected to be transferred to the next generation. In 2021, the high-net-worth-individual (HNWI) population and wealth in the Middle East grew by 5.5% and 6.3%, respectively¹.

- The UAE's ultra-HNWIs saw a population increase of 17.5% and wealth increase of 18.6%, outperforming global growth rates¹.

- A massive transfer of wealth from baby boomers to their successors is underway, with estimates suggesting that baby boomers will pass on more than $68 trillion to their children globally¹.

- Specifically, in the GCC, an estimated one trillion in assets is expected to be transferred to the next generation by 2030⁴.

- Families in the Middle East tend to be large, with the size of families in the GCC averaging double that of UK and US families².

- A significant challenge is the succession planning and continuity of family businesses, with many leaders reviewing their business portfolios and operating structures to become more competitive².

- The transition from the first to the second generation, and increasingly from the second to the third generation, poses risks of fragmentation due to difficulties in succession⁷.

- Legal structures such as the Trust legal framework in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) and the Waqf legal framework are being explored as tools for succession planning in the GCC⁷.

- The shift in client expectations and investment goals of next-generation investors is redefining norms in the wealth management industry¹.

- The lack of organization and legal structures hampers the growth of family businesses in the GCC⁹.

- There is a need for family businesses to incorporate legal structures that best fit their unique family dynamics and succession plans⁷.

(1) How is wealth management faring across the GCC? - Gulf Business

(2) A deep dive into the changing tides of GCC Wealth Management

(3) Succession Planning And Wealth Transfer In Middle East Family ....

(4) Family Business Network GCC releases a legal white paper assessing....

(5) The succession challenge in GCC family businesses
(6) GCC wealth funds are new bankers to the world: Here’s why - Gulf Business

(7) Middle East wealth managers’ focus turns to next generation

(8) Family businesses in Gulf gear up to tackle succession planning

(9) Succession Planning for GCC Family The Future is Now - FBC GULF

(10) GCC Family Businesses Urged To Form Governance Structure
(11) GCC Statistical Center - Population Statistics
(12) GCC Countries 2024 - World Population Review

(13) GCC Statistical Center - GCC in figures

(14) GCC Statistical Center - population

Tranfer Of Wealth in the GCC


Family businesses in the GCC have been instrumental in the region's economic growth, with many becoming success stories that have withstood the test of time and generational transitions. Here's a comprehensive overview of some notable family businesses in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and the broader GCC region, including challenges they faced during generational transitions:

- Al-Futtaim Group: Established in the 1930s, it has expanded into various sectors, including automotive, real estate, and retail. The group has managed generational transitions through structured succession planning¹.

- Majid Al Futtaim Group: Known for pioneering shopping malls and hypermarkets in the Middle East, this group has successfully navigated leadership transitions by professionalizing management and separating ownership from business operations¹.

- Al Ghurair Group: One of the oldest family businesses, it has diversified into banking, foods, and construction. The group has faced challenges in maintaining unity among family members across generations¹.

- Olayan Group: This conglomerate has interests in consumer goods, industrial equipment, and investments. It has maintained a low profile while successfully managing generational transitions through a private family council¹.

- Al Muhaidib Group: Starting as a small foodstuff business, it has grown into a conglomerate. The group has faced challenges in balancing family and business interests during transitions¹.

- Abdul Latif Jameel: From its origins as a small trading business, growing to be a global leader in the automotive industry and it has become involved in diversified sectors. The family has implemented governance structures to manage generational changes¹.

- Succession Planning: Many family businesses struggle with succession planning, which can lead to conflicts and division within the family. Establishing clear rules and processes for succession is crucial⁶.

- Governance Structures: The lack of formal governance structures can hamper the growth and sustainability of family businesses. Implementing structured governance and separating family matters from business operations are essential steps⁶.

- Adaptation to Change: Resistance to change and the challenge of keeping up with market evolution can be significant hurdles during transitions. Embracing innovation and adapting business models are necessary for survival⁷.


Several of the families mentioned above are listed by Forbes as top family businesses in the GCC. These include the Al-Futtaim Group, Majid Al Futtaim Group, Olayan Group, Al Muhaidib Group, and Abdul Latif Jameel, among others. These families have not only contributed significantly to their respective economies but also set examples of how to navigate the
complex process of passing the leadership baton to the next generation¹.

The success of these family businesses is often attributed to their ability to innovate, diversify their investments, and maintain strong governance practices. However, as they move forward, these businesses will continue to face challenges related to modernization, globalization, and technological advancements. It's important for them to continue evolving their strategies to ensure long-term sustainability and success..

(1) Top 100 Arab Family Businesses 2024 - Forbes Lists
(2) The succession challenge in GCC family businesses
(3) Family Businesses (FBS) in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC): Review and ....

(4) Top 100 Arab Family Businesses 2023 - Forbes Lists

(5) Top 100 Arab Family Businesses - Forbes Lists

(6) Family businesses in the Gulf Cooperation Council

(7) Family Business in Gulf Cooperation Council Countries (GCC): Toward the ....
(8) Governance, succession issues still hound GCC family firms

Succes Stories


This succession events happened particularly during the lifetime of its esteemed patriarch, Sh. Sulaiman Al Rajhi. This remarkable story is one of hard work, persistence, and enduring success.

1. Legacy Preservation: The Al Rajhi family recognized the importance of preserving their legacy and ensuring the continuity of their business empire. Sulaiman Al Rajhi, as the founder and visionary, understood that a well-thought-out succession plan would safeguard the family's interests for generations to come.

2. Risk Mitigation: Succession planning minimizes the risks associated with leadership transitions. By identifying and grooming potential successors, the family can mitigate disruptions and maintain stability in their business operations.

3. Wealth Management: The Al Rajhi Group is a diversified conglomerate with interests in banking, agriculture, steel, and other industrial sectors
³. Managing this vast wealth required a strategic approach. A succession plan allowed for efficient wealth distribution and management.

1. Identifying Successors: Sulaiman Al Rajhi meticulously identified and nurtured potential successors within the family. He ensured that they imbibed the core values, work ethic, and business acumen necessary to lead effectively.

2. Gradual Transition: Rather than abrupt changes, the succession plan facilitated a gradual transition. Sulaiman involved his family members in decision-making processes, allowing them to gain experience and build relationships with key stakeholders.

3. Diversification: The Al Rajhi family diversified their investments beyond banking. They ventured into gypsum, agriculture, and steel, among other sectors
³. This diversification not only enhanced their wealth but also provided opportunities for family members to contribute in various fields.

4. Education and Philanthropy: Sulaiman Al Rajhi established the Sulaiman Al Rajhi University in his hometown as a non-profit institution
³. Education became a cornerstone of the succession plan, empowering family members with knowledge and skills. Additionally, the family's philanthropic endeavors strengthened their social standing and goodwill.

5. Continuity and Unity: The succession plan fostered unity among family members. Clear roles, responsibilities, and expectations were defined, ensuring a harmonious transition. The family's commitment to shared goals and values contributed to their continued success.


1. Start Early: Succession planning should begin well in advance. Identifying and grooming successors takes time, and early preparation is crucial.

2. Communication: Open communication is vital. Family members must discuss their aspirations, roles, and responsibilities transparently. Regular family meetings can facilitate this dialogue.

3. Adaptability: The Al Rajhi family adapted to changing market dynamics and diversified their portfolio. Flexibility is essential for long-term success.

4. Balancing Tradition and Innovation: While preserving tradition, the family embraced innovation. They combined timeless values with modern strategies.

In summary, the Al Rajhi family's succession plan under Sulaiman Al Rajhi's guidance exemplifies foresight, resilience, and a commitment to generational prosperity. Their story serves as an inspiration for other business families seeking sustainable success.

(1) Sheikh Sulaiman bin Abdulaziz Al Rajhi - Arabian Business

(2) The Inspiring Story Of Saudi Billionaire Sulaiman Al Rajhi - Forbes ME

(3) Awqaf Suliman Al Rajhi Holding Co. - Eye of Riyadh
(4) Al Rajhi International for Investment - RAII
(5) Sulaiman Al Rajhi, A Saudi who donated $16 ... - Life in Saudi Arabia

Al Rajhi Family Succession Plan


Family businesses can learn several key lessons from the success stories of their peers, particularly those that have managed to thrive across multiple generations. Here are some of the most important takeaways:

Establishing clear governance structures that separate family matters from business operations is crucial. This includes setting up a professional board to ensure oversight and accountability¹.

Maintaining the unique family culture and values—often referred to as "family gravity"—is essential. These values should be aligned with the business's goals and often become part of the brand's identity¹.

Future leaders should be evaluated not only on their competencies but also on how well they align with the company's core values. This ensures continuity in the business's vision and culture¹.

When choosing candidates for leadership roles, it's important to follow a disciplined process. Providing support during the transition phase is also vital for the new leader's integration¹.


Successful family businesses demonstrate resilience and the ability to adapt to change. They are prepared to evolve their strategies to meet market demands and technological advancements³.


A focus on long-term goals rather than short-term gains is a common trait among successful family businesses. This vision guides decision-making and investment strategies³.


As family businesses grow, professionalizing management and operations becomes necessary. This often involves bringing in external expertise and establishing formal business practices¹.


Proactive and well-thought-out succession planning ensures a smooth transition of leadership and helps avoid conflicts that can arise from unclear succession paths¹.


Operating with integrity and respect in all business dealings builds trust and a positive reputation, which are invaluable assets for any family business⁵.

By learning from these lessons, other family businesses can increase their chances of long-term success and ensure a legacy that endures through generations.

(1) Leadership Lessons from Great Family Businesses - Harvard Business Review
(2) Lessons from successful family businesses - First 5000
(3) What Are The Keys To A Business Success Story? - Forbes

(4) Eight lessons from the most successful family enterprises of 2019-20 - EY

(5) How a History Lesson Can Help a Family Business Succeed

Key Lessons
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