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NBAD supported our project plans and gave us the confidence to enter the market. Nasser Al Rowahi CEO, Hexagon Batteries Regeneration

Hexagon is the first battery regeneration service center in the UAE with the ultimate goal of adding value to sustainable practices and initiatives in the Emirates. In partnership with Be Energy in France, Hexagon strives to introduce the latest technology of battery regeneration. When Hexagon made plans to enter the market, NBAD supported the project and helped establish Hexagon Batteries Regeneration. At NBAD we believe that the true success of a business is partnership. With our regional expertise and global reach across the dynamic West-East trade corridor, you can count on us to partner you to the next level of success.

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Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development is a government entity that spearheads the support and development of SMEs in the UAE. His role is integral to the strategic planning and management of the organisation in alignment with the Executive Council’s objectives.


His Excellency Abdullah Saeed Al Darmaki CEO, Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development

SME Advisor is delighted to announce that during 2015 we will be working with some of the leading names in the SME space - key figures who have kindly agreed to take part in our prestigious Editorial Committee. This panel will play a vital role in channeling the feature content of our magazine and ensuring that we are more topical than ever - analyzing and discussing the ‘real world’ issues of tangible value to our readership and bringing industry-leading expertise across the publication and its raft of prestigious related events. We are delighted to introduce the following SME personalities:

Policy makers

Professor Val Lindsay MSc (Otago), MBA (Victoria), PhD (Warwick) As a Professor of Entrepreneurship and Management at the American University of Sharjah (AUS), she has a keen interest in teaching and research in the areas of international strategy, exporting, services internationalization, entrepreneurship, small and medium-sized enterprises, networks and clusters, and economic development.

Thought leaders At the helm of the BPG Group since 1991, he is responsible for consolidating the Group’s interests across advertising, public advocacy, public relations, design, activation, media asset management and digital verticals, in the Middle East and North Africa region.

Entrepreneurs Avi Bhojani CEO, BPG GROUP


sme advisor ISSUE 116

He is also the Director of the Dubai Chamber initiative, Tejar Dubai. He is a proven UAE leader and business entrepreneur, with the ability to rapidly mobilize teams to achieve organisational change and integration.

With his unique background as an educator, a business strategist, and a researcher, Dr. Abonamah has conducted many strategy and organisational transformation workshops for various SMEs in the Gulf region and has been invited to speak at many national and international conferences, and panel discussions. He has over fifty publications in international journals and conferences and a US patent in reliable computer systems.

Essa Al Zaabi Senior Vice President Support Services, Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry


He is a Board Member of the Advisory Board of Deutsche Auskunftei Service GmbH, Chairman of Business Advisory Council of EFMA, member of ECGI (European Corporate Governance Institute) and Member of the Advisory Board of BAA, the Alumni Association of Bocconi University and SDABocconi.



Laura has been named one of the Best Keynote Speakers by Meetings and Conventions Magazine and is a member of the National Speakers Association. She serves on the boards of the American Heart Association, Clean the World Foundation, Common Threads and Event Solutions Magazine.


Paul is one of the most important figures in the Internet space in the MENA region and is an active investor, mentor and advisor to numerous companies around the world. He has made numerous investments into Internet and Technology companies worldwide and sits as an advisor and board member to several companies.

Yogesh Mehta Managing Director, Petrochem Middle East Mohan Valrani Senior Vice Chairman & Managing Director, Al Shirawi Group of Companies Apart, from his business-related ventures, he is also deeply involved in social activities. He is the founder - Chairman of the India Club and on the Board of Trustees of The Indian High School and has been as instrumental in contributing to the success of these institutions.

Driven by passion and a need to succeed, he established Petrochem Middle East in 1995 with friend and business partner David Lubbock. Petrochem Middle East has since grown from strength-to-strength to become one of the largest independent petrochemical distributors in the Middle East. A self-made billionaire, his greatest attributes are mentoring and leading by example.

Sultan Sobhi Batterjee owner and CEO, IHCC He is a member of several social and economic associations including the Young Arab Leaders Society in Dubai, the young entrepreneurs committee Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and he is also a Board Member of the (EO) Entrepreneurs’ Organisation in the USA.



© 2015 SAP SE or an SAP affiliate company. All rights reserved.




It’s not about how much consumer data you have. It’s about how simple it is to put it to work for your customers. SAP helps bring together insights into every customer, and lets you engage them in the exact time, place and channel that’s right for them. So your customers feel cared for, respected and, most of all, delighted. That’s running simple. Find out more at

FROM THE EDITOR MANAGEMENT Dominic De Sousa Chairman Nadeem Hood Group CEO Georgina O’Hara COO - Business and Consumer EDITORIAL Group Director of Editorial Paul Godfrey +971 4 440 9105 Editor Rushika Bhatia +971 4 440 9115 ADVERTISING Business Development Executive Adam Barrie Lees +971 4 440 9119 Business Development Executive Mohamed Kerrouchi +971 4 440 9162 Account Executive Freshia Mistry +971 4 440 9161 Event Sponsorship Manager Gill Fairclough +971 4 440 9120 DESIGN Head of Design Glenn Roxas

A cloud with a silver lining for SMEs? It’s common knowledge that a number of economists are predicting that the low oil price is not so much a trend as a fact of life - they’re claiming that this is a scenario likely to be the ‘new normal’ for the next three to four years. Meanwhile, for some time now, we’ve seen some of the biggest contractors, right at the head of the supply chain, extending payment cycles to 180 days. While this may not seem the most encouraging of environments, the fact is that in many cases, SMEs literally have bigger and better things to worry about - and opportunities to take advantage of. Relationships with larger entities have never been a guarantee of cashflow and the ability to pay the bills: rather, they are identified as a source of profit on the business plan. In this climate, it’s crucial that SMEs take a more investment-focused view, looking for example, at the raft of backoffice opportunities, including the role of prudent investment in commercial real estate. This is a time when building an asset-base can play a major role in future security and can be a powerful way to smooth peaks and troughs in the balance sheet. This is also a good moment to ‘get the books in order’ and focus on being bankable: 2016 can be a good time for some sensible and productive borrowing, again with a view to market expansion and strengthening the company’s proposition in key markets. Taking advantage of this new climate will also demand having the best possible people on board: against the accepted wisdom, now is the time to target new key roles within the business and identify perhaps 2-3 positions that will help underpin and stabilise company performance in a turbulent market. Many pundits see the role of the SME becoming more of a trailblazer during 2016, working progressively towards being drivers of the economy, even in sectors where they have traditionally been inheritors of opportunities through the supply chain. We are already starting to see the development of new areas of manufacturing depth, for example, where businesses are becoming true leaders in technology and industrial techniques, rather than continuing in tried and tested supply chain verticals. Far from being pressures exerted on SMEs from the larger economy, these are forces that the SME sector is applying on the market at large. Watch this space: SMEs are likely to deliver more than 62 per cent of the nation’s GDP in the coming cycle and become a stronger and more assertive presence. Enjoy this issue of SME Advisor.

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“The overriding factor to keep in mind is that once an SME starts to deal seriously in the realm of commercial real estate investment, it can prove to be a considerably labour intensive strategy.”



“Startup Focus is a key initiative by the SAP Training and Development Institute, which aims to help talented young people find jobs or establish their own companies.” p30

06 Editorial Committee SME personalities bringing industryleading expertise across the publication and its raft of prestigious events. 09 Editor’s Note Paul Godfrey on the way moving forward…

Enjoy our y-focused technolog issue!

12 Data and decision making Our infographic section showcasing key trends shaping the SME marketplace. Ground Level 14 Cost management We offer simple control mechanisms to boost your bottom line. Fast Four 20 IT Governance Everything you need to know about this topic summarised across four key points.

“Do not be afraid to talk to your banker about risks, but make sure you talk to them in a manner that shows you have considered the risks and the potential pitfalls, and have mitigated them as far as you are reasonably able.” p40

sme advisor ISSUE 116

Strategy 44 Market Insight: The impact of lower oil prices Expert practitioner Nour Amache explores the current landscape.


Legal 48 Recent case highlights social media framework in the UAE Experts from Clyde & Co. provide critical insights.



Technology 52 Looking to the future – Understanding the Smart City concept SME Advisor asked Dnyanesh Nirwan, Director – Consulting, KPMG to highlight the core aspects. Training and Development 58 The People Factor We preview a key forthcoming event that looks at the leadership value of HR professionals.

Business Banking 22 Getting Real What are the opportunities and pitfalls of commercial real estate investment? Digitally Disruptive 26 You’re not alone – how to reap the rewards of a big partner We spoke to experts at Etisalat… Movers & Shakers 30 An exclusive interview with Marita Mitschein A detailed insight into SAP’s unique Startup Focus Program. 34 Surviving in a digital economy We turned to one of the Middle East’s foremost digital experts - Rabih Dabboussi, General Manager – UAE, Cisco, for sound advice. Finance 40 Behind the money – The second step in securing finance Zak Abideen from Moody’s Analytics sets the scene.

Corporate Governance 62 Practical tips for sound corporate governance in mid-sized companies Deniz Erkus provides a detailed template for growth. Stars of Business 68 Launching our 8th Annual SME Stars of Business Awards – now open across 11 MENA nations. GITEX Technology Week 2015 72 We take a trip down memory lane and look at the exhibition’s fantastic journey… Tech Trends 76 Top apps to download while you’re on a business trip.

Data and Decision making

RETAIL INDUSTRY – KEY HIGHLIGHTS GCC region Retail contributes 12% to the region’s GDP GCC retail sales to grow at a 7.3% CAGR between 2013 and 2018 to reach US$ 284.5 billion Food retail sales are anticipated to grow at a CAGR of 7.7% between 2013 and 2018

UAE (in 2014)

g n i p a h s Trends r o t c e s l i the reta

The per capita value of the retailing industry in the UAE is under US$4,000 The retailing industry in UAE will see a 7 per cent average growth rate, in terms of value, over the next five years Retail sales, excluding grocery stores, amounted to just below $33 billion Strictly online retailers accounted for just over $496m Mobile commerce accounted for just over $122m in annual sales

MAJOR PROJECTS IN THE PIPELINE 230,000-sqm Place Vendome in Doha

250,000-sqm Doha Festival City

163,500-sqm Mall of Egypt in Cairo

235,000-sqm Yas Mall in Abu Dhabi

162,000-sqm Mall of Qatar in Doha

Mall of the World, which will encompass 800,000 sq. m of leasable retail space, entertainment, residential and more than 100 hotels.


Data and Decision making

UNDERSTANDING CONSUMER BEHAVIOUR Monthly purchases across various shopping channels:






Rising competition


Eliminating counterfeiting of products


Developing infrastructure to boost online retail


Why do customers prefer instore purchases over online?


Get products immediately

Enjoyable instore atmosphere

Why do customers prefer online purchases over instore?


Ability to touch, feel and try products

Easy to return items

Staying on top of e-commerce trends

22% 13%

Engagement with retail brands via social media


follow their favourite retailers and brands on social media


use social media to research brands with the help of product reviews and comments


provide feedback on their experience with a brand


purchase products directly via social media

56% 46% 32% 16% 12%

Lower prices or better deals Flexibility to shop anytime – 24/7 Ease of comparison and research Customer reviews More product information

Sources: Alpen Capital, PwC, Colliers International, Euromonitor International





Cost Management simple control mechanisms to boost your bottom line

As current global market conditions continue to impact businesses and their profitability, many organisations are looking to lower costs and increase productivity, while still maintaining the quality of their products and services. The following article explores effective cost accounting strategies and highlights management best practices‌.



We all surely agree that the prime motivator for doing business is profit. Traditionally, profit has two crucial elements – revenue and cost. In fact, the standard equation to ascertain the profit of your business is as

Profit = Total revenues – Total costs Without an accurate measure of your costs or revenues, it is impossible to ascertain where your business stands. This is where cost accounting can play a significant role in managing your SME. While it is highly recommended for every SME to hire an experienced and qualified accountant, having a basic understanding of how costs work can be of tremendous help in the day-to-day operations of a business. What is cost accounting In simple words, cost accounting can be defined as the process of identifying, measuring, classifying, analysing

and controlling costs within your business in order to make management decisions. Very often, costs and management decisions are inextricably interwoven. The first step to understanding cost accounting is to grasp the different types of costs. Costs are often classified differently under various definitions. A good way of dividing costs is according to the prestigious Chartered Institute of Management Accounting (CIMA) guidelines i.e. based on nature, purpose, responsibility and behaviour. Costs can be broadly classified into the following categories:

Classified by:



Material, labour, expenses


Inventory (direct, indirect, functional costs, product and period costs), decision making (fixed and variable costs), and control (controllable and uncontrollable costs)


Fixed and variable costs Cost accounting: Understanding the basics To keep things simple, four of the very basic costs can be defined as the follows: Direct costs: These costs are those that can be easily assigned to a particular product, or production department. Indirect costs: These costs are the exact opposite of direct costs i.e. they can’t

be assigned to a particular product or production department. Fixed costs: These are costs that do not change with any movements in the production levels or activity within a business. A great example of this is your annual rent. Variable costs: These costs change with changes in production levels. For example, the number of aluminium tins used in the manufacturing plant of canned food.

TOTAL COST CAN THEN BE CALCULATED AS: Total cost = Direct cost + Indirect cost (overhead) Direct cost = Direct material + Direct labour + Direct expenses Indirect cost = Indirect materials + Indirect labour + Indirect expenses



After an overview of these basic costs, it’s now crucial to understand the different ways of costing. Kenneth Boyd offers a detailed explanation in the online version of his Cost Accounting for Dummies: • Job costing: This method of costing assumes that every customer job is different. Plumbers and carpenters are good examples of businesses that use cost accounting. Because every job is different, each customer job is assigned material, labour, and overhead costs. • Process costing: Companies use process costing when partially completed units are moved from one production area to another. Process costing assumes that the products you produce are similar or even identical. • Activity-based costing (ABC): ABC costing can be used for both job costing and process costing analysis. You use ABC costing to assign costs to your product more specifically. ABC costing analyses the activities that cause you to incur costs; you then connect the cost to the activity. USEFUL TO KNOW • Variance: A variance is a difference between your planned or budgeted cost and your actual results. A favourable variance occurs when your actual costs are less than your budgeted or planned cost. An unfavourable variance is when actual costs are higher than planned.

Very often, costs and management decisions are inextricably interwoven.

• ‘Inventoriable’ costs: These are costs that are directly related to the product. Production costs are ‘inventoriable’ costs for a manufacturer. If you are a retailer, your cost to purchase inventory is also an ‘inventoriable’. Other costs you incur for goods are included, such as shipping and storage costs. Source: Cost Accounting for Dummies by Kenneth Boyd



An effective cost system allows for comparisons of operations over different time periods, product lines, company locations, and so on.

The acid test While it may all seem easy and straightforward in theory, the real acid test is when you implement a cost system into your business. In her online article Cost Accounting Practices in the Service Industry, Erika Waters shares the experience of a company in the service industry, “Cost accounting can help service companies develop a better picture of the resource inflows and outflows by more accurately connecting costs with outputs. For example, cost accounting in the service industry will reveal to managers which employees cost the least per job and are therefore the most efficient workers. Making the switch to cost accounting has helped some service firms lower costs and achieve higher productivity. Under a cost accounting system, it might become clear that employees are particularly efficient at certain tasks. By assigning employees to the task at which they are the most efficient, a manager can greatly increase the productivity of his division. “On the other hand, cost accounting requires a great deal of resources, observation and time. In the restaurant context, a waiter is often doing several tasks at once for several different tables. As such, it would require non-stop observation and recording to determine exactly how much time he is spending on a single table. Further, because cost accounting was developed for manufacturing firms it does not always fit the service industry perfectly. There are often very few direct costs in the service industry. It is easy to determine how much wax is used to produce one crayon. But it is much more difficult to determine what portion of a waiter’s shift is used to serve a single table.” The advantages – supercharge business performance There are several benefits of implementing a cost system within your business:


- Aids in the evaluation of product pricing - Helps with information for purchasing orders, sales quotations, and other important processes within the product cycle - Enables you to easily single out non-profitable activities - An effective cost system allows for comparisons of operations over different time periods, product lines, company locations, and so on - Sets the scene for future expansion strategies or importexport ventures - Provides the value of inventory your business has at any given time (which is then useful for insurance, succession planning, IPO, exit strategy, etc.) - Gives shareholders, investors, or any other interest groups, an insight into the potential profitability of the business - Offers useful information which helps decide departmental budgets and staff pay, incentives, and bonuses - Highlights if an activity should be outsourced and is better done inhouse It’s quite easy to see that cost accounting can be a powerful in the armoury of an SME owner. Put it into practice today and reap the rewards!

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fast four

IT Governance is having strategic leadership in place to oversee all the IT policies in your business. It needs to incorporate the following components: 1. Ensuring that all IT activities in your company are undertaken in a way that they facilitate business growth and are aligned to the long-term goals of the firm. 2. Establishing and regulating IT priorities in support of the company’s overall well-being. 3. Placing a regular check on all your IT systems and processes to monitor correct usage, optimal performance and compliance with global standards. 4. Proper maintenance and control of all IT assets/resources in your company. For instance, safeguarding important data from getting into the wrong hands. 5. Integrating suitable risk management strategies to define the way IT officials respond to risk. For example, what happens when your company is faced with a cyber-attack?

What is ‘IT GoverNance’?

We present a compelling new section that explores four different, practical views on one topical SME issue. This month SME Advisor scoured through multiple sources of information and found four excerpts that summarise everything you need to know about IT Governance… “Gartner recommends that IT leaders follow three major phases in their IT governance projects. These phases may vary, depending on your organisation and the extent of your planning initiative. 1. Strategize and plan: Establish the business goals and principles for IT governance. Determine what decisions need to be governed. Develop the strategies and approach for designing solutions. Scope the project, and establish the resources, budget and project governance systems. 2. Architect solution: Define what decisions are to be made, at what level, by whom, with what accountabilities and with what decision-making styles. Recommend how to implement the project. Communicate the plan. 3. Build: Create processes for demand governance. The processes should include those for decision making, committees, portfolio management, investment performance metrics, funding and chargeback for IT development and delivery, and risk monitoring and management.” Source: Gartner

One topic

Implemen tation of ‘IT Governance’


fast four

Why is 'IT Governance' important?

four expert opinions How will it affect my SME?

IT Governance is an important aspect to keep in mind because it: • Helps structure all IT processes within your business • Boosts efficiency and effectiveness • Reduces wastage and considerably saves costs While these three elements are of advantage to any corporation, they are of larger significance to small businesses that are struggling to increase productivity and lower costs.

Hot topic this month: IT Governance

In today’s digital age, SMEs are constantly being forced to stay on top of the latest innovations to remain competitive, and while they look to implement new technologies, it is imperative that they have strong IT Governance structures in place. This sets the foundation for the IT department – integrating business goals with IT and ensuring effective IT management. The reality also is that efficiently managed IT operations can give SMEs a competitive advantage and help them significantly with cost reduction.



Getting real the opportunities and pitfalls of commercial real estate investment

No other investment category is as popular in the region as commercial real estate: many businesses, including some of the largest GCC corporates, typically have as much as 65 per cent of their investment portfolio committed to this sector. Yet the reality is that this can be a challenging and high maintenance option, where investors play a ‘probability game’ on the likelihood of good returns - which can be exceptional in a good economic climate. Senior Editor Paul Godfrey explores the opportunity…





First things first. Part of the appeal of investing in the commercial property market is the sheer size of the sector and the enormous choice of investment that it offers. According to the USA’s CoStar Group, worldwide, the total value of commercial property is estimated at USD71 trillion. Yet within North America - the world’s largest real estate community, with assets valued at USD11 trillion - more than US$160 billion of commercial properties are now in default, foreclosure, or bankruptcy. In Europe, approximately half of the €960 billion of debt backed by European commercial real estate is expected to require refinancing in the next three years (according to PropertyMall, a UK based commercial property news provider). While the market is also distinctive for its volatility - with values climbing, according to Bloomberg, 280 per cent in the GCC between 2002 and 2008 - it is also arguably the best of all longterm investments, out-performing everything except top-quartile Giltedged stock over the last three decades (Forbes). This despite the fact that the down side of extraordinary growth was dramatic decline during the financial crisis of 2008-2011. In many western markets, this decline was softened by a broad portfolio spread: - so for most corporate investment portfolios, only about 11 per cent of investments were held in the property sector. Typically, though, in the Middle East and Asia, the figure is much higher - up to 70 per cent is not uncommon. During the financial crisis, this of course had dire consequences for many investing businesses, especially in the SME space, where the spread of any portfolio is generally quite narrow, and risk concentration can be a major concern. The investment opportunity Ostensibly, investing in real estate makes good sense. Take, at the simplest level, the following example: you decide to expand your office space to accommodate a growing business,


so rather than look for rental offices, you decide to buy a small office complex and source a commercial mortgage. You will be able to rent the other units and cover about 90 per cent of costs - and in the meantime, you have an asset, the value of which will, in all likelihood, go up. In time, you will also be able to refinance the office block in order to boost cashflow or finance further investments and while doing so, you will retain ownership of the development. There are only two apparent risks: either the value goes down, not up (as many investors experienced during the financial crisis); or once you have paid for the property you sit on a ‘dead’ asset and fail to release its cash value back into the business. There are two other investment models: • A commercial property fund. This entails either a one-off or regular payment into a ‘unit trust’ model that is an amalgam of many different properties. It gives you returns against a rise in their averaged price. While simple - working in the same way as an institutional pension fund, for example - the drawback is that you don’t have one specific property to utilise. • Membership of a property syndicate. This lets you join forces with likeminded businesses and buy a share in a property that you would otherwise not be able to afford. You will have vote in what happens to the investment, and when. This is an instrument most frequently used by larger businesses (enterprise level) looking to build a property portfolio in niche market verticals with a high re-sell value. What will you invest in? There are five main types of commercial real estate, namely • Office Buildings - This includes single‐tenant properties, small professional office buildings, downtown skyscrapers - and everything in between!

• Industrial - This category ranges from smaller properties, often called ‘Flex’ or ‘R&D’ properties, to larger office service or office warehouse properties. It also includes the very large ‘big box’ industrial properties. • Retail/Restaurant - Sites on high streets, single tenant retail buildings, small neighbourhood shopping centres, larger centres and malls. • Land - This describes investment properties on undeveloped, raw, rural land in the path of future development. Or, infill land within an urban area. • Miscellaneous - A bigger category than you might think and including non-residential properties such as hotel, hospitality and medical. Each of these has its advantages and disadvantages. The deciding factor is likely to be entry-level cost - so for example, a custombuilt hospital premises might be an excellent investment opportunity, but is likely to be well beyond the budget of a business with only modest sums to invest. You might also be unlikely to invest in buying land as such unless you are a specialist developer, since this will involve all kinds of clearance, civic development and licensing issues far beyond the realms of a simple opportunistic investment. How a direct real estate investment works Properly managed, a commercial real estate investment can – • Infuse a business with cash at key times, averting income shortfall ‘hotspots’ and boosting cashflow • Provide collateral for future borrowing • When sold successfully, contribute a significant lump sum


The overriding factor to keep in mind is that once an SME starts to deal seriously in the realm of commercial real estate investment, it can prove to be a considerably labour intensive strategy.

• Provide an additional working environment in a key location But this means working with the basic dynamics successfully, eg, managing and understanding crucial factors like • Cash inflows • Cash outflows • The all-important timing of these fluctuations, which must run in opposition to standing costs and incomes in order to smooth balance sheet behaviour • The need to appraise and mitigate risk Cash inflows and outflows are the money that is put into, or received from, the property including the original purchase cost and sale revenue over the entire life of the investment. Cash inflows include the following: • Rent • Operating expense recoveries • Fees: Parking, vending, services, etc. • Proceeds from sale • Tax benefits (where applicable) • Tax credits (e.g., historical)

outflows being commensurate with the amounts predicted. Also, what is the probability that the timing of them will also be as predicted? What is the likelihood that there may be unexpected cash flows, and what would be their value? These uncertainties - classic issues of management accounting - will also be impacted by economic shifts such as interest rate hikes and arbitrage/ currency dilemmas in the case of a business operating across borders. In terms of commercial real estate investment, aspects of this kind can • Put renewed pressure on valuations • Complicate loan refinancing • Impede and delay debt servicing The overriding factor to keep in mind is that once an SME starts to deal seriously in the realm of commercial real estate investment, it can prove to be a considerably labour intensive strategy. So, do you have the accounting and risk management expertise to move wholeheartedly in this direction? If the answer is yes, there is still no greater catalyst for growth and wealth creation.

Whereas cash outflows include: • Initial investment (down payment) • All operating expenses and taxes (where applicable) • Mortgage or loan payment • Capital expenses and tenant leasing costs • Costs upon Sale The timing of cash inflows and outflows is important to know in order to project periods of positive and negative cash flows. Risk is dependent on • Market conditions • Current tenants, and the likelihood that they will renew their leases year‐ on year. • Physical risks such as fire and flood • Natural depreciation • Security and theft issues Businesses need to be able to predict the probability of the cash inflows and

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You’re not alone! How to reap the rewards of a Big Business partner...


As Etisalat launches an extensive new SMB TV commercial and advertising campaign on October 4, the powerful message for SMBs is that they have a world of resources at their disposal to leverage critical change, connectivity and growth. The fact is whether your SMB is looking to be a leader in the digital revolution - supercharging the business with mobility and cloud computing solutions - or is simply sourcing affordable telecoms essentials, Etisalat is the region’s market leader.



Via a high-quality cluster of SMB business partners, Etisalat ensures that SMBs deal with experts who have a detailed understanding of the business, and can share valuable insights on the kind of connectivity that’s most relevant and affordable.

One of the classic challenges facing an SMB is that it’s constrained by the resources at its disposal - how many staff it has, the core cost of doing business, the size of its facilities and how much market data it can collect. So how about reinventing the scenario and turning the challenge into an opportunity? Now, there’s a powerful new factor that changes the game for good. The real value of working with a market-leading provider like Etisalat is that it actually means you have the resources of a big business at your fingertips - with all the terrific outreach, up-scale potential and cost savings that implies. Let’s look at some key examples – a) SMBs now have a dedicated 24/7 SMB call centre: Etisalat has a dedicated facility focused on servicing SMB needs – giving them a single point of contact for anything they might require. This call centre exists

exclusively for SMBs, and provides access to a specialised, multilingual team of technology experts. b) Business managers and partners: SMBs can benefit from a dedicated business manager, who is fully equipped to help with all business connectivity needs and recommend the most suitable and affordable solutions. Contrary to what you might think, the business manager isn’t overloaded with accounts, but has a tiered portfolio of clients depending on the size of businesses that he or she services. That means you can deal with someone who knows your name and your all-important objectives, and is fully aligned with the way your business works. c) The widest network of business centres: Etisalat offers business centres at convenient locations across the UAE. Each business

centre is set up to serve SMBs with all their telecom and technological needs, so that they can focus on effectively running their business without worrying about the day-today connectivity challenges. If your business is located in a Free Zone, you’ll also benefit from the fact that Etisalat has been actively partnering with the Free Zone authorities to provide the best and most advanced telecom and ICT services to business tenants. This is part of Etisalat’s wider commitment to the future of the UAE economy, where Free Zones are a remarkable catalyst in worldclass development – and your SMB can be part of the opportunity! d) With the Etisalat’s unique Business Quick Start bundle solution, you have the opportunity to take your pick of the latest devices covering all your office needs, with simple, one-stop



The reality is that SMBs require an always-on communications network, 24×7 expert support and competitively priced services and solutions that are critical to their business performance and growth.


connectivity - and avail yourself of these devices for free! You can then supplement your set-up as and when you need with high-end, high spec equipment as your requirements grow. This means you can not only get your business up-and-running from Day One, but you can do so with minimum capital investment allowing you to conserve valuable funds. What’s more, Etisalat had upgraded broadband speeds for nearly 100,000 business customers, making them up to 2.5 times faster at no extra cost. When you bundle in other elements like a free voice minutes offer, the reality is that SMBs can enjoy significant cost savings and a substantial increase in their operational efficiencies. There’s also access to Etisalat’s dynamic Business Online Portal, free of charge, to help you manage, order, track your accounts and pay your bills anytime, anywhere.

when SMBs get in touch with an urgent request or enquiry, it’s dealt with by people who genuinely care and have the best possible solutions on hand.

Quality plus quantity! There’s another key factor to the service dimension, too. SMBs often have concerns about the time it takes to get new connectivity solutions up and running, and wonder whether the business they’re dealing with really understands their needs. Even if it does, can it actually offer a bespoke solution that’s costeffective and lets the business play to its strengths? Via a high-quality cluster of SMB business partners, Etisalat ensures that SMBs deal with experts who have a detailed understanding of the business, and can share valuable insights on the kind of connectivity that’s most relevant and affordable. What’s more, Etisalat puts very stringent quality criteria in place for every aspect of the SMB business partner’s operations - even defining their recruitment policy and the style and depth of training required for every member of the team. What’s more, the channel partner’s contribution is reviewed monthly not just for performance but in terms of meeting very rigorous customer service protocols. All of which ensures that

• End-to-end simplicity and convenience at all touch points

Accelerating your business’ growth In today’s business climate, excellent levels of connectivity are an essential, not a luxury. For the great majority of business sectors, the days are gone when a business can be competitive without an online profile. The reality is that SMBs require an always-on communications network, 24×7 expert support and competitively priced services and solutions that are critical to their business performance and growth. Etisalat’s SMB team offers a set of comprehensive initiatives to ease the set-up and growth challenges of SMBs in the country. In addition to the factors listed above, a checklist of the key benefits includes • The promise of a seamless experience throughout the customer’s journey

• A personalised visit by a trained and authorised Etisalat representative to the customer premise within 24 hours • An information kit to enable the businesses to set up their operations faster, more efficiently • A welcome call to ensure hassle free subscription to Etisalat’s SMB services Supercharge your connectivity – today! Getting world-class connectivity has never been easier: visit ae/business for more information, and enjoy competitive advantages, ultimate convenience and high-level mobility and office solutions. To watch Etisalat’s new TV ad, please visit:

For an online version, please visit: business-partner

MOVERS & shakers

An exclusive interview with

Marita Mitschein



MOVERS & shakers

Marita Mitschein, Senior Vice President and Managing Director, SAP Training and Development Institute


MOVERS & shakers

Startup Focus delivers global best practices to support the region’s start-up community in growing their innovative business plans, helping them to accelerate the development of their solutions and assisting them with the go to market.

Tell us more about the SAP Startup Focus Program. What does this initiative hope to achieve, and what was the idea behind it? The SAP Startup Focus Program was launched in the Middle East and North Africa to support technology entrepreneurs, whose product ideas are based on Big Data, predictive or real-time analytics solution. Startup Focus delivers global best practices to support the region’s startup community in growing their innovative business plans, helping them to accelerate the development of their solutions and assisting them with the go to market. Ever since the global launch of the Startup Focus Program in 2012, SAP and participating start-ups have enjoyed great success. SAP has engaged over 2,000 start-ups across 57 countries and 22 industries. To date, 175 start-ups have gone to market and are actively working in partnership with SAP customers. By launching the program in MENA, SAP Training and Development Institute (SAP TDI) aims to bring the startup community in the region together and provide support for promising start-ups to build their application on SAP HANA, one of the world’s fastest growing in memory platforms.

Describe who is eligible for the program, the benefits an enrolled start-up enjoys, how it works, and if they still receive SAP support once graduating from the program. Start-ups with ideas pertaining to Big data, predictive or real analytics are best suited for this program. 32

These ideas would make the best use of SAP HANA’s power of in memory computing in real time. We have seen companies, focusing on various industries, joining the Startup Focus Program in different phases of their growth journey, as there is no set entry point for the program. If the companies are looking for a scalable, high performance platform then SAP HANA cloud platform can be a key to accelerate their success. Start-ups accepted into the program will benefit from technology support in developing their promising solution based on SAP HANA cloud platform as well as assistance in the go-to-market of their production-ready solution.

Based on your extensive experience of working with startups as part of this Program, what are some key challenges and opportunities they are currently facing when it comes to Big Data? In terms of the regional landscape, how do you see Big Data shaping up?

As the Internet of Things era advances, the Middle East and North Africa is facing rapid acceleration in digital transformation and the Networked Economy. Worldwide, there will be a global “value at stake” of USD 14.4 trillion, according to a report by SAP and Stephenson Strategies. To capture this opportunity, organisations across the region will need innovative solutions to analyse data from connected sensors, mobile devices, and objects. The Middle East hosts high

MOVERS & shakers

Startup Focus is a key initiative by the SAP Training and Development Institute, which aims to help talented young people find jobs or establish their own companies.

potential, with Internet of Things hardware and services revenue reaching USD 2 billion in 2015, according to one firm. The Startup Focus Program anticipates the growing demand for start-ups using Big and Smart Data, predictive analytics, and offering real-time data decision solutions. Worldwide, the most common areas for Startup Focus participants are visualisation, business intelligence, market insight (25 per cent), social media, collaboration, gaming (17 per cent), predictive analytics and complex analytics (13 per cent), and IoT/ sensor (10 per cent).

What is next for the SAP Startup Focus Program and how do you look to take it further?

This is the first Startup Focus event in the MENA region, and we are hoping for double-digits in the number of start-ups that submit a business case for validation by the Startup Focus Program. We are in active discussions with regional incubators and venture capitalist funders, and the Middle East start-up scene is definitely growing, especially in the UAE. Compared to five years ago, the region is increasingly start-upfriendly, as it has become much easier to incorporate and access capital. We are positive to play a key role in shaping up the future entrepreneurs in this region. With more than 100 million young people set to enter the MENA labour market by 2020, the region needs to invest in education to help youth find and create work places, and develop skills and knowledge needed in the Digital

Economy. Start-up Focus is a key initiative by the SAP Training and Development Institute, which aims to help talented young people find jobs or establish their own companies. The Middle East and North Africa is home to some of the world’s most tech-savvy minds, and within the next five years, we are convinced the next disruptive start-up will come from the Middle East and North Africa.

Most common areas for Startup Focus

25% Visualisation, Business intelligence, Market insight


Social media, Collaboration, Gaming


Predictive analytics and complex analytics



For an online version, please visit: an-exclusive-interview-marita-mitschein


MOVERS & shakers

Surviving in a digital economy As digital transformation takes a centre stage across the world, what are some of the key challenges and opportunities facing businesses in this region? In this month’s technology-focused issue, we turned to one of the Middle East’s foremost digital experts - Rabih Dabboussi, General Manager – UAE, Cisco, who assesses the evolving landscape…


MOVERS & shakers

Rabih Dabboussi, General Manager, Cisco UAE


MOVERS & shakers

We’ve seen that the digital revolution has happened. How can companies exploit this digital revolution? Internet Technology has changed the way we work, live, play and learn. The power of the Internet has allowed us to do more things, from more places, faster and better. Computers, mobile devices, homes, cars, clothes, businesses and even cities are all being connected to the global network. Digital revolution has the potential to reshape markets faster than perhaps any force in history. Organisations that do not drive their own digital business transformation will be left behind. Those that do will be pulled toward a ‘digital centre’ in which business models, offerings, and value chains are digitised, driving new revenue streams and substantive business outcomes. As we move into an era of complete digitisation, where technology begins to connect everything from people, processes and data to things an era which we are calling the Internet of Things (IoT) today and the Internet of Everything (IoE) in the future – organisations will need to rethink how they approach national infrastructure on a grand scale. Digitisation has the potential to create sustainable and positive impact for every area of society. At its core, digitisation is the process of planning, and ultimately building, a sophisticated and forward-thinking IT network ecosystem that will allow for greater connectivity, productivity and security to drive this positive impact. With the digital revolution, businesses are becoming more efficient, consumers are making better-informed decisions and whole industries are being transformed as the real impact of technology becomes clear. From healthcare to transport and beyond, the shift to digital ways of thinking


is helping to streamline processes, remove inefficiency and create better experiences for patients, passengers and the general public alike. In order to reap the utmost benefits from the IoT today and the IoE era of the future, organisations are going to need to adopt strategies to become fully digitised. According to Gartner, by 2020, 75 per cent of businesses globally will be a digital business or will be preparing to become one. While many organisations have digital business transformation initiatives planned or underway, Gartner predicts that only 30 per cent of these efforts will be successful due to lack of talent and technical expertise.

What impact has this had on organisations and their strategy? Every market and every industry sector is moving from the Information Age to the digital age, and the pace of change is happening faster than ever before. Every country, city and company is realising they must transform to survive and thrive in this new era. This transition to the digital age calls for massive change - technological, organisational, cultural, and beyond. Organisations must be bold and have the courage to disrupt themselves in order to compete, or otherwise risk being left behind. Now, more than ever, organisations must reinvent themselves to embrace the opportunities that digitisation presents. As digitisation accelerates, cutting edge infrastructure will increase a country’s GDP, reduce spending and create jobs. It is enabling new and diverse groups of entrepreneurs to build businesses that will shape the world, whilst providing more accessibility and opportunities for education and technology-based careers. As a result, it is ensuring that countries and organisations are becoming more

competitive on the global stage. Having the right digital ecosystem in place will be a necessity to achieve any of these things. It is Cisco’s goal to help organsations throughout the Middle East region to accelerate their plans to develop this ecosystem and remain competitive as the world transitions into this new digital era.

How can you define an integrated digital strategy? What are its benefits? To really be ready for this digital transformation, organisations need to transform their business strategy and IT, connect everything, embrace analytics, and secure their technology and operations. Becoming a digital business requires an agile IT model, and the ability to rethink core processes for the digital era. Embracing new security, cloud, mobile, social and analytics technologies required to fully digitise takes imagination, investment and expertise. The benefits of digitisation and connectivity will be enormous – greater efficiency and economy, better end-user experiences, greater usage of assets and clearer views of the business, but they will be constrained by a global talent gap in ICT unless the global community takes action to train and educate more people in the technical disciplines. To achieve the immense business benefits afforded by digitisation, SMEs need a highly robust and secure network infrastructure. They need to converge unrelated networks, scale to meet increasing traffic demands, employ advanced data analytics and inspire a new class of intelligent applications to increase productivity without sacrificing security.

MOVERS & shakers

In order for SMEs to develop business agility, they will need to deploy solutions to manage and store data in the cloud and data centre that can improve productivity and operational efficiency today, while laying the foundation for tomorrow’s IoT opportunities.

What an SME needs to do!

What, according to you, are key components of a digital strategy? As mentioned previously, a digital strategy requires embracing an agile IT model, and the ability to rethink core processes for the digital era. Embracing new security, cloud, mobile, social and analytics technologies required to fully digitise takes imagination, investment and expertise. Cisco’s Digitisation Acceleration strategy is a long-term commitment to a partnership with national leadership, industry and academia to deliver real outcomes faster and more effectively. It aims to accelerate the national digitisation agenda to grow GDP, create new jobs and invest in a sustainable innovation ecosystem across public and private sectors. There is tremendous potential for Middle East organisations to build an effective ecosystem by becoming smart through digitisation. While the benefits are obvious and the need to transform is mandatory, the path is not easy. Organisations are looking to improve their profitability, reduce their spending and move with speed and agility in deploying new services. There is a significant push towards the cloud in terms of hosted and managed services as these provide customers with tremendous agility, along with lower risk and the ability to scale quickly. In order for SMEs to develop business agility, they will need to deploy solutions to manage and store data in the cloud and data centre that can improve productivity and operational efficiency today, while laying the foundation for tomorrow’s IoT opportunities. With IoT, organisations can expect new operational efficiencies, improved safety and security, distributed

intelligence and control, faster and better decision making and new business opportunities and revenue streams.

How can SMEs use technology to differentiate themselves in a market? The IoT/IoE are offering a whole new level of opportunity for technology leadership for SMEs. IT will be in the spotlight to enable actionable information, build new connections and open new revenue streams for SME organisations throughout the Middle East region. As SMEs continue to invest in technology today and in the future, the implications will be transformational. Companies that digitise will be better positioned to unlock new revenue streams, provide better experiences, and create new operating models that will drive efficiency and value.

What is a digital business model? What are some of the opportunities it provides and challenges it poses?

The connection of devices, machines, and things allows small businesses to dynamically generate, analyse, and communicate intelligence data, increase operational efficiencies, and power new and greatly improved business models. The IoE is creating value by lowering costs, improving employee productivity, generating new revenue, and enhancing citizen benefits. For SMEs, the benefits include improvements in innovation, supply chain and asset utilisation. To move faster and more efficiently, companies must shift their focus and build their business around mobile,


MOVERS & shakers

The opportunities of digitisation are enormous, but they will be constrained by a global talent gap in ICT unless the global community takes action to train and educate more people in the technical disciplines.

cloud, social, data, and analytics. If companies don’t take advantage of these intelligent networks, it will inhibit their ability to move with the speed, scale, and security required. The pace of change is accelerating in every industry – success depends on companies’ ability to make the digital transformation and leverage new IT structures. The opportunities of digitisation are enormous, but they will be constrained by a global talent gap in ICT unless the global community takes action to train and educate more people in the technical disciplines. Middle East governments need to deploy policy and training programmes to help solve the world’s fastest-growing gap in networking professionals.

What are some important factors that companies need to keep in mind moving forward (in the years to come)?

There is tremendous potential for Middle East organisations to build an effective ecosystem by becoming smart through digitisation. SMEs need to keep in mind the following in order to achieve short- and long-term success: 1. Become a Digital Company Digital transformation will enable them to innovate faster and achieve their desired business outcomes. Digitisation should be across technology (data), people, and processes. Data analytics will be an important element to ensure availability of high-quality, actionable, trusted, and complete data. 2. Develop a Workforce for the Future Must become agile enough to compete in the IoE era, where 38

employees must possess an optimal mix of technical skills, industry knowledge and business acumen. 3. Integrate IT and OT Companies could improve end-toend business efficiency when they integrate the IT and OT segments of business. They must begin to build a culture of communication, collaboration and coordination between these teams, strongly supported by company leadership. 4. Ensure End-to-End Cybersecurity To help mitigate cybersecurity risks, as well as prepare for future industry developments, companies need to put a strong security policy in place and deploy threat-centric security solutions that will help them gain visibility of the assets, protocols, users, applications and traffic patterns on the control network to develop a picture of what is “normal” for that environment. They need to classify assets and systems based upon their value to maintaining operations and build out defenses for the critical assets and systems first. Regularly test, review and update defenses and policies. Being “secure” is temporal, as threats and attack techniques constantly evolve. Therefore, defenses should be regularly tested and modified, as needed. 5. Innovate for Growth SMEs must always look beyond their horizons for opportunities to innovate and create growth.

For an online version, please visit: surviving-in-a-digital-economy



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Behind the Money The second step in securing finance

Following on from Clive Humphrey’s article, “On the Money – A Practical Approach to Securing Finance” in a previous edition of SME Advisor, for many Bankers, it is not just about “substance” but also a question of “form.” Not just a question of what the numbers are, but also how they are presented and by whom. In this article, Zak Abideen of Moody’s Analytics seeks to provide further assistance to potential SME borrowers when requesting finance from their bankers. 40


Of course, the information presented needs to be able to lead the banker to an accurate assessment of the risks faced by your business. Even if you have a great track record and a sound business plan, your banker’s opinion of you is still of vital importance, so the information needs to be presented in an appropriate manner for the banker to have confidence in you as a manager/owner. Banking is a “people” business. Urban myth would have us believe that we are more likely to get divorced from our spouse than change our bank account provider. In 2010, the UK’s Independent Commission on Banking even put a number on the length of the relationship at 26 years before we move our account (Karim, 2012). Whilst this UK-centric, retail banking fact may not hold true for SME customers in our region, it does give us food for thought; are we treating our bankers like we want to be in a long term relationship with them? Do we consider them before we take certain acts that affect them? Such as spending our cash on a new vehicle for the business, when we could have made do with the old vehicle for another 12 months. And do we think about our bankers when we consider factors that may affect the future of our relationship? For example, would you consider moving your factory premises without consulting your banker? One of the reasons we might avoid mentioning such changes to our bankers is because we may be wary of giving them too many risks to think about, thereby decreasing our chances of obtaining facilities. However, as the Chief Risk Officer of a bank in the region told me, “Banks are in the Risk Acquisition Business.” This means your banker is paid to acquire risk; your risk. So do not be afraid to talk to your banker about risks, but make sure you talk to them in a manner that shows you have considered the risks and the potential pitfalls, and have mitigated them as far as you are reasonably able.



do not be afraid to talk to your banker about risks, but make sure you talk to them in a manner that shows you have considered the risks and the potential pitfalls, and have mitigated them as far as you are reasonably able.

Risk as a commodity is priced at a certain level. And because there are so many unknown variables, there is considerable subjectivity in how that risk is valued. What is important is for you to be able to provide your banker with the information they require, and for them to trust that the information is accurate and complete. So what makes your banker trust you? In many of the courses we deliver to bankers globally from our base here in the Middle East, we often talk about the Trust Equation (Maister, et al, 2002):

TRUSTWORTHINESS (Credibility + Reliability + Intimacy) Self-orientation

Zak Abideen, Moody’s Analytics

In the Trust Equation, we would like the numerator to be as large as possible, and the denominator as small as possible to give as large a value for Trustworthiness as possible.

Credibility: Tends to be how we come across, as defined by the manner in which we speak, the way we dress, what our CV says about us; our Personal Brand, as far as it relates to our job role. How believable are you in your current role? How long have you been doing the business elsewhere, if not here? Why do you feel you are able to make a success in your current business? Remember also that first impressions matter, and research suggests it can take as little as 150 milliseconds for us to categorise others (Elsbach, 2003). So if you are meeting with your relationship manager for the first time, make sure you make the right first impression by paying special attention to your appearance and dressing professionally. If your banker came to you in ripped jeans and a tee-shirt, you may be less inclined to believe him or her to be credible; somewhere in the back of their mind, your banker may be thinking the same about you!


Reliability: A common complaint from many SME managers and owners is that they are refused financing due to a lack of track record, (“All the banks want 3 years’ trading accounts.”) Having such financials will help you secure funding, because they show that your company can continue to trade. If you make a commitment to your banker (to repay a loan, or provide some documentation) your banker will be looking for you to keep it, or at least inform them as to why you cannot. By the way, not all banks are looking for three years trading accounts anymore. For some of them, two years will do. Intimacy: When you are talking to your banker, their level of trust in you will increase if they believe you understand their interests and their challenges; consider it as “professional empathy.” If they do decide to acquire your risk (i.e., extend some facilities to your business), you want them to feel like they have made the right decision, and that their reputation will be enhanced within their organisation as a result. Think about their challenges, and you will not be far off track. And if you do not know what those challenges are, then ask: most relationship managers I have met will be quite happy to tell you the current challenges they are having building business. Self-orientation: Whilst the only reason you are meeting with the banker is to forward your own business objectives, the banker will trust you much more if you consider what they are getting out of the deal. Show them that this is important to you, and that your interests can be aligned. The Trust Equation gives us a framework to help build the professional relationship with our bank (and indeed anyone). Before we try to establish trust, we need to ensure that we choose the right banking partner. In the most recent Banking System Profile issued by my colleagues in Moody’s Investors Service, the UAE had 23 national commercial banks and 28 foreign commercial banks. For a relatively small


When you are talking to your banker, their level of trust in you will increase if they believe you understand their interests and their challenges; consider it as “professional empathy.”

Top tip!

Works Cited David H. Maister, Robert Galford, Charles W. Green. (2002). The Trusted Adviser. Free Press. Elsbach, K. D. (2003). How to Pitch a Brilliant Idea. Harvard Business Review, 81(9), 117-123. Karim, F. (2012, July 10). Fact Check: Divorce, bank account and Balls. Retrieved August 3, 2015, from Fact Check: factcheck/factcheck-divorce-bankaccounts-and-balls/10919

population, this is a large number of potential banking partners. However, not all of them lend to SMEs, so try to choose one that does. Most of us choose our bank on the basis of convenience. “It’s the one closest to the shop, so I don’t have far to carry my takings at the end of the day,” may be a concern for many SME business owners, but the bank where you pay your takings may not be the best one to lend you money. Shop around. And look for other ways of solving the “taking the takings to the bank” problem. A good relationship manager can talk to you about affordable card acquiring, remote cheque processing, electronic banking, and a host of other solutions to problems that have plagued you in the past. An internet search on comparison sites may also help, as will flicking through the pages of this journal, to see which banks are supporting your sector and how. Once you have selected your bank, prepare for your first meeting with your banker. As in all things, “Fail to prepare, prepare to fail!” When you are looking to borrow, make sure you have a good understanding of the numbers backing up your business plan. The oldest adage in banking is, “We lend cash out, we want cash back!” Ensure your business plan focuses on the cash, and how you will repay the bank. Also consider what is up for negotiation and what is not; the type of collateral, pricing and documentary restrictions that suit you, for example. And don’t forget to consider the banker’s return hurdles – a deal that doesn’t meet these will not get off the starting blocks. Very few bankers will actually be able to commit facilities in the meeting. They may say you have a great business, but it is rare that they are credit approved when they walk in the room, so the best you can hope for is a strong positive recommendation; “subject to contract/ credit approval.” For most SME lending, the banker will only need to convince one or possibly two other people – their boss/Head of Department, and one person from the bank’s Credit function. You might have the opportunity to meet

one or both of these individuals, in order to present your case to them personally. However, such meetings are relatively rare for new to bank customers, and the majority are conducted with the relationship manager on their own, or with a peer/ subordinate from their team. Ensure that your relationship manager has all the information he or she needs to provide a compelling argument in your favour once they leave the meeting. Your questions to them could focus on, “Who else needs to see this?”; “What is their view of businesses like mine?”; “When was the last time they approved/declined facilities like these?”; “How long did it take to get an answer on the last one of these?”; “When shall we catch up to check on progress?”

Summary: Remember that banks are in the Risk Acquisition Business. They want to acquire risk. As long as you choose the right bank, establish a good level of trustworthiness, and thoroughly prepare for your meetings with your banker, you should be able to take advantage of the cheaper cost of capital afforded by debt. There is a win/win to be had, and if you are prepared to look after your banker with the right information and approach, he or she will help you to look after your business.

For an online version, please visit:






The oil industry is a very dynamic sector constantly confronting challenges of expansions and contractions in production and price levels.

The decrease in oil prices Since June 2014, the price of a barrel of oil has been plummeting reaching low levels last witnessed during the 2009 recession. Currently the price of Brent Crude, which is used as an international benchmark, is $49 a barrel after having recorded a price as high as $105 a barrel during the past decade. What makes the oil industry volatile and drives the price of oil to fluctuate? The oil industry is a very dynamic sector constantly confronting challenges of expansions and contractions in production and price levels. This recent decrease in the price of oil can be attributed to a multitude of factors but most importantly to the forces that govern the market of any commodity: supply and demand. The supply of oil is increasing as the United States production levels have nearly doubled during the past six years, making them more self-reliant and hence pushing the previous oil exporters to find different markets. Canada, Iraq and Russia have been increasing their production levels as well, hence a higher supply. Looking at the other side of the coin, we see a dwindling demand as the economies of Europe and the developing countries suffer and as people are shifting toward more energy efficient vehicles. In addition, China’s recent devaluation of its currency has led to a decrease in their demand for oil and that has a substantial effect as China is considered the biggest oil importer in the world. Hence, we have and increasing supply and a decreasing demand, thus lower prices. Effect of lower oil prices While many households benefit from lower gasoline prices as the share they spend on energy decreases, governments as well as the oil companies and firms, who are usually benefiting from high oil prices, now face challenges: several oil and gas production companies

are decreasing dividends, selling assets and reducing salaries and benefits. Furthermore, this drop in oil prices, if not managed by OPEC that is currently refusing to cut production levels, will lead to a significant drop up to $300 billion in the revenues of Saudi Arabia and its Persian Gulf allies, according to the International Monetary Fund. As the governments of the GCC countries encounter lower revenues and profits from the oil industry, their ability to support SMEs that rely strongly on funds from government and support endowments will hence decrease. Although the GCC countries, apart from the UAE that has cut off its federal budget by 4.2 per cent and removed the subsidies on diesel and petrol, have not yet undertaken serious measures to overcome the decreasing revenues, they will nonetheless have to react soon if oil prices maintain this downturn. According to Abdul Baset Al Janahi, CEO of Dubai SME, the current status of oil prices is healthy for the economy in terms of re-adjusting policies and expectations at the overall macro level. He affirms that in the short-run, businesses should not be impacted due to this lower oil price level, yet there will be a significant effect if the oil price level remains low for more than two years. He is optimistic in what concerns SMEs since they are more nimble and can adjust faster to changes compared to larger enterprises, especially when there is a strong commitment from the government to these SMEs and entrepreneurs. A report on Mideast Debt published by Reuters on the 28th of April reassured that the six rich nations of the GCC are easily coping with the current prevalent low oil prices, where strong state expenditures are keeping economies growing strongly. Saudi Arabia, for instance, is



Although the GCC countries (apart from the UAE that has cut off its federal budget by 4.2 per cent and removed the subsidies on diesel and petrol) have not yet undertaken serious measures to overcome the decreasing revenues, they will nonetheless have to react soon if oil prices maintain this downturn.


covering much of the budget deficits caused due to low oil prices, by transferring funds saved abroad into the country, rather than borrowing domestically or using their deposits at local banks, hence maintaining an abundant liquidity level in GCC banking system, where deposits are continuing to grow even if at slower rates. So for many companies in the Gulf credit is still easily available at low rates but not to SMEs that lack the advantage of shareholding links to governments. Financing possibilities to SMEs SMEs are facing challenges in borrowing and when they are able to secure loans, the banks in turn are setting strict conditions such as more collateral and tough documentation and shorter repayment periods. According to Vikram Venkataraman, Managing Director at Vianta Advsiors, which works with smaller companies around the region to raise bank finance, “They are tightening credit lending norms because of the overall impact of low oil prices and the consequent freeze on oil industry capex-heavy projects...” The volume of banks’ loans to SMEs in the GCC remains low, where they only comprise two per cent of the total loans given, which leads these SMEs to rely heavily on other funding sources, such as non-bank financial companies. There are a multitude of factors for why banks are hesitant and cautious when it comes to lending SMEs: One factor is the lack of progress among SMEs in building proper financial infrastructure. Another factor is the lack of coverage of credit registries and bureaus that cannot give credit scores and hence there is very little information on credit worthiness of SMEs which is an obstacle that creditors face. A third factor that limits banks’ lending to SMEs is the lack of a good collateral registry which is according to Robert Rocha, a senior advisor

to the World Bank, “a centralised, electronic, easy to access database where a creditor, when they receive a loan application, can see whether that SME has some collateral to offer either in the case of inventories or receivables”. This in turn makes the process of lending to SMEs a difficult and tiresome process altogether. Moreover, the cost of enforcing the collateral is very high which does not make it very feasible in the case of low volume of loans to SMEs, especially that SMEs usually do not have a lot of fixed assets. This is in addition to the banks’ caution in lending to SMEs due to their belief that low oil prices could deprive these businesses of access to fresh business opportunities. As a result of the tight funding possibilities for SMEs from the banking sector, entrepreneurs rely heavily on private funding from their savings and on funds from establishments founded to assist in the development of SMEs, as it is estimated that SMEs comprise 80-90 per cent of the total volume of


business in the majority of the Arab countries. The major funds established to assist SME development include the Khalifa Fund initiative that has provided 904 million AED by the end of 2013 to support 608 SMEs and the Mohammed Bin Rashid Establishment for SME development that was able to support around 13,000 entrepreneurs to launch their projects and has 3000 registered SMEs that have benefited with loans reaching 215 million AED. Challenges of SMEs in non-oil production Arab countries We cannot shield any country from the effect of changes occurring around the world, let alone neighbouring countries with which there are strong economic ties. The Arab world countries are strongly connected economically, whether in their dependence on the Arab oil and assistance funds or in their dependence on each other in the economic sectors, specifically the agriculture and the services sectors. This is in addition to the fact that the oil producing countries, specifically Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Bahrain employ millions of Arabs from their Arab neighbours, which creates an additional strong link between oil and non-oil producing countries and hence makes them mvore susceptible to the economic changes occurring in the GCC as a result of the fluctuations in the prices of oil. With the above in perspective, and considering the fragility of most Arab non-oil producing countries due to the political unrest and the fact that most are import and service-based economies such as Lebanon, Jordan and Tunisia, we can thus comprehend why SMEs face many challenges in these countries. This is especially that the governments in these countries are lost amid the wind of change as a result of the so-called Arab Spring,

leaving them burdened and hence not planning or planning but not implementing policies designed to support the development of SMEs. SMEs across the Arab World rely heavily on endowments or specific funds established to assist them since the banking sector across the Arab world tends to be very strict in policies related to lending small and medium enterprises for mainly the same reasons. As a final thought, it is crucial to note the urgency and imperativeness for the governments of all the Arab countries support SMEs as they comprise 90 per cent of the total number of enterprises in the Arab World and employ 60 per cent of the workforce. This is necessary for the economic development of the Arab countries and mainly the non-oil producing countries. Hence, all the Arab countries should implement policies that call for assisting SMEs, primarily by establishing funds and development programs for these SMEs, similar to the initiatives undertaken by Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

For an online version, please visit: lower-oil-prices



Recent case highlights social media FRAMEWORK in the UAE

While social media presents an exciting opportunity for businesses, what is often forgotten is the immense responsibility and serious legal ramifications that comes along with it. In the absence of a dedicated legal team to oversee your platforms, what are critical areas to consider and check points to have in place? Legal experts from Clyde and Co. share insights…


Media outlets in the UAE and elsewhere have picked up on a variety of recent stories regarding the use of social media in the UAE. These stories include one about an Australian expat being arrested, jailed and deported after posting a picture of a car taking up two disabled parking spots. A similar story from earlier in the summer related to an appellate decision to overturn the sentence of a man who had been found guilty in Dubai of insulting a colleague in a WhatsApp message. The man was originally fined AED3,000 (approx. £500). However theFederal Supreme Court held that the sentence was too lenient and ordered a retrial. These cases follow another case earlier this year where an American man was arrested after posting derogatory comments about his employer in the UAE on Facebook. The cases were brought under Federal Laws No.3 and 5 of 2012 (the Cyber Crimes Law) which provide for potential penalties of fines of AED250,000 (approx. £43,500), as well as potential prison sentences and deportation (if applicable) if someone is found guilty of a breach.

In this article we consider the overlap between an individual’s online activities in the UAE, the applicable legal framework and the employment relationship. Social media - an overview There is no specific regulation in the UAE of the use of social media.However, careless use of social media (whether for a private or business matter) can result in criminal and civil liability arising for both individuals and companies. The main legislative provisions that give rise to criminal liability are as follows: Federal law No. 5 of 1985 (the Civil Code) and Federal Law No. 3 of 1987 (the Penal Code) both provide for liability where industrial or trade secrets of the employer or another third party are disclosed without consent. For example, Article 379 of the Penal Code provides for a minimum prison sentence of one year and/or a minimum fine of 20,000 Dirhams if somebody “who is entrusted with a secret by virtue of his profession, trade, position or art… discloses it in cases other than those lawfully permitted, or if he uses such a secret for his own private benefit or for


the benefit of another person, unless the person concerned permits the disclosure or use of such a secret”; Articles 372, 373 and 378 of the Penal Code contain provisions relating to defamation. Defamatory content could include posting information about others without their consent (even if such information is true), or posting photographs or videos without the consent of the subject of the photograph or video, unless the photograph was taken at a public event or occasion; the Penal Code also includes provisions relating to the insult or abuse of any religion, using any means (which is wide enough to include the posting of religious comments to Twitter and Facebook). The UAE is an Islamic country, and statements or acts that are deemed to be anti-Islamic could result in criminal complaints being made. It should be noted however, that a criminal offence arises where someone insults any of the”recognised divine religions” and therefore the criminal offence is not limited only to anti-Islamic offences. the Cyber Crimes Law, for example where posted content: • offends religious sanctities or encourage sins; • offends against the interests of the State; • provides pornography, gambling activities, and other materials prejudicial to public morals; • promotes prostitution/debauchery; • slanders another person; • breaches the privacy of another (e.g. by intercepting communications, taking photographs, publishing information, etc.); or • intentionally abolishes, destroys, or reveals secrets, or that results in the republication of personal information.

In addition to criminal charges, civil liability could arise where somebody, whether an organisation or an individual, suffers loss as a result of comments made about them or the disclosure of confidential information belonging to them.

Social media in an employment context GENERAL In the UAE, as is the case elsewhere, permitted use of social media should be regulated by an employer’sinternal policies and practices, and an employer is free to impose disciplinary sanctions where an employee acts in breach of internal policies.Article 109 of the Federal Labour Law expressly provides that disciplinary penalties may not be imposed on an employee who has committed an offence outside the place of business “unless such act is connected with work,the employer or its responsible manager”. Accordingly, the employer must prove that the employee’s online actions have had an impact on its business. The DIFC Employment Law permits immediate termination “in circumstances where the conduct of [the employee] warrants termination and where a reasonable employer… would have terminated the employment”. This means that employers are able to consider summary dismissal in a wider range of circumstances than under the Federal Labour Law, and the unauthorised use of social media, or the use of social media in a way that harasses or otherwise discriminates against a colleague, may well justify immediate dismissalin the DIFC. Where an employer has documentary evidence to demonstrate that there has been a disclosure of confidential information or trade secrets and is able to quantify the damage sustained by the business as a result, the employer may initiate both criminal and civil proceedings. Similar action could be taken by an employer in the event that the employee’s use of social media defames the employer or its business. The matter could also bereported to the police and if found guilty, individuals can face up to two years in prison or a fine of up to AED20,000. There is no civil action for defamation; however an employer may file a civil claim for damages for harm caused by reason of the employee’s actions under the Civil

Code and may be entitled to financial compensation, provided the elements can be proved. In addition to the above, criminal and civil action (including under the Cyber Crimes Law) could also be taken against the employee by victims of the employee’s conduct. Where the opinions or actions of the employee a represented or performed on behalf of (or seen to represent those of) the employer a criminal complaint could be made by the victim against the employee’s manager as well as the employee. DISCRIMINATION Under the DIFC Employment Law, an employer established in the DIFC may also be held legally responsible for any discriminatory acts of their employees, subject to such acts having been committed in the course of employment. This could, for example, include cyberbullying or harassment of employees or the posting of discriminatory comments or material on an individual’s Facebook page. In order to avoid liability, an employer must demonstrate that an employee who is allegedly responsible for the bullying, harassment, etc., acted outside” the course of their employment” and that the employer took reasonable measures to prevent such employee from committing the acts in question. There are no stated guidelines on the necessary level of preventive action nor is there any case law that directly addresses this, but a written equal opportunities policy that is very actively implemented should serve as a useful measure in this regard. Although there is no general prohibition of discrimination under the Federal Labour Law, sexual harassment (which could include any harassment carried out through social media) is a violation of the Penal Code, which provides that it is a criminal offence to “obstruct a female in such a manner as to violate her honour by work or deed. What should employers do? POLICIES In light of the above an employee’s



permitted use of social media in the private context can and should be regulated by an employer’s internal policies and codes of conduct. Employers are well advised to set clear expectations with regard to acceptable behaviour online. Internal policies should also require employees to clearly state in any blogs or postings that their comments and opinions do not reflect those of their employer. Finally, any such policy should include guidelines for any staff whose roles require them to publish business related news or information on social media; for example marketing teams who use Twitter or LinkedIn for publicity purposes. As noted above, the Federal Labour Law provides that disciplinary penalties may not be imposed on an employee who has committed an offence outside of work unless the act is connected in some way to the business. A disciplinary policy should therefore make it clear that if private activities detrimentally affect the employer’s reputation, the employer is entitled to take disciplinary action. Without this, an employer will struggle to justify any subsequent disciplinary action. Given the clear risk that individuals in the UAE could be prosecuted if they fall foul of the relevant local laws, employers should also use their social media or IT policy to educate their staff more generally about the risks of posting online. TRAINING As well as ensuring a clear policy is in force, employers should consider rolling out training to new recruits and existing employees to ensure that they understand what they can and can’t do and what the consequences of getting it wrong could be. MONITORING An employer’s ability to monitor employees’ activities online must be carefully managed and prior consentobtained. The Constitution of the UAE contains a general right to privacy for individuals and guarantees freedom of communication by post, telegraph or other means of communication. Articles 378, 379 and 380 of the Penal


Code also establish criminal offences in relation to the interception or disclosure of correspondence or telephone conversations and Article 15 of the Cyber Crimes Law appears to extend this to IT communications. Although there is no specific guidance on the point, it is likely that the monitoring of an employee’s online activities outside of the workplace and through their own personal devices would be considered unlawful. However, it is arguable that where the individual is using the employer’s IT systems and e-mail accounts, reasonable monitoring may not be considered to be in violation of the above provisions. In such circumstances,the extent to which employees’ online activities will be monitored during company time should be clearly set out in an IT policy, which outlines the expected standards in terms of reasonable usage during working time. Employees should also be informed of the purposes for which the monitoring is being carried out, and their consent to such monitoring should be obtained. It may also be sensible to put in place a ‘pop up’ reminding employees who access the internet from their work computer, tablet or smartphone of what restrictions apply to their internet use and that their usage is being monitored. Conclusion The UAE has strong cyber laws in place in order to protect individuals’ privacy and reputation. Falling to comply with these laws could result in employees and/ or employers being subjected to criminal and/or civil proceedings. It is therefore important that organisations employing staff in the UAE take steps to implement and enforce rules relating to employees’ use of the internet and, in particular, social media. As noted above, where an employee is in breach of the terms of a wellcommunicated IT, data protection, or social media policy, the employer may impose disciplinary sanctions. Where the misuse of IT or social media systems has resulted in confidential information or trade secrets being disclosed or the employee being convicted of an offence involving honour, honesty or public

morals, an employer may dismiss the employee without noticeor end of service gratuity. Employers in the DIFC have greater discretion than employers outside of the DIFC to summarily dismiss employees who disregard the company’s IT, data protection, or social media policies. However, as well as wanting to ensure employees are aware of what internal rules they are subject to in respect of their use of the internet, employers in the UAE will also want to make their employees aware of the wider risks that their activities online may expose them to given the robust approach taken in the UAE to enforce legislative provisions that criminalise certain online activities. Stop press On 20 July 2015 a law criminalizing discrimination on grounds of religion, caste, creed, doctrine, race, colour or ethnic origin was enacted. Although the law is not workplace specific, Clyde & Co’s Employment team will be monitoring the publication of the new law closely and will publish commentary in due course. Further information If you would like further information on any issue raised in this update please contact: Rebecca Ford Partner, Clyde & Co Sara Khoja Partner, Clyde & Co Clyde & Co LLP PO Box 7001 Level 15, Rolex Tower Sheikh Zayed Road Dubai, United Arab Emirates T: +971 4 384 4000 F: +971 4 384 4004 Clyde & Co accepts no responsibility for loss occasioned to any person acting or refraining from acting as a result of material contained in this summary.

For an online version, please visit: media-framework-in-the-uae

At the core of GITEX 2015 is the Internet of Things and a showcase of future technology. Features and highlights of 2015 include GTX Horizons, the region’s largest ever outdoor demonstration of drones, robotics and autonomous vehicles; live 3D print zone, a world class conference series featuring global visionaries from Facebook, BP, Boeing and Alibaba.

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Looking to the future

Understanding the smart city concept Leading cities around the world are using data generated on a range of mobile devices, sensors and smartphones to improve the quality of life of their residents by providing better connected services across healthcare, transportation and education. In addition to boosting interconnectivity, development and industrial intelligence, such smart technology enables cities to face the challenges of rapid urbanisation and become more sustainable. With Dubai looking to rapidly transform into a smart city, SME Advisor asked Dnyanesh Nirwan, Director – Consulting, KPMG, to shed light on the core aspects of a smart city and highlight the benefits it offers to private sector businesses‌





54 per cent of the world’s population lives in cities and it’s expected to reach around 66 per cent by 2050.


As major global cities evolve in terms of population, they are slowly becoming growth engines of the global economy, showcasing financial, political and technological capabilities like never before. In terms of operations, these cities require the seamless working of several core systems such as infrastructure, network and technology to provide basic services to their citizens. Moreover, it is critical that these systems work in synergy to provide optimum performance and efficiency. While in theory, the working of these systems sounds quite straightforward, the reality is that cities continue to face immense challenges in terms of cost efficiency, sustainability, increasing capacities and so on. To meet these challenges, cities are looking to become ‘smarter’, or in other words use ICT to make traditional infrastructures more efficient, sustainable and cost effective. Addressing this highly-debated topic, earlier this year, KPMG released Dubai – a new paradigm for smart cities, a detailed paper that introduces the concept of the smart city and illustrates how smart cities can help tackle the increasing challenges of urbanisation. Dnyanesh Nirwan, Director – Consulting, KPMG, explains: “The concept of a smart and sustainable city is based on leveraging the power of data and the use of technology to minimise energy, waste and resource consumption; and to attain a higher quality of life by engaging more effectively and actively with residents. “When we started out with this project and did some initial research, we found that the smart city concept has been discussed from a technology point of view across a vast range of publications. With this paper, however, we wanted to take it a step further and address the topic holistically – exploring areas such as: the role of the government, the opportunities arising across individual sectors and the critical success factors

that make or break this initiative, in light of the evolving global market conditions. In fact, to better explain the context of this paper – and the rising emphasis on the smart city agenda – I’d like to mention three megatrends that we identified during our preliminary research. They are – a) Urbanisation: 54 per cent of the world’s population lives in cities and it’s expected to reach around 66 per cent by 2050, which is a huge burden on the city’s administration and resources. b) Technology convergence: this is changing the way residents live as well as the way businesses operate. c) Healthy competition between cities: this is because they are trying to become leaders in terms of quality of life and to create a business and innovation hub.” Four principles of a smart city What are some of the key steps that help a city transform into a smart city? Nirwan explains: “In my opinion, there are four fundamental steps that any city needs to undertake in order to become a smart city: 1. Capture data: this can be done via sensors, smartphones and several other electronic devices. The idea is to monitor traffic, weather and other specific areas that can help improve a resident’s life on a dayto-day basis. For example, there would be smart meters installed across houses and offices that will be able to calculate energy consumption in real time. This will provide a strong infrastructure backbone to a smart city. 2. Communicate: this entails communicating the data captured back to the servers and the control centres – within a centralised location. The challenge here is to ensure scalability and privacy. 3. Analyse: once all the data is collected at the centralised location, the next step is to convert it into useful insights. This is done using advanced algorithms and computer processors that have data


Smart society

Smart governance

Smart transportation

Smart life

Smart environment Smart economy Dubai’s smart city project

Six focus areas crunching capacity. For instance, data collected on traffic patterns can help ascertain alternative routes. 4. Act: this is when the final insights are used towards implementing decisions that improve the overall quality of life within the city. Let’s look at an example here: insights on energy consumption can support the government’s decision to install solar panels to increase energy efficiency and lower costs.” Looking at these steps, it is quite evident that the concept of a smart

city is largely data-driven. It is then only natural to wonder how cities will work to integrate privacy and security into their models. Nirwan says, “Privacy is an integral part of the smart city concept because data collection is at its core. So, every city needs to have strong policy frameworks that dictate what data can be collected, stored and used. Moreover, security is another primary area that cities need to consider; sound investments should be made in security controls, security analytics and vulnerability management. In fact, this is

something that we have strongly emphasised even within the report.” Impact on the private sector When exploring the smart city concept, it is important to look beyond the hype and ascertain some of the core opportunities and advantages that it offers to private sector businesses. “The private sector plays two roles within this whole concept. Firstly, the private sector is a customer of these services that are being provided by the government. Secondly, the private sector can



Key highlights from KPMG’s Dubai - a new paradigm for smart cities

Smart healthcare in Dubai:

Smart utilities in Dubai:

“In 2013, Dubai launched a smart healthcare project with three main initiatives - smart applications, smart operations and smart hospitals. Dubai is also planning to implement Electronic Medical Records and a Hospital Information System by 2015. These will enable easy electronic access to a patient’s file, which contains all the details necessary to know the health status of the patient and the results of any tests, Xrays and records of doctors’ visit. The system also enables doctors to send instructions and medical supplies to other sections of the hospital such as laboratories and pharmacies as the system interconnects all hospital departments and sections. This should eliminate paper work, reduce patient waiting time and provide a repository of accurate patient data, while cutting the time needed for procedures by half.”

“DEWA plans to install 250,000 smart meters in all residential, industrial and commercial properties by 2018 as part of Dubai’s smart city initiative. DEWA will deploy smart-grid to automate grid-control decisions and to deliver new services to consumers, allowing them to automate and control their power consumption. DEWA plans to implement solutions for solar power in houses. It is also developing smart apps, building infrastructure and charging stations for electric vehicles.”

Privacy is an integral part of the smart city concept because data collection is at its core.

analyse the four-step process we discussed earlier, identify the gaps in the model and come up with solutions to them. In other words, this is a great business opportunity for the private sector to provide value-added services that support the government,” Nirwan points out. Will these opportunities benefit certain sectors over others? “Yes, I think sectors such as retail, transportation and education, which are vibrant sectors with lesser capital requirements, will be the first takers or beneficiaries of these opportunities. Whereas, the more traditional sectors such as manufacturing, construction and steel will enjoy the benefits in the second wave.” Working with the challenges Finally, what are some of the primary challenges or concerns that cities need to consider during their smart city journey? Speaking to Nirwan, we ascertain the following three areas: 1. Integration: this is very important as there are several examples across the world of cities that have launched the smart city project with a big bang but haven’t been able to sustain the whole journey in an effective manner. I think


Dubai’s smart city approach has been quite different in that it has taken a holistic approach. 2. Customer first: the customer needs to be at the forefront of all the services that come out as a result of the smart city project. It is imperative to keep the customer at the heart of every service that is being defined and delivered. 3. Telecom infrastructure and services: this refers to the infrastructure backbone that will enable all users with the smart city to access data and networks at a fast speed and in a cost effective manner.

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The people factor focusing on the leadership value of HR professionals

So often, in discussions about business performance and the ability to grow an SME in a changing climate, the role of the HR professional is sadly overlooked. A pity, because every business stands or falls according to the calibre of its people - and it’s the HR team that is best-placed to source, recruit or retrain the executives fully able to make a difference. Here, Senior Editor Paul Godfrey previews a key forthcoming event that looks set to help redress the balance. On October 27, a landmark HR event, called ‘HR - Maximising Strategic Value to Business in the Middle East’ - will take place at the JW Marriott Marquis, Business Bay, Dubai. Organised by MSI Talent, it provides a keynote forum for brainstorming, strategic discussion and highly interactive workshops, designed to give ‘on the spot’, portable skills and insights to HR professionals, as well as

to leaders of companies of every shape, size and industry sector. While businesses across the world face a uniquely challenging moment and the threat of an increasingly uncertain economic climate, there’s no doubt that the Middle East presents additional regional challenges. For example, consider a host of factors such as the following CONTINUE ARTICLE, P. 60



• The need to attract and retain key talent • Dealing with nationalisation policies at various stages of development and implementing the skills training initiatives associated with them • Managing a workforce comprising a mix of expatriates and locals • Transforming regional companies into international organisations, able to understand and break into vibrant new markets This strategic workshop highlights the current cutting edge debates, bringing together an expert panel of senior practitioners from the region including Brad Boyson, Regional Director, SHRM; Murtaza Khan, Partner and Practice Leader, Fragomen; Mohammad Laghari, Chief HC Officer, ALJ International; Annik Tastenoy, Gulf HR Director, MetLife; and Atul Varma, Director Corporate and Outsourcing, Grant Thornton. In addition, Arda Atalay, Head of UAE, Linkedin, will be speaking on the subject of connectivity and talent mobility. With a highly practical orientation, the session will provide all attendees with a takeaway reference guide covering relevant techniques and metrics, including key matrices for measuring the return on ‘people investment’. There is also a participative case study focused on the Middle East, to give valuable insights into how HR can make a real contribution to strategic business success. All participants will also be invited to join the Middle East Talent Forum, currently being established by MSI Talent as an exclusive ongoing regional forum, to share best practice and news of the latest initiatives in the field of talent management and talent mobility. Content covering ‘real world’ business issues ‘HR – Maximising Strategic Value to Business in the Middle East’ has extremely practical aims, with sessions covering many of the


key issues and concerns facing business leaders. For example, many companies that currently don’t have an evolved HR commitment may wonder how they can actually integrate business objectives and HR strategy. So, there is a session dedicated specifically to his topic, explaining how HR and its objectives can be integrated 100 per cent with the bottom line and become an organic part of the business plan and forecast. The session also deals with the sometimes thorny issue of how to explain the costs of an HR specialisation to top management, locating the value of the HR function firmly in the language of the finance professional. Other key sessions will cover • How to attract, retain and develop key talent in the region. This aligns with the stated goals for quality personnel recruitment as appearing in several regional ‘vision’ documents, including the highly significant Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030. • Developing a ‘global’ mindset on how to identify and build the skills and competencies needed to achieve pan-regional and international success. This is also linked specifically to the need for identifying market opportunities and the requirement to recruit staff who can - specifically - research new market data, lead market penetration initiatives and be expert in branch location and set-up strategies. • Moving HR policies and practices to the level of international quality benchmarking. This involves the understanding and use of protocols such as ISO, BSI and DIN. • Measuring and proving the return on investment. For example, many business plans exclude HR content because it is thought to be too subjective and qualitative a topic for hard business analysis. Yet if presented in analytical terms, the take-up of proper HR expertise can demonstrably be shown as

delivering highly rewarding levels of ROI. The view from MSI Events of this kind are a powerful way of understanding how good HR leadership can effectively start to solve many of the thorny issues so often affecting businesses in the Middle East. The essential thread here is that to deliver effective HR solutions requires an HR professional - having someone on board who can simply help process visas may represent ‘an extra pair of hands’ but of course doesn’t equate to genuine strategic understanding and progress. MSI’s considerable international expertise is a great way to accelerate the understanding and delivery of key HR leadership issues in the region. John Brice, President of MSI Global Talent Management, comments that: “The Middle East is a very important market, and we are pleased to be expanding into the region with this select event, which will build on MSI’s successful HR workshops in Europe and the US. In addition, we will be inviting workshop participants to join the Middle East Talent Forum, which MSI is establishing as an exclusive ongoing regional forum, to share best practice and news of the latest initiatives in the fields of talent management and talent mobility.” To register for this keynote event and get more background and information:

For an online version, please visit:



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Corporate governance

Practical tips for sound corporate governance in mid-sized companies

Very often SMEs assume that Corporate Governance is something that concerns only big – and probably publicly-listed – businesses. Yet the reality is that nothing could be further from the truth. Corporate Governance impacts just about every aspect of how a business works, treats its staff and communicates with its key stakeholders. That’s the kind of agenda that SMEs ignore at their peril. In the following feature, we asked industry practitioner Deniz Erkus to provide a detailed template for growth… 62

Corporate governance

continued existence of a company”. (a) CG is crucial for rapidly growing companies, regulated or non-regulated, to ensure success, long-term continuity and increasing shareholder value. They can control their businesses more effectively, attract investors and lenders, raise new capital and adopt best practices. Chasing short-term profitability without implementing an effective CG framework leads to a highrisk environment with poor controls and no succession plan or sustainable business objectives. CG in SMEs is vital for Dubai’s continued success. More than 90 per cent of companies in Dubai are SMEs, which employ almost half the population. However, statistics, a few of which are in the table, indicate that the adoption of effective CG is low (b).

Establishing an effective Corporate Governance (‘CG’) framework is an important stage in a mid-sized company’s evolution. As the originating entrepreneurs have established the business’ foundations and initial customer base, the business is now rapidly growing its operations and adding assets and employees. A forward-looking management team will identify the need to establish a sound control environment to protect the business and create competitive advantage. CG obligations may also arise from investors, lenders, regulators, business partners and other external parties. Corporate Governance is described as the “system of principles, policies, procedures and clearly defined responsibilities and accountabilities used by stakeholders to overcome the conflict of interest in the corporate form”. (a) In the absence of an effective CG system within the company of any size, the results would be: “major operational risk to the company and its stakeholders and may endanger the



Independent Advisory Board or Board of Directors


Documentation of key policies, processes and procedures


Formal mechanism of financial reporting


However, 42 per cent of mid-sized companies had adopted at least one key CG principle compared to 24 per cent of small-sized businesses (b). The Corporate Governance Code for Small and Medium Enterprises (“CG Code”), and its nine pillars, published by Dubai SME and Hawkamah, provide guidance and recommendations. Despite the similarities, this article is based on my practical experience and interviews with senior executive and non-executive board members in Luxembourg and Dubai. While the cultures and regulatory environments are different, it was rewarding that the interviewees in both locations agreed with these practical tips.


Internal controls

For an entrepreneur starting a new business, policies, procedures and controls will not be a priority. As the business grows, the owner will have new objectives including hiring senior employees, obtaining financing for the expansion and raising capital by attracting new investors. A potential senior executive, lender or investor will perform his due diligence on the organisation’s robustness and likely future success where ultimately the strength of controls and CG will be key. Work on assessing control requirements, designing policies and procedures and implementing them must start before the business gets too large. As a BoD is unlikely to have been appointed yet, it will be the CEO or CFO that steers this important process and then enforce compliance. Premchand Krund, CEO and ED of Paramount Computer Systems, explained how they recognised the need to establish a CG system prior to arranging an MBO and investment from an institutional investor. The CG system implemented enabled them to pass the due diligence process and the MBO and investor transaction were both a success. Management must evaluate beforehand what is needed in terms of controls and the associated documentation, manuals and enforcement procedures and set out the roadmap for its implementation. This will vary depending on the company’s size, risk environment, objectives and ownership structure. A one-size-fits-all approach will not work and a quickly implemented CG framework without proper due diligence is very likely to be insufficiently tailored to the company’s situation and requirements, leading to either something too bureaucratic, with excessive costs and administration that delays the decision-making process, or something that insufficiently addresses the risks that the business faces. The input of experienced CG experts to 63

Corporate governance

vet the design can add value and benchmarking to third parties may be useful, keeping in mind that no two businesses are identical. As Dr. Sassan Dieter Khatib-Shahidi, CEO and ED of German Imaging Technologies Dubai, commented: “Let Corporate Governance work for you, otherwise it will kill the spirit of the entity.” Following an intense period of work by the management team to assess its needs, this company established an efficient CG framework tailored to its business and objectives.


Gradual implementation

Gradual implementation of CG rather than a big bang approach will allow management to assess what works and what needs changing and to achieve a stable position before the next improvements are made. The roadmap should contain this phased approach. In the early stages of a business, hiring a risk manager is unlikely to be necessary and the CFO or founding CEO should take this role depending on the size and complexity of the business.


Advisory Board or Board of Directors

Small companies are unlikely to have a BoD. A single executive may assume multiple responsibilities (CEO, manager, shareholder) and decide business strategy and objectives while simultaneously managing day-to-day operations. An Advisory Board with a well-defined mandate can provide a cost-effective external sound board during the early period of rapid growth. Advisory Board members support and provide expertise (commercial, technical, regulatory, etc.) to the CEO to improve the management of the business. Advisory Board members could be existing advisors, trusted business 64

partners or individuals specialised in relevant business areas. As business size and complexity increases, effective CG will require the implementation of a BoD initially staffed by executive directors followed later by the addition of nonexecutive directors (the interviewees agreed three or more directors, with non-executive directors in the majority). Non-executive directors add value by bringing their independence, experience and expertise from various industries. The interviewees agreed that the final stage in establishing a sound senior management structure in larger companies lies in the creation of internal committees (audit, remuneration, etc.) that report to the BoD and handle increasingly specialised business areas.


Vision, long-term planning and reporting

It is fundamental that companies have a long-term vision and objectives for their business against which they can benchmark performance. Short-termism threatens company sustainability and leads to ineffective decision-making and the inability to establish a qualified experienced management team. Full senior management team offsite events are great for raising issues and building a common vision of, and a set of objectives for, the future. Professional facilitation from experts employed for such events will help draw out information and opinions and assist with its documentation. The finance team should then be thoroughly briefed to understand and agree with these objectives and design internal and external financial and management reporting processes and key performance indicators that assess actual results against these objectives rather than using a generic reporting structure. An efficient way to achieve this design is to create a working group with relevant representatives

from each area under the supervision of the CFO. Timely communication of results across the business is essential, enabling everyone to know how they are doing and what corrective action may be required. Such reporting and benchmarking was a priority for all the Dubai-based CEOs interviewed.


Interaction between the Board and management

Effective communication between the BoD and management team ensures the success of the decision-making process. The BoD is responsible for the overall strategy, the long-term continuity and success of the business. It provides management with clear targets and objectives and empowers management to run the business. The BoD should not make decisions related to day-to-day operations. Management must provide the BoD with accurate, complete, relevant, timely, unbiased information to support the decision-making process. Process characteristics, such as level of detail and frequency, need to be balanced to avoid excessive reporting tasks and costs or insufficient communication that leads to confusion and inappropriate decisions. The allocation of roles and responsibilities between the BoD and management team, the identification of matters that are reserved for BoD consideration and the communication channels to be used should be set out clearly in writing and reviewed jointly by the CEO and BoD at least annually or as significant changes occur.


Meetings and actions

Eric Chinchon, co-founder of mebs Luxembourg, commented ‘what is not documented does not exist’. All significant meetings, especially where key decisions are taken, should be recorded and someone tasked to

Corporate governance

regularly follow up action points for timely resolution rather than decisions and actions being just remembered by the attendees. Minutes can be circulated to people that did not attend the meeting to keep them briefed on the significant decisions made.


Transparency and disclosure

Transparency and appropriate disclosure are crucial if companies want to build trust and credibility with internal and external stakeholders. Publications (annual reports, press releases, etc.), investor briefing meetings and professional public relations providers can be suitable communication channels. However, the easiest and best way to communicate information in this connected world is via a corporate stakeholder website that runs alongside any other online presence that the company may have. To be effective, resources must be in place to vet content, ensure information is regularly updated and respond to any queries received. Disclosures should not just be financial but also cover CG structure, business objectives, major business initiatives, human resources matters and other information allowing interested parties to take fully informed decisions. Of course, highly sensitive confidential information that provides competitive advantage must be excluded.


External review

All interviewees agreed the necessity of external audit reviews and regular disclosure of the audited financial statements. An independent assessment of the business and its processes, controls and procedures by experienced individuals enables management to continually enhance the CG framework. Such reviews are useful

even if not obliged by law and most audit firms provide assurance services. An internal audit function was not considered a priority by the interviewees but can add greater value to larger businesses.



Training on CG is crucial for SMEs to understand the steps of implementation, believe in the benefits and overcome the challenges. Various sources of knowledge, such as audit firms, consultancies or specialised CG institutions, can provide training to the SMEs. For example, Hawkamah, the Institute for Corporate Governance (“Hawkamah”) and the Mudara Institute of Independent Directors, an initiative of Hawkamah, provide education, research and networking opportunities to enhance CG knowledge and ability. Before any training begins, the company should ensure that the training programme is tailored to its needs rather than being generic and a good education organisation will be able to help assess an organisation’s needs and develop a suitable training programme. Benefits Key benefits that can be realised include: 1. Improved long-term viability A robust CG framework appropriately tailored to the business will reduce financial and operational risk by identifying risks and allowing them to be either transferred to third parties or actively managed. Whilst black swan events always remain, overall risk will have been significantly reduced better ensuring the business remains a going concern. 2. Solid reputation A well-run company, with a sound CG framework and open, honest communication, will have a respected, trusted management team

and a solid reputation. This allows the company to build successful relationships with investors, lenders and partners and attract talented, experienced employees and senior executives. 3. Improved financial results Studies show that investing in appropriately tailored CG best practices improve operational efficiency and effectiveness that leads to increased financial returns well in excess of the costs of operating the CG framework. 4. Succession planning If an executive role becomes vacant or a key employee leaves, succession planning secures the sustainability and existence of the company by continuing the execution of their business objectives and strategy. A good CG model will include succession planning for such positions.

Challenges and recommended solutions 1. Corporate culture Corporate culture is an important aspect of strong CG. It is vital that the ways of thinking and making business decisions from the BoD down are ethical, unbiased and in the company’s best interests. This tone-at-the-top coupled with management and employees who are motivated to do the right thing and where relationships with stakeholders are ethical, open and built on mutual respect and trust will provide the foundations for the CG framework. The culture of SMEs that operate with minimal CG will likely resist the implementation of a CG framework as employees and senior management may not see the benefits or understand the necessity. Certain individuals may even sabotage the project, feeling that it reduces their power within the organisation. It takes time and effort to change corporate culture. Change


Corporate governance

some SMEs are reluctant to change as long as they remain profitable, continue to grow and have not been burned by an unforeseen event.

starts with a strong management team that has a clear vision of where they want to go and who can effectively communicate this vision and motivate employees behind it. Consistency of message, walking the talk, training and actively addressing individuals that are incapable of adapting are essential. 2.


Lack of knowledge and experience A common challenge on starting a CG project is that the management team or those employees charged with running the project have insufficient knowledge and experience. This can be overcome through training, approaching investors and business partners who will bring expertise and support and, if necessary, hiring individuals with appropriate experience. Regional culture Statistics show that CG is yet to be fully embraced by SMEs in the region and stakeholders could exert greater pressure for good CG practices. The Dubai government has a strong focus on improving regional practices and recently introduced company legislation that focuses on CG. Institutions, such as Hawkamah, provide resources to improve the local understanding of CG and the ability to implement it.

Conclusion Alice Read, MD at Intertrust, Dubai, noted that some SMEs are reluctant to change as long as they remain profitable, continue to grow and have not been burned by an unforeseen event. They ask what the benefits of CG are. In such cases, training is essential but not sufficient on its own. The corporate culture must be accepting of CG, with senior management genuinely believing it will build a stronger better-managed company and motivated employees wishing to get behind the project. While the overall CG framework is important, some aspects have a


greater priority. As summarised by Michael Lange, co-founder of mebs Luxembourg, for an SME wanting to build a solid, sustainable business, key principles that must be established early and then built upon are: • Sound board or advisor structure and management teams guiding the employees; • Business plan based on logical assumptions and market knowledge; • Adequate policies, procedures and controls; • Transparency and integrity of management reports and financial statements; and • Only work with reputable external auditors and business partners. Implementing a strong CG framework is not a quick one-off process but a series of carefully designed stages. It is insufficient to just follow the CG Code word-for-word but requires understanding of the principles behind CG and the adoption of a tailored model that meets the needs of the business and its stakeholders and fits its size, culture and operations. The framework must not just add unnecessary bureaucracy and costs that delay decisions and actions. This is where the value of CG process lies and where the company and its stakeholders benefit.

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Are you ready to be a Star? The NBAD Stars of Business Awards 2015 are now live on-line and welcome your application. What’s more, this year, Stars of Business is open to SMEs across 11 GCC and MENA nations! These Awards are the most comprehensive and highlyrespected business honours in the GCC - and they exist to reward and recognise the SMEs who are truly doing their best and ‘going places’. Will you be one of them?



Entries are open until October 22. The final awards will be made at a gala dinner on November 2, with everyone who’s been shortlisted receiving an exclusive invite to attend.

First things first. The Stars of Business, sponsored by National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD), has become an iconic awards brand like no other in the region. It recognises the very best SMEs across 22 business categories. The reason why it’s achieved such prominence - and become universally respected - is because it’s scientifically assessed and unimpeachably judged. In 2014, we had 3,028 entries. Using a proven financial matrix, these were reduced to a shortlist of 10 in each key category and then given to a panel of 13 industry judges, who selected the top three names for each award. You apply by completing an online application form use the following link to make your entry now: http://www. Entries are open until October 22. The final awards will be made at a gala dinner on November 2, with everyone who’s been shortlisted receiving an exclusive invite to attend. Recognising achievement and raising the bar Whether your business is just starting out and aspiring to great things; or a medium-sized enterprise with a brilliant history


of growth and achievement, now is your chance to shine. What’s more, there are a broad range of categories you can enter - so there’s something for companies from every industry and background. Who can apply? Every company with a turnover less than USD40 million. Click the registration link and you’ll see the different industry sectors we honour. You can apply whatever MENA or GCC nation your business is registered in. We are welcoming applications from: Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Why you should enter If you’re proud of your business’ achievements, the Stars of Business Awards can make sure the world knows about them. Whether you’ve broken new markets, exceeded all forecasts, pioneered new technology or leveraged exponential growth through acquisition - these Awards are for you. A spotlight on deserving SMEs - in the toughest sector of all Stars of Business 2015 honours the SME sector - the core powerhouse of


The NBAD Stars of Business Awards are all about encouraging regional businesses and best practice - and now in 2015, they’re bigger and more comprehensive than ever.

• 2.7 million SMEs across the GCC and MENA regions • 3,028 awards entries in 2014 • 1,324 individual company applicants

the regional economy, representing 95% of all businesses. Every day, SMEs face overwhelming odds - trying to build growth and margins with often scarce resources, attempting to win fresh finance (with precious little encouragement), and coping with the increasing demands of legislation and Governance. The Stars of Business Awards 2015 are brought to you by SME Advisor, the leading regional magazine catering to this factmoving and increasingly important segment - and a champion of the SME sector since its launch in 2005. The SME Advisor Stars of Business Awards are all about encouraging regional businesses and best practice - and now in 2015, they’re bigger and more comprehensive than ever.

it’s the perfect conclusion to a ground-breaking, benchmark conference: ‘SME Beyond Borders #RethinkSuccess’. Drawing together VVIP speakers from across the globe, SME Beyond Borders is a supercharged, powerhouse SME event, authoritatively assessing sector trends and analysing the key factors influencing the performance of SMEs in the region. The winners of Stars of Business walk in the footsteps of the thought leadership and quest for excellence that SME Beyond Borders crystallises like no other event in the calendar. So there’s no better platform for the biggest and best business Awards in the GCC. Will you be there and see your business in the limelight?

Where your year of fame can begin… The Stars of Business Awards is a glittering annual gala. Extensively promoted across the press and online media, it’s a ‘who’s who’ of the regional SME universe, attracting 800 attendees to a sumptuous, glamorous evening of networking, followed by gourmet dinner, awards ceremony and sensational entertainments. This year’s venue couldn’t be better the sensational Madinat Jumeirah with its wealth of unrivalled amenities. A night to remember on a grand scale, guests include senior government officials, captains of industry - and the owners, directors and managers of the region’s leading SMEs. Stars of Business and SME Beyond Borders - twin highlights of the SME calendar The exclusive Stars of Business gala awards takes place at 8:00pm on November 2 - and

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18-22 October Dubai World Trade Centre It’s that time of the year again; the region’s widely anticipated technology event is back – this time it’s bigger and better! Since its inception in 1981, GITEX Technology Week has come a long way. What started as a humble exhibition with 46 companies, is now arguably the most comprehensive and elegant showcase of digital business solutions. In the following section, we take a trip down memory lane and look at the exhibition’s fantastic journey…





The inaugural Gulf Computer Exhibition – the original name for GITEX Technology Week – was held from 15-19 December at the Dubai International Trade and Exhibition Centre’s single hall. HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Minister of Finance and Industry, opened the show, with 46 exhibitors representing companies from Austria, Canada, Greece, India, Japan, The Netherlands, United Kingdom, United States, and West Germany.


With the Trade Centre opening a second hall, the Gulf Computer Exhibition expanded to more than 70 exhibitors from 14 countries over 1,300 square meters.


At the Gulf Computer Conference fifth anniversary, IBM launched its Arabic language keyboard.


Gulf Computer Exhibition was re-named as the Gulf Information Technology Exhibition (GITEX), and set new records with 7,500 visitors and 80 exhibitors representing 180 companies.


GITEX broke 10,000 in attendance, with 11,500 visitors – driven by the first Macworld Middle East Expo.





During GITEX’s tenth anniversary, Iran took centre stage with more than 200 representatives.


For the first time, companies from all six GCC countries attended GITEX, while the inaugural GITEX Computer Shopper was held.


GITEX’s 15th anniversary was DWTC’s first with computerized visitor and exhibition registration. GITEX hosted 350 exhibitors from 25 countries representing more than 1,000 companies. More than 1,000 Middle East product launches included Microsoft Windows 95 and Office 95. For the first time, GITEX chose a “feature country” which was India.


GITEX made its international debut, launching GITEX Cairo and Computer Shopper Cairo.

2000s 2000

At GITEX’s 20th anniversary, HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum inaugurated Dubai Internet City. GITEX hosted 73,000 visitors, and more than 465 exhibitors representing 1,500 companies.


Dubai e-government was launched at GITEX, and GITEX Computer Shopper turned 10 years old.


GITEX joined forces with Termium in Lebanon, and launched GITEX Saudi Arabia and GITEX Hyderabad in India.


First time for e-access gates and mobile guide at GITEX, with 774 exhibitors representing 1,700 companies.



GITEX smashed through the 100,000 visitor mark with 116,000 visitors. For the first time, all Dubai government departments participated.


GITEX’s Silver Jubilee, or 25th anniversary, saw another record with more than 125,000 visitors.


GITEX launched Gulfcomms, Consumer Electronics, Business Solutions, and the GITEX Majlis.


Demonstrating GITEX’s growth, DWTC rebranded it to GITEX Technology Week, with 3,300 companies from 83 countries and 130,000 visitors.




Now the world’s third largest ICT show, GITEX’s 30th anniversary was the most international to date, with exhibitors representing 3,500 companies from 65 countries. New show features included GITEX Mobile, Apps, Content World, and Cloud Confex.


GITEX launched “Cyber Security @ GITEX,” the precursor to the Gulf Information Security Expo and Conference (GISEC), along with GITEX Digital Marketing, and GITEX Card Technology. InfoComm MEA, the region’s largest audiovisual exhibition, debuted at GITEX.


GITEX hosted ITU Telecom World 2012 and launched the Digital Strategies Forum.


GITEX saw the first-ever Big Data Conference, the region’s first GSMA Mobile 360 Series, along with the Cloud Awards, Hot Stuff Awards, Student Lab competition, GSM Exchange, and Content Hub. Earlier in the year, GITEX powered the launch of GISEC.


GITEX debuted “smart” experiences included mobile wayfinding, GITEX TV, GITEX Live Blog.


For its 35th anniversary, GITEX will launch GTX Communities for industry verticals, and GTX Horizons, for emerging solutions such as 3D Printing, drones, robotics, and future of transport. DWTC expects more than 140,000 visitors from more than 140 countries, and 3,500 companies. Earlier in the year, GITEX powered the inaugural Internet of Things Expo (IoTX). representing 1,700 companies.

What to expect this

year! 75


Going on a business trip? Don’t forget to download these resourceful apps!

Rushika Bhatia ,s view...

CamCard Having access to your business contacts when you are on-the-go is quite important. CamCard is a professional business card reader, which lets you scan business cards using your phone’s camera and save all the information to your phone contacts. What is particularly attractive about this app is that it syncs all the business cards across multiple devices such as smartphones, tablets, PC and so on. So, you never have to worry about losing a contact or carrying your business card folder around! The app also offers several other useful features like grouping and sorting the cards to simply the search process and connecting with the business contacts on social media.

Available on: iOS and Android Cost: Basic version is free.



LogMeIn LogMeIn, with its advanced features, is perhaps one of the most useful apps to have when travelling. Following a few basic instructions, the app allows you to remotely access your computer using your Android device. So, for instance, you may be in a client meeting, where you need to urgently get hold of additional information to close the deal with very limited time on-hand. Using LogMeIn, you can easily get all the files on your computer without having to travel back at all! Of course, you do have to ensure that your computer has the LogMeIn software installed.

Available on: iOS and Android Cost: Basic version is free.

DocuSign When travelling, do you ever find yourself in a situation where your employees need you to urgently sign a contract but aren’t able to physically reach to you in time? DocuSign solves this problem with its easy-to-use eSignature feature. In three easy steps, you can sign important documents and securely send them to your intended recipient. First, you have to import the document to your device – this could be from Dropbox, Google Drive or from other select applications. Place your signature or any other important legal information you need to include such as initials. Once you have finished working on the document, send it back via e-mail or other notable applications. What’s particularly great about DocuSign is the great emphasis it puts on security – so that users don’t have to worry about getting into any legal trouble. Use DocuSign and never miss a deadline again!

Available on: iOS and Android Cost: Free for the basic version.



BillMinder BillMinder lets your organise all your bills in one place. It offers a handy bill reminder alert every time a bill is due so that you never miss a deadline! An outstanding feature of this app is that it allows you to create reports of your expenses, in the forms of charts and graphs. It also offers tips on how to cut down expenses and increase quick savings. For business owners, the app’s multi-user feature is quite attractive. This means that all business partners can be synced to the app and get regular notifications on business-related expenses, from anywhere, at any time. Other noteworthy features of the app include: AutoPay Bills, Automatic Backup and Export to PDF.

Available on: iOS and Android Cost: AED 10.98

TripIt Travel Organiser For business owners who are frequently on-the-go, TripIt proves to be quite useful. The app links to your Gmail or Google Apps account and automatically picks up every confirmation number that comes into your inbox. Alternatively, you can forward all confirmation e-mails to plans@ and the app does it for you. The confirmation code could be of any flight, hotel, car rental and dinner reservations you’ve made. The app organises all this information into a detailed itinerary. It also syncs all the details in your itinerary to your device’s calendar which will enable you to easily share it with your friends, family and colleagues. TripIt takes things one step further by also providing users with maps, directions and weather conditions of destinations on your itinerary – helping you stay fully prepared for your travels!

Available on: Android and iOS Cost: Free



AroundMe Travelling for business can be hectic and chaotic – the last thing you need is to lose your way or spend huge chunks of your time navigating. AroundMe is a useful app that identifies your current location and finds places around you such as restaurants, ATMs, coffee shops, gas stations and so on. That’s not all. It also gives you their descriptions, opening hours and contact numbers, in addition to detailed directions. This app offers basic features but is simple, effective and quick!

Available on: iOS Cost: Free

iTranslate This translation app will help you overcome language barriers in foreign territories. With its directory of over 90+ languages, it can translate simple words or long phrases. This app stands out with its unique voice output feature which offers translation in various dialects and also lets you select between male or female voice! If you are a frequent traveller, this highly interactive is an absolute must have.

Available on: iOS and Android Cost: Free



AwardWallet From frequent flier miles and car rentals to hotel loyalty points and restaurant discounts, this app keeps track of all the rewards programmes you are enrolled in. It ties everything well into your current travel plans and gives you timely reminders. A notable feature of this app is that it generates automate flight statuses and suggests alternative flight options when required.

Available on: iOS and Android Cost: Free

Concur Concur tracks, organises, manages and reports all your travel expenses in a systematic and orderly manner. This app takes away the hassle of handling paper receipts and stores all your data on one platform. Using its ‘capture receipt’ feature, you can upload receipts by clicking a picture of them. For business owners and professionals, Concur is ideal to create a report of your travel expenditure and present a formalised summary to colleagues or partners.

Available on: iOS and Android Cost: Free





Pocket Analytics For business owners constantly on-the-go, Pocket Analytics is a brilliant app that gives you a consolidated view of all your analytics data on your handheld device. This data is a culmination of numbers from Google Analytics, YouTube Analytics, Facebook, Flurry and a raft of other platforms. No matter where you are, you can keep track of your online activity and the kind of response you are generating. This is especially useful for Web-based businesses that need to continually monitor performance. What’s really attractive about this app is that it allows you to customize data the way you would like to view it. You can create dashboards suitable to your preferences, with the option to select formats such as graphs and charts, as you deem necessary.

Available on: iOS Cost: $8.99

GoToMeeting With this advanced video conferencing app, you can join or host virtual business discussions, team sessions or client meetings using your mobile device. Each session can hold up to 25 attendees – all you need to do is extend an invitation. GoToMeeting shines with features such as: • Meeting recording: Get a complete clip of your discussion and share it with those that missed the session or save it for future reference. • Share screen: This option is quite handy when you want to share your presentation or report with the entire group. • Speaker identification: The app displays the name of the person that is currently speaking – so you can keep track of who is saying what in a crowded session. Other notable features include smart scheduling, meeting alerts, webcam viewing and user chats.

For an online version, please visit:


Available on: iOS and Android Cost: Free

Get finance on your transactions with NBAD Loan against Point of Sale Receivables NBAD Commercial Banking offers finance against your Point of Sale Receivables, without collateral, so you can run your business efficiently. • Loan amount up to AED 5 million • Flexible tenors up to 48 months • Competitive interest rates • Easy & simple documentation • Quick turnaround time To know more, SMS “POS loan” to 2050, Email: or call Toll free 800 2211 Subject to bank approval. Terms & conditions apply.

Profile for SME Advisor Middle East

SME Advisor Issue 116  

SME Advisor Issue 116