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DOHA DECLARATION  Business leaders and policy makers from the Middle East and North Africa, and international and regional experts convened for the Third Hawkamah Regional conference on corporate governance, "Is the Region Becoming a Global Player?: Corporate Governance & the Financial Crisis", held in Doha on 9-10 November 2008. The conference was organized in association with the Qatar Financial Markets Authority (QFMA) and in partnership with the Qatar Financial Centre, International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Financial Services Volunteer Corps (FVC), The World Bank, the Global Corporate Governance Forum and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). His Excellency Minister Yousef Hussain Kamal, Minister of Economy and Finance and Chairman of the QFMA delivered a keynote policy speech stressing the urgency of action in improving corporate governance in the GCC countries and the MENA region overall. Participants acknowledged the important progress achieved in Qatar in streamlining the financial regulatory authorities and developing a Corporate Governance Code in line with international standards and good practices. There is an increasing perception that contagion and spill-over effects from the global financial turmoil could undermine the economic achievements of the MENA region. As a result, participants focused on the interaction between corporate governance and the stability and soundness of the financial system. The following corporate governance issues emerging from the financial crisis need to be addressed globally and at the level of the MENA region: (a) The regulatory & supervisory powers of central banks should be cooperation instead of corporation with capital markets authorities to investment banking and related non-bank financial intermediation. (b) Risk management frameworks, processes, and implementation practices require reform in order to redress the shortcomings revealed by the turmoil. (c) The role and form of regulation of credit rating agencies needs to be addressed. (d) Executive remuneration and incentive structures need to be linked to long-term performance and risk profile of firms. More disclosure on executive remuneration schemes is required and companies should put their remuneration schemes to shareholder scrutiny and approval. (e) Corporate governance practices need to be strengthened, in particular by increasing board competence and responsibility. Board members need to have up-to-date knowledge on financial issues and risk management to fulfill their functions and training should be required when necessary. Boards should conduct annual evaluations of their performance and report to shareholders. (f) Governance and accountability of regulators are equally essential and the region should adopt and implement existing guidelines on good practices as promoted by the Bank for International Settlements and IOSCO. (g) Islamic finance is a viable and credible complement to conventional financing and has been resilient to date to banking and financial crisis, as a result of equity sharing arrangements and its focus on ethical investment practices. Islamic finance institutions should continue improving their corporate governance by focusing specifically on the disclosure rights of Investment Account Holders, the role of Shari'a boards, their integration within the corporate governance structure of the Islamic Finance Institution. The development and implementation of a harmonized Corporate Governance Framework Regulation and market oversight should fully cover these institutions. (h) Effective creditor rights and insolvency systems and the development of strong rescue and restructuring frameworks are important for the region. Based on the survey of existing frameworks and practices in the MENA, these should be modernized as a matter of priority to allow effective rescue and restructuring of viable enterprises facing temporary and potential distress. Countries in the region should avail themselves of international guidance, such as the World Bank Principles on Insolvency/ROSC Diagnostic programme and the UNCITRAL Legislative Guide on Insolvency for reforming domestic insolvency systems. (i) Good corporate governance is important not only for listed companies, but also for State and Family-Owned enterprises. To successfully address potential issues of succession of family-owned enterprises and preservation and protection of wealth, their progressive integration into capital markets should be encouraged. (j) Investments of Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWFs) taking a long-term perspective can contribute to financial stability. The "Santiago Principles" of the International Working Group (IWG) on SWFs coordinated by the International Monetary Fund provide a welcome contribution to improved transparency and sound management of these funds. They should be followed up by a continuous dialogue and review within the IWG. An open investment climate should be maintained by recipient countries in line with OECD guidance and instruments. (k) Private equity has recently emerged as a popular alternative asset class in the region supporting regional economic development and small and medium-sized enterprises. Private equity managers should play a critical role in diffusing corporate governance principles and best practices across their portfolio companies in terms of board structures, administrative procedures, disclosure requirements and minority interest protection. Next steps by Hawkamah and the MENA OECD Working Group will include:
  • Finalisation of the draft MENA Policy Brief on corporate governance of banks.
  • Preparation of a Policy Brief on corporate governance of State-Owned Enterprises.
  • Finalisation of the Policy Brief on corporate governance of insurance companies.
  • Recommendations on Insolvency frameworks and practices.
  • Establishment of a Task Force on Islamic Finance.
  • Undertaking pilot studies on corporate governance of family-owned enterprises.
A review of the response of the regulators to the financial crisis and progress with corporate governance measures will be conducted at the next annual meeting.


  • The certified Board Secretaries Workshop provided by Hawkamah and Dubai Financial Market is an essential course for learning corporate governance, scope and responsibilities of the board secretary and understanding the governance and disclosure requirements of the Dubai Financial Market and the Securities and Commodities Authority. It is a practical course which combined recent best practices and key learning lessons. I would highly recommend it for people involved in corporate governance and in particular in a listed company.

    Omran Al Zamani - Senior Legal Counsel - Dana Gas PJSC

  • Great program! Very well done and very useful information delivered in an excellent manner. The workshop was very inspirational, energizing, bringing lots of ideas, with both substantial and in-depth knowledge together with case studies. Well-balanced composition of participants, which contributed to interesting and focused discussions and exchanges. I would highly recommend it to anyone that is interested in improving their proficiency and core competencies.

    Hassan Murad Agha - Group Head of Compliance & Internal Control - Gulf General Investment Co. (PSC)

  • All companies should promote their boards, executive managers or staffs who have board responsibilities for subsidiary companies to attend corporate governance training. Hawkamah provides the ability for people and companies in the GCC to upskill in the area of corporate governance and directorship through a comprehensive programme teaching international best practice which has been tailored to regional specific governance issues.

    Alastair Mulligan - VP Asset Management - National Central Cooling Company PJSC (TABREED)

  • I am truly honored to attain this certification and I recommend the Compliance Heads of all DFM listed companies to participate and achieve this certification.

    Nabeel Mirza - Senior Director & MLRO - Compliance - GFH Financial Group B.S.C.

  • The workshop has added a level of professionalism to my practice. It addressed and discussed  the right concepts to promote better governance and effective support for business in line with rules and procedures.

    Osama Issaq Al Haj - Head of Legal & Board Secretary - Dubai Islamic Bank

  • A very interesting and informative course which has helped me to adapt my Board Secretary knowledge further to my role as Company Secretary.

    Hamad Al Hosani - Group Company Secretary - Emirates NDB Bank

  • Anyone who wants to enter the world of boards and governance; this is your passport.

    Jehad A. Kazim - Director - Legal Services Dubai Chamber

  • The Directors Development Program was one of the most beneficial programs I attend during my career life. The strength of the program comes from the way it was structured as each part covered very important aspects of the required management role.

    Nada Ishaq Abdul Karim - Manager - The Secretary of The Board of Directors - Bahrain Islamic Bank BSC

  • The DDP offered by the Hawkamah Institute is an excellent course to prepare directors to understand and fulfil their obligations properly as members of the board. I have benefitted immensely from this program and have started to implement some of the best practices taught on the boards that I am involved in.

    Amir Arab - Director - Havenvest Private Equity Middle East Limited

  • The Director Development Program is great way to gain insight and improved understanding in areas such as corporate governance and board functionality. I would highly recommend the program as a foundational step before they begin their board experience.

    Bindu Ann Joseph - Chief Operating Officer - 3W Networks

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