The UAE places significant emphasis on fostering innovative economic models and providing necessary enablers to drive their growth and expansion across various sectors, with a particular focus on the emerging sectors of the new economy. The family business sector is one of the models that the UAE government is committed to supporting, to ensure its sustainability for generations to come. This can be attributed to the sector’s potential to create promising opportunities - not only to support the sustainable growth of the national economy, but also for generating thousands of jobs.
In 2022, the Ministry of Economy launched the 'Thabat' family business program with an aim to establish an integrated business ecosystem to foster the growth of family businesses in the UAE. The initiative seeks to bolster these businesses' continuity across generations in line with the UAE's economic vision for the next 50 years. Moreover, it seeks to better regulate them as per the globally recognized best practices, in collaboration with local and global partners. These efforts will help solidify the UAE's status as a leading destination for family businesses from around the world, thereby stimulating more investment inflow to this crucial sector. Such endeavours will undoubtedly enhance the national economy's flexibility and competitiveness as well.
The inaugural batch of this ambitious program gave rise to two innovative projects - ‘Apterra’ by Alserkal family and the ‘Nutralis,’ digital platform developed by the Al Yusuf family. This is especially significant given that the program offers agile mechanisms for family businesses to advance their operations through two distinct models. The first model seeks to boost the company's existing business areas by harnessing new technologies and tools, enhancing the competitiveness of its products and services. Meanwhile, the second model supports their entry into new sectors, contributing to broadening and diversifying the scope of the family business operations and presenting them with additional opportunities for sustainable growth.
‘Apterra’ is a digital platform that seeks to revolutionize the property management industry by establishing new standards of excellence and sustainability. Primarily, it addresses the longstanding pain point of property maintenance. This challenge has always been time-consuming and financially draining for property managers. ‘Apterra’ offers a comprehensive tool to efficiently manage assets and property maintenance requirements, thus enhancing service effectiveness, saving time, and reducing costs for real estate businesses. This ultimately, contributes to the long-term sustainability of the sector.
Alserkal acknowledges that the ‘Thabat’ program has given it a new perspective on business development and the broader use of technological tools to attain sustainable advantages. In addition, the program has provided the company with a practical simulation model for economic impact in return for participating in this leading program and expanding its business. This has been the catalyst for the development of the ‘Apterra’ platform.
Eisa Alserkal - Head of Real Estate Division said:"The program is a game changer - I learned a new way to think about business ideas. It has also enabled us to create apterra - which will lead us to digital business models as a Family Business.”
Sheikha Alserkal - Founder of Alserkal Jewellery said:“Working in the program has taught me to be more in touch with our customers and has given me the enablement to apply the innovation methodology to my own business as well.”
Each member of the participating teams dedicated approximately 550 work hours, equivalent to almost 120 days, to the program. During this time, they acquired knowledge on the selection of the right idea thorough market analyses, identifying distinctive product attributes, understanding the customer journey, and the methods of establishing and growing a brand.
Through the ‘Thabat’ program, the Ministry of Economy seeks to transform 200 family businesses into rapidly expanding startups by 2030, aligning with the objectives of the ‘We the UAE 2031’ vision. The Ministry called upon family businesses seeking to enhance their operations and venture into new sectors to participate in the program's second batch.