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News & Press: 2020

GCC BDI and APCO Worldwide Webinar Sheds Light on the Legal Implications of COVID-19

Wednesday, April 8, 2020  
Posted by: Mehwish Sarwar
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Force Majeure provisions must be considered on precise terms and specific context, say experts

Dubai-UAE: 5 April, 2020 – There is a lack of clarity when considering the Force Majeure provisions for businesses in the region as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is imperative that each contract must be considered on its own precise terms and in its specific context. This in turn puts a huge onus on companies and employers to act responsibly towards all their stakeholders and especially their employees in these extraordinary circumstances.

These were the key takeaways at a webinar held today by the GCC Board Directors Institute (GCC BDI), a not-for-profit organisation that helps board directors acquire the expertise and tools for effective governance, and APCO Worldwide – the global advisory and advocacy communications consultancy.

Over 185 participants, including experts from multinational and local organisations operating across the region, joined the webinar, hosted in collaboration with Al Tamimi & Co (UAE and Bahrain) and Khoshaim & Associates (KSA). The webinar served as a platform to better understand the legal implications triggered by COVID-19 in UAE, KSA and Bahrain.

The panellists in the webinar included Zeyad Khoshaim, Managing Partner, Khoshaim & Associates, KSA; Naief Yahia, Partner, Al Tamimi & Company, UAE; Foutoun Hajjar, Partner - Head of Office, Al Tamimi & Company, Bahrain; and Nicholas Labuschagne, Head of Strategy and Crisis Management, MENA, APCO Worldwide. The webinar was moderated by Mamoon Sbeih, President – MENA at APCO Worldwide.

The discussions covered a constructive exchange of views on the impact of Force Majeure, the measures being adopted by companies in the Gulf region to sustain business and the obligations toward employees. The panel also highlighted the need to set up a robust crisis management infrastructure and consistent stakeholder communication in critical times to manage such extraordinary situations.

In her opening remarks, Jane Valls, Executive Director, GCC Board Directors Institute, shed light on the trending risks imposed by COVID-19 and emphasized the importance of practical advice to firms. She said: “These are indeed challenging times for businesses and it is important for Board Directors and Executive Management to understand the impact on their internal and external contracts and the key areas of focus during these times of crisis. Through our webinar today, we have been able to strengthen the dialogue around legal obligations in a timely manner and shed some important insights.”

During the panel, Zeyad Khoshaim focused on the contractual obligations of businesses in Saudi Arabia, while Foutoun Hajjar gave an overview of the legal implications of COVID-19 on businesses in Bahrain. Naief Yahia presented his views on the latest Ministry of Labour guidelines in the UAE, while Nicholas Labuschagne emphasized the need for businesses to have more clarity and empathy in their communications to their internal and external stakeholders.

The recording of the webinar can be viewed on https://apco.box.com/v/apcogccbdiwebinar.

GCC BDI will host another webinar on the topic “Leadership in Extreme Times” on 8 April, 2020. For registration for the webinar, please visit https://gccbdi.org/events/event_list.asp

About the GCC Board Directors Institute

Launched in 2007, the GCC Board Directors Institute (GCC BDI) is an independent not-for-profit organisation that helps board directors of entities, from family-owned businesses to listed companies, acquire the know-how and tools to achieve and sustain effective governance.

GCC BDI was founded by eight leading regional corporations and professional services firms: Saudi Aramco, SABIC, Emirates NBD, Investcorp, McKinsey & Company, Allen & Overy, Heidrick & Struggles and PwC. The institute is supported by the regional regulatory authorities, including the Securities and Commodities Authority of the UAE, the Capital Market Authority and Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority of Saudi Arabia, the Central Bank of Kuwait and the Capital Markets Authority of Kuwait, the Central Bank of Bahrain, and the Capital Market Authority of Oman.

GCC BDI’s mission is to create a strong and influential regional network of board members, enhance their capabilities, disseminate high-quality corporate governance knowledge and lead the regional debate on emerging best governance practices. The institute aims to accomplish these goals through a combination of effective practice and experience sharing, access to global knowledge, and interaction with its regional and global counterparts.

GCC BDI has grown to become the leading organisation for board directors in the GCC region. Comprising over 1,500 members with extensive knowledge and experience of operating at the most senior levels of business, the institute has hosted over 190 programmes and forums for top-tier companies.

A globally recognised organisation, GCC BDI is the only entity from the GCC region to be admitted to the Global Network of Director Institutes (GNDI).

For more information, please visit www.gccbdi.org.
For media enquiries, please contact:

Mehwish Sarwar
GCC Board of Directors Institute
mehwish.sarwar@gccbdi.org
+971 55 903 3365

Susan Shoury
APCO Worldwide
sshoury@apcoworldwide.com
+ 971 55 965 3647


Emirates Financial Towers, Office 2201 - South Tower,  PO Box 507007, Dubai, UAE
Phone: +971 4 554 7967 | Email: getinvolved@gccbdi.org

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