Private banks eye the Gulf’s transfer of family wealth
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Private banks eye the Gulf’s transfer of family wealth

Three generation family making a safari in the desert of Dubai
Photo: Getty Images

Bankers in the Middle East are intensifying their focus on succession planning as the first wave of intergenerational wealth transfer looms.

Every company founder frets about succession. This issue takes on additional urgency in the Middle East, where not only have personal and corporate assets historically been managed together in family businesses, but where many of these businesses were only founded comparatively recently – in the 1950s and 1960s.

Indeed, six of the top 10 family businesses in the region were formed after 1950, according to Forbes’ Top 100 Arab Family Businesses list. Of the 24 UAE family businesses on that tally, half were formed after 1970, while just two were formed before 1950.

Many families in the UAE are facing their first intergenerational wealth transfer; in Saudi Arabia, many are looking at only their second.

Just 10% to 15% of family businesses worldwide make it to the third generation.

“When I first started advising families in the Gulf, no one spoke about succession planning. Meeting a new client would often include starting at the beginning with questions on what a trust is,” says Kyra Motley, partner, private wealth at law firm Boodle Hatfield.


Lucy joined Euromoney in January 2023 as a reporter. She previously worked for sister publication IFLR covering all things financial regulation in EMEA, including crypto, ESG, bonds, ECM, M&A, restructuring and insolvency. Before this, she interned at the FT’s Investors’ Chronicle after finishing a Classics degree at Oxford University.
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