Board Monitor UAE 2022
Boards & Governance

Board Monitor UAE 2022

Our second annual report examining incoming directors at listed companies from across the UAE shows a significant preference for first-time board members.
About the report

This report is part of Heidrick & Struggles’ long-standing study of trends in board composition in countries around the world. Produced by our CEO & Board Practice, these reports track and analyze trends in nonexecutive director appointments to the boards of the largest publicly listed companies in Australia (ASX 200), Belgium (BEL 20), Brazil (BOVESPA), Canada (TSX 60), Denmark (OMX Copenhagen 25), Finland (OMX Helsinki 25), France (CAC 40), Germany (DAX and MDAX), Hong Kong (Hang Seng), Ireland (ISEQ), Italy (FTSE MIB), Mexico (BMV IPC), the Netherlands (AEX), New Zealand (NZX 10), Norway (OBX), Portugal (PSI 20), Saudi Arabia (Tadawul), Singapore (STI 30), South Africa (JSE Top 40), Spain (IBEX 35), Sweden (OMX 30), Switzerland (SMI Expanded), the United Arab Emirates (ADX and DFM), the United Kingdom (FTSE 350), and the United States (Fortune 500). Information about executives is gathered from publicly available sources, BoardEx, and a Heidrick & Struggles proprietary database.

Over the past few years, the world has experienced an unprecedented series of events that have fundamentally changed communities and organizations, and which in many countries have changed the fundamental contract between organizations and the communities within which they do business. Leaders of the United Arab Emirates set a vision to enable their country to seek prosperity in a sustainable way and make the best of today’s knowledge, technology, and resources. This sets the path to make the UAE a bedrock for innovative industries and talent development, which, in turn, should support local companies growing into world leaders in their domains.

In the context of national and international change, more is expected from the boards of UAE-based companies than ever before. One consequence is an unprecedented focus on corporate governance, from board composition to effectiveness and resilience. Internationally, boards are also expected to lead their organizations in driving a purpose-led culture and own the conversation with employees about how strategy, purpose, and culture need to blend to enable sustainable growth. 

So, how far have UAE boards moved the dial when it comes to changing their composition to tackle these new expectations and mitigate the risk of losing their license to operate?

Chart 1 for BM UAE


We see more and more boards looking for independent directors or individuals with international experience to help with this newer direction. While there has been progress in broadening the spectrum of experience around boardroom tables in ADX/DFM companies, each company needs to make sure it is not only prepared for today’s challenges, but able to anticipate what type of directors they need to appoint to future-proof their organizations. 


Thanks to the following Heidrick & Struggles’ colleagues for their contributions to this report: Maliha Jilani and Richard Guest.

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