The Arab uprisings has highlighted the importance and need for corporate governance in the region, according to Sultan bin Saeed al-Mansoori, the UAE’s economy minister of .

“The Arab Spring has strengthened the cause of good governance,” said Al-Mansoori, speaking at Hawkamah’s sixth regional corporate governance conference in Dubai on 31 October.

“To make best use of this opportunity, we should speed up reforms and focus on innovations that will position us as market leader,” he added.

Al-Mansoori also highlighted the importance of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and family-owned businesses in attracting foreign direct investment (FDI). About 85 per cent of all firms in the GCC are family-owned enterprises.

“Regulatory framework and institutions have to demonstrate success in compliance and should remain competitive to attract foreign investment,” says Al-Mansoori. The UAE attracted $15bn in FDI in 2010

“The Arab Spring is a call for corporate governance, when we address political and social challenges, it is the corporate governance challenges that will make any of the changes sustainable,” says Nasser Saidi, executive director at the Hawkamah Institute and chief economist at the Dubai International Finance Centre (DIFC).

The Middle East is awakening to the importance of good regulatory and governance infrastructure for future development.

On 29 October, Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid al-Maktoom, vice-president and prime minister of the UAE, issued a corporate governance decree that forces members of regulatory bodies to disclose their financial and management stakes in companies. Members will also be prohibited from serving on more than four company boards.