CSR Increasing in Profile in Dubai

The recent CSR newsreels put the Middle-East and especially Dubai in the spotlight. According to a recent survey, 70% of respondents in UAE believed that CSR helps capture new markets and market share while 90% said credible CSR programmes can enable companies to build a solid reputation. Over 80% thought that CSR can attract new customers and foster innovation. The annual CSR Middle East Survey was conducted by Sustainability Advisory Group (SAG) and is in its second year.

There is a large increase in the number of firms which say that CSR is not just a government agenda, but an internal one, which will ensure the long term success of their business, said Maria Sillanpaa, founding director of SAG and speaker at the eighth CSR Summit that opened on April 24. “We are clearly witnessing a shift in attitudes towards CSR in the region. This maturing attitude is evident in businesses’ perception of the government’s role regarding CSR,” Sillanpaa added.

Following hot on the heels of this, the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry's Center for Responsible Business (CRB) held the fourth Dubai Dialogue focusing on Responsible Recovery. The event attracted over 300 attendees comprising of top management, senior advisors, government officials, academics and sustainability/CSR professionals from all sectors in the UAE. The conference examined the subject of responsible recovery post global economic crisis and how companies can profit and prosper by adopting sustainable practices. The conference also highlighted innovative new ways of implementing CSR/Sustainability in companies.

The Dubai Chamber created the Centre for Responsible Business in 2004.  Since then CRB has launched a variety of programs and training courses aimed to provide knowledge, resources and value added services to stakeholders and to raise awareness of corporate responsibility and good governance.

During 2007 and 2008, the CRB launched products that would raise awareness including a new look newsletter, the CSR Al Youm. They also provide regular trainings on the tenets of CSR with leading international partners such as the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). According to Mallen Baker, Founding Director of Business Respect, who attended the conference, "The Dubai Dialogue addresses some key issues for how business commitment to sustainability can emerge intact from the financial crisis. There are a lot of events on corporate social responsibility being held across the world - this one by Dubai Chamber CRB is one of the few that tackles the big questions which are going to be essential for business in the immediate future."

Photo: Dubai Coastline