• Global Spotlight: OpenThinking Day 


    Two of the Largest Anti-Fraud Workshops Held in the Middle East 



    Last November, more than 500 auditors, accountants and financial professionals from the United Arab Emirates gathered for two of the largest anti-fraud workshops ever held in the Middle East. The OpenThinking Day Anti-Fraud Workshop was held in Dubai, November 2, 2013, and in Sharjah, November 16, 2013.


    “We wanted to create awareness about the most recent concepts related to fraud in open data, financial statements, mobile banking and other areas,” said Iyad Mourtada, CFE, CIA, CMA, Managing Director of OpenThinking. “The events weren’t summits or conferences, but rather learning workshops where experts in the profession shared their knowledge in creative and interactive ways.”


    According to Mourtada, the November 16 event in Sharjah featured a one-hour fraud game where groups of five examined evidence and collected clues to discover a fraud, who did it and where it was done. This allowed them to interactively share knowledge and discuss different fraud schemes in an experiential setting. At the November 2 event in Dubai, Mourtada himself presented on “How Accountants Cooked the Books,” and used a full kitchen on stage while dressed as a chef to show attendees the unusual ways accountants can manipulate financial books and figures.



    Other presentations covered internal auditors and their role in discovering fraud, and a panel discussion on best practices of anti-fraud professionals in the Middle East. The panel was moderated by Ahmad Mukaddam, CFE and board member of the ACFE UAE Chapter; and included Stuart Dunlop, Regional Director of MENASA ACCA; Karim Abd-Elhay, President of the IMA Dubai Chapter and Ali AlMuwaijei, Board Member of the UAE IAA. The panelists focused on the importance of creating an anti-fraud culture within a company. They also discussed how organizations are implementing whistleblower policies and hotlines to ensure employees report fraud issues without fear of retaliation.


    Almost 25 percent of the attendees at both workshops combined were Certified Fraud Examiners (CFEs). Khalid Shaibani, an auditor from the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), talked about the importance of earning the CFE credential and how it allows anti-fraud professionals to demonstrate their proficiency to others.


    The November 2 workshop concluded with a presentation on “The Truth about Lying” by Adil Buhariwalla, VIP Internal Auditor at Emirates Airline. Buhariwalla discussed why people usually lie and how fraud fighters can detect and identify lies using body language and understanding the logic behind verbal responses.


    OpenThinking’s anti-fraud workshops in the UAE were supported by more than 60 organizations. “It was great to have the ACFE, ACCA, IMA, ISACA, UAE AAA and UAE IAA associations jointly involved in one event discussing the anti-fraud practices in the Middle East,” said Mourtada. “Governmental organizations and private companies are focusing more on implementing fraud preventive and detective controls and some of them have already created a department specialized in managing fraud risk.”