With CHROs at the forefront of organisational transformation, the pandemic marked a profound shift in the perception of the role and purpose of the people function – accelerating its transition to a business partnering one which was, until then, traditionally reserved to the finance function.

Over the past twelve months, an economic, geopolitical and humanitarian crisis, the widespread adoption of hybrid working and the ‘Great Rethink’ that ensued the pandemic have re-focused our attention on issues such as responsible business, inclusion and diversity, wellbeing and learning and development.

"Stepping up to these new responsibilities requires the people profession in the region to transform itself: to truly partner with the business to help future-proof operating models and establish agile and inclusive work cultures – and do it all with clear leadership. In this context, shedding a light on good practice in the region and recognising the good work of people professionals is ever important", comments Charlotte Chedeville, Regional Head of Operations – MENA at the CIPD.

Organised by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), the CIPD Middle East People Awards recognise individuals, teams and organisations across ten categories for their outstanding achievements in people management and development.

Made of independent consultants, global experts and HR practitioners, the judging panel reviewed over 90 entries this year, ranking them against four criteria: innovation, alignment with the business, impact and relevance. Following the shortlist announcement three weeks ago, winners were unveiled at the CIPD’s first ever annual gala dinner in Dubai.

Headlined by Paralympic Champion Mark Colbourne MBE and CIPD Chair of the Board Valerie Hughes D’Aeth, the CIPD Middle East People Awards Gala Dinner was attended by 190 business leaders, people professionals and policy-makers from across the region, including Guest of Honour Tareq Al Sadhan, CEO of Riyad Bank and H.E. Fareda Al Ali, Asst. Undersecretary for National Human Resources Employment at the UAE Ministry of HR & Emiratisation.

The winners span across industries and countries in the region, with some large regional organisations such as Riyad Bank and Saudi Railway Company and multinationals including Accor and Standard Chartered. "We have been really impressed with the quality of submissions for this year’s awards, and encouraged to receive nominations from employers right across the Middle East region. While we’re delighted to celebrate the success of this year’s winners, we should also recognise the excellent work that is ongoing within people and HR teams of all finalists and indeed all organisations present at the gala dinner", comments Stuart Dunlop, Regional Director – MENA at the CIPD.

As the region accelerates its efforts towards gender diversity, Saudi Arabia’s Leading National Academy (LNA) won the Most Impactful Diversity & Inclusion award for providing vocational training for women in the Kingdom, helping them build the skills and confidence to embrace career opportunities in male-dominated fields.

In a hybrid world, engaging employees is more challenging than ever. Competing with Mobily, Solutions by STC and Bupa Arabia, Atlantis Dubai unanimously won in the category "Best Employee Engagement Programme" for its approach placing employees at the centre of engagement and its alignment to business outcomes.

The trophy for the Best L&D Programme – one of the most anticipated categories – was awarded to Standard Chartered for its highly outcome-driven programme focused on encouraging self-development, while Saudi Ground Services took home the coveted trophy for the HR / L&D Team of the Year after ranking 2nd in the same category last year. "I am very proud of this award. I have always believed that HR is the catalyst for any successful organisation. This award is a testimony to our exceptional HR Team for the transformational work they have done in SGS", says Ayman AlGhamdi, CHRO at SGS.

Mental health and wellbeing remained high priority for the people profession this year, and Red Sea Global won in this category. "I’m delighted that Red Sea Global received the award for Best Health and Wellbeing Programme in recognition of our efforts to promote a healthy lifestyle for our employees. Our corporate wellbeing programme is a strategic enabler of our business objectives, which brings to life the vision of His Royal Highness and the strategic priorities of Vision 2030", comments John Pagano, CEO of Red Sea Global.

The Employer of Choice Award was presented to Saudi Railway Company, while e& won in ‘Best Recruitment and Talent Management Strategy’ category for its focus on ensuring diversity throughout the recruitment and talent management process and progressive approach to building a sustainable talent pipeline.

Lastly, TDRA stood out as the only federal entity taking home an award – winning in the Best Digital Innovation in HR / L&D category. Among the finalists, Riyad Bank emerged as big winners of the night by winning the trophy for the Best Coaching & Mentoring Initiative, and two highly commended mentions – one for its impactful initiative focusing on the inclusion of people of determination; and one for in the Best Recruitment and Talent Management Strategy.

Full list of winners:


  • Winner: Karen Rose Sariego, Al Ghurair Investment
  • Highly commended: Sarra Al Breiki, ADNOC


  • Winner: Riyad Bank
  • Highly commended: Standard Chartered 


  • Winner: Red Sea Global 


  • Winner: e&
  • Highly commended: Riyad Bank


  • Winner: Atlantis Dubai
  • Highly commended: Bupa Arabia


  • Winner: The Leading National Academy (LNA)
  • Highly commended: Riyad Bank


  • Winner: TDRA (UAE)


  • Winner: Standard Chartered
  • Highly commended: Accor


  • Winner: Saudi Ground Services (SGS)
  • Highly commended: Atlantis Dubai


  • Highly commended: Savola Group
  • Winner: Saudi Railway Company

Entries for the 2023 awards open in April 2023. To find out more about the process, please visit www.cipdawards.com

For press enquiries, please email events@cipd.ae

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About the CIPD

At the CIPD, we champion better work and working lives. We help organisations to thrive by focusing on their people, supporting economies and society for the future. We lead debate as the voice for everyone wanting a better world of work.