Sunday 5 July 2020

Gulf CEOs upbeat on business outlook: study

DUBAI, October 30, 2019

Almost three-quarters (72 per cent) of C-suite executives interviewed in a survey described their expectations of local business conditions as positive or very positive for the coming 12 months, Oxford Business Group (OBG) said in a new report.

This is up from70.3 per cent in OBG’s 2018 edition of the Business Barometer: Gulf CEO Survey on the region.

Most of the business leaders surveyed reacted favourably to the level of transparency in place for conducting business relative to the region, with 71 per cent describing it as high or very high.

An even larger majority (80 per cent) told OBG that they viewed the current tax environment (business and personal) as competitive or very competitive on a global scale. Obtaining financing remains problematic for some, however, with a more modest 53 per cent describing the ease of access to credit in their market as easy or very easy.

Unsurprisingly, regional political volatility was by far the biggest business environment concern among executives, beyond movements in commodity prices. More than three-quarters (76 per cent) identified it as the top external event they felt could impact the economy in the short to medium term, up from 71 per cent last year and well ahead of China demand growth, which garnered 9 per cent of responses.

Despite these worries however 63 per cent of respondents said they thought it likely or very likely their firm would make an investment in the next 12 months, in a sign of the growing role that the private sector is playing in the regional economy.

Efforts to diversify national economies across the region have inevitably revealed skills gaps across the labour market. Executives interviewed identified several areas in which skills were in high demand, including leadership, engineering, R&D and computech.

Billy FitzHerbert, OBG’s regional editor for the Middle East, said despite facing hurdles which ranged from fluctuating oil prices to regional tensions, there is a definite sense amongst business leaders that the challenging economic circumstances were being successfully managed.

He wrote that the private sector spending plans highlighted by the survey bode well for the region, and added that “the broader challenge of generating higher levels of private sector activity in regional economies continues to guide policy.”

FitzHerbert added that diversification away from a reliance on hydrocarbons remains the order of the day, and continues to sit at the centre of the series of development blueprints onto which Gulf countries have mapped  future economic prosperity.

“Crucial now will be maintaining the initiatives put in place during more difficult times, ensuring efforts don’t backtrack and the inroads into curbing the mentality of public sector reliance do not diminish as regional economies look ahead and begin to regain firm economic footing.” – TradeArabia News Service


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