Arab Gulf Business Leaders Look to the Future (2006)

Significant developments are taking place in the Arab Gulf region. Dramatic increases in oil revenues have spurred what some are calling an “Arab Renaissance,” with record construction, investment, and growth observed in many of the area’s countries. At the same time, some of the region’s governments have taken new initiatives aimed at liberalizing their economies and, in varying degrees, their political systems. All of these positives, however, are occurring against the backdrop of worrisome destabilizing developments, some in the broader region and others in the Gulf itself.

How are the region’s business elites looking at these developments and the long-term prospects for the region? Are they confident that there is in fact an Arab Renaissance, and that it has staying power? Do these elites believe that this new wealth is being invested wisely toward sustaining this growth and are they comfortable with the pace of change (political, economic, and social) that are also necessary for the long-term health of the region? Are they merely “going with the flow” or is there a strategic design at work to take advantage of this new wealth to both serve the region’s economic future and reposition it as a major proactive player on the new world economy? And finally, how do these business elites assess the repercussions of the region’s political turbulence?

In an effort to develop a preliminary understanding of these and other related issues, Zogby International interviewed a group of 15 business leaders from Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Bahrain. The interviews were conducted in person, by telephone, or via e-mail using an extensive questionnaire that included both open-ended and closed questions.

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