Posted on May 12, 2010 in Reports

May 12, 2010, UAE – The second Oliver Wyman / Zogby International survey of 134 C-suite (including CEOs, CFOs and COOs) executives in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates finds the business mood in the region upbeat. GCC executives expressed uniform confidence when asked about immediate and near term prospects: 58% of those surveyed find current conditions improved, and 82% are optimistic about the prospects for the next two years. Although business confidence in the UAE has risen 29 percentage points to 74% since the last report in October 2009, the country still lags behind KSA (85%) and Qatar (96%).

“In the survey last October we saw confidence down in the shadow of the financial crisis,” notes James Zogby, of Zogby International. “This time, when we asked more general questions about business confidence and the prospects for the future we found real optimism across the region, with Qataris and Saudis the most confident.”

As the region begins to recover from the effects of the financial crisis, satisfaction with governments’ handling of this has gone up generally since 2009 and most notably in the UAE–increasing 23 points from 47% to 70% of UAE executives polled.

In terms of present prospects and where to go next, executives in Abu Dhabi and Dubai differ. Those in Dubai are relatively pessimistic and interested in tackling labor reform and transparency, while those in Abu Dhabi were relatively optimistic and interested in educational challenges.

“This is an important poll in a region eager for useful data,” points out John Turner, a Partner in the Dubai Office of Oliver Wyman who leads its Public Sector practice. “The poll will run every six months and its findings continue to deepen our understanding of what matters most to GCC executives, and inform our growing work with the government agencies that are engaged in enhancing the region’s competitiveness.”

Among the survey’s GCC findings include:
• The survey also highlighted some cross-GCC concerns: labor reform is seen by 41% of executives as the issue most requiring immediate attention and by 36% of executives as posing the greatest long-term threat to the region’s competitiveness
GCC Executives were equally united on next steps: 46% pointed to diversification as the greatest opportunity for the region’s increased competitiveness, well ahead of looking outside the region for new prospects.
• Saudi Arabian executives see more opportunities for increased competitiveness to the East (China) vs. than to the West (US).

Related Article: Top GCC execs upbeat on region’s future – survey