OBG Business Barometer: Executives across the region cautiously optimistic depite rollercoaster year
Source: Oxford Business Group , Author: Posted by BI-ME staff
Posted: Thu November 8, 2018 1:37 pm

UAE.  Executives interviewed for the 2018 edition of the Business Barometer: Gulf CEO Survey carried out by Oxford Business Group (OBG) were largely upbeat in their outlook for the coming 12 months, buoyed by higher and more stable oil prices, although regional political volatility remained a cause of concern for many.
As part of its survey on the economy, the global research and consultancy firm asked almost 900 C-suite executives from across the Gulf's industries a wide-ranging series of questions on a face-to-face basis aimed at gauging business sentiment.
The survey was launched on November 6, 2018, at Nasdaq Dubai, with the results now available to view in full on OBG's Editors' Blog at this link
OBG also will present The Report: Dubai 2019 in the first quarter of 2019, its latest analysis of the emirate's economic activity and investment opportunities. Nasdaq Dubai was a key contributor tothe report, helping to produce in-depth analysis of the emirate's capital markets.
According to OBG's findings, 70% of executives said their expectations for local business conditions in the approaching year were either positive or very positive, with only 16% describing them as negative or very negative
Responding to a separate question, a similar proportion (69%) of interviewees told OBG they thought it likely or very likely that their company would make a significant capital investment within the same timeframe, despite facing higher borrowing costs on the back of rising US Federal Reserve interest rates.
Business leaders were also positive about the tax environment of the market in which they operate, with 87% describing it as competitive or very competitive on a global scale. In addition, most of those interviewed (70%) felt that the level of transparency for conducting business in their market was high or very high, relative to the region.
From those surveyed, the vast majority of respondents said that less than 40% of their business was driven by government spending, while just 15% told OBG that more than 80% of their work came from the public coffers, in a sign that reforms aimed at boosting the role of the private sector were beginning to deliver results.
Understandably, regional political volatility remained a key cause of concern for many business leaders, with over 70% citing it as the external event most likely to impact their market's economy in the short to medium term beyond the movements in commodity prices, well ahead of China demand growth and multiple Fed rate hikes.
When business leaders were asked about the skills they felt to be in highest demand in the workplace, however, results were more varied. From those interviewed, 23% cited leadership as the skill they believed to be in greatest need, followed by engineering (18%), research and development (14%), and computer tech (10%).
Commenting on the results in his blog, Oliver Cornock, OBG's managing editor for the Middle East, said that higher and more stable oil prices had undoubtedly helped to lift the Gulf countries over the past year, while also providing governments with some breathing space, several of whom had found themselves under pressure to implement difficult reforms with urgency on the back of falling hydrocarbon receipts.
"It is essential, though, that the often-painful reforms to policies such as subsidies are not reversed," he added. "That is the fear of some analysts, not least because they impact the nationals who can least afford it almost by default. The introduction of a goods and services value-added tax (VAT) has been partially rolled out in the region, and by and large passed off uneventfully. However, this is an ongoing process, and even the more diverse economies have much to do in terms of varying their revenue generation."
Cornock noted that the positive sentiment expressed by CEOs in the survey broadly mirrored the outlook of the IMF, which has forecast real GDP growth in 2019 for all but one of the markets in the region.
"The key for governments looking to increase the level of private sector engagement in their economies will be to continue chipping away at the reform and diversification process without knocking this positive confidence," he said.
Cornock's in-depth evaluation of the survey's results can be found on OBG's Editor's Blog,
titled 'Next Frontier'. All four of OBG's regional managing editors use the platform to share their expert analysis of the latest developments taking place across the sectors of the 30+ high-growth markets covered by the company's research. 
The OBG Business Barometer: CEO Surveys features in the Group's extensive portfolio of research tools. The full results of the survey on the Gulf will be made available online and in print. Similar studies are also under way in the other markets in which OBG operates.

Photo Caption:  Oliver Cornock, OBG's managing editor for the Middle East
About OBG Business Barometer
OBG Business Barometer: Gulf CEO Survey Copyright (c). All rights reserved.
This survey has been designed to assess business sentiment amongst business leaders (Chief Executives or equivalent) and their outlook for the next 12 months. Unlike many surveys, the OBG Business Barometer is conducted by OBG staff on a face-to-face basis, across the full range of industries, company sizes and functional specialties. The results are anonymous.
OBG Business Barometer is based on data from companies with revenue within the following parameters, among others:
• 74.6% of companies surveyed were private
• 32.8% of companies surveyed were international
• 45.5% of companies surveyed were local
The data generated allows for analysis of sentiment within an individual country, as well as regionally and globally. Additionally, comparisons can be drawn between both individual countries and regionally. The results are presented statistically within infographics and discussed in articles written by OBG managing editors.
OBG provides this survey, infographics and accompanying analysis from sources believed to be reliable, for information purposes only.
OBG accepts no responsibility for any loss, financial or otherwise, sustained by any person or organisation using it. For further information on the content of the survey, please contact: Oliver Cornock, managing editor, Middle East, at ocornock@oxfordbusinessgroup.com.

About Oxford Business Group
Oxford Business Group is a global research and consultancy company with a presence in over 30 countries, from the Middle East, Africa and Asia to The Americas. A distinctive and respected provider of on-the-ground intelligence on many of the world's fastest growing markets, OBG has offices in London, Berlin, Dubai and Istanbul, and a network of local bureaus across the countries in which we operate.
Through its range of products, OBG offers comprehensive and accurate analysis of macroeconomic and sectoral developments, including banking, capital markets, tourism, energy, transport, industry and ICT. OBG provides business intelligence to its subscribers through multiple platforms: Economic News and Views, OBG Business Barometer - CEO Survey, Roundtables and conferences, Global Platform - exclusive video interviews, The Report publications and its Consultancy division.
Click here to subscribe to Oxford Business Group's latest content.



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