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UAE Inc undeterred by regional tensions and global turbulence

Publication Date: 23 Jan 2019 - By Gaurav Sharma (Associate Editor ReachX) By Gaurav S.

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Confidence among business leaders in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) remains high despite regional tensions, political uncertainly and global turbulence. 

A recent survey of 110 UAE-based high ranking industry bosses, conducted by the by Oxford Business Group (OBG), found over 60% of respondents expressing optimism and opining it was “likely or very likely” that their company would make a significant capital investment within the next 12 months, mirroring feedback received by the same poll last year.


An even bigger proportion (86%) reacted positively when asked about the country’s level of transparency for conducting business, describing it as high or very high, relative to the region, which bodes well for the UAE authorities as they attempt to court new investors.

Most of respondents also appeared keen to embrace digital disruption, according to OBG’s findings. Almost four-fifths (79%) said it was likely or very likely that their company would increase spending on smart technology, and research and development, within the next 12 months.

When asked which external event they thought could have the biggest impact on the UAE economy in the short to medium term, beyond movements in commodity prices, the majority (over 60%) of respondents cited regional political volatility as their main concern, well ahead of multiple US Federal Reserve interest rate hikes, which was selected by 16% of those surveyed.

Oliver Cornock, Managing Editor (Middle East) at OBG said that given the turbulent international economic and political backdrop against which the latest survey on the UAE had been undertaken, the results were pretty positive. 

That said, while efforts to steer the economy away from a dependence on oil at the federate and emirate level were progressing well, the UAE’s finances were now also feeling the weight of a dominant real estate sector.

“Property prices in Dubai and Abu Dhabi have long been said to be bloated and over-inflated. In both markets, the corrections seen in 2018 might be welcome by some, such as individuals looking to buy, but the broader reflection is of economic uncertainty, albeit for differing reasons,” Cornock added.

“Though businesspeople in the UAE remain upbeat on the whole, it is clear that they are well aware of geopolitics and both the domestic and global ramifications of economic policy.”

OBG said all C-Suite interviews were carried out face-to-face, with 79% of companies surveyed described as private, 47% as international, 39% as local and 14% of as regional. 


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