Business leaders in the Middle East are upbeat about their company’s prospects for 2022, as economies continue to recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new survey released by PwC.
Most of the region’s CEOs (82 percent) polled for the study said they expect global economic growth to improve this year, while 64 percent are “extremely” or “very confident” about their revenue growth. A significant number of CEOs also have plans to invest towards digital transformation and strengthening their talent over the next three years.
The survey, which was conducted among 4,446 CEOs from 89 countries and territories around the world, found that optimism among Middle East CEOs has improved because of “strong health response, commodity prices,” growing consumer demand and stronger fiscal positions in the region, according to PwC.
“A year ago, as the first COVID-19 wave subsided, Middle East CEOs felt able to look ahead with cautious confidence. Over the course of 2021, their positive short-term outlook strengthened,” PwC said.
Countries in the region have taken measures to ramp up vaccination and strengthen fiscal support throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is expected to post an economic growth of 4.1 percent this year, according to IMF’s forecast in October.
Within the UAE, the non-oil sector remained strong and continued to expand last month, although it was showing the first signs that growth had started to soften from recent highs, according to a IHS Markit’s latest business survey.
With the economic conditions improving, regional business leaders are “looking forward, not back,” said Hani Ashkar, PwC Middle East Senior Partner.
“Regional business leaders share our confidence that renewed growth lies ahead. CEOs who have built trust with their clients, people and wider stakeholders through the pandemic are in a very strong position,” Ashkar said.
“These business leaders are now looking beyond COVID-19 with a focus on delivering sustained outcomes.”
As part of their strategy to strengthen their business in a post-COVID-19 world, more than half of CEOs (52 percent) plan “double-digit investments” in digital transformation over the next three years, while 46 percent also intend to make investments in leadership and talent development.
However, when it comes to championing equality and climate change-related efforts, business leaders in the region are not as committed as their global peers.
Only 5 percent of Middle East CEOs are willing to make net-zero commitments, compared to 22 percent globally.
Less than a third (29 percent) of CEOs in the region said that gender representation rates are included in their long-term corporate strategies, compared to the global figure of 38 percent.
(Reporting by Cleofe Maceda; editing by Daniel Luiz)
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