Business confidence upbeat despite global economic uncertainty


A first-time survey of CEOs undertaken by the global publishing, research and consultancy firm Oxford Business Group (OBG) suggests that business sentiment across the GCC remains broadly positive, despite the current challenging economic climate.

As part of its landmark Business Barometer: GCC CEO Survey, produced in association with Saudi Hollandi Bank, OBG asked 196 business leaders a comprehensive series of questions on an anonymous basis to gauge their confidence levels and short-term plans for investment. Compiled over the past six months, the findings are now available to view on OBG’s new Editors’ Blog. The data was also used to assess the broader economic outlook across the region for the coming year. OBG is now preparing to carry out further CEO surveys across the other regional markets in which it operates, namely: Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.

Responding directly to OBG’s questions, 52% of business leaders surveyed said they were “likely or very likely” to make a sizeable capital investment in the coming 12 months. Just under half of all respondents said they found gaining access to credit “easy or very easy”, while significantly, 57% estimated that government spending currently drives less than 40% of business in their respective sectors.

Andrew Jeffreys, OBG’s CEO and Editor-in-Chief, said the Group’s first CEO survey represented yet another research milestone for the firm at a time when investors were giving more importance than ever before to accurate data, compiled at source using reliable methodology.

“While business leaders are increasingly keen to explore the openings that emerging markets offer, a lack of credible intelligence and information vacuums remain a concern,” he said. “I firmly believe that our new CEO surveys will help to fill this void and give investors something they can immediately relate to, namely, the views and perceptions of decision-makers like themselves obtained at ground level.”

Bernd van Linder, Saudi Hollandi Bank’s managing director, said that while the fast pace of development throughout GCC economies was producing plenty of opportunities for new investment streams and the reallocation of capital across the  sectors, it also heightened the need for reliable data to ensure accurate interpretation of the changes taking place. “We therefore welcome our association with Oxford Business Group on this new tool, which I’m confident will provide local and international business leaders with an insight into the decisions currently being made by their peers regionally,” van Linder said.

OBG’s Managing Editor for the Middle East Oliver Cornock added that the GCC CEO survey had produced some surprising results that would be of interest to investors.

“Despite global media reports that the region is in a period of economic turmoil, our GCC CEO survey results point to a wholly more positive outlook, with sentiment across the sectors far from weak,” he said. “Of course, there are significant challenges. However, what can be deduced from the results is that the region’s corporates remain broadly positive and are positioning themselves to be able to compete when stronger growth returns.”

Cornock’s in-depth evaluation of the survey’s results can be found on OBG’s Editors’ Blog, which is titled ‘Next Frontier’. All four of OBG’s regional managing editors will use the new platform to share their expert analysis of the latest developments taking place across the sectors of the 35+ high-growth markets covered by the publishing firm’s research.

The OBG Business Barometer: GCC CEO Survey has been produced in association with Saudi Hollandi Bank. The surveys mark the latest addition to the firm’s extensive portfolio of research tools. All GCC markets were represented. The full results of the GCC survey will be made available online and in print.

Dubai Gazette