View From the Gulf: Mixed Results on Confidence, Risk Management

Continued uncertainty – stemming from events both within and outside the Middle East – looms large on the minds of the 157 senior executives from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar polled by Oliver Wyman and Zogby Research Services in late December, 2012.

The optimism uncovered in previous polls remains high, but has been dampened by ongoing fiscal worries in the Eurozone and by continued risks to the large and complex projects characteristic of the Gulf region.  The survey results were presented at the 4th Oliver Wyman / Financial Times CEO Conference on Thursday, January 10th, in Dubai.

When asked to rate their firm-wide structures and processes in place to manage uncertainty, only 22% of all polled answered “no issues – we have an established firm-wide process to manage risk.”  In the UAE, 69% of senior executives said their processes were either “mixed” (different parts of the firm have their own processes) or non-existent.  Saudi executives were similarly negative, with 36% admitting they have no processes in place to manage risks.  

Other highlights from the survey include:





  • Saudi optimism and confidence levels, while still high, have dropped in the past year:  61% is the lowest rating since the surveys began in 2009.

  • UAE confidence levels remain fairly steady and optimism continues to climb:  80% is the highest rating since the surveys began.

  • At 63%, the number of Saudi execs who are "satisfied with their government’s handling of economic challenges” is the lowest since we began. Only 15% are "very satisfied."   

  • Feelings of urgency for reform stemming from the Arab Spring are down across the region.





    "Surveying executives twice annually has enabled us to keep our finger on the region's pulse and to discern trends as they develop,” says James Zogby, the Managing Director of Zogby Research Services. “Right now I'm watching the slow decline in Saudi confidence levels."

    “This ongoing research provides a unique window into the attitudes and beliefs of senior managers in the Gulf region on important issues, managing risk not least among them,” notes Mark Robson, a Dubai-based Partner in Oliver Wyman’s Global Risk and Trade Practice.  “Comprehensive and flexible frameworks to manage ongoing uncertainty and emerging risks will be critical as government and business work together to sustain and enhance the region’s competitiveness.”


    For further reading, see the full series of Oliver Wyman / Zogby surveys on Middle East Business Confidence:

    Zogby Poll #1 - October 2009, C-Suite Survey Points to Polarized Views on Current Middle East Business Confidence

    Zogby Poll # 2 – May 2010, View From the Gulf: C-Suite Survey Shows Rising Optimism

    Zogby Poll #3 – December 2010, Looking Beyond the Crisis

    Zogby Poll #4 – May 2011, Confidence Is Undaunted by Wider Turmoil

    Zogby Poll #5 – December 2011, Pulse of the GCC: Arab Spring Shines Light on Business Priorities


    About Oliver Wyman's Middle East services:

    Oliver Wyman helps leading enterprises throughout the Middle East to
    develop, build, and operate strong businesses that deliver sustained
    shareholder value growth. We have three Middle Eastern offices (Dubai,
    Abu Dhabi, and Riyadh) and serve clients around the Middle Eastern
    region. Our current industry focus in this region includes financial services,
    aviation, telecommunications, transportation, energy, and the public
    sector. We have been active in the Middle East for over 20 years, which
    has allowed us to support our clients in a broad range of assignments
    including growth development, reorganization, and turnaround strategies.

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    View From the Gulf: Mixed Results on Confidence, Risk Management