Middle East Markets issue 2

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Markets

Super Women

Empowering Female Talent in Saudi Arabia Falling OIl Prices The Reaction of the GCC Countries Also in This Issue Why Your Organisation Needs a Chief Sustainability Officer. Gulf Construction Firms Continue to Hire, Despite Oil Slump.



Contents

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4 Latest News from Across the Middle East Region 8 Profile ASAR - Al Ruwayeh & Partners 10 Gulf Construction Firms Continue to Hire, Despite Oil Slump Construction companies across the Gulf region continue to seek talent for their projects, according to a panel of company directors from the construction sector who spoke at a leading industry event in Dubai.

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16 Why Your Organisation Needs a Chief Sustainability Officer Organisation charts normally have boxes for lots of chiefs – whether it’s chief executive officer (CEO), chief financial officer (CFO), chief operating officer (COO), or even chief technology officer (CTO) – to indicate positions of senior responsibility for large areas the organisations’ day-to-day and strategic operations. 20 Falling Oil Prices: The Reaction of the GCC Countries Sharp decline in oil prices reveals the importance of economic diversification. Countries with fewer financial buffers, such as Bahrain and Oman, are witnessing problems related to low growth performance. Saudi Arabia and UAE are less impacted by declining oil prices with strategies underway to promote non-oil trade. Private consumption and the governments’ efforts to support sustainable economic growth are maintaining the outlook positive for GCC. GCC countries are projected to grow by 3.4% in 2015 and 3.7% in 2016.. 26 Empowering Female Talent in Saudi Arabia Building on the tremendous success of Bab Rizq Jameel - one of Community Jameel’s Initiatives - in empowering female talent and their contribution to the workforce, Mohammed Abdul Latif Jameel , President of Community Jameel, and Chief Job Creation Officer at BRJ, launched the BRJ Female Recruitment Company, at Hussein Jameel House in Abdul Latif Jameel headquarters in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Over the last eight years, BRJ has supported over 8,217 beneficiaries in attaining jobs, a target that will reach greater heights with the formation of the recently founded female recruitment company.

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mea Markets News

VPS Healthcare Group Launches Medeor 24x7 Multi-Specialty Family Hospital in Dubai

nity and privacy. We are confident that Medeor 24x7 will prove to be a go-to resource for the community for all their healthcare needs.” Medeor has recruited a team of experts from around the world with extensive experience who are distinguished and highly regarded in their discipline. The high-profile team of doctors is supported by skilled nurses and technologists who have more than 15 years of experience from leading medical establishments.

Under the patronage of His Excellency Abdul Rahman Mohammed Al Oweis, Medeor 24x7 Hospital, part of the VPS Healthcare conglomerate has opened its doors to provide UAE residents with impeccable healthcare services in line with international standards. Conveniently located in Bur Dubai, the heart of the emirate Dubai, the 100 bed multispecialty hospital will provide holistic healthcare services including major specialties such as Mother and Child Care, Urology, Gastroenterology, General surgery, Family Medicine, Minimally Invasive Surgeries, Orthopedics and Cardiology to the residents of the UAE. The hospital’s advanced emergency, paediatrics and gynaecology departments will be available round the clock to ensure those in need have access to world class care at all times. Medeor 24x7 Hospital is also equipped with a full-fledged diagnostic and imaging facility to offer the best testing options to meet patients’ varying healthcare needs and support the doctors with their specific requirements. The laboratory will handle blood tests to advanced pathologic studies using state-of-the-art equipment to produce timely and accurate results that enable doctors to reduce the turnaround time and waiting period for the patients. The radiology department fitted with latest diagnostic imaging technologies such as the 1.5 tesla MRI, high-end 160 CT Scan and dual detector X - ray is designed to meet advanced patient needs.

Dr Shajir Gaffar, the CEO of VPS Healthcare Dubai and Northern Emirates, said, “After thorough consideration of the healthcare facilities in the neighbourhood, we have carefully pieced together a holistic facility that best meets the community’s needs. The hospital combines the latest technology in medicine with an expert team of doctors that tend to the patients with a truly remarkable and refreshing level of warmth and compassion of a family environment. We are confident that the community will find in us a trustworthy healthcare services provider.” “The opening of Medeor 24x7 Hospital is a stepping stone for our expansion plans within Dubai and the Northern Emirates. We pride ourselves on the world class medical expertise and the state of art technologies we offer the UAE community as we believe the health of a nation is an integral component of society’s development,” said Dr. Ibtesam Al Bastaki Director of VPS Healthcare for Dubai and Northern Emirates.

Dr Shamsheer Vayalil, Managing Director - VPS Healthcare, said: “We are excited to launch Medeor 24x7, VPS Healthcare Group’s 14th facility. The hospital, which is our 10th in the UAE, has allowed us to further strengthen our healthcare services delivery in the country. Medeor 24x7 is an effort to meet the gap for affordable, compassionate and trusted medical services from an expert and friendly team of doctors who prioritise patient comfort, dig-

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Bank Nizwa Targets Public Sector with Second Phase of ‘Islamic Finance Knowledge Series’ UNB among the 50 Safest Banks in Emerging Markets 2015

Global Finance, the prestigious international financial magazine, has ranked UNB among the Top 50 Safest Banks. UNB ranks as the 22nd safest bank in the Emerging Markets for 2015. Global Finance’s annual ranking of the 50 Safest Banks is a recognised and trusted standard of financial counterparty safety for 24 years; the ranking highlights those banks that have built strong foundations providing safety and security in this rapidly-changing market landscape. Mr. Ajay Dilip Bhuptani, EVP, Head of International & Investment Banking at UNB commented: “We are very proud to once again be listed among the 50 Safest Banks in the Emerging Markets. This reflects the successful execution of our strategy and our continuous focus on safety”. “UNB recognition as one of the safest banks by Global Finance is a result of our commitment towards excellence, innovation and continued efforts to provide customers with outstanding financial services. A pronounced adherence to service leadership has always been hallmarks of UNB and these factors will continue to be strong differentiators in the years ahead as we continue to provide innovative products and safe services to our customers”. Mr. Bhuptani added.

Bank Nizwa, Oman’s ambassador for Islamic Finance, has launched the second phase of its ‘Islamic Finance Knowledge Series’ focusing on the public sector. This stage has been dedicated to raise awareness on Islamic Finance among government employees, starting with the Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs’ Directorate in Nizwa. Over the next few months, Bank Nizwa’s team of experts will deliver a series of in-depth sessions to government entities including the Ministry of Education and the Sultan Qboos Islamic Studies Institute. “Our goal at Bank Nizwa is to spread the knowledge on Islamic Finance and its associated benefits to the widest possible audience in our communities and lead the way for the growth of the industry,” said Dr. Ashraf Al Nabhani, General Manager Corporate Support. He added, “According to the Statistical Year Book 2014, issued by the National Centre for Statistics & Information, the public sector in Oman employs close to 170,000. It is therefore imperative that we raise awareness on Shari’a-compliant banking among this key demographic of the Omani workforce. To begin with, we have joined forces with two ministries, the Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs and the Ministry of Education employing over 40,000 in various Directorates across the Sultanate.” The first phase of the campaign focused on various colleges and universities across the Sultanate including Sultan Qaboss University, Sohar University, Shinas College of Technology and University of Nizwa among others. Since its inception in 2013, Bank Nizwa has become the go-to-reference for Islamic Finance in the country participating and organizing several initiatives to raise awareness on the industry across Oman. In addition to the ‘Islamic Finance Knowledge Series’, the Bank has been offering novel products and services tailored to the needs of personal and corporate banking and helping people lead financially secure lifestyles.

Global Finance evaluates the ratings and total assets of the main players in developing economies to create the rankings, and providing an overview of the key banks in each region and which financial institutions offer the greatest security. Banks were selected through an evaluation of long-term foreign currency ratings, from Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings, and total assets of the 500 largest banks in emerging markets.

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mea Markets News

Bariş Dumankaya: “Our Performance in Cityscape Improves Every Year”

place for the city. The feedback from the investors in Cityscape trade show was highly satisfactory.”

Dumankaya İnşaat, an established real estate company in Turkey, has showcased its projects at Dubai Cityscape trade show, which offers significant opportunities for global and regional real estate investors. The show, organized on September 8-10 in Dubai, UAE, is considered one of the biggest real estate exhibitions in the world. Dumankaya occupied one of the L booths in the show, promoting Dumankaya Miks, hi-Fit, Dumankaya Horizon, Flex Office Bahçeşehir, Ritim Istanbul and Dumankaya Mozaik projects.

Barış Dumankaya further commented on Dumankaya’s Cityscape performance over the years: “Dumankaya constantly raises the bar of success at Cityscape every year. Our booth has attracted a much higher number of visitors this year. Dumankaya increases its brand recognition across the Middle East and Gulf region day by day. In this context, alongside our promotion activities in the region, our cooperation with Al Mazaya group and the recommendation of our customers, who have become members to the Dumankaya World by purchasing residences at Dumankaya projects, further strengthen our brand value. We have made crucial contacts in the trade show for two days, and we believe they will bring real estate investments to both Istanbul and Dumankaya in the future.”

At the booth, Dumankaya has displayed Dumankaya Miks and Dumankaya Horizon projects as well as a model of Ritim Istanbul, the land for which has been purchased in 2015 as part of the cooperation agreement signed with Al Mazaya, one of the biggest real estate developers in the Middle East. Dumankaya joined the show with a team of twelve representatives including those of Marketing, Corporate Communications and Strategy departments, as well as Barış Dumankaya, Dumankaya İnşaat Vice Chairman, and Ayla Dumankaya, member of the Dumankaya Board of Directors. Dumankaya’s booth was one of the most attractive spots throughout the three-day show, visited by approximately 2000 visitors from the Middle East and Gulf region. Giving updates on Dumankaya’s participation in Cityscape Dubai trade show and projects, Barış Dumankaya said that Dumankaya İnşaat, the most popular real estate company with its vision of constant development and change, has attracted a great deal of attention at this year’s trade show as well. Dumankaya continued as follows: “We highly value exhibitions that bring together real estate investors, developers, architects and other stakeholders from across the world, as they provide us a platform to promote our brand and projects. We went to Dubai to present our projects with high ROI as well as the centres of attraction we created, and to promote Istanbul as a global capital, which is a well-deserved

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Milaha Upbeat on Future of Qatar’s Transport Sector

Fayeeza Naqvi Appointed Chairman of Aman Foundation Trustees of Pakistan’s largest private foundation, the Aman Foundation, appointed Mrs. Fayeeza Naqvi as Chairman of Aman’s Board of Trustees. This was announced at a ceremony held in Karachi for the occasion by the CEO of Aman Foundation, Mr. Malik Ahmad Jalal. Mrs. Fayeeza Naqvi, who recently received the BNP Paribas Grand Prix award for Individual Philanthropy, thanked Aman’s stakeholders present at today’s event which included corporate partners, government officials and donors of Aman Foundation for their unwavering support. Mrs. Naqvi said: “My family’s greatest wish is to transform the lives of those who are underserved anywhere. We aim to do so by catalysing the impact of the Aman Foundation through building alliances, and I invite you to join us on this journey. The challenges we face are enormous, but fortunately surmountable. Aman has achieved many significant milestones recently, including being recognized as the best institutional Emergency Medical Service in Asia by the Asian EMS Council. These are strong indicators that Aman’s vision resonates internationally. We intend to continue to grow Aman and partner with like-minded institutions and individuals, both locally and globally, in our efforts to transform the health and education landscape in Pakistan.”

Milaha has announced its participation in the 4th Annual Qatar Transport Forum 2015 taking place from September 14 to 16, 2015 at the Sheraton Doha Resort & Convention Hotel in Qatar. To be held under the esteemed patronage of H.E. Sheikh Abdullah Bin Nasser Al Thani, Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, and hosted by the Ministry of Transport, the event will focus on the theme ‘Moving Forward: Providing Business Opportunities and Stimulating Qatar’s Transport Sector.’ It will shed light on projects owned by the government and its affiliated agencies under the umbrella of the Ministry of Transport, including the New Port Project. As a Silver Sponsor of the 2015 Annual Qatar Transport Forum, Milaha will have an opportunity to gather and share insights into the country’s transport sector, which has witnessed significant acceleration this year. The boom is expected to continue over the coming years, fuelled by significant investment in the sector across all modes of transport. In addition, the event will give Milaha the chance to explore possible business opportunities with prospective local and regional clients, and to highlight its achievements and future strategies. Mr. Abdulrahman Essa Al-Mannai, President and CEO of Milaha, said: “In light of the massive investments in Qatar, now is a highly opportune time to be part of Qatar’s transport sector. The momentum can be felt across all segments, including land, air and sea with development of rail and road networks, expansion of the airport, and a new seaport. Our participation at the 4th Annual Qatar Transport Forum will enable us to have an overview of the nation’s transport sector and discuss solutions to the challenges faced by the maritime and logistics industry.” The 2015 Annual Qatar Transport Forum will discuss topics such as financing of transport projects, traffic management, and engineering and modelling. More than 30 industry professionals will deliver valuable insights on Qatar’s transport sector.

Aman Foundation’s CEO, Mr. Malik Ahmad Jalal congratulated Mrs. Naqvi on this occasion, stating: “Fayeeza has been a driving force behind much of what the Aman Foundation has achieved since its inception seven years ago. During this time, Aman has launched pioneering social businesses including AmanAmbulances and AmanTech, one of Pakistan’s premier vocational training institutes. One of Aman’s programs that is particularly important to Fayeeza, the Sukh Initiative, provides critically needed maternal and child-health services for one million of the most underserved population of Karachi. I congratulate Mrs. Naqvi on her appointment and look forward to supporting her in spearheading Aman Foundation.”

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mea Markets Closeup of the famous Kuwait Tower Sphere in Kuwait City. Philip Lange / Shutterstock.com

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Profile

ASAR ASAR - Al Ruwayeh & Partners is Kuwait’s leading tier one corporate law firm, and one of the most prominent firms operating across the GCC. ASAR has been operating in Kuwait since 1977 and in the Kingdom of Bahrain since 2006, and is recognised for professional legal services of the highest order.

Helping you thrive in the regional corporate world, as one of the region’s leading law firms to many foreign and domestic multinational companies, we advise many of the biggest and most ambitious organisations across all major industries and we are consistently considered as the law firm of choice.

culture of ethics, integrity and hard work has instilled loyalty and credibility across the GCC and international board.

Our clients have formed a bond of trust in retaining ASAR with their most ground-breaking transactions because of our extensive ability to reduce complexity, mitigate risk and, simply, to get the deal done.

• Agency and Distributorship • Banking and Finance • Capital Markets and Securities • Commercial Litigation and Arbitration • Corporate • Energy • Franchising • Insurance • Islamic Finance • Mergers and Acquisitions • PPP and PFI Projects • Restructuring and Insolvency

With more than 30 lawyers as part of our international division and spanning two emerging and highly competitive markets in the GCC, we are able to function exceptionally with a deeper understanding of our clients’ businesses and provide commercially innovative and robust advice to ensure profitable business outcomes for our clients. Our expertise extends over a wide range of areas that cover local and foreign multinational corporations, banks and investment companies, industrial conglomerates, governments and state authorities, and private clients. Our diverse group of skilled and qualified professionals operating under the firm’s home grown

ASAR encompasses many varied areas of legal expertise, including:

ASAR – Al Ruwayeh & Partners Web: www.asarlegal.com Address: Salhiya Complex, Gate 1, 3rd Floor Mohammad Thunayan Al-Ghanim Street Kuwait City, P.O. Box 447, Safat 13005, Kuwait Tel: +965 2292 2700 Fax: +965 2240 0064

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Feature

Gulf Construction Firms Continue to Hire, Despite Oil Slump Construction companies across the Gulf region continue to seek talent for their projects, according to a panel of company directors from the construction sector who spoke at a leading industry event in Dubai. The event was organised by regional online recruitment firm, GulfTalent, and held in Jumeirah Emirates Towers, Dubai. It was attended by over 50 delegates, including CEOs, Human Resource Directors and other senior executives from the region’s largest construction companies and related advisory firms. The discussion panel consisted of senior executives from Amana Contracting, ARCADIS EC Harris, Laing O’Rourke, Al Tamimi & Company, as well as GulfTalent. The panel found that, with public sector spending under pressure from lower oil prices, award of new construction projects had slowed down. However, previously awarded projects were continuing without impact. As a result, the sector is facing a continued need for skilled staff across most roles and specialisations, albeit at a more moderate pace than a year ago. UAE most attractive market for talent According to the panel, the UAE remains the easiest market for hiring expatriate talent, while Saudi

Arabia is the most challenging. One panel member reported having to decline lucrative projects in Saudi Arabia, due to not having sufficient staff. As a result, construction professionals are offered the region’s highest salaries in Saudi Arabia. The Middle East region, as a whole, remains an attractive destination for construction professionals globally, according to the panel, especially in the context of a slowdown in Asia and other emerging markets. For employers targeting this pool, the rising cost of living in the region, especially housing and school fees, is a concern, exacerbated by recent cuts in subsidies. Media coverage of armed conflict in parts of the region had heightened perceptions of regional risk among some potential candidates, some employers reported, although overall interest in the region remained strong. Visa restrictions Several employers present reported facing challenges in filling their vacancies due to restrictions on employment of certain nationalities

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in parts of the Gulf region. While over the long run, they could switch to alternative sources of talent, they found it particularly challenging when such policy changes were introduced at short notice. One speaker described the challenge of adapting to changing visa legislation as ‘following a moving target’. Attracting Gulf nationals On the subject of attracting local talent, firms faced the biggest challenge in Saudi Arabia and Oman, where nationalisation targets are higher and are most rigorously enforced. Panelists cited an ‘inaccurate’ image of the construction sector among nationals as a key obstacle to attracting them, on top of the general shortage of skilled nationals in the engineering domain. One speaker mentioned that “For many young people, their image of a career in construction is someone pouring concrete on a hot day, whereas in reality our roles are much more diverse. The private sector, the industry associations and the governments all need to work together to change such perceptions”. The panel also complained that the region’s construction sector was not investing sufficiently in the development of young talent. This was driven in part by the extreme competitiveness of the market and high price-sensitivity of clients. The ‘project-based’ nature of the construction business in the region made it even harder to plan for the long term and invest in developing talent over many years. As a result, graduate programmes were far less prevalent in the Gulf than in other parts of the world. Instead, many construction firms rely heavily on rapid hiring of experienced staff on a ‘just-in-time’ basis when

they win projects, and trimming down staff numbers quickly when projects come to an end. The event organiser, GulfTalent, is a leading online recruitment portal used by over 6,000 employers in the Middle East across different industries, including construction, providing them access to over 5 million professionals, covering both local and expatriate talent. Further insight and research reports on key employment trends in Gulf countries are available for download free on GulfTalent’s website, www.gulftalent.com. Access to Financial Services – A Key to Lifting People Out of Poverty Malaysia has achieved one of the highest levels of financial inclusion among Southeast Asia countries, due in part to policies taking advantage of mobile phones and banking agents to expand access, according to a recent report. A major contributor to Malaysia’s development success is its innovative, resilient, and inclusive financial sector, according to World Bank specialists, speaking at the launch of the Global Findex 2014, a comprehensive report on financial inclusion released by the World Bank every three years. It measures how individuals in 143 countries save, borrow, make payments, and manage risks, and found Malaysia’s financial inclusion at 81%. “Technology can play a powerful role in bringing people into banking systems, and lifting them out of poverty,” said Ulrich Zachau, the World Bank’s Country Director for South East Asia. “Malaysia’s success in financial inclusion is a model for developing countries around the world.”

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mea Markets Ulrich Zachau

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Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand lead ASEAN inclusion rates, with about four of five adults benefiting from access to financial services and able to save, borrow and manage risk, according to Global Findex 2014. From 2011 to 2014, account ownership for adults of the poorest 40% of households in Malaysia increased 26% from 50% to 76%. In the same time period, 700 million people across the globe became account holders at banks, other financial institutions or mobile money service providers, and the number of “unbanked� individuals dropped 20% to two billion adults, the report said. Globally, the report found that the percentage of adults with an account increased from 51% to 62%, a trend driven by a 13-percentage-point rise in account ownership in developing countries as well as improved technology. In particular, mobile money accounts in developing countries are helping to rapidly expand and scale up access to financial services. The report also found a need to expand financial inclusion among women and the poorest households. More than half of adults in the poorest 40% of households in developing countries lacked accounts in 2014. In addition, the gender gap in account ownership remained relatively unchanged. In 2011, 47% of women and 54% of men had an account; in 2014, 58% of women had an account, compared to 65% of men. Regionally, the gender gap is largest in South Asia, where 37% of women have an account compared to 55% of men.

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Why Your Organisation Needs a Chief Sustainability Officer Organisation charts normally have boxes for lots of chiefs – whether it’s chief executive officer (CEO), chief financial officer (CFO), chief operating officer (COO), or even chief technology officer (CTO) – to indicate positions of senior responsibility for large areas the organisations’ day-to-day and strategic operations.

There are a growing number of chief sustainability officers (CSOs) out there – DuPont appointed Linda Fisher as CSO as far back as 2004 – but for many organisations, sustainability is seen as being part of other strategic responsibilities such as compliance or environmental health and safety, corporate affairs, marketing, community relations, which precludes the creation of an entirely separate division. Many companies see no need to support sustainability initiatives with a formal organisational structure or operational metrics. The compliance department can make sure that the company isn’t breaking any rules, and marketing can make sure that we are promoting all of our good community efforts in the name of sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR).

Customers, partners and investors are no longer willing to settle for PR messages and advertising slogans. They now expect to see firm commitments, disclosures and sustainability reports as to how the company is meeting those commitments. It may make sense for your supply chain manager to monitor better use of recyclable packaging, and for your operations manager to monitor energy and water usage, but these are internal procedures and do not cover the full spectrum of sustainability topics, like social value created, investment in local community or stakeholder engagement. If your company plans to incorporate sustainable business practices as a core value, it should also embrace the accountability of a public commitment to that value.

However, sustainability and CSR is about exceeding what is required by law and going beyond ordinary compliance.

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mea Markets Linda Fisher

Sorbis / Shutterstock.com

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A Strategic Approach Of course, putting a CSO in place in a small organisation may seem like you’re trying to run before you can walk, but there is a clear path to follow. Compliance is a great place to start. The next step will be to move beyond basic compliance into cost efficiency in order to realise financial savings while incorporating greater sustainability. This will enable brand differentiation and identification of business opportunities. To gain a strategic advantage though, would involve a formal transition to sustainability as a core value. Products and services that you offer to your customers need to truly reflect your commitment. This typically involves innovation as you start to redesign existing products, services, management and engagement methodologies in addition to expanding your offerings. At this point, you may be ready to post that CSO vacancy! For more information, visit: Sustainability Knowledge Group. To become a “Chief Sustainability Officer Professional” join the ILM approved training: “Advanced CSO (Chief Sustainability Officer) Professional” in Dubai, 27-29 October 2015 To join a unique residential Leadership and Sustainability course visit : Developing Leaders for Sustainable Business: Sustainability and Leadership Residential, 17-18 November 2015, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

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Falling Oil Prices: The Reaction of the GCC Countries Sharp decline in oil prices reveals the importance of economic diversification. Countries with fewer financial buffers, such as Bahrain and Oman, are witnessing problems related to low growth performance. Saudi Arabia and UAE are less impacted by declining oil prices with strategies underway to promote non-oil trade. Private consumption and the governments’ efforts to support sustainable economic growth are maintaining the outlook positive for GCC. GCC countries are projected to grow by 3.4% in 2015 and 3.7% in 2016. The more resilient economies benefit from strong macroeconomic fundamentals, such as more diversification, solid financial buffers and greater integration with world trade. The developed manufacturing and service industries in these markets allow less dependence on oil revenues. Oil dominance on economic performance GCC countries are projected to grow by 3.4% in 2015 and 3.7% in 2016. While these rates are considered high compared to other emerging markets, they remain below the region’s average growth rate of 5.8% between 2000 and 2011. The reason for the slowdown is the decline in oil prices, which have fallen from approximately US$110 per barrel in mid-2014, to around US$50 in 2015. While rising government expenditure, coupled with falling oil prices have impacted the GCC region, not all markets have reacted in this same pattern. Despite

similarities in economic structures, the countries differ in terms of economic size, population, levels of diversification and fiscal break-even prices. UAE: resilient to lower oil prices The UAE’s economy is one of the most diversified among the GCC countries, making it resilient to falling oil prices. Hydrocarbon revenues account for 25% of GDP and 20% of total export revenues. The non-oil private sector shows strong growth fueled by domestic demand and tourism, especially in Dubai. According to Dubai Airports, in the first quarter of 2015, passenger traffic at Dubai International Airport jumped by 7% to 19.6 million, with the influx of tourists expecting to grow further, in line with Dubai Expo 2020. Domestic demand is powered by strong retail sales and rising confidence. Dubai’s retail sales, which rose by 7% in 2014, are estimated to rise further,

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due to further increases in tourist numbers. Dubai’s real estate market is burgeoning through foreign investment as well as wealth from the neighboring Abu Dhabi.

for electricity, water and housing. This investment stimulates consumption, especially retail sales, and partly compensates for the negative impact of lower oil prices on incomes.

Saudi Arabia: speeding up the diversification process While 80% of its export revenues and around 85% of its budget revenues come from the oil sector, the Kingdom is speeding up its diversification process. The main driver of economic growth is strong government spending to fuel private consumption and the construction sector, which has posted a growth of 6.7% in 2014. The industry is projected to grow in 2015 as the government plans to invest in projects such as transportation infrastructure, energy, utilities and housing. In early 2015, the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority announced the Kingdom’s Unified Investment Plan, which consists of four sector specific approaches, in order to boost investment. These include the integration of the energy sector, raising productivity in the construction, tourism, real estate and retail sectors, boosting mining and transport development and further investment in education to improve the Kingdom’s competitiveness.

Diversification and global integration The GCC economies are still dependent on the hydrocarbon sector as the main export and source of revenues. However, the local governments are trying to replace this growth model through economic diversification policies aimed at reducing their dependence on the oil sector. Revenues from the hydrocarbon sector have been used to boost growth in the non-hydrocarbon industries in the form of subsidies and government spending. Saudi Arabia, UAE and Qatar have been more successful in diversifying their economies compared to their GCC neighbours.

There are 40 promising investment opportunities in the healthcare sector worth US$71bn, including the manufacturing of medical hardware and equipment, medicines, vaccines as well as the establishment and management of hospitals. There are also 36 attractive transportation investment projects in the pipeline which include the manufacturing of buses, train carriages and spare parts as well as providing technical and technological support services for the creation and development of infrastructure. The government also seeks to support consumer spending by providing two months’ bonus salary to state employees and subsidies worth US$5.3bn

Many GCC countries have implemented long-term economic plans - Saudi Arabia has implemented its strategy 2025, Oman - Vision 2020, the UAE - Vision 2021, Bahrain - Vision 2030 and Qatar National Vision 2030. As a result, the share of the non-oil sector in the total real GDP is rising - and increased by 12% to 70% in the GCC countries between 2000-2013. The local authorities have introduced measures to promote trade, and attract more foreign direct investment to facilitate economic growth. All GCC countries are open economies with close commercial relations with the rest of the world. According to the Institute of International Finance, the region’s total exports amounted to over 60% of its GDP in 2014. The main export partners in the region: Asia, the West, Middle East, North Africa and Turkey. Economic resilience in the UAE and Saudi Arabia in specific sectors Coface assesses that the food and beverage sector in UAE will benefit from the high-income domestic

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market, solid private consumption, a large population of expatriates with increasing demands, strong economic growth and the country’s position as a safe haven. The UAE has been investing in the food processing industry; a total of US$1.4bn since 1994, especially in the dairy industry. The halal food segment is also continuing its expansion, and is projected to grow to US$1.6tn by 2018, boosted by strong consumer demand for varied natural food choices. In Saudi Arabia, the most promising industry is the automotive sector. Several original equipment manufacturers have established local entities in the country. The Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund (PIF) is investing in an automobile manufacturing plant worth US$1bn with a production capacity of 150,000 cars a year by 2018. The vehicle sector is expected to grow by 3.6% in 2015 due to rising disposable incomes, favourable demographics and higher urbanisation rates. “As oil continues to be a major contributor to economic performance in the GCC, economic diversification is a vital for Gulf countries to ensure continued healthy growth. This has been showcased in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which are driving sustained GDP growth through significant government investment in non-oil sectors. In UAE, the food and beverage sector is forecasted to grow by 36% between 2014 and 2019, while KSA’s automotive industry is slated to rise by 5.2% in 2015.” “In view of these growth figures, Saudi Arabia and UAE are setting a positive example of the importance of diversified economies as a means to offset the impact of lower oil prices, promote growth and avoid a fiscal deficit,” said Seltem Iyigun, MENA Region Economist, Coface.

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Empowering Female Talent in Saudi Arabia Building on the tremendous success of Bab Rizq Jameel - one of Community Jameel’s Initiatives - in empowering female talent and their contribution to the workforce, Mohammed Abdul Latif Jameel , President of Community Jameel, and Chief Job Creation Officer at BRJ, launched the BRJ Female Recruitment Company, at Hussein Jameel House in Abdul Latif Jameel headquarters in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Over the last eight years, BRJ has supported over 8,217 beneficiaries in attaining jobs, a target that will reach greater heights with the formation of the recently founded female recruitment company. Building on the tremendous success of Bab Rizq Jameel - one of Community Jameel’s Initiatives - in empowering female talent and their contribution to the workforce, Mohammed Abdul Latif Jameel , President of Community Jameel, and Chief Job Creation Officer at BRJ, launched the BRJ Female Recruitment Company, at Hussein Jameel House in Abdul Latif Jameel headquarters in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Over the last eight years, BRJ has supported over 8,217 beneficiaries in attaining jobs, a target that will reach greater heights with the formation of the recently founded female recruitment company. Commenting on the programme’s significant contribution to eradicating female unemployment, Mohammed Abdul Latif Jameel said: “I would like to express my gratitude to the Saudi government and its wise leadership for facilitating the role of private sector companies in reaching all layers of society. As such, I

extend thanks to both public and private companies for their support, which continues to fuel our march towards furthering the growth of our community.” In the first half of 2015 alone, BRJ helped create 18,015 jobs for women, marking a 56% increase over the same period last year. “The launch of [BRJ Female Recruitment Company] stems from our core belief in gender equality, and the critical role of women in building a productive society and a thriving economy. We aim, through this company, to provide women in Saudi Arabia with a platform to build their skills and further their standing in the local job market”, said Rola Basamad, Senior General Manager of BRJ Female Recruitment Company. “Through our programmes we have thus far reached 96 cities across Saudi Arabia, seeking to recruit as

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many women as possible and to provide them with an opportunity to build a self-fulfilling career. Targeted recruits will address the employment needs of our client base which consists of over 1,380 companies in Saudi Arabia’s private sector”, she added. During the first half of 2015, Saudi Arabia’s Western Region saw the highest number of employment opportunities, reaching 4,513 jobs for women, the most of which were in Jeddah, Mecca, and Taif. The Central Region of Saudi Arabia ranked second, with 4,500 job opportunities, most of which were in Riyadh, Qassim, Dawadmi, Al Kharj, Al Mazahmeya, and Shaqra. Women in other regions also had their share of jobs, where 3,949 job opportunities were provided for women in the Eastern Region, 2,553 jobs in the Northern Region, and 2,500 jobs in the Southern Region during the first half of 2015.

ed 555 jobs. Finally 2,941 jobs were offered in other disciplines including administrative, health, and service sectors. Basamad concluded with a motivational note urging Saudi women to work diligently and pursue their dreams; she said: “Through the efforts of our sisters and daughters, we will be able to create a bright future; and together we will overcome challenges faced by Saudi woman and take on senior roles in management, corporate leadership and government posts.”

As for other BRJ programmes, the ‘Working Remotely Programme’ - a programme that allows women to work from home, from remote working centres, or from the One-Stop shop service centres - managed to provide the highest number of job opportunities during the first half of 2015, offering 6,616 jobs. This was followed by the ‘Seasonal Work Programme’, which provides employment for women who only work for a certain period of the year during seasonal holidays such as Eid and Haj, for a contractually pre-agreed financial reward. The programme provided 3,666 job opportunities during the same period. Other programmes include the ‘Retail Programme’, targeting women working in the female retail sector. This sector was expanded to include other administrative specialties, providing 2,541 jobs. Additional initiatives such as the ‘Factories & Production Programme’, helped create 1,044 jobs. The ‘Training Resulting in Employment Programme’ created 652 jobs, while the ‘Part-Time Job Programme’ contribut-

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