Agenda 2018


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A NEW ERA

By disrupting unproductive rents, Arab countries have preserved social order. Strict rules restrict the movement of goods, people and capital; behind-the-border barriers that generate trade frictions are more pervasive. We take a closer look at the region’s restrictive, resource-rich, labour abundant economies and ask if the model encourages sustainability and growth or marginalization and exclusion.
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BEYOND VISION 2030

The Vision 2030 to transform Saudi Arabia has progressed fast on the societal front. With women empowerment, the openness of society, which was unthinkable not long ago, has become old news. What about business transformation? Where is Vision 2030 taking local businesses? Which type of business transformation is needed to achieve the Vision?
- SAUDI ARABIA

THE EXECUTION CHALLENGE

New projects have emerged in the GCC, creating high hope for investors and businessmen in the region and abroad. Plagued by bad track records on delivering on its promises, the region and Saudi Arabia need to tackle the implementation challenges. Which fundamental changes should be made to achieve success in mega-projects? Can human capital make the culture leap? How have…
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THE FIRM OF THE FUTURE

In the world of firms, times are a changin’. In the future, the conventional corporation of today will be a thing of the past, replaced by venture-capital operations, professional service firms and fastgrowing startups. Companies will exist, primarily, to deliver returns to their shareholders’ capital. Is this a natural step in the evolution of business? And is it one that…
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THE PRIVATE SECTOR

Marginalized and depending on governmental and official good will, the private sector needs effective policies to prosper. The ongoing changes aiming to liberalize economies in the GCC though privatization, competition and open economy will tilt the scale and change the balance. How can the private sector create a positive force of change in society?
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THE SOCIAL MODEL

With strong community ties, the Middle East has relied on family support when the state could not fill the gap. Extended families operated as the safety net. With the gradual withdrawal of the state and openness of economies and competitions, an already degraded situation could only get worse. To solve this social hardship, the Middle East needs to develop a…
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START UPS : RETHINKING THE ECOSYSTEM

The region has embarked on a fast development of the startup environment, with massive projects taking place in Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and other countries. However, with limited amount of venture capitalists ready to commit to new ideas and outdated legal frameworks, jobs of young entrepreneurs are closer to an obstacle course than a walk in the park. What are…
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DUBAI : A NEW ROLE

The jewel of the Middle East and GCC is in fierce competition against its neighbors, in particular Saudi Arabia. The openness of Saudi Arabia and the rising costs of operations in Dubai have created an unprecedented transfer of businesses and jobs. In the past, the city constantly outmaneuvered its competition though fast decision processes and quick implementations. How can Dubai…
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INTERNATIONALIZING BUSINESS

The dramatic slowdown of 2015-2017 had an unexpected effect on businesses in the GCC: local champions who relied on national governments had to change their directions. Following cost cuttings and restructurings, a new era of internationalization started with businesses looking for new markets far from their own turfs.
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LEAN AND MEAN

Restructuring businesses in the Gulf and the Middle East has always been a challenge. With excess staff, but limited leeway for management to cut their numbers, and unproductive relations or deals that shouldn’t be looked into, efficiencies were not the priority, but consensus was to be looked for. Transformation of the corporate culture started in 2015, with management empowered by…
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LEVELING THE PLAYING FIELD

The transformation in the region will rely on removing existing regulations and putting new ones in place. Two of the missing regulations in the region are antitrust laws and anti-dumping laws, which can allow leveling the playing field. Why are new regulations necessary to help transform the region? Which regulations can help achieve a great return and how can they be…
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MAINTAINING MOMENTUM

For decades, the GCC and the Middle East have suffered from a poor image in the West. Often associated with terrorism and extremism, few Arab countries have been able to break this image. The UAE was among the few countries that were able to project a business image to the outside world and offer a new and prosperous perspective. Saudi…
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MOVING AWAY FROM BUREAUCRACY

Centralized government, red tape and bureaucracy have always been a constant problem in the Arab world. Is a transformation at the administrative level, coupled with blockchain, facial recognition, crypto-currencies and other new technologies a solution to drive the transformation of public services towards a technological environment? How can this transformation be achieved?
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SECURING THE FUTURE

Security in the GCC has become a paramount issue. From cybersecurity and homeland security to outside conflicts, the GCC needs to assert itself and its ability to respond to threats in a coordinated manner. However, how are businesses dealing with this new cyberwarfare? Are they prepared to defend themselves or will they be the weak link that falls first?
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NEW ALLIANCES

With Russia, China and Turkey more active and the GCC asserting its own strengths, new alliances are emerging. How do the various players see the Middle East? How will energy security weight on China to come closer to the Gulf? Are a balance of power and a modus operandi workable or are interests too different to allow various countries to…

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