Muscat: Twice as many Middle East chief executive officers lead the way among their global peers in being upbeat about the economic future, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Middle East CEO Survey 2014.
In its survey's latest edition, PwC Middle East sought the opinion of 51 Middle East CEOs, 49 per cent of whom anticipate improvement in the global economy, a marked increase from the 22 per cent who had expressed similar optimism last year.
A surprising 96 per cent of the Middle East CEOs are entering 2014 either somewhat (30 per cent) or very (66 per cent) confident about their own prospects for growth in the next 12 month, a percentage that is significantly higher compared to the global level (39 per cent).
The region's resilience to local and global shocks and the growing adaptability of its economies to political turmoil played a major role in building this sense of optimism among Middle East leaders. This stems from the majority of CEOs now having become well versed in dealing with periods of change and upheaval.
Concrete examples to attribute this sense of optimism are the accelerating pace at which mega projects and infrastructure development, most notably in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), is becoming more apparent. However, there still remains a marked difference between the optimism voiced by business leaders in the GCC and those in the Levant.
Hani Ashkar, PwC Middle East Senior Partner, said; "The Middle East economy today stands ready to ride a fresh wave of CEO optimism about economic growth. Securing success in the short term will involve smart handling of well-known existing issues such as retaining talent, growing while maintaining a lean operation and handling an evolving economic, political and social landscape. But the real challenges lie ahead as CEOs prepare their companies for a technology-driven future that creates new types of markets, workforce and consumers."
While 35 per cent of global CEOs believe innovation in new products and services is the main driver of business growth for their companies over the coming 12 months, regional CEOs said that the main driver for their growth stem from the increasing share of business in existing markets.
There was more unanimous agreement on potential economic and policy threats to the growth of the region, where around two-thirds of Middle Eastern CEOs pinpointed three main factors: lack of stability in capital markets (72 per cent), government response to fiscal deficits and debt burden (70 per cent), and a slowdown in high-growth markets (66 per cent).
As for business threats, roughly two-thirds of the CEOs identified availability of key skills (70 per cent), bribery and corruption (70 per cent), and cyber crimes (68 per cent) as the key threats.