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January 2019

January 17, 2019 – 13:05 – Dubai – Confidence remains broadly high among the executives interviewed for the latest edition of the Business Barometer: UAE CEO Survey, carried out by Oxford Business Group (OBG), even though they face considerable challenges caused by growing global economic and political uncertainty.

As part of its survey on the economy, the global research and consultancy firm asked 110 C-suite executives from across the UAE’s industries a wide-ranging series of questions on a face-to-face basis aimed at gauging business sentiment. The results are now available to view in full on OBG’s Editors’ Blog at:

Over 60% of business leaders interviewed told OBG that it was likely or very likely that their company would make a significant capital investment within the next 12 months, a similar percentage to the results in last year’s survey.

An even bigger proportion (86%) reacted positively when asked about the country’s level of transparency for conducting business, describing it as high or very high, relative to the region, which will sit well with the authorities as they look to attract new investors.

Most of the business leaders interviewed also appeared keen to embrace digital disruption, according to OBG’s findings. Almost four-fifths (79%) said it was likely or very likely that their company would increase spending on smart technology, and research and development, within the next 12 months.

Asked which external event they thought could have the biggest impact the UAE economy in the short to medium term, beyond movements in commodity prices, the majority (over 60%) of respondents cited regional political volatility as their main concern, well ahead of multiple US Federal Reserve interest rate hikes, which was selected by 16% of those surveyed.

Commenting in his blog, Oliver Cornock, OBG’s Editor-in-Chief and Managing Editor for the Middle East, said that given the turbulent international economic and political backdrop against which the latest survey on the UAE had been undertaken, the results were more positive, perhaps, than one might have imagined.

He added however, that while efforts to steer the economy away from a dependence on oil at the federate and emirate level were progressing, the UAE’s finances were now also feeling the weight of a dominant real estate sector.

“Property prices in Dubai and Abu Dhabi have long been said to be bloated and over-inflated,” he said. “In both markets, the corrections seen in 2018 might be welcome by some, such as individuals looking to buy, but the broader reflection is of economic uncertainty, albeit for differing reasons.”

Cornock added that given the current climate of tension and uncertainty in the Middle East, it was only to be expected that most business leaders identified regional political volatility as their number one concern.

“Key players continuing to pursue controversial policies have often increased the negative rhetoric rather than reduced it. This is clearly not only a concern domestically, but internationally too,” he said. “Though business people in the UAE remain upbeat on the whole, it is clear that they are well aware of geopolitics and both the domestic and global ramifications of economic policy.”

Cornock’s in-depth evaluation of the survey’s results can be found on OBG’s Editor’s Blog,

titled ‘Next Frontier’. All four of OBG’s regional managing editors use the platform to share their expert analysis of the latest developments taking place across the sectors of the 30+ high-growth markets covered by the company’s research.  


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