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Middle East Corporate foresee Substantial Economic Growth

June 2018

June 25, 2108 | Dubai – Middle East Corporate Finance Leaders Foresee Substantial Economic Growth and Plan to Increase Spending and Investment Worldwide, American Express Global Survey 

  • Prevailing economic optimism across ME to boost business spending and investment levels
  • Top 2018 business goal is meeting customers’ evolving needs with focus on new product development and mobile technology
  • More freelancers, part-time workers and temps to join Middle East’s growing workforce
  • Region’s finance executives most likely to increase spend on mobile technology

Middle East finance executives report great confidence in economic growth prospects for the year ahead, finds the 2018 Global Business & Spending Outlook, a survey released today by American Express Middle East. The vast majority of respondents – more than 90% – anticipate modest to substantial economic expansion in their country, closely aligned with the worldwide trend (85%).

This optimistic climate signals readiness for businesses to shift into growth mode. Three quarters of the region’s finance executives (74%) plan to increase spending and investment levels by 6% or more. The five countries with the Highest Investment Growth in the world are China (90%), followed by Japan (87%), then UAE (84%), KSA (83%) while Russia (80%) completed the top five. Nearly the same proportion (73%) plan for moderate spending and investment in search of top-line growth while improving profitability.

The cross-industry findings in the joint American Express and Institutional Investor¹ study are based on a survey of 870 CFOs and other senior finance executives at companies with annual revenues of $500 million or more from more than 21 countries worldwide.  And to add to its holistic view of a dynamic global services economy, for the first time in its 11-year history, the study includes respondents from the Middle East region representing 17% of the sample, compared to 18% from North America, 11% from Latin America, 32% from Europe, and 21% from Asia Pacific.

“Financial leaders are less anxious about economic surprises and have a well-directed view on how to drive business growth,” said Saud Swar, VP Commercial Business & Head of UAE, American Express Middle East. “This prevailing optimism is tempered with smart strategies as we’re seeing spend directed to specific growth initiatives such as meeting customers’ evolving needs and emerging technologies that support the need to innovate.”

In line with executives prevailing confidence, findings from the study suggest that economic, political, social and environmental uncertainty has become the new normal. Almost three quarters (73%) say that their spending and investment plans are not impacted by domestic or economic risk.

This, however, hasn’t stopped finance executives from keeping a watchful eye on business performance. 77% of respondents indicate a growing interest in expanding enterprise-level risk management systems or process improvements, and if pushed over by unanticipated economic headwinds, eight out of ten executives are likely respond by moving business to lower-risk geographic areas.

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