Stock Abu Dhabi skyline city UAE
The UAE and Saudi Arabia have enacted far-reaching reforms in the business landscape. The focus is on being the place to be for talent who will shape the next wave of Beyond-Great companies. Image Credit: AFP

Fierce competition in organizations and countries is fuelled by social, technological and geopolitical factors. With the dawn of a new globalization era of shifting societal demands and accelerating digital integration, governments must attract and nurture ‘Beyond-Great’ companies to ensure long-term, sustainable growth.

Listening and responding to stakeholders’ needs, new global enterprises can identify long-term success factors, and implement the operational essentials of today and tomorrow. They are proactively securing competitive advantages, devising agile strategies and business models that present digital-first customer communities with customized solutions.

The Middle East is home to some of the most committed innovators, ranking second after China in its level of commitment. For instance, Saudi Aramco is leading multiple efforts to reimagine the internal combustion engine of the future. One is mobile carbon capture, a technology spearheaded by Aramco scientists that can capture up to 25 per cent of the CO2 emitted in a vehicle’s exhaust. The goal is to raise that capability to 50 per cent.

While the region is emerging as a melting pot for multinational corporations and academic institutions, the governments and private institutions have established global partnerships that serve the innovation agenda. Regional innovators have significant resources that they can leverage – including large national and industry transformation programs that encompass multiple sectors, such as the UAE Vision 2050, Saudi Arabia Vision 2030, and Qatar’s National Vision 2030.

However, most countries have reported setbacks such as broadening skill gaps and lack of access to sufficient talent that leading-edge companies seek. Given the shortage of tools for tomorrow’s work environment, leaderships need to overcome strategic obstacles while enabling companies to source, upskill, and retain talent.

The UAE is addressing these challenges through initiatives such as ‘Principles of the 50’ focused on increasing private sector participation among Emiratis. It aims to create 75,000 new jobs for national talent as well as provide incentives and the necessary training. Inspired by such actions, regional governments can implement the following approach to foster talent and, ultimately, nurture Beyond-Great companies.

Identify priority sectors, positions

Governments can instigate national level human capital planning by prioritizing economic sectors according to their sustainability framework and ambition. To empower national talent in the public and private sectors, the Department of Government Support in Abu Dhabi built a holistic learning and development ecosystem and implemented a HR strategy for jobs creation.

Talent nationwide

Regional leadership is prioritizing life-long programmes to retrain and upskill local talents, empowering generations to tame rapid developments as digital transformation and automation continue accelerating. In Saudi Arabia, the government is launching programmes that meet this criterion to develop a resilient education base, prepare the future labor market, and provide lifelong learning opportunities.

Attract global employees

Governments are supporting Beyond-Great companies’ efforts to recruit top regional and international talent. Introducing new immigration policies will ease arrival and residential processes. The UAE has already introduced the ‘Green Visas’ scheme, allowing expatriates and skilled workers to apply for work without employer sponsorship.

The transition to a remote work environment, during the pandemic, unlocked opportunities for employers and talents. Employers were able to tap into global resources to hire for hard-to-fill roles, such as AI experts. Similarly, work-from-anywhere policies eased transfer and visa limitation, attracting young talents eager to join international organizations.

A PPP ecosystem

Public Private Partnerships can alleviate the talent gap, addressing challenges such as sourcing, development, and retention, creating an ecosystem where universities can work with the private sector to drive workforce development, and governments can connect students with the labor market. Saudi Arabia has begun construction of the first wave of 4,000 new schools under the PPP model, which will bolster talent development nationwide.

Across the GCC, leading-edge companies are capitalizing on competitive advantage opportunities, embracing change and adapting to the new business landscape, supported by a regulatory framework set to drive digital connectivity, agile business models, flexible ecosystems, stakeholder engagement, and talent contribution to the Beyond-Great companies.