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The view from the top is looking good - CEO confidence about a strong rebound for the UAE economy is sky-high. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Dubai: The mood of optimism in UAE’s corporate circles is filtering right through the corporate corridors – all the way to the C-suite. So much so, 92 per cent of CEOs with the biggest businesses in the UAE are optimistic of the economy reaching pre-pandemic levels shortly.

It does not end there – 88 per cent of these CEOs are quite confident that the lift will extend to their businesses as well, according to a new survey by the consultancy KPMG.

The mood reflects that shown by private sector enterprises in the latest IHS Markit PMI (Purchasing Managers Index) numbers for November, which showed that gains from new orders were getting widespread.

"Economic recovery is already underway in the UAE and many other countries in which we operate, so the near-term outlook remains positive," said Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Chairman and CEO of DP World Group. "We will continue to see some disruption in supply chains as countries return to business - but I am confident we are on our way back to normalcy.”

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Growth paths

In the KPMG findings, UAE business leaders believe “inorganic strategies” will be critical in driving their businesses over the next three years. Almost seven in 10 EOs say they will primarily use M&A to do so (36 per cent), strategic alliances with third parties (20 per cent) and joint ventures (12 per cent) to achieve this ambition.

"CEOs are emerging stronger and more confident about the economy and their own organizations’ prospects for the future," Nader Haffar, Chairman, KPMG Middle East and South Asia, Chairman & CEO, KPMG Lower Gulf. "They are also adopting a forward-thinking strategy towards shifting their resources to disruptive technology..."

In a statement issued in the report, Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice-Chairman & CEO, for Dubai Duty Free, said: "On the positive side of the past 18 months, I think that we have all learned a great deal about our business, our employees and our customers, and that has to be a good thing."

That's the spirit UAE businesses and CEO will be taking into 2022...

  1. UAE CEOs expect aggressive growth through acquisitions and partnerships. They continue to put an emphasis on leading with purpose and a focus on digitally transforming their organizations, while upskilling an agile workforce in the new world of work. 68% of CEOs say new partnerships will be critical to continuing the pace of digital transformation,
  2. With people returning to places of work - and society increasingly looking for business to lead - CEOs are recognizing employee demand for continued flexibility. Only 28% say they will have most employees working remotely at least two or more days a week, and only 8% are downsizing office space.
  3. CEOs are also attentive to embedding purpose into their business and operating models to drive tangible value and growth. Nine in ten (92%) UAE CEOs see corporate purpose as driving total shareholder returns, compared with 81% globally.