By Andy Sambidge
Emirates Global Aluminium, Etihad Airways, Etisalat, Qatar Airways and SABIC among fastest-growing companies
Five companies from the Gulf have been named as 'global challengers' in a new report that recognises them for their rapid growth, global expansion and emerging position as leaders in key markets.
The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) said the firms include Emirates Global Aluminium, Etihad Airways, Etisalat, Qatar Airways, and SABIC while Egypt's El Sewedy Electric is also named in the list. Last year's list included four companies from the region.
The 2014 BCG Global Challengers report identifies a total of 100 fast-growing companies that are from emerging markets and are shaking up the global economy through success overseas.
BCG said in a statement that this year's list of global challengers reflects the reshaping of the global economy, as the number of emerging markets represented is larger than ever.
The list features companies from 18 countries - eight more than on the original 2006 list - including Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAE.
The BRIC nations of Brazil, Russia, India, and China, once home to 84 challengers, are now down to 65.
From 2000 through 2013, the revenues of the challengers as a group grew at an annual average rate of 18 percent, BCG said.
It added that from 2008-2013, the 2014 BCG global challengers increased their employment by 32 percent while their average revenue per employee exceeded that of the non-financial S&P 500 companies - $479,000 compared with $440,000.
This year, BCG said the Middle East is also home to two 'graduate' companies - Saudi Aramco and Emirates.
"These international players - both of which also featured in last year's roster of 'graduates' - are starting to closely resemble established multinationals. They are becoming true global leaders in their respective fields," said BCG.
Emirates Airline has reported a record of 25 consecutive profitable years while Saudi Aramco is the largest integrated global petroleum enterprise in the world.
In 2014, Saudi Arabian chemicals giant SABIC and Egypt's Elsewedy, a manufacturer of electrical wires and cables, cemented their status as global challengers for the fourth consecutive year.
Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways have also made both the 2013 and 2014 lists.
Etisalat, the region's largest telecommunications operator, and Emirates Global Aluminium, the fifth-largest aluminum company, are the two newcomers from the Middle East on BCG's 2014 list of 100 Global Challengers.
Etisalat currently operates in 19 countries in the Middle East, Asia and Africa, including Nigeria, the continent's largest economy.
Global challenger Emirates Global Aluminium is the product of a merger between Dubai Aluminium and Emirates Aluminium, two state-owned enterprises.
"The six Middle East challengers for 2014 are growing up rapidly, relying on innovation, talent and other strengths to win," said Cristiano Rizzi, partner and managing director in BCG's Dubai office.
"Their work, however, is not done. To become global leaders, they need to develop even deeper benches of talent and strengthen current people practices. And, as the cost advantage of global challengers shrinks, they need to become increasingly innovative - not just pouring money in R&D but also developing a strategic technological landscape and their place within it."