Confidence among Middle East-based CEOs about growth prospects for the next 12 months has fallen, according to the latest PwC CEO Survey.
The survey showed that only 28 percent of regional CEOs were "very confident" on revenue growth compared to 33 percent last year, and 35 percent globally.
It also revealed that just 28 percent of Middle East CEOs thought global growth would improve in the next 12 months, a drastic drop from 52 percent last year while 43 percent expect headcount to fall compared to 19 percent globally.
Regional CEOs told the survey that changing consumer behaviours and the speed of technological change are the most significant threats to their organisation over the next year.
The survey also showed that 91 percent of Middle East CEOs believe artificial intelligence will change how they do business in the next five years, but just 23 percent said have introduced it to their business.
Saudi and Egypt identified as top markets with highest growth potential in 2019, the survey said.
Middle East CEOs, in line with their global peers, are prioritising operational efficiencies to remain fit for growth with 68 percent prioritising to drive profitability in the next 12 months.
Stephen Anderson, clients and markets leader at PwC Middle East, said: “Some of the crude cost-cutting in the region in 2015-2017 had cut into muscle, and with improving economic conditions last year, some pressure came off.
"We are now seeing a far more strategic, fundamental look at efficiency within businesses, where they are looking to leverage technology to sustain a lower cost base.”
CEOs said they are looking closer to home for growth with Saudi Arabia firmly on their minds with the Vision 2030 transformation continuing at pace.For all the latest business news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
Subscribe to Arabian Business' newsletter to receive the latest breaking news and business stories in Dubai,the UAE and the GCC straight to your inbox.