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Fri 30 Aug 2019 01:10 AM

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Most CEOs remain positive about UAE economic prospects

New survey of CEOs show 64% are upbeat about the UAE's business environment over the next 12 months

Most CEOs remain positive about UAE economic prospects

Most UAE-based CEOs are positive about local business conditions despite challenging global trends, according to the latest Business Barometer: UAE CEO Survey carried out by Oxford Business Group (OBG).

Some 64 percent of business leaders interviewed said that they were either positive or very positive about the country’s business environment over the next 12 months.

Although this was down slightly from the 67 percent recorded in the last survey published in January, the proportion of respondents who answered negative or very negative has fallen significantly, from 24 percent to 9 percent.

Billy FitzHerbert, OBG’s regional editor for the Middle East, noted that a number of factors were helping to foster private sector growth.

“Stimulus packages unveiled by Abu Dhabi and Dubai last year have continued to support expansion in those emirates, while the moves to relax foreign ownership rules across swathes of the national economy have been widely applauded,” he said.

“Some 122 economic activities across 13 sectors have been opened to 100 percent foreign ownership for the first time.”

However, the survey showed that escalating regional tensions remained the main concern for the business community, with 71 percent of surveyed CEOs identifying regional volatility as the external event most likely to impact the UAE’s growth in the short to medium term.

China demand growth was the only answer that increased in comparison to the last survey, rising from 6 percent to 9.4 percent.

OBG said this illustrates the deepening ties between the two countries, as the UAE has long been a key supplier of oil for China but is now also emerging as a pivotal partner in China’s ambitious infrastructure investment programme. In April the two countries signed $3.4bn worth of deals under the Belt and Road Initiative.

FitzHerbert said: “It is little surprise, then, that the attention of the UAE’s CEOs is focused eastward, and almost half of those surveyed by OBG selected South-east Asia and the Pacific as the region most likely to drive trade and investment flows in the years to come.”