This was delegates’ attitude towards supporting intra-regional competition across the MENAT and in turn, boosting the region’s competitiveness and attractiveness to talent. Seeing Arab Gulf nations, for example, actively compete to be the natural destination for capital and services incentivises employees to “cut their teeth” in regional companies. Of course, this month’s opening of EXPO 2020 in Dubai – with 25 million visitors anticipated and more than 190 nations participating – strongly plays into this.
Plus, broader economic tailwinds across the MENAT are certainly emerging, although large expansionary budgets are not expected until 2022. For one, several Arab Gulf countries' fiscal rationing efforts in 2020 are paying off as other regions – such as Central Europe and Russia – face increasing strain. Other upsides include a strengthening if varied vaccination rollout, stabilising oil prices and increasing investment interest in the MENAT from China, the US, UK, Turkey, Latin America and many others. One delegate said he is currently witnessing the most promising policy agenda in his 25 years of working in and around Middle Eastern economies. Delegates also highlighted the value of adopting more of a “free to fail” culture in the Middle East to incentivise more entrepreneurs and younger workers to relocate to the region, thus driving innovation.
Have no doubt that the industry is facing a “people crisis”, but that same stress and concern can fuel solutions. A realistic scenario will see today’s juggling act lead to a far more robust, innovative and satisfied work force in the 2020s. This equation would bode very well for Professional Services – a world characterised by its adaptability and resilience.