Are Middle East Businesses More Resilient Than Global Counterparts?


Businesses in the Middle East appear more resilient than their global counterparts along with several crisis-response metrics, according to a new PwC study.

More than 2,800 business leaders worldwide shared company data and insights with PwC, giving the Big Four accounting and advisory firm a comparative overview of how large businesses from different regions are coping with the pandemic-induced downturn. 

Businesses in the Middle East matched their global peers in crisis response – making a quick switch to remote working, nearshoring supply chains and taking financial measures for survival. Now amid a slow, staggered and setback-ridden global emergence from the crisis, the region appears to have edged ahead along with several metrics.

More than 40 per cent of Middle East respondents, for instance, reported a positive impact from the pandemic on their business – compared to just 20 per cent worldwide. The numbers signal higher preparedness and adaptability, which enabled a quick pivot towards new market trends. A positive outlook has also resulted – evidenced by PwC’s March 2021 CEO survey, which put Middle East chief executives far ahead of the world in terms of optimism. 

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Part of this resilience stems from an ability to self-reflect. Only 30 per cent of global businesses have had a good look internally to find chinks and weaknesses that need fixing – compared to nearly 50 per cent in the Middle East. “This willingness to repair, rethink and reconfigure will put Middle East organisations in a stronger position to weather future crises,” said PwC Middle East partner Achraf El Zaim

And there is a sense of responsibility too. Nearly 85 per cent of business leaders in the Middle East noted a sense of satisfaction with their crisis management and communication among employees – compared to around 70 per cent worldwide. The region was better at defining roles and protocols rather than slipping into chaos. 

Looking ahead, the region appears more sure-footed to deal with future risks. At the same time, 80 per cent are confident they can adapt their strategy to future crises – compared to 75 per cent globally – spurred on by a successful tackling of unprecedented challenges.

Implicit in these comparisons is a sense that businesses in the Middle East are set up to manage a crisis. Per the experts, this might have to do with the fact that the region has already been facing a protracted crisis of devastating magnitude: the global energy transition away from fossil fuels – the trade of which has long sustained regional economies. 

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Efforts to tackle this have been underway for years. “Middle East businesses are committed to supporting the region’s ambition to build more diversified and digitised knowledge economies by the end of the decade with distinctive national visions, proactively tackling these key drivers of change and building a more adaptable and resilient future for our region,” added El Zaim.