CEOs in Saudi Arabia lead with unprecedented optimism and strategic vision for economic growth and AI impact | Kanebridge News
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CEOs in Saudi Arabia lead with unprecedented optimism and strategic vision for economic growth and AI impact

Thu, Feb 29, 2024 6:48pmGrey Clock 4 min
  • Economic powerhouse: Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s fastest growing economies, with GDP values exceeding US$1 trillion in 2022 and 2023, forecasted to reach US$1.3 trillion by 2028
  • Heightened optimism: Nearly 89% of CEOs in Saudi Arabia express confidence in the Kingdom’s economic growth potential, surpassing the global average of 44%, Middle East average of 73% and GCC average of 81%
  • Innovation: GenAI is seen to significantly impact quality of products, competitive advantage and efficiency in the workplace
  • Climate resilience: Saudi Arabia’s CEOs display the highest levels of climate concern (29% vs.15% regionally and 12% globally), indicating a strong focus on climate issues this year.

Riyadh, KSA: New PwC study reveals that CEOs in Saudi Arabia are more confident in the economic growth prospects of the Kingdom in the next 12 months, surpassing global, regional and even their GCC counterparts.

According to PwC’s 27th Annual CEO Survey – KSA findings, a significant 89% of Saudi CEOs, surveyed, are optimistic about the country’s economic growth, compared to 44% globally, 73% in the Middle East and 81% in the GCC. This unparalleled confidence can be largely attributed to the ambitious goals of Vision 2030, which has paved the way for transformative growth. Halfway through the launch of the economic reform plan in 2016 and its target date, the Kingdom has risen in the rankings of global economies to become the 17th largest by size of GDP in 2022. According to the latest media reports coming in at the time of publishing this report, the Kingdom climbed to 16th spot among G20 nations in terms of GDP. Last year, Saudi’s GDP exceeded $1 trillion for the first time and remained above this mark in 2023, with the IMF forecasting growth to US$1.3 trillion by 2028.

More than half of the CEOs (54%) are extremely confident in their company’s revenue growth for the next 12 months (vs 37% globally) and 40% moderately confident (vs 32% globally). 74% have said that they are likely to increase headcounts, given the massive scale of projects that are underway in Saudi Arabia, the positivity around the economic and financial reforms and initiatives.

Commenting on the findings, Riyadh Al Najjar, PwC Middle East Chairman of the Board & KSA Country Senior Partner, said: “There is no doubt that CEOs in Saudi Arabia have confidence in Vision 2030. It has brought about a massive and fast transformation in the country, leading to strong economic growth. The reforms are aimed at reducing oil dependency, diversifying the economy and increasing competitiveness. Moving ahead, we expect business leaders to continue reinventing their businesses to remain agile and sustainable in the long-term.”

The imperative to evolve

CEOs in Saudi Arabia have expressed the imperative to evolve as they explore growth opportunities, with 49% indicating their company won’t be viable in 10 years if they continue on their current path, similar to the global average of 45%.

Partnerships and alliances: Over the last five years, partnerships and strategic alliances have played a crucial role in helping Saudi Arabia navigate a monumental economic shift. This has resulted in new insights, deepening expertise, and strengthening collaborative innovations. In the same period, 54% of the CEOs indicated that government regulations, and 51% revealed supply chain instability, were the top factors that have influenced changes in how their businesses create, deliver and capture value.

Tech transformation: Saudi CEOs believe that technological change (60% vs 56% globally) and customer preference (69% vs 49% globally) will be the primary factors driving significant changes in their business models over the next three years. However, despite the strong need to embrace emerging technologies, CEOs in the Kingdom are concerned about cyber risks, with 40% indicating they were moderately exposed and 20% highly and extremely exposed to such risks in the next 12 months.

Generative AI: More than half of the CEOs (54%) said GenAI will improve the quality of their companies’ products and services. Looking further ahead, in the next three years, 66% indicated that GenAI will significantly change the creation, delivery and capture of value. In Saudi Arabia, 71% of leaders also anticipate that in the next three years, GenAI will require most of the workforce to develop new skills, while an equal number feel it will increase their efficiency and that of their employees. Reflecting on GenAI’s potential to reshape business economics, 66% of CEOs in Saudi have revealed that it will increase revenue, while more than half (57%) said it will increase profitability in the next 12 months.

Climate action: Saudi Arabia shows the highest levels of climate concern (29%) when compared to regional (15%) and global (12%) counterparts. 60% of Saudi CEOs said that they are keen to improve energy efficiency of their businesses. More than half are innovating new climate friendly products, services or technologies, while 43% are incorporating climate risk into financial planning. However, in the last year, 74% of CEOs refused to accept lower returns on climate-friendly investments, while 32% highlighted regulatory complexity and the lack of climate friendly technologies in their sectors as key challenges.

Stephen Anderson, Middle East Strategy Leader at PwC Middle East, added: “Besides the heightened optimism about the future, CEOs in Saudi Arabia also understand the need to evolve to remain agile and viable in the next few years. Strategic partnerships, adoption of technologies, such as GenAI, and a definitive drive to incorporate climate resilience practices in their business models, are all contributing to strengthening their ability to keep pace with rapid transformation.”


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AACCI’s Strategic Vision for Enhancing Australia-Arab Trade Relations

The Australian Arab Chamber of Commerce & Industry (AACCI) is fostering robust trade relations between Australia and Arab countries.

Mon, May 20, 2024 5 min

In an era where global trade and international relationships are more crucial than ever, the Australia Arab Chamber of Commerce & Industry (AACCI) serves as a bridge, for cooperation and growth between Australia and the Arab nations. Led by its Chairman, Mr. Mohamed Hage, the AACCI has taken on projects aimed at strengthening relationships and fostering development across borders.

This exclusive interview explores the initiatives implemented by the AACCI to expand its presence and influence in the region including the significant establishment of a new operational hub in Dubai. We also delve into how the Chamber embraces education through training and research, its participation in major international exhibitions, and its active support for both large corporations and small businesses.

Looking towards tomorrow, Mr. Mohamed shares his vision for broadening AACCI’s reach emphasizing the importance of the on-ground operations and cultural understanding in building business connections.

-Could you elaborate on the Australia Arab Chamber of Commerce & Industry, including its objectives and main areas of focus?

The Australia Arab Chamber of Commerce & Industry (AACCI) plays a fundamental role, in promoting business partnerships and trade between Australia and the 22 Arab countries. As a member of the Union of Arab Chambers affiliated with the Arab League, AACCI focuses on strengthening trade and investment ties, across these countries.

To nurture these connections effectively AACCI has outlined four objectives: facilitating trade and investment activities, certifying documents, educating stakeholders, and offering marketing assistance.

Our initiatives are designed not only to empower trade and investment endeavors but to also ensure engagement with specific sectors that drive these activities. With an understanding of the characteristics, strengths and preferences of each country, AACCI prides itself on its specialized knowledge customized to suit the distinct business environments of these nations.

– As the AACCI approaches its 50th anniversary, what have been some of the key milestones and achievements?

I believe one of AACCI’s accomplishments is the opportunities it has opened up for numerous Australian companies to access markets, in the region. Moreover, the strong bilateral trade relationship that has developed between Australia and the 22 Arab nations over the five decades has led to trade transactions amounting to billions of dollars.

This extensive trade covers industries such as food and beverages, luxury hotels and many more services. Each successive generation, within AACCI has built upon the foundation laid by its predecessors enriching their knowledge base and expanding their range of services.

– How does the AACCI leverage its diverse leadership team to enhance trade and investment opportunities between Australia and the Arab region?

Since taking on the role of chairman, my main focus has been on expanding our presence in the region. This led to the idea of opening an office in Dubai, which symbolizes our dedication to deepening our engagement in that area. We have successfully secured the license to open our first office in Dubai after 50 years, which will serve as a gateway to the GCC and North Africa.

I strongly believe that building two-way trade and investment ties requires more than a degree of business connectivity; it demands having local representatives present in each region. With trends emphasizing strategies the value of face-to-face engagements cannot be overstated.

Setting up offices in the region is essential for the Chamber to truly serve as a link and support system for business activities. Ultimately this expansion will bring benefits to our members and partners by providing them with access, to dynamic markets and diverse prospects.

– Can you discuss the significance of AACCI’s role in cultural and business exchanges between the two regions?

The importance of understanding cultures in our operations cannot be overstated. To address this, we have included a training platform within the Chamber to strengthen our cultural awareness initiatives. This new program offers our members access to modules on our website focusing on global business practices.

Furthermore, we have set up a Center of Excellence specifically dedicated to researching areas like food security and cultural awareness. These research endeavors are essential for promoting knowledge between the two regions.

By combining the resources of the Center of Excellence, our training resources, and the forthcoming local office in Dubai, we’re providing cultural awareness not only in the region but also in Australia. This approach ensures that our members are well equipped and knowledgeable boosting their effectiveness and involvement, in markets.

– What is the objective of your on-ground presence at conferences and events?

Participating in conferences and on ground events is very important for increasing awareness in industries like construction where knowledge of opportunities in the Arab world may not be widespread. When we see projects such as NEOM or notice the construction boom happening in the region it becomes important for organizations like the Chamber of Commerce to highlight these prospects. By taking part in large scale expos such as the Sydney Build Expo we position ourselves at the forefront of these advancements.

Our presence at these events enables interaction giving entrepreneurs a chance to visit our booth engage in discussions and learn more about the region in an approachable and personalized manner. This plays a role in simplifying the process and making opportunities concrete.

– With such a diverse membership base, how does AACCI tailor its services to meet the needs of both large corporations and small startups?

When it comes to discussing business it’s important to grasp how influence and vision come into play. Businesses looking to expand are often motivated by a desire to achieve something whether they are big companies or small enterprises. Small businesses typically aim to raise their brands profile while larger corporations seek recognition and market dominance.

Standing out in this area can be tough mainly because the key driving force is the passion to showcase the brand and products on a platform. This determination serves as a motivator for entrepreneurs.

At the Chamber we make a point of recognizing the needs of both big and small players by understanding each members individual situation. We ensure that every member is well informed about the opportunities and risks that come with expanding. For small businesses, this means being aware of the financial demands, while large businesses are advised on the necessity of both financial and emotional resilience.

– How does AACCI plan to expand or evolve its services in the coming years to further support its members?

The importance of having resources on the ground cannot be emphasized enough. Having local staff is key to establishing connections with the communities we serve. Without a presence in the area staying updated on events and activities becomes quite challenging.

This is why, as I’ve mentioned before, we have established an office in Dubai, staffed with personnel dedicated to supporting our members. This local office will help us effectively bridge the gap between Australia and the Arab world. And our members will benefit from insights and assistance from someone who truly knows the landscape.

In Australia we have equipped offices throughout the country staffed by individuals who play a significant role in our operations. This strong domestic network complements our efforts ensuring that we provide support to our members both locally and globally. This strategic approach is crucial, for nurturing business relationships and fostering continental understanding.



Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

Americans now think they need at least $1.25 million for retirement, a 20% increase from a year ago, according to a survey by Northwestern Mutual

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