Economic Sentiment Largely Steady in the UAE Despite Concern Over Regional Tensions_Oxford Business Group Report


Despite challenging global trends, the majority of executives surveyed for the most recent edition of the Business Barometer: UAE CEO Survey carried out by Oxford Business Group (OBG) are positive about local business conditions, which is in line with broader signs that the UAE’s economic outlook is improving.


As part of its assessment of the economy, the global research and consultancy conducted over 100 face-to-face interviews to gain a comprehensive insight into business sentiment across the UAE’s economic sectors. The results are now available to view in full on OBG’s Editors’ Blog at:


Some 64% of business leaders interviewed told OBG 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% recorded in the last iteration of the survey published in January, the proportion of respondents who answered negative or very negative has fallen significantly, from 24% to 9%.


Commenting in his blog, 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% foreign ownership for the first time.”


However, FitzHerbert noted that escalating regional tensions remained the main concern for the business community, with 71% 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 meanwhile was the only answer that increased in comparison to the last survey, rising from 6% to 9.4%.


This illustrates the deepening ties between the two countries; the UAE has long been a key supplier of oil for China, but is now also  emerging as a pivotal partner in the 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.”


FitzHerbert’s in-depth evaluation of the survey’s results can be found on OBG’s Editor’s Blog, titled ‘Next Frontier’. All four of OBG’s regional managing editors use the platform to share their expert analysis of the latest developments taking place across the sectors of the 30+ high-growth markets covered by the company’s research.


The OBG Business Barometer: CEO Surveys features in the Group’s extensive portfolio of research tools. The full results of the survey on Qatar will be made available online and in print. Similar studies are also under way in the other markets in which OBG operates.