Press features

According to Strategy& Partners Fadi Adra and Yahya Anouti, GCC states are engaged in ambitious national transformation programmes that depend to a considerable extent upon people making different choices. Improving national health levels, to use just one example, involves people adopting healthier eating habits and leading more active lifestyles — an area where traditional policymaking methods like applying fines, incentives, or taxes are not always effective as standalone tools.
According to Strategy& Partner Samer Bohsali, Principal Sevag Papazian, and fellow at the Ideation Center Melissa Rizk, the GCC can truly benefit from sharing economy platforms by tapping into underexploited human resources and assets. GCC consumers spent $10.7 billion on sharing economy platforms in 2016, generating an estimated $1.7 billion in revenues for these platforms.
According to Samer Bohsali, Partner with Strategy&, GCC governments need to continuously reskill their workforce to embrace the latest technologies. The digital sector tends to change rapidly because of continuously emerging new technologies that redefine the way business is done, which is less often the case in traditional jobs. Creating a digital workforce of continuous learners is key to drive the success of national transformation plans.
According to Strategy& Partner Samer Bohsali, the GCC countries have ambitious targets to move away from their dependence on oil. National plans like Saudi Vision 2030 and Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030 require leaps of efficiency across their whole economies. Digitisation, driven by a local, skilled, and adaptable workforce, is one of the key enablers required to reach these objectives.
Strategy& Partner Samer Bohsali and Principal Sevag Papazian write that more and more GCC consumers are using mobile applications to book taxi rides and accommodation at a touch of their screen. These applications are part of the sharing economy, the latest digital evolution, which allows people to buy or rent goods and services directly from each other. The sharing economy creates markets from previously underused assets, such as rooms in private houses and seats in cars, turning them into accommodation and journeys. It can also provide much-needed flexible jobs and promote digital innovation.
Family businesses in the Gulf Cooperation Council are major forces in regional philanthropy, supporting a wide range of causes. And as they undergo important internal changes, with new generations taking control, these businesses can increase the impact they have in their communities by modernising traditional philanthropic approaches.
Strategy&’s Principal Sevag Papzian writes that Digitalisation has become an imperative for companies worldwide. The smart adoption of technology and exploitation of the data it generates can help companies reinvent their business model, achieve major operational and cost efficiencies, and become more relevant to their customers.
Strategy&’s Partners Hilal Halaoui and Salim Ghazaly write that Gulf countries are engaged in a determined effort to diversify their economies away from oil production and the exploitation of natural resources. At the same time, they are also actively working to address other economic challenges, including job creation and growing demand for quality public services.
Strategy&’s Partner Fadi Adra and Manager Valerie Jambart write that with the passage of a major child protection law in the UAE in 2016 and with other steps being taken by Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, a crucial area of social policy in the GCC is receiving the attention it deserves. Progress will be even faster, however, if the region’s governments put in place a systematic approach to the prevention, detection and management of child abuse within a comprehensive national framework.
According to Strategy&’s Partner Samer Bohsali, executives in the GCC are excited by digital. They recognise its benefits, such as stronger customer orientation and increased efficiency, which is vital in an era of budget constraints. Many companies, however, perceive the process of going digital as the adoption of a specific technology, rather than a transformation journey.
A joint study conducted by Siemens and the Ideation Center at management consultancy Strategy&, part of the PwC network, has emphasized the benefits businesses in the GCC stand to gain from digitalization and outlined a roadmap of how they can undertake a fully holistic approach to embarking on digital transformation.
There has been phenomenal digital growth for economies, businesses and consumers during the past two decades. GCC governments understand this and have developed ambitious digital plans such as Dubai’s 3D printing initiative and its unified government platform for citizens, DubaiNow. Meanwhile, consumers in the region are among the world’s most tech-savvy.
GCC companies are lagging behind their government and consumer counterparts when it comes to using digital technologies, according to a joint study conducted by Siemens and the Ideation Centre at the management consultancy Strategy& (formerly Booz & Company), part of the PwC network.
Sixty percent entrepreneurs in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries believe that digitalization has the potential to create new business models or lead to a more open culture of innovation.

A recently conducted study found that only 3 percent of organizations believe they are at an advanced stage of their digital transformation process, with only 18 percent using the cloud and 30 percent using big data and analytics specifically.
GCC countries, which are facing budgetary problems, should adopt a "fit for service" framework to tackle looming long-term deficits and other fiscal crisis challenges, experts at Strategy& said. In the absence of such a critical strategy, GCC governments need to reduce budget spending by...
In recent years, leading Gulf Cooperation Council companies have grown in their domestic markets and through international expansion. These large GCC firms are poised to compete with the global corporate elite, those highly successful multinational companies that already have deeply embedded capabilities...
While every GCC government has announced spending cuts to conserve budgets, conventional cost-cutting is only a short-term fix and could potentially slow a country’s growth over time. For GCC governments to cut costs and grow simultaneously, Strategy& recommends adopting a Fit for Service framework...
According to Strategy&, adopting a ‘Fit for Service’ approach is driven by four actions: 1) articulating a strategy, 2) transforming the existing cost structure, 3) building critical capabilities needed to execute the strategy funded by cost savings and 4) reorganizing the operating model for optimal performance...
It said that even if GCC governments can grow non-oil revenues by 10 percent annually over the rest of this decade and the average price per barrel of oil returns to $50, their budgets would still need to be reduced by approximately $100 billion on an annual basis - 7 percent of the GCC’s total GDP...
GCC countries, which are facing budgetary problems, should adopt a "fit for service" framework to tackle looming long-term deficits and other fiscal crisis challenges, experts at Strategy& said. In the absence of such a critical strategy, GCC governments need to reduce budget spending by...
A transformative approach to revamping government spending generates savings by making the government “fit for service” through a focus on organisational improvements, such as the development of critical capabilities, cost structure transformation and operating model design.
“Most of the world can’t afford mobile data at current prices. About 43% of the world’s population can afford 500 MB of mobile data a month right now. In order to double that number, data costs have to fall by 70% globally, according to a new study by Strategy&, a unit of the consulting firm PwC.”
There are three key areas in the region that needed to work more effectively to connect the unconnected population of 200 million. These include the connectivity market which provides affordable and reliable access, the content market which creates relevant and compelling content for people to go online, and the retail market which is the Internet industry’s sales and service arm and which helps people to discover the Internet.
“Bringing the internet to the 4 billion people not currently online would add $6.7 trillion to the global economy and lift 500 million people out of poverty, new research has found. The report, prepared for Facebook by PwC’s strategy consultants Strategy&, looks at mechanisms for encouraging global inclusion and connecting the world through the internet. With access to the internet being declared a basic human right by the United Nations, the importance of connecting the 55% of the world’s population who are offline is a truly global issue.”
“Global internet inclusion could lift 500 million people, or 7 percent of the world's population, out of poverty, according to a new report from PwC's strategy consulting business Strategy&. Commissioned by Facebook, the 'Connecting the World' study covers 120 countries over a 10-year period. It shows that global internet inclusion could add USD 6.7 trillion to global economic output if the 4.1 billion people currently disconnected get online.”
“The UAE’s gross domestic electricity consumption has more than doubled over the past 10 years, and is expected to grow even more rapidly over the next five years as the country undergoes substantial growth. A recent forum organized by the Energy Working Group of the UAE-UK Business Council and facilitated by Strategy&, highlighted three key aspects of energy efficiency which comprise of smart cities, building efficiency and water usage.”
“In the debate over the changes under way in Arab countries, one critical element is missing: a generational perspective. Such a perspective grasps how socioeconomic factors have shaped different age groups, allowing governments and businesses to address the different generational needs, perceptions and priorities for how society should develop. Although increasingly adopted elsewhere, the Arab region has yet to take advantage of this approach to framing social, economic and employment policy.”
“With the Arab region’s different generations becoming increasingly distinct, governments and business leaders must tailor their policies to meet these groups’ varying objectives if they are to craft economic reforms and make their countries more competitive. The Arab region has undergone significant changes in recent decades. And, these events have not affected all age groups uniformly. As a result, the different Arab generations are increasingly distinct, each with their own perceptions, needs, and priorities.”
“Today, there is a palpable sense of urgency in the Middle East to improve employment levels and job options for the region’s young, growing populations. In effect, half of the region’s population is under the age of 25, and a quarter of those between 15 and 24 are currently unemployed, largely due to mismatch between the needs of the market and the skills being developed in schools. To help bridge this gap, Strategy& recently commissioned a survey that gathered the views of over 1,300 students from Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) which revealed that GCC students have a strong grasp of the weaknesses and strengths of their education and more importantly, expressed a clear desire to be involved in shaping changes to the system.”
“There is a palpable sense of urgency in the Middle East to improve employment levels and job options for the region’s growing youth population. Half of the Middle East’s population is under the age of 25, a quarter of whom are unemployed — one of the highest youth unemployment rates in the world.

One reason for widespread unemployment is the mismatch between the skills businesses need and the skills being taught in schools. Indeed, even the most educated suffer high unemployment. In Saudi Arabia, for example, more than 40 percent of those with university or vocational school education are unemployed, while in Morocco and the United Arab Emirates the rate is over 20 percent.”
“Companies have a particularly important role to play in sustainable development through corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives. Many MENA companies are increasing the scale and range of their CSR projects, as part of a global trend and an extension of longstanding cultural traditions.

Unfortunately, too many companies conduct these initiatives on an ad hoc basis that limits their effectiveness. For maximum impact, companies need to align CSR projects with national development goals and coordinate with governments, academia and civil society.”
“Joe Saddi, chairman of the global management consultancy Strategy&, is equally bullish. The buzz in the business community is that the time of Africa is coming soon, he said. Everyone is interested in exploring it.”
“More and more companies are doing the math and investing in what Strategy& has dubbed the Third Billion — women globally — a market segment large enough to rival China or India.”

“Ultimately, converting women’s fast-growing economic influence into real social, economic, and political power will take time and perseverance. But the momentum of the global marketplace, should we choose to sustain it, can provide us a way forward. As corporate leaders look for resilient dynamism and growth in 2013, there are no better partners poised to deliver profits and progress across geographies than the Third Billion”.
“In the aftermath of the Arab Spring, the new governments of the Middle East need to remain committed to economic openness, but there is a real danger that the high expectations of their populations for immediate benefits might force them to dodge making the necessary changes, said Joe Saddi, Chairman of Strategy&.”

“A year ago the conversation was all about politics, but now everyone is focused on the economies and the need for jobs. People have been through the whole revolution and now they want to see the difference. Saddi recently authored a viewpoint called: Staying on the Road to Growth, Why Middle East leaders must maintain their commitment to economic reform.”
The Chicago Booth UAE Alumni Club’s Annual Middle East conference in Dubai, in conjunction with the Ideation Center, Strategy& signature Middle East think tank, sets out to empower the Third Billion. The event was attended by 170 delegates coming from the UAE and neighboring MENA countries.

Dr. Leila Hoteit, former partner at Strategy&, detailed the Third Billion concept established by The Ideation Center and the myths about women entrepreneurs. According to Dr. Hoteit, “Women entrepreneurs no longer fit the models society has assumed for them, but are forging their own paths and creating new standards of excellence."
What do you get when you put an outspoken group of female entrepreneurs under one roof for one day? At the recent Women Entrepreneurs in the Middle East and North Africa event hosted by the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, in association with Strategy& at the Ideation Centre, heated discussions and differing opinions ensued, but at the end of the day, so did a common goal to boost entrepreneurship opportunities for women in the region.

Advocating for regulation and affirmative action, he also urged a grassroots solution. “Social change has to come from women breaking down social barriers and leveraging the NGOs and private sector support they have.”

This view was later challenged by Dr. Leila Hoteit, former partner at Strategy&, in a keynote address termed the “Third Billion.” The research she presented worked to dispel many myths, the first of which is that women entrepreneurs primarily build small businesses – Strategy& found that more than 30% of women-led businesses are large scale and over 80% plan to expand.
“Mounira Jamjoom, a research specialist at the Booz & Company consulting firm in Riyadh, said: The decision to integrate women in the political process is timely, and by providing policy stability, the government can unleash the region’s considerable human promise – its increasingly educated and aspiring women.”
Alongside increasing funds for women, law makers “need to make micro financing options more transparent, so we need to look at improving laws and regulations,” said Mounira Jamjoom, Senior Research Specialist at Booz & Company. Many women entrepreneurs are not aware of the funding options that are available to them, she added.
The Chicago Booth UAE Alumni Club is hosting their Annual Middle East Conference on 16th January 2013 at Dubai’s Ritz-Carlton DIFC. The event is organised in conjunction with the Ideation Center, Booz & Company’s signature Middle East think tank. Beginning at 3:00 pm, the conference will comprise three discussion panels entitled: Research on Women Entrepreneurs; Success Stories; and Policies for Women Entrepreneurs.
Female workers are fast becoming dominant figures in the workplace and over the next decade a staggering one billion women are expected to enter the global economy.

On January 16, The Chicago Booth UAE Alumni Club is hosting a conference titled ‘Women Entrepreneurs in MENA: Successes, Challenges and Policies’ which aims at highlighting the potential of the dedicated, hard-working women in the region, who are often over-looked in the workplace.
“There have also been number of trends that are raising concern about the lack of future opportunities for a young generation set to enter the workforce. A recent study by Strategy& highlights youth unemployment as a regional problem and estimates unemployment in the UAE at 22%, while Saudi Arabia’s unemployment rate reaches over the 40% mark. According to the management consultancy firm, the six GCC states have some of the highest unemployment rates in the world, with regards to their youth populations.

The report also identified a number of factors that are contributing to these trends, including a mismatch between the skills garnered through educational systems and providers and those actually required by the private sector.”
“The third billion refers to the nearly one billion women who are set to enter the global economy in the next decade, rivalling in importance the growth of India or China.

“Canada has one of the largest wage gaps in the OECD between men and women working full-time,” said Leila Hoteit, former partner with Strategy&, adding that although the differentials are narrowing, the gap remains near 30 per cent.

In our increasingly interconnected world, there remain many innovative ways to capitalize on the underutilized female work force. Mounira Jamjoom, senior research specialist with the Ideation Center, Strategy& think-tank in the Middle East, explained that virtual jobs may make up 15 per cent of global jobs in the future, an opportunity that could be filled by underemployed women.”
“Nearly one billion women are poised to enter the global economy in the coming decade. That's a hard fact. The question is whether theirs will be a story of economic empowerment or missed potential. A study from Strategy&, Empowering the third billion: Women and the world of work in 2012, suggests concrete steps that governments and employers can take to tilt the scales toward success.”