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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 September 2018

Davos 2018: chief executives doubly optimistic about prospects for this year

In PwC survey, majority of Middle East CEOs say global economic growth will improve 

CEOs in the Middle East are much more optimistic about the global economic picture this year compared to 2017, PwC says. Getty Images
CEOs in the Middle East are much more optimistic about the global economic picture this year compared to 2017, PwC says. Getty Images

Chief executives in the Middle East are twice as optimistic about the prospects for global economic growth this year compared to 2017, registering the most positive outlook from the region in four years.

In a survey by PwC, launched on the eve of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, 52 per cent of respondents from the Middle East said they believed that, worldwide, the economic picture would improve over the next 12 months. Just 26 per cent were as optimistic in 2017. This year is more positive than 2014’s high of 49 per cent.

However, only 33 per cent of chief executives were as positive about their own companies’ prospects for revenue growth this year, compared to 38 per cent in 2017.

“Particularly restrained are CEOs in the Middle East and Central & Eastern Europe, where ‘very confident’ responses reached near-record lows,” PwC said. “Typically, CEOs report more confidence in the longer term than in the immediate future.”

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The UAE has this year moved into the top 15 countries that chief executives consider most important for their organisation’s overall growth prospects over the next 12 months, PwC said. Saudi Arabia has dropped out of the top 15.

The Middle East matches the global trend of optimism in the global outlook, according to the survey, which shows that 57 per cent of business leaders around the world say it will improve - almost twice as many as last year and the biggest increase since 2012.

Optimism has more than doubled in the US amid more robust economic growth while in Brazil 80 per cent of CEOs are optimistic, off the back of more stable global commodity prices.

“CEOs’ optimism in the global economy is driven by the economic indicators being so strong. With the stock markets booming and GDP predicted to grow in most major markets around the world, it’s no surprise CEOs are so bullish,” said Bob Moritz, PwC’s global chairman.

In the UK, with Brexit negotiations uncertain, short-term confidence has dropped. Globally, chief executives are most anxious about over-regulation, cyber threats and terrorism.

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