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Ed’s Letter: Looking To The Year Ahead

Ed’s Letter: Looking To The Year Ahead

The year ahead looks to be a good one, writes Alicia Buller, editor of Gulf Business.

Against a backdrop of nascent global economic recovery, the GCC saw moderate growth of around four per cent in 2013.

While the figures might not be as dazzling as 2010-12, last year offered up a stable period for high oil prices, even amid fragile global economic sentiment.

The flush arm of GCC investment was duly felt in government projects and most states powered up their billion-dollar infrastructure shopping sprees with the aim of economic diversification.

Growth in the GCC is forecast to pick up to 4.4 per cent in 2014 as oil production rises and the non-oil sector benefits from ongoing infrastructure projects.

Green shoots in Europe and America and the growing might of emerging economies bodes well for the months ahead, with Standard Chartered predicting global growth of 3.5 per cent this year from 2.7 cent in 2013.

The UAE had a particularly good year in 2013, riding a wave of resurgence with a healing property market, the world’s best performing stock market and a successful World Expo bid. I fully expect the Expo to pump newly oxygenated blood into the
UAE’s already reawakening real estate, infrastructure and tourism sectors.

One man that is bound to be more delighted than most about the Expo win and its directly connected 25 million tourists is Tim Clark, head honcho at Dubai carrier Emirates. As he wrote in this month’s prestigious Gulf Business CEO letters, “we were bold ordering our A380s but, my goodness, it was a gamble worth taking.”

This is a boldness that must now extend to the rest of the GCC as it treads a fine and unprecedented line between investing in the non-oil economy for future generations, and balancing the oil books.

The GCC countries have done a fine job of navigating the continued uncertain world outlook and shoring up fiscal policy since the global economic crisis.

Going forward, creating jobs for the young and growing working age population is the Gulf’s weightiest challenge. 2014 will hopefully be a year where more start ups shine, more banks open their wallets to SMEs, and GCC governments push the skills gap agenda with increased momentum.

I wish you a fruitful year ahead.

Alicia Buller is the editor of Gulf Business.

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