Revealed: 10 big ideas post Covid-19 in the GCC
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Revealed: 10 big ideas post Covid-19 in the GCC

Revealed: 10 big ideas post Covid-19 in the GCC

These are some of the biggest trends set to shape the region post pandemic, according to LinkedIn

Dubai airport

We are going through challenging times and the world around us is changing fast.

With more than 8.3 million confirmed cases and at least 449,000 deaths worldwide – according to Johns Hopkins data, and despite countries reopening, it’s still impossible to say which phase of the pandemic we find ourselves in.

Are we at the beginning of the end, or at the end of the beginning? Will we see a second wave of infections? When will a vaccine be ready?

We may not have all (or any) of the answers, but we do know that the world will see lasting changes due to Covid-19.

To get a feel for what lies ahead, LinkedIn News editors asked experts in several countries about their big ideas for this post-Covid world. Is local the new global? Can mass tourism coexist with social distancing? Will climate be at the centre of the recovery?

These are the 10 key takeaways we gathered for the region:

1. The GCC will face an unprecedented double shock

The crash in oil prices and the economic fallout of Covid-19 have put the energy-dependent Gulf countries in a tough spot. When oil prices plunged in 2014, the GCC governments reduced subsidies, imposed taxes, and came up with policies to diversify their economies away from oil. But with the global economy already deep in the worst recession since World War II according to The World Bank, today’s options are limited.

According to economist Alexandre Kateb, the oil shock will have greater repercussions on the economies than the fallout caused by the pandemic, but their combined impact will be long-lasting.

2. We will travel again, but it will be different

The aviation industry, which facilitates 57 per cent of the world tourism and supports 65.5 million jobs globally, has been hit hard by the economic fallout of the coronavirus. Coming out of the crisis, with travellers prioritising health and safety, they’ll need to feel confident and protected for travel to restart. It begins from pre-boarding with a shift to a paperless, touchless process – automation across the sector is one of the changes the World Economic Forum is betting on.

3. Oil will lose, renewables will win

The pandemic led the oil markets to witness two historical moments that will leave a mark for years to come. The first was the negative prices territories reached by the WTI for the first time in history, and the second a historic deal reached by OPEC+ to curb global supply. Squeezed margins are forcing oil producers to take drastic measures to cut spending, including slashing jobs. And the winner is renewable energy.

4. Education will learn from Covid-19

The pandemic has accelerated the integration of e-learning in our lives, with school closures affecting around 1.2 billion students in 186 countries. Students and teachers found themselves in virtual classrooms, in an unplanned experience.

More than half of the parents of school children in the Arab world consider the current online learning system to be “inefficient” in comparison to traditional learning, a UNESCO survey found in May, with more than 80 per cent showing concerns that homeschooling is not providing the necessary education for their children.

5. The office will be reinvented

Experts have laid out many changes in how offices will look and operate post Covid-19, possibly bringing back the cubical era, while some still bet on the survival of the open floor plan.

6. People will move less for jobs

With anti-virus measures expected to stay for some time, countries will be looking inward in trying to mitigate the pandemic’s economic impact and provide much-needed buffers for their citizens. This will end the era that allowed workers and professionals to chase careers across the world. The World Bank expects remittances to record the sharpest fall in recent history, dropping by 20 per cent in 2020 compared to 2019 due to the fall of wages and employment of migrant workers.

7. The future of retail is online and contactless

When shops and malls closed during the lockdown, consumers headed online for non-essential shopping, leading to a global rise in e-commerce.

For e-commerce companies to be able to handle the high demand, there will be a need to reshuffle roles and reskill employees, according to the Life after Covid-19 report by Dubai Future Foundation. By 2022, the e-commerce retail market in the Middle East is expected to reach $26bn, with the GCC accounting for $11bn and the UAE for $4.6bn, according to Dubai CommerCity. Malls will still be around, however. In a global shopping hub like Dubai, Covid-free certificates and tax-free shopping are some of the suggestions to keep shoppers in physical stores.

8. Climate policies have gained momentum

Halting air travel and the suspension of work in factories worldwide during the coronavirus resulted in a drop in the pollution levels. A permanent, global shutdown may not be a realistic approach in favour of the fight against climate change – but as the world restarts, these positive effects can be the needed push towards better climate policies.

9. The coronavirus crisis will boost gender equality

Women have been at the frontlines in the battle against coronavirus – they represent 70 per cent of the health and social sector workforce globally, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). They have been widely praised for successfully managing the crisis. But experts say women must brace for an economic impact that will hit them harder than men.

10. Sovereign wealth funds will restrategise

Sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) around the world, with more than $8 trillion of assets – including $2 trillion of assets in the Middle East, are repositioning their allocations to mitigate the effects of the pandemic on state budgets around the world. As they try to balance between spending plans and budget deficits, the SWFs of Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi, part of the 10 biggest SWFs in the world, are looking for investment opportunities that can secure the needed returns.

Sandrine Chauvin is the director and senior managing editor for LinkedIn News – EMEA and LatAm and Salma Altantawy is editor at LinkedIn News

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