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Why having the right people is key to your company’s success

Why having the right people is key to your company’s success

Mohammad A. Baker explains how new businesses in the UAE can establish strong foundations by employing the right team

Built on the foundations of political stability and economic progress, with a forward thinking modern outlook, the UAE has one of the most open and dynamic economies in the world.

Thanks to its primarily tax-exempt business environment, strict intellectual property protection laws and special free zones that offer 100 per cent ownership, many multinationals have established operations across the UAE, with a fair few also setting up their headquarters in the global hub. According to the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business 2017 report, the Emirates ranks 26th out of 190 nations.

With a booming business environment enabled by favourable diversification policies, the UAE has developed a buoyant private sector and in turn attracted global brands and concepts from the world over. The landscape has similarly driven the growth of a multitude of start-up companies creating a hotbed of entrepreneurship, with numerous local brands going global, including the likes of Just Falafel, Coffee Planet and of course, Emirates Airline.

However, the hugely attractive landscape is not without its challenges, and just as many businesses have cropped up in the UAE as have failed. Beyond the initial hurdles of setting up a business, the task of ensuring it is economically sustainable thereafter comes with unique challenges of its own. Understanding regional trends is key to ensuring sustainability. So what are the unique considerations when it comes to operating and growing a business in the UAE?

Possibly one of the most standout features of the UAE is its multicultural nature. As a community made of individuals coming from all corners of the world, businesses must bear in mind the unique cultural nuances of the UAE and the many other cultures represented across the landscape. Cultural understanding is of prime importance across the board, from how one operates and engages with stakeholders, to ensuring the right messaging for your brand. Cultural awareness is a value that will need to be prevalent throughout the company from the most junior to the most senior employees, to ensure your business is well received by the community with a positive reputation. As such, ensuring a multicultural taskforce will be of primary importance.

Networking and storytelling are also essential to building a successful brand. In a country where business was not so long ago conducted over tea and firmed up on a handshake, relationships are key. Employers must adopt a people-centric approach and employees should be well versed in brand messaging while being able to effectively relay and amplify these in their day-to-day interactions. Investing in your staff first and foremost will go a long way in creating a business that will be able to weather potential storms further down the line, with your people being widely trusted.

On the financial side, human relationships will also play an important role. In addition to identifying an optimal capital structure to help minimise working capital needs and preserve liquidity, a relationship with your suppliers, bankers and customers can bridge any funding deficits and help streamline your payments.

The UAE landscape is one that is constantly and rapidly changing. As a relatively new country bent on being a world-class leader across multiple fields and industries, innovation is a key pillar for the UAE government. Businesses need to be agile. They need to be able to adapt to changes in a quick and efficient manner otherwise they risk being left behind, be that in relation to new technology or adapting to new legal environments. This will ensure you can stay ahead of the game, where other firms may be slow to react and evolve to new working environments.

In summary, adapting to a highly multicultural and fast changing environment is key to building a robust and profitable business in the UAE. Aside from strong business acumen, businesses need to be agile enough to meet the challenges that the UAE landscape can often pose. There are many opportunities to build a flourishing business in the UAE, provided one has the right culture and leadership in place. Above and beyond all else, this means putting people at the heart.

Mohammad A. Baker is deputy manager and CEO of Gulf Marketing Group

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