We are 25!
ME PoV Spring 2018 issue
Eight years and twenty-five issues ago, the Middle East Point of View magazine was conceived. The mandate: to create a magazine that conveys “uninhibited and independent views and opinions” on the region’s issues of most concern, especially as regards regulation, environment and sustainability, fiscal reform and corporate governance.
The first issue rolled hot off the press in the spring of 2010, entitled “On the region’s burning issues.” These included corporate restructuring, fraud, rise of the CFO, business intelligence, risk management in the construction business, taxation, telecoms, corporate responsibility and sustainability.
At the time, Facebook was only a virtual yearbook, Airbnb had just launched and Uber had yet to be born. To many people, the cloud was still a mass of condensed water vapor floating high in the sky. Sometimes it would release raindrops. Smartphones were not yet a “necessity.” And we’re not even mentioning Instagram.
We’ve come a long way.
Now and then
Since that first issue, the world has done a triple somersault, flipped on its axis twice and was spewed out of a financial vortex from which it is still reeling. Meanwhile in the Middle East, housing prices in Dubai soared, crude oil prices tanked, and political upheaval ran hand-in-hand with the imperative to compete in, and conform to, a technological world advancing at a rapidly alarming rate.
When we first launched, if you were living in the Gulf you were paying no taxes, Dubai 2020 was a decade away, borrowing money was probably easier and the Arab Spring had yet to bloom.
And the world probably seemed a lot less scary. You probably still had to head towards a brick-and-mortar building to make a banking transaction. Today, as a company, as an individual, as a bank or even a public sector entity, you have to watch your every move, make sure your present is compliant and your future is mapped out and the ever-accelerating rate of change accounted for. Big or small, incorporated or family-owned, you have to work harder to retain talent (these millennials are hard to please but they are talented!), your C-Suite has to keep up to speed with issues that may seem beyond their grasp and, assuming you’re in the Gulf, you have to budget for VAT.
You’ve come a long way.
Since that first issue, what was then considered a disruption is now simply a way of life. As a reader, chances are you are either on Facebook, have taken an Uber at least once and stayed in an Airbnb listed property. If not, you’re resisting change quite well! But perhaps most of your files are in the clouds without you even knowing.
Through it all, Middle East Point of View was present, shedding light and translating these changes with objectivity and a poised, even manner, an insider look from the people directly implicated in these changes.
Naturally, there are recurring themes: IFRS, risk and compliance, technology, family business and real estate are some of our perennial features. Then there are those issues where we peak more closely at issues dear to our hearts, like education or Islamic finance. We also have country specials like Malta, Iraq and Qatar.
But challenge ourselves we must and rest on our laurels we must not. So sometimes we also delve into stories as explorers, with topics as Wikileaks, Virtual Reality and Big Data.
So what about the next twenty-five issues? Where might we all be then? If there is one thing we have learnt in the last eight years is that unpredictability is the only predicate, and that anything can happen. In fact, we even devoted our Summer 2017 issue to the subject.
We are lucky to be living in an age of revolutions. We get to witness change as it happens, live it and be part of it. As the world turns around, however, we also get to feel the jitters that pierce us as the ground shakes under our feet.
My personal prediction is that the world will not slow down, the jitters will continue and the huge earthly engine will continue to spin with ever-increasing speed. We will not rest. But we will adapt, like we always have. The brain is a marvelous organ.
Then and now
So what will we say about today in our 50th issue? Will we still be debating the viability of cryptocurrencies? Will we be communicating in words or emojis? Today we speak of agility in the workplace, and of Fintech. We live in the era of compound words, of nouns acting as verbs (“ping” anyone?) and of acronyms turning into words—such as GIFify (Graphics Interchange Format, in case you were wondering.) We now accept disruption as a given, we just concentrate on how to deal with it.
Perhaps one of the things we will say about today is that we started talking about succession. Be it family businesses or huge multi-national companies like Saudi Aramco, business in the Middle East is starting to plan for the future.
And for the next eight years and twenty-five issues, Middle East Point of View will be there to analyze it.
And you will probably be reading it on the windshield of your self-driving car.
by Rana Hanna, Editor, Middle East Point of View magazine