On the region’s burning issues

Perspectives

ME PoV Spring 2010 issue

On the region’s burning issues

This issue tackles timely issues such as the challenges of restructuring, taxation in the Gulf, sustainability as a business imperative, the business of intelligence, and many more.

About this issue

The global business environment has been fundamentally challenged on all fronts in areas such as regulation,environment and sustainability, fiscal reform and corporate governance.

It will be useful and refreshing to read the views of people who are most involved and engaged in these sectors.

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The Middle East takes a fresh look at restructuring

In the post-Dubai World era, a fresh look at restructuring is required, which should no longer be forced on companies nor carried out behind closed doors. The region has embraced a process akin to that found in the developed economies and managements should recognize, and be ready to embrace, the new regime. Early action is nevertheless strongly recommended: there is much that companies can, and should, do to arrest a deteriorating situation and avoid passing the initiative and control to the banks.

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Fraud

Fraud poses great risks to companies in the Middle East as they struggle to maintain or recover their market position. The reverse side of the coin is that combating fraud presents these same companies with opportunities. The region should not ignore the chance to redefine itself as an archetype of transparency and good governance.

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CFO Optimism

The only thing that an optimist cannot view as positive is a pessimist. This is certainly what has transpired from the Deloitte Middle East CFO Survey of October 2009*. Whether this optimism is warranted is arguable, but one thing is certain, CFOs have an opportunity to position themselves as indispensable assets to their respective organizations.

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The Business of Intelligence

Never has the adage “knowledge is power” been truer than in today’s business environment. With a world economy bedridden with the flu, we are all after information that helps us take the right decisions.

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Back to basics

From skyrocketing prices of construction materials and labor to the suspension, or outright cancelation of projects due to lack of financing, construction companies in the Gulf, particularly in Dubai, have navigated their fair share of turbulent waters.One thing they can learn from their experiences is the importance of prudent risk management. This article focuses on only a few, albeit critical, elements of a complete risk management plan.

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Taxation in the Gulf takes the first remedy

Governments in the Gulf States have been astir with the introduction of new tax laws in the last few years, leading to a welcome and sharp reduction in the tax rate: from 55% in some countries, such as Kuwait, to as low as 10% in others, such as Qatar. A decision by Saudi Arabia to replace its decades-old law with a more modern tax law sparked a tax rates competition in the region. Following in Saudi Arabia’s footsteps, Kuwait introduced its own law, reducing its tax rate to 15%. Oman followed suit and reduced its rate to 12% and finally Qatar, which had been reviewing its tax laws for quite some time finally ratified them and reduced their taxes to 10%.

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Middle East telecom

In a challenging business environment, customer service, network quality and cost price will be the key drivers which operators will have to focus on to reduce subscriber turnover and increase market share in an already highly-penetrated market. On the other hand, cost reduction, value-added services and innovative tariff plans will help operators meet their targets.

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Corporate responsibility in the 21st Century

In economically recessive times, many companies in the Middle East may place their philanthropic and social causes onto the backburner as they try to balance their finances. This is a mistake.  In current market difficulties, some companies may be tempted to tighten their belt as regards to social responsibility, though this may not prove to be the best option as research shows that paying close attention to corporate social responsibility may even be profitable.

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Sustainability, a growing business imperative

Governments, consumers, and employees are rapidly realizing the importance of sustainability. As such, companies need to take notice and realize that sustainability is not merely a fad but rather, a business imperative. Businesses in the Middle East have multiple windows of opportunity to become more sustainable.Those wishing to survive in the new global economic era need to recognize that embracing sustainability is a strategic decision that will require a major transformation in the mindset and the practices of an organization. 

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Becoming a Middle East Best Employer

Hewitt Associates launched the first study of its scope and breadth on Best Employers in Middle East, setting new standards for business practices in the region. Point of View asked Debabrat Mishra, Middle East Consulting Business Leader at Hewitt, what it takes to be a best employer in today’s business world. 

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