Disrupt the norm


ME PoV Fall 2019 issue

Disrupt the norm

About this issue

Pythagoras called it the perfect form. Da Vinci was obsessed with squaring it. It is the circle: an ancient form that symbolizes unity, wholeness, and—dare we say it—perfection.

“History repeats itself, what goes around comes around,” are adages that point to the circularity of life itself. As echoes of another financial crisis, trade war, nationalism and the death of liberalism spread from news outlets, we might be forgiven our fears of a world that seems to be turning back on itself in endless cycles.

But instead of worrying about yet another crisis, should we instead be fearing ourselves? Should we, instead of fearing the changes around us, fear our incapacity—or unwillingness perhaps—to affect these changes?

Leonardo da Vinci, who was illegitimate and not formally educated, had everything going against him in 15th Century Italy. Yet it was his insatiable curiosity, his unwillingness to accept the status quo, his need to disrupt the norm, that turned him into the genius we believe he is today.

There is comfort in circularity, predictability, knowledge of what is to come because we have been there before. Disruptions rattle us, push us out of our zone, throw us on a tangent. Disruptions scare us. But it is precisely these disruptions that allow us, not to simply progress, but to leap forward.

Disruptions are necessary. The light bulb was a disruption. The notion of a circular earth was a disruption. The steam engine was a disruption. Imagine living without these ideas today. As long as there are thinking, creative, minds, there will be disruption. Instead of fearing it, we should embrace it, cultivate it, make space for it to grow. If circles are indeed the perfect form, then we should continually strive for imperfection.

Here at the Middle East Point of View, we are not perfect, but we always look ahead. In the first of our articles, Sustainable is smart, Manika Dhama looks at the future of cities. The author examines how governments in the Middle East region can harness the value of people, data and real estate to create the sustainable cities of the future.

Aydin Akca, Bilal Mansour and Laura Jepson also look to the future in their article on national mandates, Realizing the Vision: research, development and innovation mandates in the GCC. In the article they examine the opportunities and challenges GCC governments face in their quest to appropriately support the development of their RDI systems.

In speaking of the future, Bart Cornelissen, Yousef Barkawie and Yasmin Fansa warn that the oil and gas industry in the region stands to potentially lose trillions of dollars by not fully embracing digital. In their article, Standing still is not an option, the authors show how “operating within a traditional and conventional mindset is no longer a viable recourse for upstream oil and gas companies.”

Not content to operate solely in a traditional and conventional mindset is Cyprus. In our special insert on the country that gave us Aphrodite, we look at how the Mediterranean island has reinvented itself as a safe, but not unexciting, financial hub in the region. Panikos Teklos and Pieris Markou guide us through the country’s growing fund market (Cyprus: A growing European fund hive) and FDI climate (Foreign Direct Investment in Cyprus and the real economy) respectively. Stavri Frangou, on his part, takes a closer look at the IFRS 9 standard for corporates and asks “Is the grass greener on the other side?”

One area where the grass does seem to be fading is on the side of digital companies. Concerned with the fact that digital companies seem to be paying less tax than non-digital businesses, the European Commission is proposing a Digital Service Tax to remedy the situation. Shiv Mahalingham and Abi Man Joshi explain how the DST will impact the region east and offer key takeaways for Middle East-based multinationals in their article How much I tax you, let me count the ways.

And here we come to the end of this issue of our magazine. Or is it just the beginning? Turn the page and catch up on our experts’ insights into some of the hot topics in the region today. Until we see you again, stay imperfect.

Disrupt the norm

Sustainable is smart

Given the rate of population growth in urban centers, the primary purpose of cities is, or ought to be, sustainability: meeting the  present economic, environmental and  cultural needs while remaining agile enough to meet the needs of the future.  

Click here to read the full article.

Standing still is not an option

The entire world seems to be going digital, yet according to Deloitte’s Digital Maturity Index, the oil and gas industry scored a mere average of 1.3, placing itself lowest on the spectrum compared to all other sectors.

Click here to read the full article.

Mighty Aphrodite!

Standing at the crossroads between Europe and the Middle East, Cyprus has been a great neighbor to both. Officially part of the European Union since 2004, the land of Aphrodite has reinvented itself over the last few years. Not content of being solely a historical and cultural center, the island is now a financial hub in the region, with an impressive portfolio of funds and foreign direct investment.

Click here to read the full article.

How much I tax you, let me count the ways

We live in a digitalized economy and the Middle East is no exception. Consumers in the region apply their smartphones for online research, GPS navigation, and make purchases online; their lives are inextricably connected to digitalization and data. And digital transformation will further impact our daily lives. 

Click here to read the full article.

Realizing the Vision: Research, development and innovation mandates in the GCC

Today, every country in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has developed a national vision or strategy that looks into a post-oil future and imagines a thriving knowledge-based economy with globally competitive skills and capabilities in a few priority sectors. 

Click here to read the full article.

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