Facing down the sharpest global economic contraction in memory, with oil and gas prices plummeting, some feared that the pandemic would set back the economic progress in evidence throughout the GCC over recent decades. In much the same way some western countries saw the devastating effect of the 2008-2009 global financial crisis and feared that it would spread to sovereign debt, raising borrowing costs significantly and generating a new front for the economic crisis.
Then followed a period of austerity in many countries, a shrinking of government expenditure. The effect, predictably, was a slow recovery, widening inequality and public services facing mounting demand with fewer resources.
However, the focus of the recovery must be on preparing for the economy of the future, not worrying about the transient concerns of today. Be in no doubt, the time horizon for repairing the public finances from the challenges of the pandemic is decades in length.
Over the last few decades, the UAE in particular has invested in its infrastructure and institutions, helping them to counter some of the challenges caused by the pandemic. This has supported the society and economy to adapt through the crisis, and to be resilient in the face of disruption. These are qualities we should nurture.
Learning from this, it is key that longer-term thinking guides decision-making as GCC countries build back from the pandemic.
We should be investing in the technology and infrastructure necessary to underpin the society of the next 50 years and beyond.
We should be investing in the education of our people, at all levels, and spurring their innate ability to innovate and drive change.
Now is the time to build our economic capacity on all fronts.
For GCC countries this will also support a transition away from a dependence on oil and natural gas extraction, building resilience to fluctuations in commodity prices, and setting the foundations for decades of economic prosperity in a world with far less dependence on fossil fuels.
This would build on the actions that have already been taken in the UAE to invest revenues from fossil fuel extraction in projects to diversify the economy, including through investments in technology and renewable energy.
It is easy to be myopic, and far harder to raise our sights to see what might be achieved.
Yet having a vision, underpinned by practical investments allied to that purpose, is what has driven human progress across the ages.
That vision is based on the GCC’s key strengths, and its greatest asset is undoubtedly its people.
In service to them, we must now see a new era of investment in the GCC to support future decades of progress in economic prosperity. Let this be the decade of investment.
Dr Stuart McIntyre, Senior Lecturer in Economics, University of Strathclyde
Abigail Davenport, Dubai Centre Manager, Strathclyde Business School
As the environment in the UAE and wider GCC is ever-evolving, the Strathclyde Executive MBA offers credentials that allow leaders not only to navigate the dynamic political and economic climate but to be agile, to innovate and to transform their organisation. Business leaders require skills to enable them to tackle emerging challenges. Our MBA has a strong heritage in leadership and strategy and we have re-focused and enhanced these strengths to offer students the business skill set needed today and in the future. Digital transformation and innovation, also feature heavily, and in deep dives with renowned academic colleagues along with industry partners and networking, students embed the knowledge, strategies and confidence to lead into the future.
Lana Therese, Alumni, Strathclyde Business School
"The UAE is in an inimitable position, able to borrow from the best practices while localising solutions to suit regional complexity. The Strathclyde Business School MBA acted as a platform for exploring frameworks to guide choices and trade-offs, shedding light on how organisations behave, adapt to changing environments and contemplate strategies for decision making."
For further information visit Strathclyde.in/uae.
Dr. Behrad Elahi, MD Fellow of European Society of Cardiology and Interventional Cardiologist at Al Zahra Hospital Dubai, talks about how raising awareness on health risks and taking steps to prevent diseases can go a long way in reducing heart-related morbidities