Hanover 03 Apr 2017 // 1:10PM GMT
In an unchoreographed, but synchronised piece of timing we received our UAE business license just as British Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Article 50 and the UK set off on its quest to extract itself from its European legal and economic ties.
While the exact destination of both journeys is as yet unknown, the prospect of pursuing new opportunities in the Middle East is infinitely more appealing than renegotiating new trade agreements with affronted former friends who know you don’t share similar visions of a shared future.
But the seeds of Hanover’s Middle East launch germinated long before last summer’s historic referendum. In recent years the volume of requests for referrals to Middle East-based consultancies that “think like you do” and pitches for business - where not having a regional office was a disadvantage - was becoming hard to ignore. Investment blueprints in transport, infrastructure and other regional growth sectors such industrials, telecommunications, aviation, financial services and technology, all correlate to the ‘sweet spots’ of our European offices. Additionally, the UAE’s medical tourism ambitions also play to our long-standing experience of consulting for some of the world’s largest private healthcare companies.
The timing of opening our Dubai office is spot-on. Uncertainty is a driver of progress in the UAE. In a rapidly evolving society characterised by wide-ranging economic and social development initiatives communicating a clear business vision is key to sustainable growth. There has never been a better time to commit to the UAE market than now.
The recent organisational retrenchment in sectors hit by the decline in the oil price has caused mutterings in some quarters that the region’s future is not bright. But this is a myopic view that misses the bigger picture. Although regional GDP forecasts have been adjusted downwards, they would still make many countries in the developed world envious. The ongoing work to diversify the UAE’s economy continues steadily and long-term prospects remain healthy.
While arguably already a busy market for UK and US communications agencies, we see the market as rich in potential. Dubai, with a gross domestic product of $80 billion, is the business gateway for a region with a $1 trillion economy, millions of eager young consumers and the HQs of 138 of the Fortune 500, plus a host of other A-list multinationals. To quote Carlyle Group co-founder David Rubenstein: "It has world-class infrastructure, a high-quality talent pool, and will continue to be an important financial center for decades to come."
The wider region looks to Dubai as an example of how to move beyond the petro-economy. Its innovation efforts are being recognised all over the world and are a magnet for many thousands of young, talented people who travel here to find a knowledge economy and meritocratic culture that offers a rich vein of professional opportunities.
The distinguished educator and management scholar Peter F. Drucker, who coined the term “knowledge worker”, advised his clients that the best way to predict the future, and navigate uncertainty, is to create it. A market launch always brings uncertainty. But here in Dubai we believe that the best way to navigate the unknown is to do just that.
By Jonty Summers, Managing Director, Hanover Middle East