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Business confidence still low in MENA

 Despite growing confidence across the global economy, it appears the well-publicised problems in dubai have contributed to a lack of business confidence in the Gulf region. The latest HSBC Gulf business Confidence Index fell from 81.4 to 80.2 between the third and fourth quarters of 2009, illustrating how the burden of debt within some Gulf states has stymied confidence.

 “We are seeing a slight dip in confidence levels quarter on quarter across the board,” said simon Vaughan johnson, HSBC’s head of Commercial banking for the MENA region, “but we have not returned to the lows seen earlier in 2009. If I were to characterise the mood of the region’s
business people, I would say they are cautiously realistic. 2009 was a difficult year for the GCC economies, and there is a feeling that 2010 will be a year of improvement, tempered by a realism of expectation.”

 Within the GCC some regional differences do emerge. In the hydrocarbon-producing states of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait,
confidence is on the rise, while the uae’s score is clearly heavily influenced by dubai’s wellpublicised debt issues.

 Other highlights from the survey:

■ Saudi Arabia is the most confident country in the region, with an Index score of 91.6; uae remains the least confident at 69.8

 ■ Predictions for profitability, turnover and investment all show slight rises quarter-on-quarter

 ■ Cross-border and international business is seen as growing by 35% of respondents

 ■ 37% of respondents say they will add staff in 2010 (36% in Q3).


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