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Arab Firestorm: what 2012 holds for the Middle East

Arab Firestorm: what 2012 holds for the Middle East

Forget the term Arab Spring, DIFC’s Chief Economist Dr Nasser Saidi says the series of events across the Middle East should be called ‘Arab Firestorm’. Here’s a survival guide.

January 22, 2012 3:56 by



He is one of the 50 most influential Arabs in the World for two consecutive years now. No doubt Dr Nasser Saidi, Chief Economist and Head of External Relations at the DIFC Authority, has a lot of things on his mind, including thoughts on how we can better prepare ourselves for what is undoubtedly going to be an economically rocky 2012.

Saidi, who is also the Executive Director of the Hawkamah-Institute for Corporate Governance, suggests corporate governance and transparency are key components for surviving the region’s changing economic landscape.

“The Arab Firestorm is a wake-up call about governance. The economic growth of the region needs to be inclusive, to ensure the “trickle down” & “pull up” effects. We need to reduce chronically high unemployment which is leading our youth to despair in institutions, markets and feeling increasingly insecure about their future; we need to shift away from a State driven developmental model and accelerate private sector growth to generate productivity growth and economic diversification,” says Saidi, in an interview with ADxtra.ae.

“Above all, we need to strengthen transparency, disclosure and accountability, which have proved to be the highest virtues in governance.”

*Saidi has reportedly coined the term Arab Firestorm, saying it more appropriate describes the civil movements the Middle East is witnessing.

So what treasures and tragedies does the Chief Economist of the Dubai International Financial Centre see for 2012?

He sees conditional growth. He sees tremendous potential for growth that is dependent on how much corporate governance and transparency companies are going to adopt.

“The Arab Firestorm has laid bare challenges which urgently need a holistic, political, social and economic response. If this response is not rooted in instilling good corporate governance, it is not likely to be sustainable.”

But that’s not all. In the full interview, Saidi also talks about the need to change the way a company board of directors operate—especially those operating as near ‘untouchable’ or even exempt from company policy and regulations. Here, he quotes a German proverb “when sweeping stairs, one should start at the top”.
Saidi also talks about the place of women in the workplace, the UAE and Qatar’s index ratings, sustainable governance models and shareholder responsibilities.

Check out the full interview transcription here.

Dr Nasser H. Saidi’s bio can be found here.



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1 Comment

  1. Tarek Aziz on January 23, 2012 7:57 am

    Excellent article by Dr. Saidi.

    “The Arab Firestorm has laid bare challenges which urgently need a holistic, political, social and economic response. If this response is not rooted in instilling good corporate governance, it is not likely to be sustainable.”

    Just one more example that will add weight to the happenings in the region. Companies in the UAE have to repay banks to tye tune of +/- USD 38 billion and also service the loan. Do we now have this kind of cash flow generation.

     

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