Thursday, Mar 14, 2019 | Rajab 7, 1440
KPMG aiming for 'double-digit' growth in the UAE, Oman, says local CEO
KPMG is anticipating “double-digit” growth in the United Arab
Emirates (UAE) and Oman over the next few years, with the consultancy firm’s
regional CEO highlighting positive factors in the local economy as a whole,
despite more traditional sectors like retail and real estate proving to be more
“The IMF has recently revised GDP growth estimates to 3.7 percent. Then there
are the stimulus packages [in Dubai and Abu Dhabi] and that foreign direct
investment into the country increased by $4.8 billion in 2018. Now many people
would continue to point at retail and real estate, but these too cannot be
ignored,” said Nader Haffar, CEO of KPMG Lower Gulf, which consists of the UAE
KPMG, one of the ‘Big Four’ global accountancy and auditing firms, is
anticipating “double-digit growth over the next three to four years,” according
to Haffar. “Counting South Asia, our annual revenue growth is averaging 17.2
percent [in the Middle East and Asia],” he added.
A depressed retail and real estate market, hallmarks of Dubai and the UAE’s
economy for nearly two decades, are the result of “a maturity cycle,” said
“You cannot continue doing what you have been for 20 years and expect the same
kind of growth in the future again. But those are sectors that are more
challenged than the others,” he said.
The “sentiment of negativity” around the market in the UAE was a result of what
happened in 2015, when oil prices fell, and after which value-added tax (VAT)
was introduced to supplement state revenues. However, “any impact [of
introducing VAT] has been absorbed,” he said.
“No one would begrudge another a moment of doubt. I remember we were all very
worried and confused about how it would affect margins and inflation. But there
isn’t cause for negativity anymore. The amount of revenue VAT will generate will
be reinvested in infrastructure, which will in turn attract more people here,
then more investors. The move will actually pay off quite a bit,” he said.
Haffar compared the current economic climate to 2001, when, in the wake of the
bursting of the dotcom bubble, he said he too “did not believe in the economy.”
“Today, everyone’s had the conversations where they say, ‘Ah I wish I’d put my
money in this or that in 2001 or even 2003,’” he said.