Billy FitzHerbert: ALL BLOG POSTS
International institutions expect 2019 to be a somewhat difficult year for Oman’s economy – back in April the World Bank said it anticipated GDP expansion of 1.2% for the sultanate in 2019, while in July the IMF revised its 2019 growth forecast to 0.3%, down from the 1.1% it had originally forecast. These sluggish outlooks have their origins in the crash in oil prices from mid-2014, from which the country – and indeed the region – has still not fully recovered.
In the latest OBG Business Barometer: Oman CEO Survey the sultanate’s business community named labour law as the area in need of the most reform in order to promote economic growth: of the nearly 100 C-suite executives that were interviewed, this was the most popular answer, at 59%. In addition, leadership (35%) and engineering (22%) were identified as the skills most in need by the economy. Here, the country’s labour laws, and in particular the strict imposition of Omanisation quotas, are again proving tricky to navigate for the country’s employers, although the issue is also compounded by the historic tendency of locals to opt for public over private sector employment.
Although Bahrain’s economy experienced a slowdown in 2018, it is expected to see a return to more robust growth this year, with positive forecasts underpinned by infrastructure development plans and the Fiscal Balance Programme 2018-22. Some 75% of the CEOs interviewed in the latest OBG Business Barometer: Bahrain CEO Survey say they have positive or very positive expectations for local business conditions in the coming 12 months. Impediments to this expected growth include regional political volatility, which 79% of respondents identify as the top external event that could impact the economy in the short to medium term.