Covid-19 has arguably altered the role of the public sector. While the pandemic has placed enormous pressure on many governments, it has also presented opportunities by removing pre-existing inertia.
In some ways, the Middle East seems to have contained the pandemic better than Europe and South America. For example, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), one of the worst-hit countries in the region, witnessed approximately 98 deaths per million, while Jordan recorded 1 death per million. This is compared with Germany, considered a leading example in Europe, which has suffered around 111 deaths per million, whereas the UK has recorded approximately 702 deaths per million.
The economic impact in the region, however, has been no less severe. Many policies, initiatives and innovations are focused on economic recovery and stabilization compared with, for example, Germany, which is more proactively looking to adapt its policies and culture towards a new, digital reality.
Welcome to our monthly, Public Sector Advisory newsletter. Our goal is to keep you up to date on key Covid-19-related policies and initiatives, with a focus on the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the KSA.
Analysis of similarities across governments’ responses
Analysis of differences across governments’ responses
A ‘black swan’ event like the Coronavirus pandemic can be compared to a bushfire in public services, and the economy more widely. The ashes of incumbent business models and redundant government service centers become the fertile new soil which nourishes the green shoots of startup companies and digitized government services. Some of these will succeed and others will not. In the future, successful governments may well be defined less by the resources we recognize today and more by their ability to understand citizens’ underlying needs and create innovative ways to meet them using resources which may or may not have been considered valuable in the pre-Covid world.
For the Middle East, the ‘double-whammy’ of Covid-19 and sharply falling oil prices has provided a catalyst for countries to define what they want to be ‘famous for’ in the coming decade. While investments will inevitably go into technology, the question is what this technology will do. In the UAE, the KSA and Jordan, we see specific sectors being driven by government investment—education, tourism and medical tourism, respectively. We look forward to exploring additional initiatives as they are released in the coming months.