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Technological disruption is a priority for nearly 70% of UAE CEOs in 2019

KPMG 2019 CEO Outlook UAE press release

According to KPMG’s CEO Outlook report 74% are piloting AI and automating processes in their business and 57% of CEOs recognize that a strong cyber strategy is critical to building trust with key stakeholders


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2019 CEO Outlook UAE

Dubai, 30 September 2019: Almost 70% of UAE CEOs are actively disrupting their sectors in 2019 by making significant technological advances, from AI to cognitive computing, to grow their business and stay ahead of competition. This is according to the fifth edition of KPMG’s CEO Outlook report, which shows that disruptive technology, economic territorialism and climate change are some of the biggest challenges global and local businesses may be facing today.

Despite 94% of both UAE and global CEOs expressing confidence in their own business’ growth prospects, fewer (63%) feel the same way about the global economy. Age-old businesses appear to have come under increasing threat due to digital disruption, and CEOs are under pressure to rethink their organization’s traditional approach to drive new digital revenue streams.

Sixty three percent of UAE CEOs believe that agility is fundamental for businesses to succeed against a challenging economic backdrop. Eight out of ten UAE CEOs are actively transforming their leadership teams to build resilience and three-quarters of organizations are piloting artificial intelligence (AI) and automating processes. In the wake of increased technological disruption and adoption, over half (57%) of CEOs recognize that a strong cyber strategy is critical to building trust with key stakeholders.

Nader Haffar, Chairman & CEO KPMG Lower Gulf, said: “This year’s KPMG CEO Outlook report shows that UAE CEOs are championing a digital reinvention, while navigating other big issues like economic territorialism and climate change. To weather the challenges that lie ahead, they may have to fundamentally transform their operating models and build an agile, customer-focused and connected enterprise with a strong workforce at the helm.”

Many global and local organizations have recognized that climate change presents one of the biggest challenges today – and CEOs are turning their attention to energy transition to move the world away from a reliance on fossil fuels. In fact, half of UAE CEOs say their organization’s growth will depend on their ability to navigate the shift to a low-carbon, clean-technology economy.

UAE CEOs also recognize they should take advantage of the abundance of opportunities in emerging markets like the Indian subcontinent, China and south-east Asia, given their growing populations, the expansion of their middle classes, and steadily increasing consumption. Overall, 66% of UAE CEOs said their first priority for geographical expansion over the next three years is emerging markets.

“The social, economic and technological headwinds we have seen emerge in recent years are still relevant,” added Haffar. “UAE CEOs today must become disruptors of their own business, and challenge entrenched practices. If they can create an environment where new ideas can be tested and change is encouraged, their organizations stand to benefit tremendously.”






About KPMG’s CEO Outlook Survey

The data published in KPMG’s Global CEO Outlook report is based on a survey of 1,300 CEOs in 11 of the world’s largest economies: Australia, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, the UK and the US. The survey was conducted in the first quarter of 2019 and includes input from CEOs across a variety of key sectors. The UAE findings of this report are based on the responses of 35 CEOs based in the UAE. Over half (54%) of UAE CEOs came from privately held companies and 46% from publically traded firms. They comprise a representative sample of company size:


Revenue breakdown of UAE CEO respondents’ organizations:

USD $500 – 999 million 51%

USD $1 billion – 9.9 billion 31%

USD $10 billion or more 18%


About KPMG International

KPMG is a global network of professional services firms providing Audit, Tax and Advisory services. We operate in 153 countries and have 207,000 people working in member firms around the world. The independent member firms of the KPMG network are affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative (KPMG International), a Swiss entity. Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity and describes itself as such.



For more information, please contact:

Mara Carpencu

+971 4 506 5563

Dharti Chatterjee

+971 4 506 5561


© 2020 KPMG, a United Arab Emirates partnership and a member firm of the KPMG network of independent member firms affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative (“KPMG International”), a Swiss entity. All rights reserved.

KPMG International Cooperative (“KPMG International”) is a Swiss entity.  Member firms of the KPMG network of independent firms are affiliated with KPMG International. KPMG International provides no client services. No member firm has any authority to obligate or bind KPMG International or any other member firm vis-à-vis third parties, nor does KPMG International have any such authority to obligate or bind any member firm.

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