Reyaz Mihular, Chairman of KPMG in MESA shares his thoughts on recent developments, trends and opportunities in the region.
In KPMG’s map of geographic locations, MESA refers to the Middle East & South Asia region which comprises 14 countries and territories. These include all of the Gulf Cooperation Council (“GCC”) countries, a number of countries from the wider Middle East and four countries from South Asia. The global significance of MESA is firstly because of its inherent location, almost at the center of the world map, between western and eastern economies. This together with advanced logistical infrastructure, convenient market access and an investor friendly atmosphere, has made the region a high growth market and a hub for global trade.
Most countries in the region benefit from a considerable base of natural resources and intellectual capital which has helped propel economic development. The region accounts for around seven percent of the world’s population of which youth constitute a major proportion. These factors contribute to making MESA an important market for most businesses, particularly those which are looking to new markets for growth.
In recent times, transformation has been a top priority for governments in the region with a view to diversifying their economies, create wider opportunities and propel economic growth. We are also witnessing significant disruption particularly in the technology space which are reshaping business models across industries globally and regionally. These changes are resulting in a multitude of opportunities and challenges both in the private and public sector.
Technological advancements in areas such as artificial intelligence, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles and drones, data analytics, cloud computing and blockchain to name a few, are among recent disruptors. As a result, there is an increasing emphasis around digitization and customer experience which are now strategic priorities for most businesses.
At KPMG, we are working alongside many companies, helping them to introduce digital models, tap next generation consumers and better position for the future. The investments we are making include an insight center- a next-generation high-tech environment enabling direct interaction with data and new technologies to uncover potential solutions for business challenges. A Digital Village is also being set up which encompasses a collaborative ecosystem to drive the adoption and integration of innovative solutions. Other investments have included advancing mobile and cloud computing capabilities, e-learning solutions and in new technology capabilities.
Our alliance network with a number of global technology companies, strategic growth initiatives and corridor programs have further strengthened to bring multidisciplinary skillsets to meet the evolving needs of our clients.
The region’s economies performed considerably well despite volatility in oil prices during recent years. Spend on infrastructure and technology with focus on building non-oil GDP spurred economic activity. Apart from fiscal reforms a number of legislative reforms were also made to improve the ease of doing business and attract further foreign investment. Our recent CEO Outlook reports show a continued optimism and market sentiment by business leaders in the region.
KPMG has had an active presence in the MESA region for over four decades. Today, we have member firms across most countries covering over 32 office locations. In terms of our resource base, we have over 8,000 professionals and associates across audit, tax and advisory functions. Our operating model provides for a strong local presence through established member firms in each country, supported by our regional and global network structure. In terms of performance, we achieved double digit revenue growth for the last five consecutive years and ranked amongst the fastest growing regions within the KPMG network. A number of accolades across sectors, functions and countries reaffirmed a strong market position.
Today, we are proud to be working with clients across a broad range of industries, including many multinationals, regional conglomerates, local companies and startups. The broad suite of services offered by KPMG member firms, our client centric approach as well as functional and sector capabilities means we have a strong proposition- whether it be in helping clients to seize market opportunities, to mitigate risk exposures or for assistance in fulfilling regulatory obligations.