Toby Simpson

About Toby Simpson

Understanding the Business and Talent Landscape in the Middle East

Understanding the Business and Talent Landscape in the Middle East

Toby Simpson

Our Middle East series has been designed to introduce you to the unique business and talent landscape of the region. In our first blog of the series, we discuss the phenomenal growth that the region has experienced over recent years and what that might mean for businesses looking to expand into this part of the world.

Unveiling the phenomenal growth of the Middle East's commercial economy

The mesmerizing skyline of Dubai, gleaming under the sun, may evoke serenity, but within its bustling streets lies a different reality – one of frenzied business activity and unprecedented growth. Despite global trends of remote work reshaping office landscapes elsewhere, the Middle East stands out with its thriving commercial economy. Let’s delve into what’s driving this surge and why businesses are increasingly eyeing the region for expansion. 

Unprecedented demand for office space

Contrary to the global trend of remote work impacting office rents, the Middle East experiences record-high demand for Grade A office spaces. According to Cushman & Wakefield, the occupancy rates have soared, with a staggering 24% annual increase in prices. In Dubai alone, over the last three years, 13 million square feet of office space has been absorbed, indicating a robust demand for commercial real estate. 

Explosive growth in business activity

The numbers speak volumes – Dubai witnessed a 30% increase in active businesses in 2023, a remarkable 75% higher than just two years prior. The Dubai International Finance Centre, a hub for financial services, saw a significant rise in registered entities, fueled by a surge in private equity-backed ventures and a flourishing community of entrepreneurs. This surge in business activity is not limited to Dubai; neighboring Saudi Arabia emerges as a formidable destination for foreign direct investment (FDI), outpacing the UAE for the first time in history. 

Rising importance on the global stage

The Middle East’s economic prowess is gaining global recognition, with the region’s revenues accounting for a substantial portion of UK’s publicly traded companies’ (PLC) total earnings. As businesses seek to capitalize on robust GDP growth in the Gulf Corporation Council (GCC) region, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) become increasingly vital markets for multinational corporations. 

Understanding the drivers behind the growth

While solid GDP growth underpins the region’s economic vitality, it’s essential to examine the factors propelling this rapid surge. Weaker oil prices and OPEC supply cut agreements have spurred diversification efforts, redirecting investments toward non-oil sectors. However, questions linger about the sustainability of this growth, given historical boom-and-bust cycles and external economic uncertainties. 

The Middle East’s commercial landscape presents unprecedented opportunities for businesses looking to expand their footprint. With soaring demand for office space, explosive business growth, and increasing global relevance, the region emerges as a lucrative market for investment. However, understanding the underlying dynamics and navigating potential challenges are crucial for long-term success in this dynamic and evolving economic landscape.

In part two of our Middle East series, we’ll delve into the some of the factors that businesses may want to consider when expanding into the region. 

If you are considering developing your presence in the Middle East, please consider speaking to our Hudson RPO leadership team here on the ground as we would be happy to offer the advice, guidance and support that our decades of experience in the region has to offer. 

Toby Simpson 
Managing Director Executive Search, EMEA 
Tel: +971 50 600 1105  
Email: [email protected] 

James Watfa 
Vice President Middle East, RPO 
Tel: +971 50 452 1819 
Email: [email protected] 

Toby Simpson

Managing Director, Executive Search EMEA, Hudson RPO

Toby is an executive search professional with long experience of executive and non-executive searches in investment banking, asset management and private equity; largely for portfolio companies across all sectors from agriculture to zoology.

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