Posts Tagged ‘mena ’

MENA 2.0: The Arab Digital Market

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

A new engine of economic growth is quietly emerging in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Demographics, rising purchasing power and a burgeoning private sector are fueling economic development in a region where markets have been fragmented for too long.

Stretching from Morocco to Oman, MENA’s population tops 350 million, making it the world’s ninth largest market. But trade barriers among countries in the region have constrained market growth. Until now.

Today, an emerging trend is disrupting MENA’s traditional market patterns: a growing segment of urbanized, tech-savvy Arab youths is devouring on-line entertainment, gaming and social media, creating demand for digital services that are delivered across borders. Here comes the Arab digital content market.


Three Books on the Middle East

Friday, April 29th, 2011

If you’re absorbed by events in the Middle East and crave more information about the the region, here are three highly readable, essential books. Each provides a comprehensive view of a surprisingly diverse and increasingly dynamic part of the world.

The Middle East (1997) – Author Bernard Lewis is the senior dean of Middle East scholars. He’s a gifted storyteller with unparalleled subject mastery – a rare combination. Lewis makes clear sense out of complexity. This engaging primer is the gold standard of books on the region.

A Peace to End All Peace – The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and Creation of the Modern Middle East (2001) – David Fromkin toiled for ten years to describe the birth of the region’s nation states. This is the story of how the Western powers carved up the Middle East with little regard for the consequences. It’s required reading for anyone interested in understanding the forces that shape the region today.

The Modern Middle East: A Political History since the First World War (2nd Edition) (2011) – This primer by Mehren Kamrava provides a sound historical context for the events of today’s Arab Spring. Kamrava updated the book in the 2nd edition, published earlier this year.  It’s recommended for anyone wanting to fill the gaps in their understanding of the region.

GCC Practice

Monday, March 3rd, 2008

Last year, we launched our Emerging Markets practice to address new opportunities brought about by converging market forces, chiefly globalization.  Several factors played into our selection of which markets to enter.  Our focus is on rapidly growing markets in Southern-Eastern Europe, Sub-Saharan Africa “hot spots,” and the six nations of the Gulf Cooperative Council (GCC) and the surrounding region known as “MENA,” (Middle East-North Africa).

The case for entering the energy-rich GCC was compelling. Demand for the region’s energy will likely infuse $3 trillion in capital into these economies over the next decade. An emerging class of affluent consumers is demanding high-grade services in telecommunications, financial services, real estate, transportation, hospitality as wel as the region’s burgeoning “connected communities”.

Governments in the region appreciate the need for a diversified foundation and recognize that they must foster entrepreneurialism while creating an infrastructure enabling companies to compete on a global level.

What adds to the market’s promise is that business leaders in the region are convinced that their companies need to become more competitive. They know that in order to operate on a global stage characterized by complexity, speed and ever-greater synchronicity, competitive business capabilities cannot be passively acquired.

As the region diversifies away from energy to a knowledge-centric economy, businesses have to do more than merely bridge functional gaps. They have to build dynamic, efficient business processes and relational skills. They realize that competitive capabilities can only be transformed through continuous interaction with experts with experience in global markets.

As companies seek to capitalize on business opportunities popping up, a shortage of top-flite business professionals is exacerbating skilled labor shortages. Many companies have been hiring expierienced, non-native practioners who bring added diversity as well as know-how.  As that trend continues, a legion of talented, foreign workers will introduce new ideas and approaches.  But ultimately, success will come when a true fusion occurs between native and non-native knowledge workers.  Well-integrated, globally-oriented organizations serving the region are already on the horizon, but there’s a lot of work to be done in this challenging area.

We’re excited to see that regional businesses aren’t simply clamoring for best practices—they’re demanding next practices that enable them to deliver competitive, customer-centric services at lower prices. They are adopting more advanced tools and relying on data-driven metrics to track and manage their business activities.

Global business consultancies entering these markets are finding the environment to be challenging due to prevailing business traditions. For example, decision makers in the region remain protective, sharing their plans slowly, wary of abdicating control to outsiders.

Many global consultancies, new to the region, have struggled with this.  They’ve experimented with a range of business strategies, often partnering with local companies to gain a foothold in the region, spending considerable resources in the process.  Some are succeeding, but many have not.

We believe our approach sets us apart from other global firms.  We are bringing together people, cultures and ideas from around the world, transforming businesses in the region and driving unprecedented value.  Having worked throughout the Middle East, we recognize the paramount importance of demonstrating respect for and sensitivity to both the traditions and challenges of the region.  Our aim is to remain open to alternate, more effective ways of seeing, communicating, and tackling problems, and this region is an interesting market space.