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Colour a key driver when GCC buyers decide on purchasing cars

Colour plays an important part in the final selection process when it comes to buying a car, new research by SEMrush has revealed.

The data showed that GCC consumer preferences, when searching their favourite car colour online, differ greatly from the actual purchasing decisions across the region. The research revealed that red was the most searched for colour, while car sales show white continues to reign supreme in the final decision process.

SEMrush research in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the UAE found that the colour red dominated online searches for car exteriors, equating to 70 per cent in Saudi Arabia and 35 per cent in UAE over the last 12 months.

This was followed by searches for black, blue, yellow, white, and silver, respectively.

According to sales data from automotive data website carsalesbase.com, the GCC’s automotive market witnesses approximately one million new car sales a year – with the bulk of these new car sales coming from Saudi Arabia with 518,000 and 270,000 for the UAE. Axalta’s Global Automotive Colour Popularity Report placed white as the number one colour in global vehicles sales in 2017, accounting for 39 per cent.

Many residents across the UAE said that they were on the lookout for cars that were a colour of their choice, but that the final purchasing decision rested more heavily on other factors.

Hamza Baig, a Sharjah resident, noted that colour wasn’t on his list of top priorities when buying a car, but that he was drawn to certain colours when he visited showrooms. “I was more interested in the price and features of the model that I was going to buy. But, I always liked cars that were a dark blue. If I were to buy my dream car in the future it would definitely be a midnight blue.”

Abu Dhabi to post budget surplus, be on solid financial footing

Thanks to its strong assets base, high oil income and revenues from value-added tax, Abu Dhabi will post a budget surplus and is well-positioned among GCC sovereigns to overcome its funding needs over the next three years, analysts said.

Monica Malik, chief economist at Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, said the capital’s fiscal position has strengthened substantially with the reforms, consolidation and the rise in the oil prices.

“We expect to see a fiscal surplus in 2018. We believe that these factors and the strong fiscal buffers are supportive of a shift to an expansionary fiscal position, which should in turn bolster economic activity in 2019,” Malik said.

According to global ratings agency S&P, GCC countries will need around $300 billion to meet their financing needs between 2018 to 2021 with the majority related to Saudi Arabia.

S&P expects the funding needs of the GCC sovereign will have as percentage of GDP during the next three years.

Employee welfare comes first for these UAE companies

Dubai – Employee welfare comes first for most of the UAE entities but 10 companies have been named as the best place to work.

“For the companies and organisation we have recognised this year, employees come first – their wellbeing, productivity and happiness. In honouring their workplace wellness initiatives, we hope to encourage others to follow their lead and realise that achieving business success begins with taking care of a company’s most important asset – its employees,” said Dr Michael Bitzer, Chief Executive Officer of National Health Insurance Company – Daman.

Among the top 10 companies which grabbed the prize for employee welfare, Canon Middle East won Workplace of the Year award for its initiatives that noticeably changed the mind of its employees as well as their productivity and happy disposition.

The Daman Award for Corporate Health and Wellness Initiative was given to Ambulatory Healthcare Services – Seha for its pioneering Inta Gadha programme, the biggest health competition in Abu Dhabi. The project was aimed at providing creative and innovative solutions to fight the increasing rates of obesity in the UAE. The initiative targeted 30 government entities with the participation of more than 1200 individuals overseen by a team of 12 dieticians. By visiting government employees in their respective workplace, Inta Gadha enabled contestants to participate without having to take time off work and it provided non-Thiqa insurance card holders with free access to dietician services.

Among the success metrics achieved by the competition that impressed the judges are the 1,700 kilos dropped by participants during the duration of the programme. About 94% of competitors responding to the closing survey stated that the competition improved their lives, while around 91% said that they are either very satisfied or satisfied with the competition. Government entities participating in the competition expressed their satisfaction and gratitude and noted that the competition changed the working environment in their organization.

Majid Al Futtaim – Retail scooped the Daman Award for Corporate Health and Wellness Award for Organisation, while Dubai Islamic Bank won the Daman Award for Biggest Impact.

One of evening’s biggest winners was the American Centre for Psychiatry and Neurology, which received double honours in the Communications Campaign of the Year and Corporate Wellness Partner of the Year categories.

Other winners include telecoms giant du, which received the Health & Safety Initiative of the Year award; as well as Mashreq, which won the CSR Employee Engagement of the Year trophy.

Gender parity can drive economic growth in UAE

Women play a highly important role not just in the overall economic growth of a country but also in contributing towards the financial well-being of their families.

The UAE is no exception as a large chunk of the female population supports their families financially. But there is room for improvement as their contribution can make a a big difference in the nation’s overall economic growth and the well-being of their families.

According to the Council on Foreign Relations, if women’s participation in the UAE is fully equal to men’s, the nation’s GDP can gain further by 16 per cent by 2025, which is equal to an overall gain of $101 billion, or $10,985 per person.

In terms of gender parity, the UAE has fared well on the sub-indexes of physical security and autonomy; essential services such as healthcare, education and financial and digital services; and gender equality at work.

Of the indicators used to measure gender parity, four specific issues education, financial and digital inclusion, legal protection, and unpaid care work – have been identified that, if addressed, will do the most to achieve gender equality at work and generate significant progress towards realising economic gains.

 

The UAE leads the region with 100 marks in access to education for women; 59 points on access to financial services like bank accounts and digital payments, 98 marks on better access to the Internet and mobile phones; and 21 score on improved legal policies and protections that can help women enter the workforce.

Clare McColl, partner and head of Indirect Tax at KPMG Lower Gulf, said in the past, women largely occupied positions as teachers, nurses, human resource professionals, social workers or secretaries, because these professions demanded a higher degree of interpersonal skills that women were traditionally perceived to possess.

“Women’s participation in technical fields, such as engineering and information and communications technology, tended to be low. However, this is changing rapidly in developed economies, where women occupy a significant number of positions in management in the public and private sector,” she said.

According to a report by the IMF, as many as 180 million jobs for women are at high risk of being displaced globally due to new technologies and automation. However, the KPMG UAE Female Leaders Outlook report shows that women are entrepreneurial and well-prepared for a digital future.

McColl pointed out that in the UAE, organisations are integrating gender diversity as a core part of their strategic objectives and the UAE cabinet approved the issuance of legislation to ensure equal pay for men and women earlier this year.

“There has been some discussion around establishing quotas to ensure that women have a fair representation in the workforce, however, I believe that this should be merit-based. In fact, the UAE Female Leaders Outlook report indicated that only 3 per cent of women felt female leadership quotas were a crucial factor for their personal success,” she added.

She noted that increased participation in the workforce means that women may influence resources and set examples for young children about gender equality from an early age. “It provides women with financial independence, which may drive greater prosperity for the household.”

Benedetta Paravia, producer of ‘Hi Dubai’ series dedicated to women’s empowerment, said the UAE offers a very successful model of a country where women empowerment is effective.

Expect more jobs, pay hikes in 2019 in UAE

Salaries in the UAE are projected to increase 4.8 per cent next year, with the highest hike likely in life sciences, consumer goods and high-tech industries, according to global consultancy Mercer.

The energy industry, which was the highest paying sector earlier, has not seen a downward shift with a projected hike of four per cent, which is below the market average.

“The GCC is a market that is continuously progressing and thriving. With the UAE’s vision of diversifying away from oil, we’re seeing new trends in industries with regards to employee compensation, hiring and talent. Sectors such as high tech and life sciences have evolved due to the growing population and the need for digital transformation across the entire market, which is generating more employment opportunities and salary increases,” said Ted Raffoul, career products leader, Mena, Mercer.

Gareth El Mettouri, associate director for Robert Half UK, believes oil and gas, engineering and infrastructure will attract the biggest salary hike of three to five per cent.

Suhail Masri, vice-president of employer solutions at Bayt.com, said a survey conducted by the portal revealed that two thirds of respondents in the UAE – 66 per cent – believe salaries are either increasing or staying the same.

At the same time, over half – 56 per cent – of employees expect to receive a raise in 2018, with 27 per cent expecting a raise of up to 10 per cent.

The most recent ‘Top Industries in the Middle East and North Africa’ report released by Bayt.com asked about professionals’ perception of job attributes in various industries. Survey respondents claim that the best salary packages in the UAE are found in certain industries including aviation (19 per cent), banking and finance (18 per cent), government services (18 per cent) and military/police (15 per cent).

Hiring

According to Mercer, the overall hiring outlook in the UAE is positive with close to 50 per cent of companies looking to increase their headcount and 45 per cent looking to maintain headcount. Three per cent of companies have stated salary freezes in 2018 compared to 10 per cent in 2016.

The survey also looked at pay parity (in terms of annual total cash) at different levels of management in the region. The ratio of salary difference rises steeply (up to 10 times) as employees reach senior level positions in the UAE, compared to the average of five times in developed markets. This trend is commonly seen in emerging markets as talent scarcity plays a major role, and there are extremely high premiums to be gained by those people with the right skills. Most notably, the highest-ranking executives in the UAE earn more than their peers in the US and UK.

Record business optimism levels lift UAE economy

Business optimism in the UAE rose to a record high in October prompted by a surge in oil prices as well as announcements of increased government spending and Expo 2020 investment, a survey by Dubai’s largest bank shows.

With nearly 78 per cent of firms surveyed for the Emirates NBD Purchasing Managers’ Index expecting their output to be higher in a year’s time, October witnessed improved sentiment as the economy expands at a steady rate.

Reflecting higher output requirements, firms increased their purchasing activity in October. The rate of expansion accelerated notably since September, and was the strongest registered since February.

The survey, compiled by IHS Markit, contains original data collected from a monthly survey of business conditions in the UAE non-oil private sector.

Khatija Haque, head of Mena research at Emirates NBD, said the headline UAE PMI eased to 55.0 in October from 55.3 in September. “It has been broadly stable between 55 and 56 for the last four months, indicating growth in the UAE’s non-oil private sector at a similar rate to last year, when official GDP data showed the non-oil sector expanded 2.5 per cent.”

The prevailing business optimism in the UAE has been reflected in a World Bank survey that showed the Emirates fast emerging as one among the top 10 in the Ease of Doing Business ranking of 190 countries.

In the latest report, the UAE jumped 10 places in the World Bank’s ranking to 11th position worldwide in 2018 from 21st position last year to lead the Arab world for the sixth consecutive year.

The Emirates NBD survey report noted that output growth slowed to the weakest in six months in October, despite relatively robust new order growth. “Anecdotal evidence suggested that promotions and price discounts likely contributed to the rise in new orders last month. Indeed, new export order growth also slowed sharply last month,” it said.

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