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Saudi CEOs extremely confident in economic growth and AI integration, finds survey

89% of Saudi Arabian CEOs exhibit optimism regarding the economic growth potential of the Kingdom, exceeding the global average of 44%.

Saudi CEOs extremely confident in economic growth and AI integration, finds survey
[Source photo: Pankaj Kirdatt/Fast Company Middle East]

According to a recent PwC study, Saudi CEOs are more optimistic about the kingdom’s economic prospects next year than their global, regional, and GCC counterparts.

The study found that 89% of surveyed CEOs in Saudi Arabia expressed optimism about the kingdom’s economic prospects, surpassing the global average of 44%, as well as regional averages of 73% in the Middle East and 81% in the GCC. 

This confidence is largely attributed to the positive impact of Vision 2030, which aims to propel the kingdom to become the 16th largest economy globally by GDP. In 2022, Saudi Arabia exceeded $1 trillion in GDP for the first time, and it is projected to reach $1.3 trillion by 2028, according to the IMF.

The study revealed that over half (54%) of CEOs in Saudi Arabia are highly confident about their company’s revenue growth in the next year, compared to 37% globally. Additionally, 74% of CEOs plan to increase headcount due to ongoing projects and economic reforms.

The study found that 49% of CEOs in Saudi Arabia believe their companies will not be viable in 10 years without changes, a figure similar to the global average of 45%. CEOs prioritize partnerships and strategic alliances, with 54% citing government regulations and 51% identifying supply chain instability as key business challenges.

While 60% of CEOs in Saudi Arabia believe that technological change will significantly impact their business models in the next three years, a figure slightly higher than the global average of 56%, 40% express concerns about cyber risks in the coming year.

Saudi Arabia shows the highest level of regional and global concern about climate change, with 29% of CEOs expressing worry compared to 15% and 12%, respectively. Remarkably, 60% of CEOs in the kingdom aim to enhance energy efficiency, with over half actively innovating climate-friendly solutions and integrating climate risks into financial planning.

Despite their commitment to addressing climate change, 74% of CEOs in Saudi Arabia are unwilling to accept lower returns on climate-friendly investments. They cite regulatory complexity and the lack of relevant technologies as significant challenges.

“CEOs in Saudi Arabia also understand the need to evolve,” Stephen Anderson, Middle East Strategy Leader at PwC Middle East, said. “Strategic partnerships, adoption of technologies, such as GenAI, and a definitive drive to incorporate climate resilience practices in their business models, are all contributing to strengthening their ability to keep pace with rapid transformation.” 

The Innovation By Design Summit is in Doha on April 24. Attendance at the summit is by invitation only. Delegates can register here to receive their exclusive invite.

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