Middle East at critical turning point says A.T. Kearney think-tank boss

11 February 2019 Consultancy-me.com

This Middle East has arrived at critical turning point this year according to A.T. Kearney think-tank leader Rudolph Lohmeyer.

Writing for regional online news site Arabian Business, Rudolph Lohmeyer, head of management consultancy A.T. Kearney’s Dubai-based think-tank the National Transformations Institute and Vice President of the firm’s Global Business Policy Council, has contended that 2019 will be a critical turning point for the world – and particularly so for the Middle East.

Citing a number of converging factors – including the fragmenting trade environment, growing  pressure on natural resources, accelerating technological innovation, and intensifying rivalries between global powers – Lohmeyer states that the firm’s geopolitical and economic future modelling is of particularly urgent relevance for the region’s policy-makers and business-leaders, with global developments carrying profound strategic implications.

Headlining the consultancy’s end-of-year forecasts for 2019 were two predictions concerning interplay between the world’s premier superpowers and their autocratic heads of state; the ongoing Sino-American trade spat, which A.T. Kearney expects to further escalate, and as a ramification the closening of ties between Russia and China – with the blossoming Xi/Putin relationship described as possibly world’s most consequential ‘bromance’.Middle East at critical turning point says A.T. Kearney think-tank bossThe outcome of these unstable geopolitical fault-lines for the Middle East region, Lohmeyer writes in his piece for Arabian Business, is at present ‘unclear at best’; dependent on the “extent to which the great powers perceive an alignment of vital interests in support of Middle East stability and economic growth or continue to view the region as an arena for pursuing their rivalry.” China, however, has clear incentives for rapidly reducing dependence on the US.

Elsewhere, Lohmeyer points to new and largely unexpected resource constraints – such as a global sand shortage impacting the construction sector – and the disruption to global shipping due to the upcoming implementation of new sulfur regulations by the International Maritime Organisation as among the challenges which will have a bearing on the Middle East in the short-term. A reduction in global economic growth is also predicted to place downward pressure on oil prices.

However, as per the strategy consulting maxim of threats equaling opportunities, Lohmeyer also notes the advent of the digital era as a means to confront these challenges; “In parallel to the challenges that are emerging, we are also witnessing an arguably unprecedented solutions revolution in which innovations not only in technology, but also in strategy and policy design are creating new forms of transformative power,” he writes. “Harnessing this power has never been more possible.”

The call-to-action echoes earlier statements from Lohmeyer on the launch of the National Transformations Institute at the beginning of last year, when the recognised international expert in long-term strategic planning argued the critical importance of the coming period in terms of local efforts toward economic diversification via the ambitious national transformation programmes underway across the Gulf.

“This is a finite window with a time limit. The choices made now will really extend influence even more than they usually would into the long-term,” Lohmeyer said at the time, pointing specifically toward the next two to four years. “It’s a very favourable window, a very attractive set of circumstances. However, there are no easy fixes and on the contrary the hard day-to-day work on reform is going to be crucial.”

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