How will the Middle East deal with its procurement challenges?

9 May 2012

I was surprised just how much of Doha, the location for this year’s CIPS Middle East Conference, is still under construction.

I mistakenly thought the Qatari city would have suffered from the financial crisis like other nations in the region, but there was no sign that this was the case as workers toiled in the roasting sun. And, with the announcement last week of plans to build an underwater hotel in Dubai, it seems the rest of the region continues its recovery. Last year the economy of Qatar grew by 15 per cent, and expansion is likely to continue, boosted by hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2022 (and – potentially – the Olympic Games in 2020).

The discussion in the sessions and on the sidelines of this year’s conference was very much around how to deal with this growth. Building capability and skills development is clearly high on the agenda, new approaches to leadership will be required and developing and supporting the local supplier market was also mentioned frequently as a concern for the future.

These present significant challenges, but there are also major advantages in the region – most procurement functions are new and unencumbered by legacy issues, there is strong political and corporate support, there is enthusiasm for the profession and in most cases, lots of cash to invest in resources and skills. It will be interesting to see if the region can capitalize on these, or will be overwhelmed by the scale of the challenge. Hopefully, we will find out at next year’s annual conference – possibly at the underwater hotel (but don’t hold your breath).
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