The roles and expectations of governments are evolving as their challenges increase in complexity, cutting across multiple economic sectors and international borders. Now more than ever, government authorities, public institutions, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in the Middle East have a need for sound governance and innovative public sector solutions.
At Strategy&, we apply proven methodologies and cutting-edge thought leadership in the public sector to enable our clients to keep pace with changing social priorities and economic realities. Our partners advise public sector clients on how to achieve transformations by developing capabilities-driven strategies, defining and implementing public policy, and establishing strong public sector governance. The topics we consult on include social services, education, public health, finance and tax administration, climate change, national security, information and communications technology, and e-government.
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Our thought leadership
Armed forces in the Middle East and North Africa need a more realistic approach to defence readiness, putting aside the old system that exaggerates their preparedness. Instead, they need to set predictable readiness cycles that provide feasible and realistic readiness reporting, thereby allowing them to respond appropriately to a wide range of anticipated threats and challenges.
Governments in the Middle East and North Africa should focus on scale-ups, small- and medium-sized enterprises with proven business models that are undergoing a rapid growth phase. Policymakers should improve their scale-ups ecosystems across four growth pillars: business fundamentals, business propellers, demand creators, and country readiness.
GCC countries need to foster their research ecosystems to produce high-quality research that can lead to innovation and that can inform public policy. They must improve research capabilities and the quality of output, create national research frameworks, invest in building their local talent, fund research on a performance basis, encourage research in high-priority socioeconomic sectors through collaboration with enterprises, and establish an effective intellectual property framework.
GCC militaries need to concentrate on human capital development after over a decade of focusing on modernising equipment and doctrine. Governments need to reform military HR models so that they attract the most talented individuals, provide them with proper training, use them more efficiently, and support their post-retirement integration into society.
GCC states can integrate behavioral interventions into their policymaking processes. Behavioral interventions involve tools such as framed communication, peer comparisons, default options, role models, games, and competitions to influence people to change how they think and act. When paired with conventional policy levers and a supporting infrastructure, these tools can help policymakers achieve key social, economic, and environmental objectives more effectively.
GCC militaries must reconsider how they manage information. They should accept that sharing information comes with risk that they can actively manage. GCC militaries can thereby share and safeguard information at the same time, while handling information based on how likely it is to be lost and the effect of its loss.
Middle East governments need a way to keep track of their performance as they begin work on large-scale economic and national development plans. They should adopt outcome-based performance management, whose key aspects include the role and structure of a central performance management entity, key enablers in the areas of human capital, culture change, technology, and measurement; and flexibility in altering the approach as circumstances warrant.
GCC governments must spend more thoughtfully on defence to develop a more vibrant manufacturing sector in the region, with more jobs for GCC nationals. In the next decade, demand for local defence products and services could grow to approximately $30 billion annually from a current level that we estimate to be around $6 billion.
GCC family philanthropies could maximize the impact of their charitable giving and create a legacy of philanthropy around their family by adopting a more modern approach like leading global family-owned philanthropic institutions. To do so, they will need to institutionalize their philanthropic involvement, introduce innovative financing tools, and implement impact measurement.
GCC governments need to strengthen their consumer protection policies. The task is magnified by the rise of e-commerce and the sharing economy, which must be addressed alongside the typical consumer protection risks that have long existed. GCC governments should look at the relevant institutions, decide when to use prevention versus enforcement, involve better-informed consumers, and take a long-term view of consumer protection.
The state-led economic model is no longer appropriate to the GCC countries as it is undermined by oil dependence, a lack of workforce diversity and skills, a growing need for public services, and insufficient innovation. One effective response is private-sector participation through a comprehensive strategic program of public–private partnerships and privatization initiatives that covers all major sectors of the economy.
For quality learning to take place at the primary and secondary school levels, countries need to have robust protection frameworks for children.
GCC companies must develop powerful capabilities through internal development, mergers and acquisitions, or partnerships if they want to maintain their growth and improve their positioning. As most large GCC companies are linked to the state, governments need to assist by upgrading corporate governance practices.
The GCC countries are in a fiscal crunch. All GCC governments have announced spending cuts, but conventional strategies, such as across-the-board or narrowly focused cuts, could do irreparable harm to GCC countries’ economic and social development. Instead, they need a more effective approach — one that enables them to cut costs and grow stronger simultaneously. This approach is called Fit for Service.
Political stability and safety are prerequisites for tourism, which is why countries must make plans to recover their reputations after incidents of political unrest. Countries need crisis management and perception management. Once a negative event occurs, countries should incentivize tourism, whether from...
Developing countries, such as the GCC states, are in an excellent position to compete for more of the meetings industry (meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions). The GCC has growing trade activity, a “crossroads of the world” location, and increasing status as prospecting spots for business travellers generally.
GCC policymakers should address the region’s housing shortage with a strategy that brings together housing and socioeconomic policies in a holistic approach that builds communities instead of just housing. Governments should also engage private-sector developers through public–private partnerships, which can allocate resources more effectively and transfer knowledge from private developers to government agencies.
A critical element missing in the discussion of changes in Arab countries is a generational perspective. This survey and study allows policymakers and business leaders to take advantage of this valuable generational approach to framing social, economic, and employment policy.
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