Threat of financial crisis has not gone away, WEF warns

Margareta Drzeniek-Hanouz, Head of Economic Growth and Social Inclusion System Initiative, World Economic Forum speaks during a press conference for the launch of the World Economic Forum, WEF, flagship annual Global Competitiveness Report 2017-2018, in Cologny near Geneva, Switzerland, on Tuesday. (AP)
Updated 11 November 2017
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Threat of financial crisis has not gone away, WEF warns

DUBAI: Global economies remain at risk of further financial shocks and are ill-prepared for the coming wave of innovation and automation, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF).
The WEF’s global competitiveness report — its annual ranking of the strength of 137 economies around the world — warns that 10 years on from the global financial crisis, “the prospects for a sustained economic recovery remain at risk due to a widespread failure on the part of leaders and policy-makers to put in place reforms necessary to underpin competitiveness and bring about much-needed increases in productivity.
“Levels of ‘soundness’ have yet to recover from the shock of 2007 and in some parts of the world are declining further. This is especially of concern given the important role the financial system will need to play in facilitating investment in innovation,” the WEF added.
The economies of the Middle East and North Africa improved their average performance in the first half of 2017, despite challenges mainly from the decline in energy prices. The most improved country in the region was Egypt, up 14 slots to 101 in the world.
“Low oil and gas prices are forcing the region to implement reforms to boost diversification, and heavy investments in digital and technological infrastructure have allowed major improvements in technological readiness. However, these have not yet led to an equally large turnaround in the region’s level of innovation,” the WEF said.
The UAE was again ranked top of the regional rankings, at 17th, down one slot from last year. Saudi Arabia was ranked 30th, also down one position.
Qatar fell by seven positions to 25th, though the WEF noted that the report was compiled before the economic effects of the economic sanctions introduced by some of its Gulf neighbors because of allegations of terrorism funding.
“The country will have to ensure better access to digital technologies for individuals and businesses, and further strengthen educational institutions,” the WEF said.
On Saudi Arabia, the report said: “The macroeconomic environment has improved slightly after the 2015 oil price shock, but financial market efficiency has deteriorated as interest rates increased in 2016 and credit growth slowed.
“The country has stable institutions, good-quality infrastructure, and the largest market in the Arab world. Saudi executives see restrictive labor regulations as their most problematic factor for doing business: The labor market is segmented among different population groups, and women remain largely excluded,” the WEF added.
Another concern is the lack of adequately educated workers. Although tertiary enrolment is strong at 63 percent, more efforts are needed to advance the quality of education and align it with economic needs, the report said.
The UAE “continues to lead the Arab World in terms of competitiveness, but it loses one place as other countries post even larger gains,” the WEF said.
“This improvement shows the resilience of the UAE economy, in part due to increased diversification, which is reflected in its stable macroeconomic environment and its ability to weather the double shock of lower oil and gas prices and reduced global trade,” the report added.
Although the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicts gross domestic product (GDP) growth to drop to 1.3 percent this year, non-oil growth is expected to pick up, suggesting that the country’s diversification strategy is bearing fruit. To further increase its competitiveness, the UAE will have to speed up progress in terms of spreading the latest digital technologies and upgrading education.
For the ninth consecutive year, Switzerland — home of the WEF — was judged the most competitive economy in the world, narrowly ahead of the US and Singapore, which switched positions in second and third.
Another key finding of the report is that competitiveness is enhanced, not weakened, by combining degrees of flexibility within the labor force with adequate protection of workers’ rights.
“With vast numbers of jobs set to be disrupted as a result of automation and robotization, creating conditions that can withstand economic shock and support workers through transition periods will be vital,” the WEF said.
The data also suggests that the reason innovation often fails to ignite productivity is due to an imbalance between investments in technology and efforts to promote its adoption throughout the wider economy.
Klaus Schwab, WEF founder and executive chairman, said: “Global competitiveness will be more and more defined by the innovative capacity of a country. Talents will become increasingly more important than capital and therefore the world is moving from the age of capitalism into the age of talentism.”


Passenger numbers rise at Dubai International Airport

Updated 10 December 2018
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Passenger numbers rise at Dubai International Airport

  • Operator welcomes monthly jump after travel decline in past year
  • Dubai Airports launched its Strategic Plan 2020 in 2011 with the aim of increasing passenger capacity from 60 million a year to 90 million by 2018

LONDON: The number of passengers passing through Dubai International Airport rose by 2.1 percent in October compared with the same month last year, the operator Dubai Airports said on Monday.

The increase follows a drop in passenger traffic in September and a wider slowdown in the number of travelers passing through the emirate’s airport over the past year.

“Dubai International has been on record stating that passenger growth would be somewhat lower than in previous years, so this current performance is in line with my expectations,” said aviation analyst Saj Ahmad from Strategic Aero Research.

“That said, the airport has still grown over 2017 and will likely eclipse its 2018 target of handling over 90 million passengers and remain the world’s busiest international airport,” he said.

Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths told a conference in Dubai last month that he expected just over 90 million passengers to use the airport this year, according to Reuters.

A total of 7 million passengers used the airport in October, compared with 6.9 million in the same month last year.

In September, passenger traffic fell by 0.2 percent compared with the previous year. The decline was blamed on the Eid Al-Adha holiday — with an associated spike in travel — falling in September last year.

Total passenger traffic in 2017 rose by just 5.5 percent year-on-year to reach 88.24 million people. This is a slower rate of growth than the 7.2 percent increase in 2015-16 and the 10.7 percent jump recorded between 2014-2015.

Dubai Airports launched its Strategic Plan 2020 in 2011 with the aim of increasing passenger capacity from 60 million a year to 90 million by 2018.

Under the strategy, the number of airport stands has been increased and terminal buildings expanded.

As demand grows, further work on the airport’s infrastructure will be needed, said Ahmad.

“Demand is not infinite — the airport is operating at nearly 98 percent capacity, so it stands to reason that only so much growth can be absorbed,” he said.

DXB handled 237,499 tons of cargo in October, a 2.5 percent increase on the previous month. Overall cargo volumes have fallen year-to-date by 0.9 percent to 2.1 million tons.