RIYADH: PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Middle East will build a new regional consulting headquarters in Riyadh, hiring more than 6,000 staff in the region over the next five years.
“We will be establishing the regional consulting headquarters in Riyadh, where it will be based in KAFD [King Abdullah Financial District],” Riyadh Al Najjar, KSA country senior leader, told Arab News.
Al Najjar said the new base would dovetail with the Vision 2030 growth plans across the Kingdom, allowing the professional services group to help clients take advantage of opportunities that arise.
“We wanted to ramp up our presence in Saudi Arabia and show our continued commitment given the massive transformation happening across the government and support the execution of Vision 2030 as it happens,” he said, adding: “I think our presence in Saudi, from an HQ perspective, can attract other global firms to be in Saudi and enhance the business environment."
He also said the firm was encouraged by new Saudi regulations that welcome international firms to the Kingdom.
PwC Middle East strategy & markets leader Stephen Anderson also told Arab News that the strength of the Saudi economy as it emerged from the pandemic was encouraging.
He said: “Coming out of the pandemic, the transformation we have seen in Saudi Arabia so far, which has been remarkable, is only going to accelerate.”
The Kingdom’s second-quarter economic data showed growth of 1.1 percent quarter-on-quarter. The oil sector grew by 2.5 percent quarter-on-quarter on the back of the unwinding of the 1 million barrels per day voluntary output cut that lasted from February to April.
PwC’s Al Najjar said the firm was focused on government Giga projects that are key to the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 growth plans.
Major projects in this scheme include the $8 billion Qiddiya Entertainment city, launched in 2018. The 8,400-acre site will include a theme park, water parks, motorsport tracks, cultural events, and holiday homes.
The government has earmarked tourism as a priority, and PwC is working closely with clients on initiatives around this industry, according to Al Najjar.
The consulting market size will continue to grow in Saudi Arabia, given the fact much of the Vision 2030 investment will require global expertise and people on the ground to help the government achieve its goals, Al Najjar said.
“The consulting market in the GCC shrank by 12.4 percent to $2.68 billion in 2020 due to the global pandemic, however, it is expected to grow by around 17 percent in 2021,” he said citing The GCC Consulting Market 2021 report in March by Source Global Research.
“The Saudi market in particular fared best in the GCC during the pandemic only contracting by 11 percent in 2020, and is expected to grow by 19 percent by the end of 2021,” according to the report.
Al Najjar added: “There is no doubt that Saudi from a regional perspective, with all of the Giga projects and all of the transformation that is happening across the sectors, is a huge market for us in PwC and is a significant one for the Middle East.”
Anderson emphasized the resilience of clients in the Middle East region during the pandemic who quickly adjusted to the health crisis.
“During the pandemic, many of our projects continued and the quality of our work and delivery was as consistent remotely as was the case physically,” he said.
Anderson forecasts that growth will even continue beyond 2030 with “the ambition, the amount of change and transformation in place, which will only demand more service.”
“I think the pandemic introduced new strategies that reinforced and accelerated the Vision 2030 plans,” he said.
Anderson added that there are around 1,500 partners and staff based in Saudi Arabia, over 40 percent of whom are Saudi nationals, and the group has plans to significantly boost this ratio.
PwC has operated in Saudi since 1979, and has five offices in Riyadh, Jeddah, Al Khobar and Dhahran, and will soon launch a new base in Al Ula.
PwC "The New Equation"
PwC Middle East welcomed over 120 new graduates to its Saudi Offices in September as part of its regional graduate intake of around 326, with the boost in its hiring a result of its new global strategy, "The New Equation", the company said in a June 15 filing.
The number of recruits hired in Saudi Arabia represents 37 percent of the total regional intake, with around 90 percent being Saudi nationals.
New graduates took part in a virtual induction attended by regional PwC leaders, and will now join the firm’s Middle East units such as consulting, assurance, deals, and tax & legal services, the company said.
Anderson said: "We have close to 1500 people on the ground in Saudi. Our presence on the ground is giving us the confidence to invest and grow and we will be placing more people in Saudi over the next 12 months and beyond."
PwC is committed to hiring over 500 new graduates each year, and provides them with training and qualifications.
Al Najjar has been in consulting in Saudi for almost 30 years and said PwC is committed to local talent development programmes, such as Hemam, which recruits and develops future Saudi leaders in the firm, he said.
Anderson added there is great demand for Saudi talent from the public and the private sector.
He said the firm saw it as its job to retain the best, but also to equip talented leaders working in those areas.
As part of its New Equation plan, PwC Middle East will also focus on digital, emerging technologies and Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) concerns.
This includes further investment in digital services through strategic acquisitions, emerging technologies, and establishing additional experience centres in the region, and an ESG centre of excellence.
ESG and Digital Centre
Al Najjar said: "From a Saudi perspective, this is absolutely the right time to look into ESG, as a key pillar of Vision 2030 is improving the quality of life.”
PwC will establish a Digital Experience Centre in Riyadh, according to Anderson.
Al Najjar said: "In these centres we combine our capabilities with the best of our technology from around the world to provide opportunities to our clients to collaborate, dream and co-create with us.”