20 million Middle East jobs could be automated

20 million Middle East jobs could be automated

McKinsey & Company produced last week a report that revealed that some 20 million Middle East jobs could be automated ; that is 45% of all existing jobs in the Middle East could be affected by the increasing automation in the region’s work environment.  So, is it that 20 million Middle East jobs could be automated or is it something else?

In any case, this report based on 6 examined Middle Eastern countries where 20.8 million full-time employees with $366.6 billion in wage income are, as of now, associated with activities that are technically automatable; mainly expatriates workers who would very likely bear the brunt of the process of automation.

JAMES DARTNELL leading international robotics professor has claimed that sophisticated artificial intelligence systems are currently a distant reality and that statistics around the potential for job losses as a result of AI and robotics are significantly inflated.

McKinsey & Company has claimed that 20 million jobs in the Middle East could be automated

20 million Middle East jobs could be automated: McKinsey & Co.


An estimated 45 percent of existing jobs in the Middle East could be automated, according to McKinsey & Company’s latest report, The Future of Jobs in the Middle East, launched today at the World Government Summit.

The potential for automation translates into massive economic value and opportunities across the region, according to the firm.

In the UAE, the research estimates that based on the segmentation of work activities by sector, occupation and education, more than 93 percent of the labour-saving technical automation potential applies to jobs currently held by expat workers.

More than 60 percent of the automation potential is concentrated in six out of the 19 sectors examined; these include other services, administrative and support, government, manufacturing, construction, and retail trade as well as wholesale trade.

In all six Middle Eastern countries that the report examined, $366.6 billion in wage income and 20.8 million full-time equivalent employees (FTEs) are associated with activities that are already technically automatable today.

“Our research encourages Middle East policymakers and business leaders to embrace the transition into the new age of automation and invest in skills that workers of the future will require,” said Jan Peter Moore, associate partner at McKinsey & Company.  “For countries such as the UAE, Bahrain and Kuwait, the projected proportion of work, and by extension workers, displaced is higher than the projected global average. This means workers in these countries will need to evolve to adapt to global forces of workforce automation and technological progress more rapidly than other countries in the region.”

Automation’s potential varies substantially across industries. Sectors like manufacturing, transportation and warehousing where routine tasks are common have a high potential for automation, whereas sectors where more human interaction is required, including the arts, entertainment, recreation, healthcare and education, have a lower potential to be automated – ranging from 29 to 37 percent.

For policymakers and governments in the region, there is a critical link between displacement by automation and low-to-medium levels of education and experience.

In a region where “57 percent” of the current employed workforce has not completed a high school education, automation poses a real risk, McKinsey & Company says. The automation potential more than halves, falling to nearly 22 percent, for employees holding bachelor or graduate degrees.

Demand May Top Out Before Supply Does

Demand May Top Out Before Supply Does

France, Norway, Sweden headquartered Volvo are all about to do away with the use of anything to do with fossil oil. Such momentous decisions amongst others tend to vulgarise as it were all renewable forms of energy.  Meanwhile, there has been over the years so much talk and speculation about oil peaking this or that year, that up to recently, scepticism prevailing, everyone went about one’s business fairly insouciant that as put by Javier Blas, writer of the proposed article of Bloomberg; “Some Big Oil executives expect demand for the commodity to shrink faster than anticipated, with dire consequences for Middle East producers.” Would It then matter as and when demand may top out before supply does or is it perhaps the other way around.
Here is a Middle East related excerpt of that article with our due compliments to the author and thanks to the publisher.

Demand May Top Out Before Supply Does: Bloomberg

Remember Peak Oil? Demand May Top Out Before Supply Does

. . .  .

For Middle East nations that sit on huge hydrocarbon reserves, peak demand is more of an existential threat. “If you have 100 years’ worth of oil reserves, then 25 years looks like a very short time frame,” says Martijn Rats, a Morgan Stanley oil analyst in London. Saudi Arabia and Kuwait depend on oil for as much as 90 percent of their income. They and other Middle East nations have used their oil wealth to provide their populations with well-paid employment in the public sector and generous handouts—a tacit social contract underpinning their absolute petromonarchies.

The current bout of low prices offers clues about how these countries would handle a permanent drop-off in demand. With oil revenues sharply down, Middle East producers are dipping into their foreign exchange reserves—Saudi Arabia has drawn almost $250 billion since mid-2014. They’re also borrowing more. The combined public debt of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi, and the United Arab Emirates is set to jump to almost $800 billion by 2020, more than double its 2015 level, according to the International Institute of Finance, a group representing large banks. The situation is direst in such places as Nigeria and Venezuela, where corruption and mismanagement have drained state coffers.

BP’s Dudley and his counterparts at Total and Shell acknowledge that their forecasts hinge on many variables and could easily turn out to be wrong. And even if they’re right, oil consumption wouldn’t suddenly plunge; it might plateau for several years or begin a slow decline.

This view isn’t universal inside the industry. The International Energy Agency, which advises rich countries on policy, sees consumption growing steadily at least through 2040, the cutoff date for its long-term outlook. That’s also the view at Exxon. And Saudi Arabia and Russia, the world’s two largest oil exporters, don’t see a peak until 2050 at the earliest.

Others point out that a few years ago all the talk was of a peak in supply. Then new technologies unlocked fresh production, notably from shale formations in the U.S. “I’m very skeptical about peak oil demand,” says Bob McNally, a former White House energy expert and founder of Rapidan Group, a consulting firm. “The next big surprise is when we reach the peak of  ‘peak demand’ talk and people realize that consumption continues to rise.”

Short-term trends back the view that peak oil consumption is a long way off. Last year global demand growth was 1.6 million barrels a day, above the 10-year average of 1.1 million.

Still, oil companies need only to look at the electricity sector for clues about how quickly technology can disrupt an industry. The U.K., for instance, marked a significant milestone this year: a 24-hour period in which not a single power plant burned coal, a first  in 200 years. Despite its famously rainy weather, Britain at times gets 10 percent to 20 percent of its electricity from solar photovoltaic panels. Technology, some executives say, is the wild card. “The pace at which electric cars will be adopted could be surprising,” says Francesco Starace, CEO of Enel SpA, one of the largest utilities in Europe.

Philip Verleger, an energy consultant, thinks oil majors and oil-exporting countries are confronting a similar situation to the likes of Kodak, Polaroid, and Encyclopedia Britannica. “Sadly, these seem destined to make the same mistakes,” he says. —With assistance from Jack Farchy


Qatar will not Negotiate with Arab States during Blockade

Qatar will not Negotiate with Arab States during Blockade

Qatar will not Negotiate with Arab States during Blockade unless they reverse their measures,” Qatar Foreign Affairs minister was reported as saying by the Saudi owned and Dubai based TV channel Al Arabiya on June 19, 2017.  This was presumably in response to the non-equivocal statement of the UAE’s minister of FA who confirmed that his country together with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt are standing firm on their decision of 2 weeks ago to isolate Qatar from the rest of the GCC countries and that this isolation could last years.

Meanwhile, the Financial Times‘ Gideon Rachman warned its readership that the Qatar crisis could have global implications before adding that the Gulf States have been untouched by Middle Eastern turmoil but that is changing.  Elaborating further, the author sustains that for the past six years, there have been two Arab worlds.  “The world of violence and tragedy; and the world of glitz and globalisation.  Syria, Iraq, Libya and, to a lesser extent, Egypt — have been engulfed by conflict.  But Qatar, Abu Dhabi and Dubai have prospered as global hubs for travel, leisure, business and finance.”  And that “The booming Gulf metropolises seemed untouched by the violence in the rest of the Middle East.  They even profited indirectly, as safe havens in a region in turmoil.”

All that is fine or at least up until the author wonders whether the glitzy world of the Gulf could collapse in the same way it rapidly climbed to the shining lights of the world of fame and fortune.

In the meantime, there seems to be a wall as advanced by Gideon Rachman that is rammed down by this sudden irruption of the Qatar crisis of a blockade by its neighbours.

To well understand the underlying culture, it is worth remembering that since time immemorial, there has always been some sort of divide between the nomads and sedentarized populations of the Arab World.  It is no surprise that all Arab countries of today having recently gone through historical phases of Ottoman domination and rule, European domination and rule followed by independence through a well-publicized panarbism and self-rule via differing forms of governance.  Hence countries belonging to one or the other group have settled into on one hand monarchies, sultanates, emirates and on the other republics.  These latter are as well known to all in a very derelict situations but the other up until this Qatar crisis have with the advent of oil shone in their multi-faceted exploits of surging into the international limelight.  The latest exploit of individual countries are countless but most importantly is the Gulf wide exploit of the rail project development that should span traffic from Kuwait to Oman, along the western shore of the Arab-Persian Gulf.  This project as well as many others all in and / or around Qatar such as the Expo 2020 in Dubai as well as the Qatar 2022 World Cup will no doubt bear some consequences of this crisis.  Referring to the map of the Gulf above, could the proposed Alternative extension linking Qatar to the rest of the GCC pay the price of such regional skirmish.

Saudi Arabia is banning Egyptian Agriculture

Saudi Arabia is banning Egyptian Agriculture

According to a report of Reuters dated Sunday June 18, 2017, Saudi Arabia is banning Egyptian Agriculture. It is in the midst of what is called the Gulf crisis in which Egypt sided with Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain in blockading Qatar.  Egypt is well known since ancient times to produce along the Nile and its delta a wide range of traditionally grown cereals. More recently these include rice that became one of the major field crops and the second most important export crop after cotton.  The country’s exports include all other vegetables and fruits like for instance the object of this article Strawberries.
On the other hand Saudi Arabia despite its harsh climate and predominantly desert lands produces cereals, vegetables and fruits including of course date-palm.
Once again, it is to be noted that dialogue appears to be a no way of resolving matters of diversion and / or is completely absent between the parties.  Banning seems to be the ready made tool to brandish everytime a problem arises.

Saudi Arabia bans imports of Egyptian strawberries

CAIRO (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia is banning imports of Egyptian strawberries due to pesticide residues, said Abdel Hamid al-Demerdash, the head of Egypt’s Agriculture Export Council, the latest such ban to hit Egypt as it struggles to revive its economy.

The temporary ban comes into effect on July 11, Demerdash told Reuters on Sunday, adding that the memo received from Saudi Arabia did not specify the levels of residues detected or name the companies that have committed violations.

“Egypt will not face large losses due to the ban as the exporting season for strawberries ended on April 10,” Demerdash said. He added that strawberries represent 5-10 percent of the country’s total agricultural exports.

Since a currency float in November, which roughly cut the pound’s value in half, Egyptian exports have been welcomed in new markets due to their increased competitiveness.

Exports of Egyptian vegetables, fruits and legumes amounted to $2.2 billion last year. The main fruit exports include oranges and strawberries.

A series of bans of Egyptian exports however has hurt the image of an import-dependent country seeking to step up exports and curb imports in an effort to narrow its trade deficit.

Exports could also help bring in desperately needed foreign currency that has been low in supply as a result of the 2011 Arab Spring uprising that drove away tourists and investors.

Sudan banned imports of agricultural and animal products from Egypt last month.

The United Arab Emirates also banned imports of peppers from Egypt a month earlier

“I expect the crisis of Egyptian agricultural exports to Arab countries to be resolved before the beginning of the new export season which begins mid-November,” Demerdash said.

Egypt exports about 1.2 million tonnes of agricultural produce to Arab countries annually, he added.

Russia temporarily banned imports of Egyptian fruit and vegetables at the end of last year shortly after a Hepatitis A scare in North America was linked to frozen Egyptian strawberries.

Russia’s temporary ban came shortly after Egypt rejected wheat shipments containing traces of the common grain fungus ergot. Russia denied the two issues were related.

(Reporting by Ehab Farouk; writing by Arwa Gaballa; editing by Louise Heavens)

© Thomson Reuters 2017 All rights reserved


Middle East Construction Industry Recovery

Middle East Construction Industry Recovery

Faithfull and Gould, produced this eye opening article written by DAVID CLIFTON and published on 10 Apr 2017.on the situation of the construction industry in the Emirates and how at this conjecture it appears to be recovering.

David Clifton

Faithfull and Gould, (F & G) is as per WIKIPEDIA, a UK based project and programme management consultancy. It supports clients with the management of their construction projects and programmes. It is part of Atkins, a UK design, engineering and project management consultancy. F & G employs over 2,000 staff and has an expanding office base worldwide, notably in the Gulf region. They are amongst the numerous consultancies who established in the Gulf region for some time seem to be experiencing a Middle East Construction Industry Recovery.  This is after overseeing a construction boom of the 80 and 90s, they have witnessed the drop in the GCC States’ oil exports related revenues and their ensuing budgets tightening.
Meanwhile in Dubai, and according to THE BIZ citing AP, South Asian migrants working in the multi-billion dollar construction industry in Arab Gulf countries are shouldering the costs of their own recruitment fees while companies and their clients are reaping the benefits from inexpensive labor, according to a study released Tuesday.
Is this a sign for a return to a certain Business as usual ?
In any case, here is this F & G’s article as republished here for the further spread of its optimistic outlook among our readers.

Middle East Construction Industry Recovery

Dubai and KSA are leading the way to better days ahead for the Middle East construction industry. 

2017 marks the uptick of recovery and the GCC’s re-entry to a growth environment for the industry. The worst is over.

The construction industry took a hard hit in 2015 and 2016. We’ve seen over 0.33 million workers in the construction industry laid off in KSA alone, with further employment cuts across the GCC and the wider oil producing states.

The market dive now looks like it’s coming to an end regionally, with international markets even showing signs of skills shortages. In the Middle East, the cyclical nature of construction is now better understood and governments must make addressing the boom and bust in the industry an agenda item to address to maintain population, drive current and potential future market revenues and ensure a sustainable environment.

2017 marks the uptick of recovery and the GCC’s re-entry to a growth environment for the industry. The worst is over. That’s not to say the next two years will be easy— far from it — but we are at last seeing some growth. Dubai and KSA stand out for growth potential, in 2018/2019. KSA can expect the effects of NTP and Vision 2030 to gain momentum – which has the Deputy Crown Prince’s commitment to government awards later this year, and the implementation of PMOs and the alterations in ownership structures will also bring huge change and progress through to 2018. Alternative financing is now starting to establish itself, primarily in the power and water industries (IWPP and IWP). We are seeing the implementation of alternative financing now, with GACA moving forward with Yanbu, Ta’if and Ha’il airports.

In the UAE, progress is being made and 2017 contracting awards are now picking up, after a slow January and February. Dubai Expo 2020 appears to be on (or over) critical path and time really is of the essence to complete projects in time for the event. Combine this with slightly earlier than expected freeing of liquidity in the global system, and capital is looking for a home and a return. This can only be viewed as positive for a market that craves investment. There are some caveats in that, whilst we are bouncing along the bottom of a UAE property price slump and a lack of GCC awards, over-ambitious towers may not see the light of day and instead be replaced by more feasible projects – or cancelled if they don’t make economic sense.

In KSA we are seeing not only alternative financing gaining traction, but also a commitment from the Deputy Crown Prince that schemes will hit the market late this year. Combine that with the PMO roll-out – which has now seen the National PMO awarded and mobilised (with others to follow) – and the market has started to gain its lustre again. It’s a short window to mid / late 2017, but hold on — we won’t be back to where we were, but we are moving in the right direction, and, in typical Middle East style, now with pace.


New Relationship between Local Authorities of the Middle East

New Relationship between Local Authorities of the Middle East

The British mandate inspired and the UN executed 2 states solution of the early 20th century, reserving the newly baptised Jordan country for all Palestinian populations seem to have turned the corner with what is happening these days. The transhumance of populations consequent to the on-going upheavals in the nearby appears to have given birth to a positive and productive new relationship between local authorities of the Middle East neighbouring countries. Hence this article of the World Bank on municipalities as these hosting large numbers of Syrian refugees,  rate
  • Safe garbage disposal their most pressing priority. 
  • A state-of-the-art landfill in the West Bank provides a new regional example of sanitary garbage disposal. 
  • Mayors from Jordan and Turkey say contact with their Palestinian peers showed them ways to manage the impact of population on public services.

Municipalities in Jordan and Turkey look to Palestinian example of waste disposal

February 22, 2017

It is 9:30 pm on Tuesday 25 October, 2016. A bus stops in front of a hotel in Jerusalem. Mayors from the Jordanian municipalities of Mafraq, Sarhan, Hosha, and Rabiet Al-Kura step off it, along with 17 of their peers. They are under some pressure because, at the end of their two-day visit, they have to leave by 8pm, when the bridge at the Jordanian–Israel border closes. Most of them are coming to Palestine for the first time, and are to be joined by four Turkish officials who share the same interests and concerns.

Since the Syrian crisis began almost six years ago, these 25 Jordanian and Turkish mayors have faced a similar challenge: how to manage the impact of Syrian refugees on their municipalities? In host municipalities, population increase has had a huge impact on infrastructure and the delivery of public services. Mayors from Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, and Turkey have had to set out their priorities in terms of waste management, housing, and social cohesion.

Among these, the disposal of ordinary household garbage or solid waste is the most acute issue; if not done properly, it has a negative effect on people’s wellbeing, as well as on economic activities and environment. But waste management is very costly, and often delivered by municipalities with very limited financial resources.

Mayors in Jordan and Turkey wanted to find out what they could do. Now, on this October evening, they were all set to hear how Bethlehem and Hebron governorates had gone about disposing of solid waste, particularly within the fragile political context in which they operate

Palestinian experience in disposing of household garbage

A field visit to Al-Minya landfill showed how garbage can be disposed of safely. Al-Minya is an old landfill, now rehabilitated with support from the World Bank Group and run as a Public Private Partnership. Sanitary and modern, it has two waystations for waste transfer. These serve all the local authorities in the Southern West Bank, an area with a population of 800,000.

The most important thing about the project is that it controls the amount of pollution emanating from random, unsanitary dump sites spread across both governorates, and by doing so improves the environment and creates a sustainable system for managing solid waste.

Organized by the World Bank Group and the Center for Mediterranean Integration (CMI), the two-day visit included a workshop in Bethlehem with about 80 Palestinian mayors. Other municipal representatives from Lebanon, Iraq, and Jordan participated remotely.

Ibrahim Dajani, the Bank’s leader on the project, said he hoped the visiting mayors would be inspired to provide a cleaner, better quality of life back home.

Networking to help municipalities facing the same issues

We didn’t expect to see a state-of-the-art dumpsite here in Palestine,” said Osman Senaydin from Turkey.

The project provided lessons about overcoming obstacles encountered along the path to its success, as well as about recycling waste for revenue, and the recovery of gases for generating electricity.

Much of the emphasis, though, is on continued networking. “The municipalities tell us their needs and, in an online forum, we will continue to help them address the most critical issues caused in their communities by refugee influxes,” said Janette Uhlmann, Senior Program Officer at the CM. “We see this network as a valuable resource to exchange useful information across cities and countries in the region.

It is now 4:30 pm in Bethlehem on Thursday 27 October. The Jordanian mayors step back onto their bus in a hurry: they have to get back to the bridge by 8 pm. But, later, they will have plenty of time to reflect, and to exchange views on what they have learned. They will also prepare for another peer-to-peer meeting in Sanliurfa, Turkey, where the topic will be the next issue on their list, that of social cohesion in municipalities hosting refugees.