Naveen Sharma, chairman, ICAI (Institute of Chartered Accountants of India) UAE Dubai Chapter, discusses trends in wealth management, M&A and trade ties between the UAE and India
What are the main challenges? How is your industry performing in the region?
The region has changed for the better in the last decade. The rank of the UAE was 68 in ease of doing business 10 years ago and today the rank is 21 – better than Japan whose rank is 34 and France whose rank is 31. The rank in ease of doing business has improved, which means that the industry is doing well. The world class infrastructure is doing wonders for the city. Lately oil prices are also helping.
What are the main challenges that you face?
Innovation is changing the way we live and do business. IT has become mainstream and it has changed most of the businesses. The main challenge is to find skillful people for the new economy. Believe me, there is a shortage of talented people who are skillful in the new technologies. Adopting a new way of working in line with what is happening worldwide is the main challenge.
What are the standout opportunities for your company in 2018-19?
Dubai and the UAE is the land of opportunities. The rulers of the city are dynamic and they have created the best environment for business. EXPO 2020 work is in full swing. Recently the authorities have reduced the charges and fees. They have also simplified rules and regulations governing businesses. Crude Oil prices have improved in the last 6 months. Many new tourist attractions along with theme parks have come up in the UAE. Emirates and Etihad Airlines of the UAE are now connected very well with the rest of the world. The government’s emphasis on innovation is fuelling a start-up culture. I can see opportunities in tourism, IT, pharma and education sectors.
How do you see M&A in the region?
I think M&A will grow faster than we have seen in the recent past. The majority of the population in this part of the world is from other countries; people are arriving with good ideas; they invest here and at one point of time they have to exit, and when they exit, M&A is one of the main routes. In the other parts of the world, there are other options available such as the stock market and security markets. But in this part of the world M&A is the preferred route. Secondly, there are a lot of SMEs in this market and in some industries consolidation may be required. What I can see is that M&A related activities will go up much faster than we have seen. The healthcare and education industries are two sectors in which we will see a lot of M&A activity.
It is the mid-market segment where we will see a lot of M&A activity because mid-market is where the acquirer can see value. If it is very small, the impact of mergers will not be seen.
How are the trade ties between India and the UAE?
I believe that by 2020 Indo-UAE trade will hit 100 billion. This is growing and not only in trade. you can see the tourists who are coming from India; you can see the companies which are coming from India, and the Indians living in this part of the world. It is all going very well. India-GCC relations are very good primarily because of the geography of this region, and secondarily because of the ease of doing business. The UAE has one of the best infrastructures in the world, and they have some of the best business regulations. If you see DIFC, we can compare it with the rest of the world; we can see the management this city has provided. It is one of the best in the world because of the ease of doing business, because of good infrastructure, because it is very near to India. Traditionally both countries have been close to each other. I think everything is going very well.
What are your views on leadership?
Teamwork makes dream work; it is all about the team. Leaders have to understand that they can achieve more because of their team. It means that they have to delegate wisely; they have to set the goal, and they have to review with them. And of course, honesty and integrity are very important. ●
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