How bad can it be in the Middle East? Are we reeling under the gloom of the US market's mortgage driven economic downturn? Is the price of oil – volatile as it is today – affecting the way we do business here in the region? Is our industry hit?
Are masive cutbacks in spending goig to happen? Will there be a great bailout for the auto industry in the US? Is real estate in the region going under?
There's a great bumper sticker you'll see on cars in Canada. It says "When America sneezes, Canada catches a cold". This time around, it seems the whole world is catching the cold. The gloom and doom virus is upon us all. From Alaska to Australia from Zimbabwe to Zanzibar, the economy is well and truly in for trouble.
Inflation, deflation, banks going under, companies going bust, it's all around us, everywhere. Here in the Middle East, for a while, there seemed lke the ripples wouldn't reach our shores. But, thanks to the internet, thanks to globalization, thanks to a 24/7 media, the word, the virus has spread, and spread quickly.
The people have panicked, one headline read. And, as if like a giant awakening, itis s taking its toll. This is a sentiment, not necessarily a cold reality. People here in the region, small time investors, punters are screaming scared and running with the bears. And in their path lie lost jobs, banks halting loans, companies threatening close downs and deflation – if that were possible.
But there is a light at the end of the tunnel. While this region is not immune to it all, the chances of a faster recovery are real. Oil canot, will not, stay down around the $50 barrel mark forever. Winter is ahead and some pundits are predicting oil will go back – the world needs to heat homes and offices, cars are still on the road.
Real estate in the region is a commitment to people – and people still need homes. There cannot be a flight out of the region – a flight where people leave to go back to where they came from – because, as they say, there is not there, there. In fact, Dubai is where they are still flocking to, with hope, with the desire to make that inevitable comeback. Things will turn around, although it may not be imminent and immediate. Staying the course here is key.
It''s really up to us in the industry to lead the initiative of weathering the storm. We'll have to find ways to stack up our defense mechanisms. Look outside the proverbial box. We'll need to reinvent, re-direct. Cutbacks in traditional media spends? What about looking at more cost effective spends in digital? Companies still need some platforms to communicate. Still need to push the brand message forward. Still need to sell product and service. So, yes there may be a few long tails to this whole meltdown, but it's for us to avoid the hits and work around them.
The Middle East has always been a different kettle of fish, a different barrel of oil. This too shall pass.