What Can Businesses In the UAE Do To Grow Successful During Challenging Times?


I was honored to have my article published by newly launched magazine Business Dubai.  In the article I shed light on what inspired setting up my consultancy as well as a few advice for businesses looking to set up and grow sustainably in the region. With no further a due, here is the article:

Call me a dreamer or even an idealist, but I continue to hold the same hidden aspiration I held as a young boy who grew up to witness the city of Dubai transcending from a small desert city by the creek to a flourishing business metropolis that attracts more than 190 nationalities.

That aspiration has been to help people transcend beyond the limitations that they have been restricted to whether it is due to their background, skills, status quo, or economic.

I imagined a time where we enable homegrown ‘self-made success stories’ that can play a positive role globally and not only locally.

I yearned for a time where people and institutions in the region become exporters of knowledge and expertise rather than consumers.

And most importantly, a time when we can finally have faith in the talent and expertise born out of the region and entrust in them to tackle some of our most pressing challenges.

This hidden personal ambition had a hand in inspiring our company’s mission statement: “Helping people and business in the UAE grow successful”.  Don’t be misled however by the simplicity of the statement.  A lot of thought and personal experience had led to my choice of our driving statement.

When I set up TBH Consultancy in December of 2014 crude oil prices had fallen sharply to the $60 level in the fourth quarter from peaks of $112 per barrel.  I recall reading at the time that job creation was one of the lowest in recent years.  Business confidence had taken a hit, and there were clear concerns from people about the future.  A scenario similar to what we are witnessing globally and regionally today.

Most of the people and organizations I spoke to whether they were based in the UAE or thinking of setting up in the country were eager to find answers to three burning questions;

There was the question on the topic of ‘talent’ which was: “Where and how can we identify best talent and enable them to grow and subsequently grow our company “?

On the topic of ‘business sustainability’ they asked: “How do we align with the market needs in the UAE and tap in to the opportunities it has to offer”?

And on the topic of ‘human resource’ most leaders wondered: “What are the best practices we can adopt to make our human resource practices sustainable and competitive”?

These three areas would determine the services and solutions TBH Consultancy would strive to provide to its clients. (you would have noticed by now that the name of our firm is made up of the first letters of each area).

And hence our philosophy has since been that for a business to be successful and sustainable in this market, leaders will need to look at identifying and enabling best talent, find ways to align with local needs and ways to tap in to existing opportunities, and finally be able to always adopt best practices in human resources.

What do I think about challenging times?

I am a big believer that just like economic upturns, downturns present opportunities as well.  I learnt this lesson when I was running my recruitment firm during the financial crisis in 2009.

This is the thinking I try to convey to the clients I speak to through the various services we offer.  We have taken to ourselves to support in the 3 areas I mentioned earlier.  We help employers run their talent acquisition campaigns, we show them how them how to develop and communicate their employer brand, we work with them to develop innovative ways to develop a talent pipeline of employees and even young entrepreneurs if they want.  We also deliver private workshops for businesses eager to understand everything from the general market landscape, the opportunities offered by government and the local business culture.

We have also recently partnered with global HR consultancy Aon to help companies adopt best practices for their human resource challenges and specifically challenges they face in Emiratisation.

The current economy will have it’s winners and losers.  I personally believe that the winners are the ones to proactively address their Talent, Business opportunities and Human Resource practices (their T. B. H).

Author: Talib Hashim

Abdulmuttalib Al Hashimi (Talib) was born in 1977. He grew up in a sleepy town called Rashidiya, a far cry from the lights and bustle of Dubai. Talib began his career taking on a number of odd jobs (Yes, the legend of the one month stint he landed as a Magician/Promoter in the summer of '96 during the Dubai Shopping Festival is true). His first taste of the corporate world came with the large international bank HSBC, where he started in a small role as a 'Recovery and Debt Collector'. Fortunately, he moved up quickly during his tenure in the bank and was eventually recruited to be part of an elite team of Traders in the banks Global Market department. Inspite of the "Wall Street" like glitz and glamour that came with his role; Talib decided to submit his resignation in the summer of 2006 and say 'Adios' to his cubicle, a regular income -a well paying one too-, his SUV and the life of employment. Together with a young Emirati lady, he established Next Level Management Consultancy, a recruitment firm with specialisation in the niche market of 'Emiratisation' (Employing and developing UAE citizens). He is always proud of the fact that he has helped numerous Emiratis find employment. And he would like to think that he contributed -even if a little bit- to helping them lead happier and more fulfilling lives. Talib holds a Masters Degree in Strategic Project Management. He is an expert in Emiratisation and GCC national employment issues and initiatives. He is also a regular speaker on the topics of employment, development of people, Emirati entrepreneurship and also cultural challenges in the workplace. He also gives a series of motivational speeches titled "10 lessons I learned in 2009". Talib is an expert in multi-cultural issues that influence the Arab workplace and helps companies bridge the gap between their expatriate and local staff. He is often accused by some to be an idealist and a dreamer, however, Talib works tirelessly to become an agent of positive change in society (and ofcourse achieve amazing success as an Entrepreneur in the process). Talib believes that all Arab youth deserve the opportunity and the right to pursue their dreams and aspirations regardless of their race, caste, colour, status and family name in society; and hence he is a strong advocate of national and Arab youth empowerment. He has a passion for travelling and backpacking. He enjoys reading books on history, autobiographies and self improvement. He is currently trying to improve his sketching skills.

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