UAE’s sweltering summer days make business sluggish, survey finds

The high temperatures and planned summer holidays all affected productivity in the economy’s service sectors.

LeAnne Graves

August 11, 2015

Updated: August 11, 2015 04:00 AM

 

There is no doubt that the onset of summer visibly slows down general activity in the UAE, but the same also applies to business.

A majority of leading finance executives found that the summer months affect business and productivity. Forty-six per cent blamed annual leave and the absence of managers as major reasons for decreased business activity, according to a survey by Robert Half the recruitment firm.

Such evidence can be found in Emirates NBD’s economic tracker for Dubai, with the headline reading falling to 53.8 last month from 55.5 in June. Any reading above 50.0 indicates an expanding economy.

The high temperatures (between 40°C and 50°C) and planned summer holidays all affected productivity in the economy’s service sectors.

Only 7 per cent of the 75 senior finance executives surveyed said the summer months had no effect on business.

Fathi Ben Grira, the chief executive of MenaCorp, an Abu Dhabi-based investment bank, said it was important to differentiate between the month of Ramadan and the rest of the summer.

“[MenaCorp’s] business during Ramadan has a general increase, with trading volume about 20 per cent higher [compared to other months],” he said. With about 70 per cent of Menacorp’s clients GCC nationals, Ramadan is a time when top decision-makers are in town, according to Mr Grira. “But what you have that is most important isn’t the number of transactions, but also the new leads that you make because everyone is in town,” he said.

However, he noted that the periods preceding and after Ramadan were slow for business. “Most of the GCC investors, especially in Abu Dhabi, are travelling before or after Ramadan, so the market is quiet with low volumes,” he said.

Gareth El Mettouri, an associate director of Robert Half, said companies should focus on completing projects during these slower months and encourage staff to take advantage of the downtime.

“Encouraging your employees to take advantage of the summer months to relax and recharge will see them return to work with higher morale and increased productivity,” he said.

Robert Half also conducted a similar study on UK businesses last month, which produced similar conclusions.

According to its research, lost productivity and less managerial direction because of annual leave was a concern for nearly half of the 200 finance leaders surveyed.

It said that many businesses that were trying to maintain productivity levels during this period relied on temporary workers to help alleviate the effects of summer breaks. ​

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