Coronavirus: Positive impact from COVID-19 in future for Saudi Arabia, survey reveals

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COVID-19 will likely cause a positive boost for Saudi Arabia’s ongoing transformation plans, top thought leaders and decision makers believe, according to a survey published Monday.

The survey, published by management consultancy Kearney and commissioned by the nonprofit Al Aghar Group, found that respondents believe that the coronavirus would accelerate the “future of work” in the Kingdom. This was overwhelmingly seen as positive, with 65 percent agreeing with this sentiment.

The Kingdom’s authorities have moved to stop the economic and social fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, instituting numerous measures to slow the spread of the virus. The number of infections reached 288,690 on Sunday, but over 87 percent of those have already recovered, the health ministry announced.

“Saudi Arabia has a proud history of resilience and has thrived even in the most challenging situations. While this pandemic has severely affected us all, the survey results confirm the depth of our intention to use this current situation to accelerate our national progress,” Prince Faisal bin Abdullah bin Mohammed Al Saud, chairman of Al Aghar Group said in a statement.

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The pandemic has also highlighted the need for businesses to retrain employees, with 69 percent of survey respondents noting the increased need to retrain as a positive. Nearly three quarters, 74 percent, believe that the Kingdom’s education sector will become more inclusive, more digital, and improved.

The increased prevalence of technology in education, such as through online learning, will provide a boon in the future, with 64 percent of respondents believing that the change in the type of skills prioritized by schools and universities will match emerging market demands.

For healthcare, 78 percent of respondents believed that the impact of COVID-19 will be highly beneficial for the future. The vast majority, 86 percent anticipate a positive shift in public sentiment regarding the importance of health and wellbeing, with 81 percent also expecting an increased investment in preventative public health measures.

Overall digital transformation across industries was also expected by the respondents, with widespread adoption of telemedicine expected by 58 percent of respondents, and 75 percent noting that the wider prevalence of e-commerce as a positive trend.

“The survey results clearly reveal the deep, optimistic resilience of the Saudi people and their implicit commitment to the Kingdom’s national transformation. Despite the near-term hardships caused by the crisis, respondents anticipate that the most significant medium-term impacts will be positive,” Rudolph Lohmeyer, partner and head of the National Transformations Institute at Kearney Middle East said.

The study asked 160 people senior Saudi thought leaders and decision makers across the government and the private sector about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the Kingdom’s future.

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