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Hani Ashkar, Middle East Senior Partner

Photo of Hani Ashkar, Middle East Senior Partner

Happy Holidays and welcome to your Alumni Network - Your Network for Life. Investing and creating an alumni network has been a long time coming!

We employ the best talent in the region, and believe in creating connections that last a lifetime. I hope you will find a place within our alumni community, and stay connected and up to date on what is happening at our firm. 

2020 was one of our toughest years! We all had to adapt and demonstrate our resilience through some of the greatest uncertainties we’ve ever faced. We’ve all heard the terms ‘unprecedented’ and ‘pandemic’ way more than any of us would like, but through it all, I am extremely proud of our accomplishments - which are worth celebrating (though unfortunately not in person!). Watch this video for a highlight of our people achievements from this past year.

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I am especially looking forward to 2021, and I know a lot of you echo this. But I am most excited about what we’ve learned through 2020 and how we will apply these lessons in everything we do. 

This year we came together and worked as One firm, more than any year before! I’m looking forward to growing and improving on collaboration, innovating through the use of digital tools and technology and building on our continued focus on priority accounts. Through challenging times, we’ve been able to focus on the clients and projects that have the most impact, solving important problems and building trust.

I hope you have planned to take some time off for the holidays. Wishing you and your families happiness and prosperity for the new year! I look forward to connecting with you all again soon!

Kind regards


Exclusive Insight from our Market Leaders 

Riyadh AlNajjar, KSA Country Leader - PwC Middle East

Photo of Riyadh AlNajjar, KSA Country Leader - PwC Middle East

The COVID-19 pandemic had, and continues to have, a huge impact on all parts of our society. Never before has the world been forced to react so quickly and so dramatically to a crisis which created enormous new challenges and accelerated profound change that was already under way. Governments, industries, organisations and individuals are now re-evaluating their priorities and reinventing themselves to manage the economic and social impact of the virus, and position themselves to succeed in a very different world.

In the Middle East, we swiftly saw a range of technologies adopted to minimise disruption to life as much as possible. COVID-19 has accelerated the rise in digital transformation and we are already seeing how it has impacted the future of businesses. Across the region, we reaffirmed our strategy of continuing to invest in upskilling our people and working with our clients to carry out digital transformation. We institutionalised a 100% remote work policy, and one of the reasons we were able to do so was due to our investments in technology. This allowed us to efficiently serve our clients, without compromising on quality.

More specifically, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia ordered all academic activities to shift to online education on the 8th of March and PwC offices immediately shifted to working from home to limit the spread of the virus. Shortly after that, social gatherings and events were shut down and lockdown and curfews were announced.

For our clients in KSA, Crisis Management frameworks were deployed quickly, such as control towers and decision support systems. This assisted clients to manage and adjust during the pandemic, whilst also setting mechanisms in place for when we collectively emerge from the crisis.

In KSA, as we work through the new normal, we are encouraged to see events such as the virtual G20 leaders’ summit being hosted from Riyadh, along with upcoming events such as the restart of the seasons and the Formula 1 race in Jeddah in 2021. We also expect to see more travel to the Kingdom with the travel restrictions easing in January.

As we approach 2021, we continue to support our clients to navigate this complex and changing environment. Key questions our clients are asking include “how do I build my workforce for the future” and “how do I transform in order to succeed in a post-COVID world?” We are helping them to focus on the immediate and future challenges and to prepare for a post-pandemic world using a framework we call ADAPT. With every challenge, there is opportunity - and the time to start assessing these opportunities is now.

For more information on ADAPT and the 5Rs, please view PwC’s Global Annual Review 2020.

Alumni in the spotlight

PwC ME Webcast Series

If COVID-19 were to end today, how long would you estimate it would take for your organisation to get back to "business as usual"?
Graph showing the time taken for businesses to return to normal after COVID-19

Throughout March to December 2020, we held twenty three Transitioning to the New Normal COVID19 webcasts. During this time, we attracted a live combined audience of over 16,500 people from 5,000 different organisations and saw 10,000 playbacks of our on demand webcast recordings. Leveraging our Financial Services and Digital platforms, we were delighted to be joined by key speakers from Salesforce, Commercial Bank of Dubai, Al Rajhi Bank and Microsoft and hear their experiences on how they were responding to the pandemic.

In each of the last twenty webcasts, we asked the same question of our clients to act as a proxy for the overall sentiment of the market as we confronted the dual shock of COVID-19 and lower oil price. The question was a hypothetical one, 'If COVID-19 were to end today, how long do you think it would take for your organisation to return to business as usual'.

As you can see from the graph, sentiment deteriorated through March, April and May as we struggled to understand the severity of the virus and its impacts on the economy.  Sentiment improved as we headed through Ramadan as we emerged from lockdowns and the first wave relented. We then experienced continuous volatility throughout the summer and saw case numbers rise again in September. You can see that over October and November, with the emerging good news on vaccine developments, sentiment started to improve and returned to levels last seen at the end of March.

As oil ticks above $50 per barrel and with the improving sentiment in the market ahead of the vaccine roll out, if we can continue to keep a lid on infections through implementing social distancing measures, wearing masks, washing hands along with other health precautions then we expect to see a more positive 2021.

Watch and listen to our webcast series on demand via your desktop or mobile device.


Forward-looking Publications and Insights

Exclusive Benefits to members


Is your organization looking for experienced candidates to join their teams? Post your vacancy here by filling out the form & we will post it on our Careers page for our PwC Alumni to view.

Upcoming events

In Q1 of 2021, we will be hosting our first PwC ME Alumni hybrid event. Keep updated by visiting our events page for teasers and details.

In January 2021, we invite you to join our Real Estate and Hospitality Industry webcast which will cover a market update and key aspects of property asset valuations as well as the financial reporting implications thereof. Stay tuned to the events page on the website for the exact date and registration details.

We'll be launching our new calendar for PwC Middle East Transitioning to the new normal: COVID-19 webcasts series in January. Keep an eye on the website for further details.

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