UAE moves up in Kearney’s 2023 Global Services Location Index, as six other Middle East countries join the Index for the first time

  • UAE improves its score, with its business environment standing out as its strongest advantage
  • Jordan and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are the two strongest new entrants from the Middle East region
  • A country’s ability to reskill and deploy its workforce is a vital part of its attractiveness as an offshore location, according to Kearney’s 2023 Global Services Location Index
  • This year’s Index focuses on talent regeneration and digital skills, bringing Canada, Poland, and Singapore into the limelight as emerging technology destinations for establishing innovation hubs.

Global management consultancy Kearney has today published its 12th edition of the Global Services Location Index (GSLI), which studies the vital factors that make countries attractive as potential locations for offshore services. 

The UAE continues to improve on its global ranking, moving up four spots on the list this year to 21st place, while Jordan, KSA, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and Lebanon all join the list for the first time.  Home to more than 4,000 start-ups across Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi, along with multiple free zones, the UAE is emerging as a technology hub for the Middle East and Africa.  When it comes to talent regeneration, two dimensions contribute to the scoring: the intensity of technology innovation and the focus on digital skill enhancement, areas where the UAE is focusing significant energy and investment which is paying off.  The UAE talent regeneration, combined with the country’s scale and its relations with nearby countries, will all help it to become the location of choice for nearshoring.

The talent regeneration matrix:

A key trend in this year’s GSLI is the criticality of talent regeneration**. With the emergence and adoption of digital technologies, cost-centric service locations are at risk of losing their competitiveness to more developed and technologically advanced countries as more work and processes will be automated. Talent regeneration, therefore, will serve as the backbone of this shift.

“In an ever-changing global market landscape, where skills take precedence over cost advantages, a nation’s true strength lies in its capacity to foster and unleash the potential of its talented people,” says Rob Van Dale, Middle East and Africa Lead, Digital at Kearney. ““While countries such as UAE and KSA do not naturally have a cost advantage, we see that their considerable focus on talent regeneration is starting to pay off, and in a world where this is expected to become more important, coupled with their investments in digital resonance and an already attractive business environment, they may in the near future further increase their attractiveness for high skilled services catering to their region.” 

Countries leading the 2023 GSLI:

In an era of rapidly evolving technology and ever-changing trends, business services such as information technology, business process outsourcing, and engineering are increasingly being delivered across borders as companies seek to lower their costs, scale their talent, and become more efficient by using more of the global talent base. The global market for business services has also grown from US$624 billion in 2022 to US$681 billion in 2023, which will increase the demand for such services. 

India, China and Malaysia continue to lead thanks to their immense cost advantage, abundant talent pool, and strong skills. Notably, India and China also show signs of strength in talent regeneration capabilities making them global frontrunners in the availability of a tech-enabled workforce. 

Geopolitical, economic, and technological forces have spurred significant changes in the global labor market. Therefore, a country’s ability to reskill and redeploy its workforce in response to changing market demands and technological disruptions is key to improving its attractiveness as an offshore location for business services. Talent regeneration will be the most crucial gamechanger as Industry 4.0 continues to reshape the demand for future skills and jobs. 

About the 2023 GSLI and the country ranking methodology:

The 78 countries in the 2023 Global Services Location Index were selected based on corporate input, current remote services activity, and government initiatives to promote the sector. They were evaluated against 52 metrics across four major categories: financial attractiveness, people skills and availability, business environment, and digital resonance. This year, Kearney refocused the Index to be more forward-looking and captured digital resonance and talent regenerative capabilities and availability. In the process, a few metrics were dropped from the people skills availability and digital resonance pillars that were focusing on traditional IT, and new digitally focused parameters were added. This along with global trends and key local disruptors led to marked differences in some countries’ rankings.  

About Kearney:

As a global consulting partnership in more than 40 countries, our people make us who we are. We’re individuals who take as much joy from those we work with as the work itself. Driven to be the difference between a big idea and making it happen, we help our clients break through.