GCC consulting market contracts – May 2021

After a tough year in which the pandemic triggered dramatic cuts in consulting spend, we reported to the GCC press (on behalf of client, Source Global Research) that the GCC consulting market contracted for the first time in its history—down by just over 12% in 2020, wiping out roughly nearly US$400m in revenues.

The key media that covered the story in the region included – The National, Gulf Business, Gulf News, Arabian News and AMEInfo.com.

The Source report found that many consulting firms experienced a strong start to 2020 as clients pressed forward with various transformation initiatives, but when the crisis hit, it hit hard: Nervous clients put consulting projects on hold, particularly in hard-hit industries, such as retail, hospitality, and aviation.

Edward Haigh, Joint Managing Director at Source Global Research, said:

“The GCC’s consulting market arguably relies on two things more than anything else: freedom of movement for consultants and reliably high oil prices. So, in a year when consultants were confined not only to their country of residence but even to their homes, and when oil prices were not so much volatile as downright absurd, you can imagine what that did to the nerves of the average consultant in the region.

The 12.4% contraction of the GCC consulting market in 2020 was no worse than the contraction in the global consulting market overall. It might have felt more painful to GCC consultants, however, partly because the market has never contracted before and partly because the twin-pronged crisis struck so precisely at the market’s Achilles heel. Now, in early 2021, the prevailing emotion is one of relief: It could have been so much worse.”