The Arab World Unbound By Vijay Mahajan – MoneyWeek

HiscoreargumentisthattheArabworldcanbedividedintothreegroups。

Theelite“ArabOne”groupiswealthy,highlyeducatedandsophisticated。

Thisgroupwillpaylargesumsfortopglobalbrands。

Butthey’realsointerestedincreatingwealth,ratherthanjustconsumingit,settingupfirmstomeetdomesticdemandandcompeteontheglobalstage。

Thebookspendsalotoftimeonthiselitegroup,whohavethemostfinancialpower,butitarguesthattherestofthepopulationcan’tbeignored。

Fromtheoil-richGulfcountriestopoverty-strickenSudan,themiddle-class,or“ArabTwo”group,representsalargechunkofthepopulation。

Whiletheirtastesaremoretraditional,theyarestillreceptivetofirmsthatmarkettheirgoodsappropriatelyandadjustpricestotakeaccountofthecash-basednatureoftheeconomy。

Even“ArabThree”,thelowest-incomesegmentofthepopulation,iswillingtospendmoneyoncertainvaluebrands。

Mahajanisunafraidtoconfrontconventionalwisdom。

ThemainthemeofhisbookisthattheMiddleEastisnotthatdifferentfromtherestoftheworld。

Forexample,goodsthatarebannedinmanyArabcountriesbecauseoftheirassociationwithIsraelstillmanagetofindtheirwayintoshopsandmarketstallsbecausethereishighdemandforthem。

Healsoarguesthat,whilewomenarestillsecond-classcitizensinmanyareas,theystillhaveconsiderableeconomicpower。

ButwhileotherbooksontheMiddleEastmaybetoopessimistic,TheArabWorldUnboundveerstoofarintheotherdirection。

Thereislittlerecognitionthattheregion’sinstitutionsstillneedsubstantialreform:corruptionrunsrampantinmanycountries,whilethestatecontrolslargeswathesoftheregion’seconomies。

Moreimportantly,giventhatmostoftheresearchunderpinningthebooktookplacebeforetherecent‘ArabSpring’revolts,thereisadangerthatMahajan’sanalysismayalreadybeoutofdate–acommentthatanadvertisementforaSyrianbankisanexampleofclevermarketingnowlooksalittleinsensitive。

Nonetheless,TheArabWorldUnbounddeservesreadingforpresentingaviewoftheregionthatisrarelyseen。

ManagementTodaypraisesitforits“valuableup-to-datedataandshrewdobservations”。

AndastheFTconcludes,“evenifyouarenotplanningtodobusinessintheregionbutsimplywanttoknowmoreaboutthemarketsanditspeoples,thisisabookworthbuying”。



TheArabWorldUnbound:TappingintothePowerof350MillionConsumersbyVijayMahajan。

PublishedbyJossey-Bass,£26。

99。

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