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Shifting motives: long-term thinking gains ground

by John Bambridge on Mar 12, 2017

A significant proportion of the developments featured in this month’s issue of PMV reflect the ongoing ideological shift in the region away from the short-term thinking of the past and towards priorities that could broadly be termed long-term targets.

In terms of the plant, machinery and vehicle value chain, the classic expression of this thinking is in the move away from price and towards total cost of ownership ideals.

We see a good example of this in Swaidan Trading’s preparations for the relaunch of DAF Trucks — a Dutch truck brand that won numerous European awards in 2016 — in the Gulf. The vehicles will by no means be a low-price option, but Swaidan Trading has stated its firm opinion that efficiency savings and total cost of ownership are increasingly important drivers for a growing clique of fleet operators facing ever tightening profit margins.

Swaidan is equally my ally in this argument through its representation of Sennebogen and its duty-cycle cranes — a product category not yet widely deployed in the Gulf, but one that represents an aspirational attempt to encourage fleet operators to indulge in more long-term calculations.

On the cover we can see another example of long-term planning in the region: the Riyadh Metro — a project that will see the delivery of one of the most comprehensive public transports system in the GCC. The project is so important that its funding was ringfenced, and there is no evidence that corners have been cut. This is a country-level project being built for the next generation of Saudi citizens and with the long-term prosperity of the Saudi economy in mind. It has all the more meaning in a city where traffic is a perennial problem and where the lack of road markings continues to be sidelined as a potential safety concern.

Whether this reflects changing perspectives within Saudi society at large is unclear, but a YouGov study released in January reported that young people across the region are increasingly engaged with long-term issues and view being prepared for change as an important priority.

It will be equally fascinating to see how the people of Riyadh react to the freedom of mobility that the metro and bus system will present to them upon its launch in 2019, and whether such developments will embolden the country’s planners to continue to think long-term about the challenges to come.