Procurement trends in the Middle East

One of the best things about being part of a small, global business is the frequent opportunity to learn how Procurement is evolving in other countries and cultures.

Here are some insights I gathered when speaking to my colleague Abed Sinan from ADR’s Middle East business. The team’s client base is typically in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC),a political and economic alliance of six Middle Eastern countries (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Oman). The GCC has a population of around 45 million and GDP in excess of 1.4 Trillion USD.

A profile of procurement skills in the Middle East

Current state:

  • Many procurement decisions are still largely stakeholder-led and procurement people are often perceived as an “after-the-fact” team to implement the plan.
  • Many individuals have skills strengths in specific sourcing and supplier management activities, but often need training in the full category and supplier management process to make connections between the competencies and to leverage their combined knowledge. As Abed commented, “there is no one-stop shop buyer”.
  • Procurement competence development is a low priority for too many organizations.


  • There is a high appetite for learning, and procurement competence is increasing rapidly in all GCC states.
  • ADR coaches consistently report a “have a go” attitude from learners. They want to try all new tools and techniques.
  • Procurement professionals in the GCC feel strongly that their learning activity should have an immediate impact on their sourcing activities. Our ADR tutors note that the “return on training” is very high when training is followed with category coaching. There is a strong will to demonstrate benefit through concentrated use of sourcing and supplier management techniques.