The interviews were conducted via an online survey platform and, where required, by paper surveys. Responses were gathered from business leaders across the Middle East – the majority live in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Egypt and Jordan – and those doing business in the Middle East from offices in Europe, North America and the Far East. Of those interviewed, more than a third are of Middle East origin and 61 per cent are resident in the Middle East.

A wide cross-section of sectors are represented including banking and finance (20 per cent), construction (15 per cent), oil, gas and petrochemicals (13 per cent), power and water (9 per cent), IT and telecommunications (7 per cent) and those in direct government employment.

Further segmentation ensured that the views of different-sized companies are heard. Small businesses with fewer than nine employees account for 7 per cent of the respondents, though those with critical mass provide the base load – respondents from companies with annual turnover greater than $200 million make up 44 per cent of the panel.

Perhaps most importantly, the construction of the panel was focused on attracting senior decision makers. More than 7 per cent are chairmen of their companies, 14 per cent are managing directors, 16 per cent are directors and a further 25 per cent describe themselves as senior management.

The survey will be conducted three times a year. Some of the questions will be repeated in each survey, so as to create sets of comparable data monitoring changes in attitude and outlook over time. Much of this data is used in the construction of the HSBC-MEED Middle East Business Confidence Index (see page 5). Other sections will be altered with each survey, so as to address topical questions.

YouGov is a research company using online panels to provide research for public policy, market research and stakeholder consultation. It currently has a panel of about 50,000 members throughout the UK as well as access to a sample of more than 1 million respondents internationally through an online panel partner network. YouGov uses its panel-based sampling techniques to provide accurate research for a wide range of business, media and public sector clients.

YouGov’s predominantly online approach surmounts many of the problems associated with traditional polling methods. The internet offers a freedom and flexibility unavailable to telephone and face-to-face research practitioners. Questionnaires, communicated via email, can be completed at any time, facilitating research operations across time zones. In addition, YouGov works to build relationships with its panel members. Consequently, YouGov experiences higher and faster response rates than the norm in traditional research. The self-completion nature of YouGov’s online surveys provides a confidential, low-pressure interview environment that has been shown to enhance the candour of responses entered as well as allowing respondents the time they need to consider their answers fully, providing a greater level of depth and authenticity.

YouGov has aimed to be at the forefront of its field: during the conflict in Iraq, it was commissioned to conduct three tracking surveys a week, for television and print media in the UK. It also conducted the first survey of Iraqi citizens in Baghdad following the 1 May 2003 official declaration of the cessation of the war.