Some of the Gulf economies have made significant progress in the latest Global Talent Competitiveness Index, with four succeeding in advancing their rankings. The study by the international business school INSEAD highlights a country’s ability to enable, attract, grow and retain talent while ensuring transfer of knowledge and skills.

Retaining the exceptionally skilled in the field of technology for example is no easy task, as these professionals can move to different countries in line with demand. In the age of globalization, the gifted can find jobs cutting across time zones.

The UAE leads the Arab world in being a talent magnet, by advanced two spots to clinch the 17th position amongst 119 nations ranked. This even places it ahead of many European Union member-states, undoubtedly a global recognition.

The UAE is already performing better than these states on multiple fronts such as economic competitiveness and freedom, transparency, logistics and readiness for change. Qatar is ranked 23rd, down two positions. Clearly, the Gulf state has some work to do to avoid conceding its current ranking in this globalized economy.

Bahrain managed to improve its standing by nine positions to 38th, the best progress for any GCC country. Notably, Bahrain is popular with overseas professionals, partly reflecting the quality of living in the kingdom.

Bahrain has thus overtaken Saudi Arabia as the third-best performer within the GCC, though the latter did improve by a single spot to 41st. But clearly that was not enough to maintain its regional rankings as others came up with ways to get past it.

The Saudi authorities have restricted job opportunities in malls to nationals. Clearly, the extraordinary move aims at creating employment for locals. However, the move is not popular with local employers and expatriates at large.

At the same time, the ruling of allowing females to drive in the kingdom would help with expanding job opportunities. This should add to the quality of life for locals and expatriates alike.

Oman saw a gain of three spots to be 56th, but Kuwait recorded a plunge in its ranking, by eight, to be 65th. This is the worst performance within the GCC and the further reinforces Kuwait’s lag on numerous counts.

The UAE is ranked the third best in the world in attracting talent, after Singapore and Switzerland. Qatar came in fourth on this variable.

The UAE leads the world with regard to vocational and technical skills.

Dr Jasim Ali is a Member of Parliament in Bahrain