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UAE retains tops spot competitiveness among Middle East economies

Three GCC countries find place in top 30 global ranking

Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News
Offices and residential towers on Shaikh Zayed Road in Dubai. The report notes that the UAE has been building on improvements in competitiveness in recent years.
Gulf News

Dubai: The UAE retained its top position in competitiveness in the Arab world moving up one position to 16th in the global competitiveness raking in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2016-2017.

Along with the UAE, Qatar (18th) and Saudi Arabia (29th) were in the top 30 global ranking. For the eighth consecutive year, Switzerland ranks as the most competitive economy in the world, narrowly ahead of Singapore and the United States. Following them is Netherlands and then Germany.

The report notes that the UAE has been building on improvements in competitiveness in recent years. This year small gains in areas such as technological adoption and business sophistication are partially offset by deteriorating macroeconomic stability that is the result of lower energy prices, which have led to a rise in inflation and public debt and to the emergence of a fiscal deficit.

“Overall, the UAE boasts a number of competitive strengths with infrastructure and is ranked 4th in overall global ranking and goods and labor markets open and efficient. Going forward, for the country to diversify its economy, enhancing innovation will be crucial. There is equal scope for better leveraging digital technologies that are an important enabler of business innovation,” the report said.

The report showed that the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region continues to experience significant instability in geopolitical and economic terms as spillover effects from the conflicts in Libya, Syria, and Yemen are undermining economic progress in the entire region.

Oil-exporting countries in general are experiencing lower growth, higher fiscal deficits, and rising concerns about unemployment. The report said despite recent privatization efforts, most national economies remain state-dominated and competition remains constrained throughout the region with the level of domestic competition and openness to foreign trade and investment remains below OECD levels for most countries.

“Oil-exporting countries in the Middle East and North Africa region have room for improvement in these areas, which should go hand in hand with diversification away from the energy sector. The most competitive economy in this group, the United Arab Emirates, is also the most diversified and has made great strides toward improving technological readiness and innovation since 2011, moving from 30th to 18th and from 28th to 25th on the related pillars of the GCI, respectively,” the report said.