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Dubai: The UAE became the only Arab country to be included in the Global Economics driven by Innovation – the third and the most advanced stage of competitiveness in the Global Competitiveness Report 2012-13 released by the World Economic Forum on Wednesday.

The Global Competitiveness Report however ranked the UAE 24th out of 144 countries globally—an improvement of three ranks from last year and ahead of countries such as Australia, New Zealand and Spain.

Classified as an innovation-driven economy the UAE placed alongside countries such as the United States, Japan, Germany, Singapore, and has held been classified as innovation-driven for seven consecutive years—the only Arab country with this distinction.

All other Gulf and Arab states have been grouped under the initial two stages, although Qatar and Saudi Arabia have been ranked 11th and 18th – ahead of the UAE, in the overall ranking.

The Global Competitiveness Report assesses countries’ competitiveness along the 12 pillars corresponding to three main stages of economic development: Stage 1: Factor Driven; Stage 2: Efficiency Driven; and Stage 3: Innovation Driven. Countries are also classified in the transitions from one stage to the next as they progress in their economic development. 
An innovation-driven economy is the most advanced stage of development a country can achieve within the Global Competitiveness Index framework. To be classified as such, a country must have a very high level of income per capita along with sufficient economic diversification. Countries in the innovation-driven stage, sustain higher wages and standards of living, and their businesses are able to compete through innovation--producing new and different goods and services using sophisticated design, production, management, financing and commercialization processes.

In the report the UAE ranked among the top 10 nations globally in in the following pillars of the report: Infrastructure (8th), Macroeconomic environment (7th), Goods Market Efficiency (5th) and Labour Market Efficiency (7th), and among the top 20 for Institutions (12th) and Business Sophistication (15th).

Commenting on UAE’s positive results Reem Al-Hashimy, Minister of State and Chairwoman of the Emirates Competitiveness Council, noted that it reflects the government’s endeavors to diversify the economy and create a robust business environment that enables creativity and entrepreneurship to be translated into innovative goods and services.  She lauded all levels of government that she noted were “working concertedly to put in place the framework-the policies and the institutions—for an economy that relies increasingly on innovation for sustained growth, enhancing competitiveness.”

She attributed the UAE’s rapid economic progress to the country’s visionary leadership, stressing their “on-going commitment and dedication to achieving the UAE’s Vision 2021 to become a diversified, knowledge-driven economy that is among the most competitive in the world.”

Continued government investment in education, knowledge industries, reforms and improvements to the business environment for laying the groundwork for country’s sustained competitiveness and prosperity in a global economy driven by knowledge and creativity.

Jeff Singer CEO of the DIFC remarked, “Today's report highlights UAE’s strength as a global centre of finance and business. We are confident that DIFC will continue to be a catalyst of growth for UAE and the region, by providing a platform of world-class infrastructure for financial services organisations to extend their reach and access the vast economies of our region.
“UAE’s strategic location, in conjunction with DIFC’s common law framework and independent regulations makes the DIFC an attractive global financial hub.”

Home to ambitious investment and development projects, the UAE is already well on its way to building a knowledge-based economy with significant projects in renewable energy and clean technologies, aerospace, semiconductor foundries and the life sciences . Innovation is also evident at the grassroots level in dedicated economic clusters and free zones. Notable examples include TECOM’s Dubai Media City, Dubai Internet City and Abu Dhabi’s media zone twofour54, where a truly innovative environment facilitates the commercialisation of novel idea generation. An increasing number of industry-academia partnerships are also furthering the culture of R&D in the country. 

Global competitiveness rankings are one way to benchmark a country’s progress. Rankings are important to private sector and government. Businesses use them as a way to assesses potential for growth, investments and to attract global talent; governments use them to evaluate policies that underpin the business environment and determine areas of legislation and procedural improvements.
The Global Competitiveness Report is the World Economic Forum’s flagship report.  The report attempts to assess countries competitiveness strengths and weaknesses based on approximately thousands of executive opinion surveys with the final score/rank determined based on a combination of surveys (68%) over two years and hard data (32%).

In other respected competitiveness reports the UAE topped the list of Arab countries and ranked 5th globally in the World Bank’s Doing Business Report for ease of trading across borders. Similarly it ranked 1st among Arab countries and 17th worldwide on the UN's recent World Happiness Report and 16th internationally in the IMD’s World Competitiveness Yearbook. 

The Emirates Competitiveness Council (ECC) is a UAE federal government organization mandated to further the UAE’s global competitiveness in line with UAE’s Vision 2021 to make the UAE a leading country in the world.
The ECC serves as a centre of excellence for policy research and analysis.  It also serves as a conduit between the public and private sectors to advocate for policies with federal and local government to enhance the nation’s productivity and well-being. ECC’s partnership with the public and private sectors is vital to the UAE’s globally competitive position and to sustaining the future prosperity of the nation.