Dubai: The UAE has ranked top in Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region in the World Bank’s ranking of ease of doing business.

While the UAE is ranked top in the Mena region in the World Bank ranking of ease of doing business, it is ranked 31st globally compared to a ranking of 22nd position last year.

UAE is far ahead of the rankings of some of its regional peers such as Qatar (68), Saudi Arabia (82), Algeria (163), Egypt (131), Iran (118), Morocco (75), and Tunisia (74).

The report finds that 11 of the region’s 20 economies implemented a total of 21 reforms facilitating the ease of doing business. This is a significant increase compared to the annual average of 16 reforms during the past five years.

The UAE was the only economy in the region that reformed in the area of enforcing contracts. As a result, commercial disputes in the UAE are now resolved in 495 days, which is less than the average of 538 days in the high-income Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) economies.

Both Saudi Arabia and Oman improved the most globally in the areas of registering property and getting electricity, respectively. Saudi Arabia introduced a new computerised Land Registry system. It now takes an entrepreneur only six days to register property in Saudi Arabia, faster than in the Republic of Korea.

Oman enhanced its measurements and tracking of power outages, making it is easier to assess the reliability of the electrical grid and its effect on the productivity of firms. Economies in the region carried out the most reforms in the area of Getting Electricity (4 reforms), followed by Starting a Business (3), Dealing with Construction Permits (3) and Trading Across Borders.

Challenges, however, remain in a number of areas. For example, on Starting a Business, it costs an average of 26 per cent of income per capita for local entrepreneurs to start their business, compared to 3 per cent in the OECD.

“There is a lot of room for improvement, however. The share of economies reforming in the region remains lower than the global average, and Getting Credit is harder in the Middle East and North Africa than anywhere else, partly due to the absence of comprehensive credit bureaus that provide information relevant for assessing creditworthiness,” said Rita Ramalho, Manager of the Doing Business project.

This year’s Doing Business report completes a two-year effort to expand benchmarks that measure the quality of regulation, as well as the efficiency of the business regulatory framework, in order to better capture realities on the ground.

On the five indicators that saw changes in this report — dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, enforcing contracts, registering property and trading across borders — Middle East and North Africa economies do not perform well. On Getting Electricity, for instance, the new data set finds that several regional economies face either frequent outages or do not track them adequately.