The UAE is the only country in the Arab world again to be ranked among the top 20 in the digital competitiveness index, according to a report released by IMD World Digital Competitiveness Centre.

The country is ranked 18th globally, up one spot from last year, due to its continued developments and increased adoption of digital strategies in various projects and initiatives implemented.

The other Arab countries are Saudi Arabia at 42, down from 36 in 2017, while Qatar remains at the 28th spot and Jordan moves up from 56 to 45.

The research group at IMD Business School in Switzerland has been publishing the competitiveness rankings every year since 1989. This the second edition of the World Digital Competitiveness Ranking (WDCR).

It studied 63 economies and quantified the rapid technological transformations the countries are undergoing, providing a tool for decision-makers in the public and private sectors to interpret and address these changes.

According to the report, the UAE tops globally in Business Agility, a subfactor of the “Future Readiness” indicator, and ranks third globally in Regulatory Framework, a subfactor of the “Technology” indicator.

The UAE also ranks fourth globally in Talent, a subfactor for the “Knowledge” indicator.

 In the long term, having a technological framework and readiness for digital changes may not be sustainable if you do not have the foundation of digitalisation — knowledge and training.”

 - Jose Caballero | Economist  

Jose Caballero, senior economist at IMD World Digital Competitiveness Centre, told Gulf News that the UAE has improved in certain aspects, especially in technology and future readiness, but there are some weaker points the country has to consider to improve its ranking in the future.

“In Business Agility and Regulatory Framework, the UAE ranks high. These two sub-factors are crucial for improving digital competitiveness,” he said.

He said that the country is ranked 53rd in training and education and 56th in scientific and concentration.

In public expenditure on education, he said the country is ranked 61st while in pupil-teacher ratio, it is ranked 41st and the country’s expenditure on R&D is relatively low.

“In the long term, having a technological framework and readiness for digital changes may not be sustainable if you do not have the foundation of digitalisation — knowledge and training. The UAE needs to strengthen these aspects to improve its digital competitiveness,” he said.

Ammar Al Malik, Executive Director of Dubai Internet City, told Gulf News that the findings of this latest report on digital competitiveness are really encouraging. “They prove that our efforts to invest in talent and create supportive ecosystems for technology businesses are paying off, and enabling us to become ready for a future dominated by agile and disruptive businesses,” he said.

With a focus on nurturing new business ideas and supporting companies of all sizes to thrive and grow, he added that Dubai Internet City is one of the key drivers of this process, and “we look forward to continuously improving our ecosystem to remain one of the main catalysts of technology generated growth in the region.”

The US leads the ranking in 2018, followed by Singapore, Sweden, Denmark and Switzerland. Rising from the third spot last year, the US overtook Singapore and Sweden to top the ranking.

In 2017, the top 10 consisted of Singapore, Sweden, US, Finland, Denmark, Netherlands, Hong Kong, Switzerland, Canada and Norway.

Bris said that the US capitalised on its improvements in knowledge and in technology.

This year, the majority (29) of countries in the study (29) experienced an improvement in their level of digital competitiveness. About 40 per cent of the sample (26 countries) shows a decline while only eight economies remain in the same position.