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Dubai: The UAE has ranked highest among Arab countries in the Global Knowledge Index 2020, coming in 15th place globally after rising three places since 2019, it was announced on Wednesday.

In the economy category, the UAE again ranked second worldwide (below Singapore), out of the 138 countries covered in the latest edition of the annual index, officials said during a virtual press conference. It also was in 10th place for pre-university education.

Switzerland again ranked first after its top spot last year, with US rising to second place from its third position in 2019, and Finland slipping to third place from its second position last year, shows the index’s fourth edition released on Wednesday. Chad was ranked lowest on the 2020 index.

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Clockwise from top left: Khaled Abdel Shafi, Deputy Director ad interim and Regional Hub Manager at the UNDP Regional Bureau for Arab States, Dr Khaled Abdel Ghaffar, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Egypt, Jamal Bin Huwaireb, CEO, Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Foundation and Dr Hany Torky, Chief Technical Advisor of the UNDP Knowledge Project

Dubai’s Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Foundation (MBRF) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) jointly produce the index. The annual ranking is a summary measure for tracking the knowledge performance of countries at the level of seven areas; namely pre-university education, technical and vocational education and training, higher education, research, development and innovation, information and communications technology, economy and the general enabling environment.

Speaking during Wednesday’s press conference, MBRF CEO Jamal Bin Huwaireb said the index was especially important to produce this year so policymakers could use it as a tool to navigate through the coronavirus pandemic. He said scientific research was one of the most important areas of focus in the index as well as in national priorities, pointing to the power of research in coming up with solutions such as the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Over the past years, the Global Knowledge Index has formed an effective tool for countries to measure knowledge as a broad concept that intricately relates to all aspects of modern human life,” said Bin Huwaireb, stressing on the “decisive role played by knowledge, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic, such as the knowledge economy that generates livelihoods during turbulent times”.

Other speakers during the press conference included Dr Mourad Wahba, UNDP Associate Administrator; Khaled Abdel Shafi, Deputy Director ad interim and Regional Hub Manager at the UNDP Regional Bureau for Arab States; Dr Khaled Abdel Ghaffar, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Egypt; and Dr Hany Torky, Chief Technical Advisor of the UNDP Knowledge Project.

Box: How the UAE performed

Overall 15th ranking among 138 countries covered

2nd in Economy

10th in Pre-University Education

11th in Technical & Vocational Education & Training

14th in Information & Communications Technology

19th in Higher Education

27th in General Enabling Environment