Middle East economies Qatar, the UAE, Bahrain, Oman and Saudi Arabia ranked in top 50

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Release of The Global Innovation Index 2012: Switzerland Retains First-Place Position in Innovation Performance

Switzerland ranks first among 141 economies on innovation levels 

Middle East economies Qatar, the UAE, Bahrain, Oman and Saudi Arabia ranked in top 50

Abu Dhabi, 4 July 2012 – For the second year running, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates lead the Middle East in overall innovation performance according to the Global Innovation Index 2012 (GII): Stronger Innovation Linkages for Global Growth, published by INSEAD, the leading international business school, and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), a specialized agency of the United Nations. The GII 2012 benefits from the experience of Knowledge Partners Alcatel-Lucent, Booz & Company, and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), as well as an Advisory Board of eleven international experts.

The list of overall GII top 10 performers has changed little from last year.  Switzerland, Sweden, and Singapore are followed by Finland, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Denmark, Hong Kong (China), Ireland, and the United States of America.  The Global Innovation Index ranks 141 countries/economies on the basis of their innovation capabilities and results. It is calculated as the average of two sub-indices. The Innovation Input Sub-Index gauges elements of the national economy which embodies innovative activities grouped in five pillars: (1) Institutions, (2) Human capital and research, (3) Infrastructure, (4) Market sophistication and (5) Business sophistication. The Innovation Output Sub-Index captures actual evidence of innovation results, divided in two pillars: (6) Knowledge and technology outputs and (7) Creative outputs.

Where most MENA countries trail innovation leaders is in innovation outputs.  Qatar, Jordan and the UAE lead the regional ranking, although they score below the top forty with Qatar at 41st place, Jordan at 46th and the UAE at 51st.  Consequently, most MENA countries underperform on the Innovation Efficiency Index —a measure calculated as the ratio of the output sub-index over the input sub-index and that shows how innovation inputs are best translated into innovation outputs. Jordan ranks highest in efficiency at position 21 followed by Kuwait in 54th place out of 141 countries. Such examples from  Jordan and the GCC demonstrate rising levels of innovation achievements in MENA as a result of improvements in institutional frameworks, a skilled labour force (with an expanded tertiary education), and deeper integration with local and  global investment and trade markets. These examples also point to the need for improvement in knowledge outputs such as scientific journals and patents that ultimately result in creative goods and services for both local and global consumption. The GII includes 15 economies from the Middle East and Northern Africa (MENA), of which two—Qatar (33rd) and the United Arab Emirates (37th) —rank among the top 40 overall.  Similarly, the UAE (28th) and Qatar (30th) rank highest among MENA countries in the input sub-index and rank in the top 20 on several pillars.

“The GII is a timely reminder that policies to promote innovation are critical to the debate on spurring sustainable economic growth,” WIPO Director General Francis Gurry said.  “The downward pressure on investment in innovation exerted by the current crisis must be resisted. Otherwise we risk durable damage to countries’ productive capacities. This is the time for forward-looking policies to lay the foundations for future prosperity.”

At the pillar level, Qatar ranks 14th, 8th and 19th among 141 countries in Human capital and research, Business sophistication and Creative outputs respectively. Similarly, the UAE shines in Infrastructure, Business sophistication and Creative outputs where it ranks 17th, 16th and 20th respectively.

Other MENA countries managed to secure high rankings in several pillars. For example, Oman scored a high 33rd position in Institutions, Saudi Arabia ranks 36th in market sophistication and first in MENA.  Similarly, Bahrain’s human capital and research ranks 18th overall, second only to Qatar in the region. In Knowledge and technology outputs, Lebanon comes first in MENA at position 48 overall.

Soumitra Dutta, Roland Berger Professor of Business and Technology at INSEAD and the founder of the GII noted, “The GII seeks to update and improve the way innovation is measured.   Today’s definitions must capture an environment which is context-driven, problem-focused and interdisciplinary. The 2012 variables were broadened in an effort to find the right mix which captures innovation as it happens today.”

The study shows that the dynamics of innovation continue to be affected by the emergence of new successful innovators, as seen by the range of countries across continents in the top twenty GII ranking, as well as the good performances of emerging countries such as Jordan (56th).

The Report also highlights those economies that are over-performing countries/economies with similar income levels (as measured by GDP per capita in PPP$). Jordan is placed among the innovation learners, Tunisia, Lebanon, Morocco, and Egypt achieve GII scores that correspond to their income levels, while the remaining countries in the region achieve positions below their potential.

“Innovation is becoming the spearhead of competition – at a regional level, on a national level, and for companies,” said Ben Verwaayen, CEO of Alcatel-Lucent. “How to deal with that challenge will determine the destiny of competiveness for all players.”

China (34th) is the top-ranked emerging economy while Russia is ranked (51st), Brazil (58th) and India (64th). The report notes a need for the BRIC countries (Brazil, the Russian Federation, India, and China) to invest further in their innovation capabilities to live up to their expected potential. China’s performance on the key knowledge and technology outputs pillar is outpaced only by Switzerland, Sweden, Singapore, and Finland. However, the report notes that both China and India have weaknesses in their innovation infrastructure and environment.

“By cultivating human capital, promoting research and development (R&D) and developing traditional and nascent sectors, the GCC and other MENA countries have, undeniably, made significant progress to further expand their  innovation capabilities in past years”, said Karim Sabbagh, Senior Partner with Booz & Company. However, MENA countries must focus their efforts on a coherent capabilities-driven strategy to unlock value creation on a reliable and sustained basis. In particular, MENA countries need to pursue a clear strategic direction, build a system of differentiating capabilities consistent with that direction, and create products or services that thrive within that system. When these three elements are aligned and mutually reinforcing, countries of the region would be able to have a global comparative advantage.

Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General, CII said, “Every country can aspire to be an innovation-driven economy. The more resource-constrained an economy is, the more prone to innovation it actually can be. Importantly, innovation is about acts which improve everyday lives and a journey towards faster-sustainable-inclusive-growth”.

(MENA rankings)


World Rank 2012

World Rank 2011


  1. Qatar





  1. UAE





  1. Bahrain





  1. Oman





  1. Saudi Arabia





  1. Kuwait





  1. Jordan





  1. Tunisia





  1. Lebanon





  1. Morocco





  1. Egypt





  1. Iran, Islamic Rep.





  1. Algeria





  1. SyrianArabRepublic





  1. Yemen














Top ten economies in the GII 2012 ranking:


6. Netherlands


7. Denmark


8. Hong Kong (China)

4. Finland

9. Ireland

5. United Kingdom

10. United States of America


The theme of this year’s GII report, ‘Stronger innovation linkages for global growth’, underlines the importance of productive interactions among innovation actors—firms, the public sector, academia, and society—in modern innovation ecosystems.

To download the full report or see additional highlights, economy profiles and rankings, please visit: www.globalinnovationindex.org.

This year’s Global Innovation Index

To support the global innovation debate, to guide polices and to highlight good practices, metrics are required to assess innovation and related policy performance. The Global Innovation Index (GII) helps to create an environment in which innovation factors are under continual evaluation, and it provides a key tool and a rich database of detailed metrics for refining innovation policies.

This is the fifth year the GII has been published, and the first in which INSEAD and WIPO are co-publishers. The Global Innovation Index (GII) project was launched by INSEAD in 2007 with the goal of determining how to find metrics and approaches to better capture the richness of innovation in society and go beyond such traditional measures of innovation as the number of research articles and the level of research and development (R&D) expenditures.

This year the GII innovates in two ways: First, for the first time, the GII includes a detailed analysis of the underlying factors influencing year-on-year changes in rankings. Second, the strengths/weaknesses of each economy are identified in the country profiles.

Moreover, while the GII report is a year over year performance assessment, it seeks to update/improve the way innovation is measured. For example, this year the Infrastructure pillar was reorganized to single out ecological sustainability in a new sub-pillar. In addition, online creativity was added to the ranking, including data on generic and country-code top level Internet domains, and also drawing on data from Wikipedia and YouTube.

About INSEAD, The Business School for the World

As one of the world’s leading and largest graduate business schools, INSEAD brings people, cultures and ideas from around the world together to change lives and to transform organisations.  The 141 renowned Faculty members from 35 countries inspire more than 1,000 degree participants annually in the INSEAD MBA, Executive MBA and PhD programmes. In addition, more than 6,000 executives participate in INSEAD’s executive education programmes each year.

INSEAD conducts cutting edge research and innovates across all our programmes to provide business leaders with the knowledge and sensitivity to operate anywhere. More information about INSEAD can be found at www.insead.edu.

About WIPO

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is the leading global forum for the promotion of intellectual property as a force for innovation and creativity to achieve positive change. A specialized agency of the United Nations, WIPO assists its 185 member states in developing a balanced international IP legal framework to meet society’s evolving needs. It provides business services for obtaining IP rights in multiple countries and resolving disputes. It delivers capacity-building programs to help developing countries benefit from using IP. And it provides free access to unique knowledge banks of IP information.

About Booz & Company

Booz & Company is a leading global management consulting firm focused on serving and shaping the senior agenda of the world’s leading institutions. Our founder, Edwin Booz, launched the profession when he established the first management consulting firm in Chicago in 1914. Today, we operate globally with more than 3,000 people in 60 offices around the world.

We believe passionately that essential advantage lies within and that a few differentiating capabilities drive any organization’s identity and success. We work with our clients to discover and build those strengths and capture the market opportunities where they can earn the right to win.

We are a firm of practical strategists known for our functional expertise, industry foresight, and “sleeves rolled up” approach to working with our clients. To learn more about Booz & Company or to access its thought leadership, visit booz.com. Our award-winning management magazine, strategy+business, is available at strategy-business.com.

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