UAE one of the top Middle Eastern countries in ‘world competitiveness rankings’

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Giant flag hoisted in Abu Dhabi on the eve of the UAE National Day. Photo -

The UAE managed to climb 12 places in the 2012 World Competitiveness Yearbook (WCY) rankings, thanks to its reliable infrastructure, business-friendly environment and a dynamic economy.

According to the IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook 2012, which ranks the world’s 59 most advanced countries, the Gulf emirates jumped 12 places – from 28th in 2011 to 16th this year. It was the greatest ranking increase of any country surveyed by the Swiss global business school. The rankings measure how well countries manage their economies and human resources to increase their prosperity.

Hong Kong was ranked the most competitive economy in the world, followed by the US and Switzerland.

The survey also revealed growing skepticism toward globalisation and the need for socio-economic reforms. It disclosed that economic recession has resulted in increasingly harsh attitudes toward the opening of economies.

Dr Hischam El Agamy, Executive Director, IMD, termed fertile environment for business as the factor behind improved UAE ranking.

“This result, in my opinion, is down to the alignment of government and business. Businesses in the UAE have made the most of policies and framework provided by the government. We’ve looked into this data several times and there are no mistakes. The government did a great job creating the framework for businesses to grow,” said El Agamy, in charge of IMD’s activities in south-east Europe, Africa, the Middle East, South Africa and South-east Asia.

More than 4,200 international executives responded to select five key attractiveness indicators of each country’s economy from a list of 15. Respondents praised the UAE for its reliable infrastructure (61.9%) followed by business-friendly environment (58.3%), dynamism of the economy (51.2%), open and positive attitudes (46.4%) and competency of government (39.3%).

El Agamy said he believes the UAE is in a position to weather the eurozone crisis due to the key attractiveness indicators which would help the economy continue to grow.

“We’re all on the same planet, but some countries have more opportunity for growth than others,” said El Agamy.

“The Middle East is a prosperous region but a lot depends on what happens in other parts of the world. There is still a lot to be done in some countries, but the UAE can counter balance between Europe and Asia. It is attracting investors from the right places; Asia sees the UAE as a great hub.”

UAE government officials were also pleased by the business school’s findings.

Reem Al-Hashimy, Minister of State and Chairwoman of the Emirates Competitiveness Council, said: “We are especially pleased with this year’s results as the IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook is one of the most comprehensive annual global reports on advanced countries’ competitiveness. The fact the greatest ranking improvements were in business efficiencies, namely productivity, management practices, and attitudes and values make these improvements all the more significant, given our peers.”

“On-going government investment in infrastructure, education, knowledge industries as well as the reforms and improvements to the business environment are key pillars in the government’s strategy for better future competitiveness.

“We could not have achieved these outcomes without the collaboration of federal and local entities and government bodies working to improve the competitiveness of the country,” she added.

Abdullah Lootah, Secretary General of the Emirates Competitiveness Council said the country’s ranking can be attributed to the successful policies and breadth of businesses which have created a highly diverse, stable, and competitive business environment across the UAE. He also praised the high degree of safety and security in the UAE that gives it a comparative advantage to other countries in the region.

“Global competitiveness rankings are a meaningful way to evaluate a country’s progress. Rankings are equally important to private sector and government. Business uses them as a way to assesses potential for growth, investments and to attract long term talent; governments use them to evaluate policies that underpin the business environment and determine areas of legislation and procedural improvements,” he said in a statement.

The IBD World Competitiveness Yearbook has been published since 1989 and is recognised as one of the leading annual reports on the competitiveness of nations.

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