The UAE has been named the most competitive country in the Arab world in a new global report published by the World Economic Forum.
Its Global Competitiveness Report 2017-2018 - an annual assessment of the factors driving countries’ productivity and prosperity - ranked the UAE 17th on the list which was topped by Switzerland for the ninth consecutive year, narrowly ahead of the United States and Singapore.
Other G20 economies in the top 10 are Germany (5), the United Kingdom (8) and Japan (9). China is the highest ranking among the BRICS group of large emerging markets, moving up one rank to 27.
Elsewhere in the Gulf, Qatar was ranked 25th, Saudi Arabia (30th), Bahrain (44th), Kuwait (52nd) and Oman (62nd).
The report said the Middle East and North Africa improves its average performance this year, despite further deterioration in the macroeconomic environment in some countries.
Low oil and gas prices are forcing the region to implement reforms to boost diversification, and heavy investments in digital and technological infrastructure have allowed major improvements in technological readiness.
The report said the UAE improved its absolute assessment and continues to lead the Arab World in terms of competitiveness, but it lost one place on last year as other countries post even larger gains.
"This improvement shows the resilience of the UAE economy, in part due to increased diversification, which is reflected in its strengthening macroeconomic environment and its ability to weather the double shock of lower oil and gas prices and reduced global trade," the World Economic Forum report noted.
"To further increase its competitiveness, the UAE will have to speed up progress in terms of spreading the latest digital technologies (36th) and upgrading education (36th)," it added.
The report added that Saudi Arabia's restrictive labour regulations is its most problematic factor for doing business. Another concern is the lack of adequately educated workers.
Globally, the report highlights areas of greatest concern including the financial system, where levels of “soundness” have yet to recover from the shock of 2007.
“Global competitiveness will be more and more defined by the innovative capacity of a country. Talents will become increasingly more important than capital and therefore the world is moving from the age of capitalism into the age of talentism. Countries preparing for the Fourth Industrial Revolution and simultaneously strengthening their political, economic and social systems will be the winners in the competitive race of the future,” said Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman, World Economic Forum.
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