Saudi Arabia is the top ranked country in the Middle East for the ease of doing business through regulatory reforms, a World Bank report has said.
Out of 183 economies around the world, the Gulf kingdom was ranked 12th in the Doing Business in a More Transparent World report.
It ranks the economies in 10 areas of business regulation, such as starting a business, resolving insolvency and trading across borders.
The report said that Gulf countries had introduced nine reforms between them during the past year - eight of which improved business regulation and one that made things worse.
Globally, the study showed that governments in 125 economies out of 183 measured implemented a total of 245 business regulatory reforms — 13 percent more reforms than in the previous year.
While Singapore, Hong Kong, New Zealand, United States and Denmark were ranked the best five economies for doing business, all the Gulf nations were in the top 70.
The UAE was second in the Middle East region, coming 33rd up from 35th last year, Qatar was placed 36th from 38th in 2011, Bahrain 38th (33rd), Oman 49th (53rd) and Kuwait 67th up from 71st.
Oman was the most active Gulf economy in the past year with three reforms, according to the report.
It said the sultanate introduced an online company registration, reducing the time it takes to register a business.
It also improved its credit information systemby launching the Bank Credit and StatisticalBureau System, which collects historicalinformation on performing and nonperforming loans for both firms and individuals.
The report also said Oman enacted a new income tax law that redefined the scope of taxation.
Qatar made starting a business easier by combining commercial registration and registration with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the report said.
Qatar also improved its credit information system by starting to distribute historical data and eliminating the minimum threshold for loans included in the database.
But the Gulf state was guilty of making dealing with construction permits more difficult by increasing the time and cost to process building permits, the study said.
Saudi Arabia made starting a business easier by bringing together representatives from the Department of Zakat and Income Tax and the General Organisation of Social Insurance to register new companies with their agencies.
The report said the UAE also made starting a business easier by merging the requirements to file company documents with the Department for Economic Development to obtain a trade licence and to register with the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The UAE also improved its credit information system through a new law allowing the establishment of a federal credit bureau under the supervision of the central bank.
Augusto Lopez-Claros, director, Global Indicators and Analysis, World Bank Group, said: “At a time when persistent unemployment and the need for job creation are in the headlines, governments around the world continue to seek ways to improve the regulatory climate for domestic business.
"Small and medium businesses that benefit most from these improvements are the key engines for job creation in many parts of the world.”
Against the backdrop of the global financial and economic crisis, more economies strengthened their insolvency regimes in 2010-11 than in any previous year.
Twenty-nine economies implemented insolvency reforms, up from 16 the previous year and 18 the year before.