By Rhys Jones
Saudi Arabia is the most competitive country in the Arab world in terms of attracting investments, according to the findings of a recently released International Finance Corporation (IFC) study.
The Doing Business in 2006 report by the IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, evaluated the environment of commercial transactions in 155 countries.
Saudi Arabia was ranked first in the Arab world and 38th internationally, 29 places higher than last year. The kingdom’s ranking exceeded countries like France, Italy and Portugal.
Last year the kingdom’s ranking was 67th among 135 measured countries. Its leap in ranking is a significant endorsement of the Saudi government’s attempts to create a pro-business alliance, according to a top Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) boss.
“This elevation in rank is a remarkable achievement for the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and an encouraging factor for all investment-related governmental agencies,” said Amr Al Dabbagh, governor of SAGIA. “It indicates how a pro-business environment and cooperative stance among singular sister agencies can impact the overall investment climate of a country,” he added.
Kuwait and Oman followed close behind KSA, coming in at 47th and 51st respectively. The United Arab Emirates was ranked 69th, Lebanon came in at 95th while war-torn Iraq was 114th. The lowest placed Arab country was Egypt at 141st.
The report rated countries based on the average rankings of 10 processes — starting a business, dealing with licences, hiring and firing, registering property, getting credit, protecting investors, paying taxes, trading across borders, enforcing contracts and closing a business.
In the report Saudi Arabia was praised for encouraging cooperation between sister ministries and for taking a unified stance to improve the investment and economic environment under King Abdullah. Despite the kingdom’s considerable success, the country is keen to improve.
“However, while this leap in global investment faith is encouraging, we do not view it as our target as there is still room for improvement and development,” said Al Dabbagh.