By Elsa Baxter
Kingdom top in the Middle East, comes ahead of UAE, Bahrain and Qatar.
Saudi Arabia is the most competitive country in the Middle East and the 13th in the world, according to the latest World Bank rankings.
The bank’s Doing Business 2010 report put the kingdom ahead of Bahrain, the UAE and Qatar in the region, and in front of advanced economies like Japan, Germany, France and Switzerland, for the ease of doing business.
Over the past five years, the kingdom has risen dramatically in the rankings, from 67 in 2004 to 38 in 2006, 16 in 2007 and to 13 this year.
The improvement shows the country is well poised to achieve its goal of becoming one of the top 10 most competitive countries by 2010, Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (Sagia) said in a statement on Wednesday.
The World Bank praised countries across the Middle East for boosting their economies, particularly during the global financial crisis.
“Economies in the Middle East and North Africa are reforming at an impressive rate, and in sustained and comprehensive ways that highlight insights gained from other reformers,” said Dahlia Khalifa, an author of the report.
“Governments are paying attention to the quality of business regulation to make their economies more competitive and encourage entrepreneurs. This is always important, but especially during these difficult times.”
The UAE moved up to 33 from 47 and became one of the world’s 10 most active reformers for the first time by eliminating the minimum capital requirement for business start-ups and simplifying registration.
Sagia said recent reforms to business registration and the introduction of a faster process for construction permits were the reason for the rise in rankings.
“This is demonstrated by increasing interest in the kingdom among prominent foreign business leaders, who chose Saudi Arabia over other countries in the Middle East as investment destinations,” the statement said.
One wonders what the criteria adopted by the bank for suggesting that the Kingdom is competitive are. It can not be transparency of the banking system, it can not be ease of establishing companies, it can not be ease of getting staff labour, nor ease of finding qualified Saudis prepared to accept lower level jobs. It can not be based on the amount (bribes) that one needs to pay public servants (and others in positions of authority) to get a modicom of service. Perhaps the World Bank need to review the criteria and in doing so, may have some input into the catestrophic banking disaster that has not only affected the Gulf, but the world. Having worked on a World Bank contract previously, if the World Bank internal processes are equal to those experienced by those of us who have done business in Saudi, then Saudi is probably correctly ranked!
Ease of doing business ... if you are a man.
I guess Mr. Chris J, has wrong infomration about the latest development in SAGIA regulations focused in helping to ease the regestration of Co. and it is one stop shop for all needed govrenment approvals. I thought beeing an exworker of the world bank would have the credibality to do you own home work before publishing such false remarks. We are all proud of this success and only people with sour feelings would envy the ecnomic development and leadership of the Kingdom.
Then what this says for all those ranked below Saudi must be unprintable..
I founf Chris J remarks misinformed. 33,000 Brits in Saudi Arabia vote with their feet to come and work in Saudi Arabia.. so there must be something competitive about this place compared to UK and competitiveness is not only measured in how easy it is to set up a company but how easy it is to reach the potential for growth. May I suggest that Chris J looks beyond the sunglasses and Dubai beaches as I am stating above after 25 years in Middle East! Hal-Luke Savas MBA FCIM MBIFM ICIOB affCIBSE firstname.lastname@example.org
I am a man of facts and figures and the World Bank is a main reliable source. However, i am very surprised to hear this classification from the World Bank. Saudi Arabia, 13th?? They must be saying the worst 13th?! tHE Sponsorship system is pure slavery and with Prince Naef well advanced into power, things will be worse. The social scene remains dreadful. This might be silly to mention but this is a major obstacle to get high calibre / world class professionals / experts. Would the wife of a Senior Executive let her husband to go to Saudi (99% doughtful). Also, the infrastructure and so many things are poor. Corruption remains very high according to the UN and is expected to increase after King Abdullah! Yes, SAGIA is doing a terrific job but many powerful internal bodies are fighting SAGIA fiercely. They think SAGIA is bringing the evil to the country. The only support SAGIA has is from King Abdallah. I think this report coming from Washington is politically motivated.
The ground is trembling under my feet... actually I am in full agreement with Omar! I find this ranking hard to belief myself. Attracting top talent to KSA remains, let say, difficult. Main driver is still oil, with all that implies. I doubt any foreigner can set up shop in KSA and be successful the same way you can be in UK/US/Canada/Nordic countries, or even Eastern Europe. I know, I know... if I do not like... but at some point this short-term protectionist policy will come up to chase the region. Politicians (or rulers, in this region) find protectionism very attractive because its benefits, while limited to a small group of population, are well defined. Freer markets bring greater benefits to the overall population, but they are hard to sell. And to the ones who claim that the region is attractive to so many Britons, the only reason westerners come here is because of the money. Money alone will never attract top talent, and even if you manage to attract some world class people, you still need to provide the middle management layers. Oh well, it must be true, Omar has been kidnapped and replaced. We will gladly pay for his freedom :)
Does the world bank take into account if both men and women can open up business?