The United Arab Emirates is back in business! As Joanna Andrews reports, the UAE is the only Arab country in the global economy that is driven by innovation according to a major international report on national competitiveness
The World Economic Forum (WEF) ranks the United Arab Emirates (UAE) 24 out of 144 countries globally in its ‘Global Competitiveness Report 2012-2013’. That’s three places higher than in the previous year.
What’s more, WEF classifies the country as an “innovation-driven” economy - the only Arab country to earn this accolade - putting it alongside the United States, United Kingdom, Japan, Singapore and Germany.
The report says, “The improvement reflects a better institutional framework as well as greater macroeconomic stability. Higher oil prices buoyed the budget surplus and allowed the country to reduce public debt and raise the savings rate.”
The report sparked a series of tweets from His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. Sheikh Mohammed tweeted, “UAE is the only Arab country to be classified as an innovation-driven economy… and was ranked 5th globally in ‘Goods Market Effeciency’.”
The new CEO of the Dubai International Financial Centre Authority (DIFCA), Jeffrey Singer, tells Al Shindagah, “The ranking suggests that the UAE and Dubai have successfully implemented their strategy to diversify their economy through the creation of industry specific free zones, which has helped them evolve from a trading economy to a knowledgebased economy”.
Jeffrey Singer, who was previously the CEO of Nasdaq Dubai says the report highlights the UAE’s strength as a global centre of business and finance through its world-class infrastructure, “DIFC is a global financial centre that comprises approximately 900 active member companies from all over the world… Most of these parties are within a fiveminute walk of each other, allowing easy interaction and sharing of knowledge and expertise.” He adds, “Home to ambitious investment and development projects, the UAE is already well on its way to building a knowledge-based economy with significant projects in renewable energy and clean technologies, aerospace, semiconductor foundries and the life sciences.”
The UAE also earned itself a top 10 spot in a number of categories in the WEF report; ranking seventh in labour market efficiency, seventh in macroeconomic environment, fifth in goods market efficiency and eighth in infrastructure. “Overall, the country’s competitiveness reflects the high quality of its infrastructure”, WEF says.
Sheikh Mohammed responded, “Proud to see UAE advance fast in this index as well as other indices. We are on the right path to be one of the top performers globally.”
Switzerland tops the overall ranking as the world’s most competitive and innovative economy, “Switzerland retains its 1st place position again this year as a result of its continuing strong performance across the board,” the report adds. It notes the country’s sophistication of its business sector and says the Switzerland’s scientific research institutions are “among the world’s best”.
Singapore maintains its second place, while Finland came in third after bumping Sweden to fourth place. The US slipped further down the ranking, “Falling two more positions to take 7th place… Although many structural features continue to make its economy extremely productive, a number of escalating and unaddressed weaknesses have lowered the US ranking in recent years,” the report adds.
WEF says the report comes as the outlook for the world economy is once again fragile. “Global growth remains historically low for the second year running with major centres of economic activity - particularly large emerging economies and key advanced economies - expected to slow in 2012–13, confirming the belief that the global economy is troubled by a slow and weak recovery.” It adds that as in previous years, growth remains unequally distributed. “Emerging and developing countries are growing faster than advanced economies, steadily closing the income gap”.