UAE is most pros­per­ous Arab na­tion again

The National - News - - BUSINESS - NADA EL SAWY

The UAE is once again the most pros­per­ous Arab na­tion and re­tained its rank in the global top 40 through con­tin­ued im­prove­ments in its busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment, ac­cord­ing to the lat­est Le­ga­tum Pros­per­ity In­dex pub­lished to­day.

The pros­per­ity in­dex, in its 13th year, as­sessed how well 167 coun­tries pro­mote the eco­nomic and so­cial well-be­ing of their res­i­dents in three do­mains: in­clu­sive so­ci­eties, open economies and em­pow­ered peo­ple.

“It reaches be­yond the fi­nan­cial into the po­lit­i­cal, the ju­di­cial and the well-be­ing and char­ac­ter of a na­tion,” said Philippa Stroud, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Lon­don think tank Le­ga­tum In­sti­tute. “The top 40 most pros­per­ous na­tions are those that have demon­strated over time how to build pros­per­ity.”

The UAE came in 40th place this year, keep­ing its spot in the top 40 for the fifth year in a row. A decade ago, it was 44th. It scored par­tic­u­larly well in the open economies cat­e­gory, which in­cludes the in­vest­ment en­vi­ron­ment, en­ter­prise con­di­tions, mar

ket ac­cess and in­fra­struc­ture, and eco­nomic qual­ity.

“[The Emi­rates] took a de­lib­er­ate de­ci­sion … to de­velop a good in­vest­ment en­vi­ron­ment, dereg­u­late busi­nesses, in­vest in in­fra­struc­ture and fo­cus on really mak­ing sure the fun­da­men­tals of the econ­omy are work­ing well,” Stephen Brien, di­rec­tor of pol­icy at Le­ga­tum In­sti­tute, told The Na­tional.

“That really shows through in the open economies do­main, where the UAE comes in at 26, hav­ing risen 10 places over the last decade,” he added.

Within the open economies cat­e­gory, the UAE is third glob­ally for the most flex­i­ble busi­ness reg­u­la­tions.

The coun­try has been di­ver­si­fy­ing its econ­omy and im­ple­ment­ing busi­ness-friendly re­forms, in­clud­ing the in­tro­duc­tion of long-term visas up to 10 years and de­creas­ing the costs of set­ting up en­ter­prises. It has al­lowed 100 per cent for­eign own­er­ship of com­pa­nies in 13 sec­tors from man­u­fac­tur­ing to re­new­able en­ergy.

In the Le­ga­tum rank­ing’s in­clu­sive so­ci­eties cat­e­gory, which in­cludes safety and se­cu­rity, per­sonal free­dom, gov­er­nance and so­cial cap­i­tal, the UAE came in 65th. It came in 50th place in the em­pow­ered peo­ple cat­e­gory, which in­cludes liv­ing con­di­tions, health, ed­u­ca­tion and nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment.

Im­prove­ments in the Emi­rates since 2009 in­clude a jump in pri­mary ed­u­ca­tion to 48th from 91st. “That’s a suc­cess­ful push there,” says Mr Brien.

Glob­ally, 148 out of 167 coun­tries are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing higher lev­els of pros­per­ity than a decade ago. The in­crease has been driven by more open economies due to im­prove­ment in the in­vest­ment en­vi­ron­ment and dig­i­tal con­nec­tiv­ity. Health, ed­u­ca­tion and liv­ing con­di­tions have also im­proved, but weaker per­sonal free­dom and de­te­ri­o­rat­ing gov­er­nance are set­backs.

In the Mena re­gion, Saudi Ara­bia has im­proved its pros­per­ity over the past decade to 71st from 85th.

Of the 19 coun­tries that ex­pe­ri­enced a de­te­ri­o­ra­tion in global pros­per­ity over the past decade, 15 are in Sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa or the Mena re­gion, mainly due to geopo­lit­i­cal con­flicts and civil un­rest. Syria (157th), Ye­men (166th) and Venezuela (143rd) have seen the great­est de­clines.

Mr Brien says the pros­per­ity in­dex “al­lows coun­tries to place them­selves on an in­ter­na­tional spec­trum and to see where their real strengths and weak­nesses are”.

Den­mark topped this year’s pros­per­ity in­dex for hav­ing the best liv­ing con­di­tions. The top 10 coun­tries for over­all pros­per­ity were nearly all in Europe, in­clud­ing num­ber two Nor­way, which topped last year’s in­dex, as well as Switzer­land, Swe­den, Fin­land, the Nether­lands, Ger­many, Lux­em­bourg and Ice­land. New Zealand, which took sev­enth po­si­tion, was the only ex­cep­tion.

In the Mena re­gion, Saudi Ara­bia has im­proved its pros­per­ity over the past decade to 71st from 85th

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