This year, the country improved its ranking by five positions from its 2016 overall global competitiveness ranking of 15th, securing a place among the world’s top ten most competitive nations.
The IMD World Competitiveness Centre, a research group at the IMD business school in Switzerland, has published the rankings every year since 1989.
It compiles them using 260 indicators, about two thirds of which come from ‘hard’ data such as national employment and trade statistics; and a third from more than 6,250 responses to an executive opinion survey that measures the business perception of issues such as corruption, environmental concerns and quality of life.
This year 63 countries are ranked, with Cyprus and Saudi Arabia making their first appearance.
The 2017 report shows that the world’s most competitive countries continue to jostle for the top positions. Hong Kong has consolidated its dominance of the annual rankings compiled by the IMD World Competitiveness Centre, taking the top spot for the second year running.
Switzerland and Singapore came in second and third, with the United States placed fourth, its lowest position in five years and down from third last year. The Netherlands completed the top five, jumping three places from eighth last year.
The UAE’s achievement looks more emphatic as it has surpassed some of the world’s developed countries such as Norway, Canada, Germany, Taiwan and Finland — in 11th to 15th positions respectively — on the overall global competitiveness index.
The indicators that stood out among the most improved countries are related to government and business efficiency as well as productivity.
“These countries have maintained a business-friendly environment that encourages openness and productivity. If you look at China, its improvement of seven places to 18th can be traced to its dedication to international trade. This continues to drive the economy and the improvement in government and business efficiency,” said Professor Arturo Bris, director of the IMD World Competitiveness Centre.
In the region, the UAE continued to lead with the highest competitiveness score of 94.08. While Qatar slipped four positions from 13th position last year to 17 this year while Saudi Arabia was ranked 36th position. Other GCC countries are not featured.
In the wider Middle East, Jordan in the only country that made it onto the list, coming in at 56th this year, having slipped slightly from 53 in 2016.
Globally, the bottom of the table in competitiveness is largely occupied by countries experiencing political and economic upheaval.
“You would expect to see countries such as Ukraine (60), Brazil (61) and Venezuela (63) here because you read about their political issues in the news. These issues are at the root of poor government efficiency which diminishes their place in the rankings,” Bris said.