Source: Gulf News 2013
Dubai: The UAE ranks highest on the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) out of the countries with cities bidding for the World Expo 2020.
Released on Tuesday, The Global Competitiveness Report is an annual release assessing the competitiveness landscape of 148 economies.
According to the 2013-2014 report, the UAE ranked 19th [in productivity] – cracking the top 20 for the first time after finishing 24th last year – ahead of Turkey (44), Brazil (56), and Russia (64).
Izmir in Turkey, São Paulo in Brazil, Yekaterinburg in Russia, and Dubai are all bidding for the event.
The UAE has overtaken Saudi Arabia (20) in the ranking to take second place in the region after Qatar (13).
The report stated that the UAE’s “competitiveness reflects the high quality of its infrastructure, where it ranks a solid 5th, as well as its highly efficient goods markets [4th]. Strong macroeconomic stability [7th] and some positive aspects of the country’s institutions — such as strong public trust in politicians [3rd] and high government efficiency [9th] — round up the list of competitive advantages.”
The report stated the UAE would need further investment to boost health and education.
On Turkey which fell from last year’s place  but remain higher than two years ago  the report stated “in terms of social sustainability, the country’s relatively high youth unemployment, its large informal sector, and its limited social protection continue to represent its main challenges.”
Brazil also dropped from last year’s place  and the report stated “a slight deterioration in some of the macroeconomic indicators [75th], a tightening of access to financing, and the lack of sufficient progress in some of the most pressing challenges the country faces has driven this drop.”
“Notwithstanding these challenges, the country still benefits from important strengths, especially its large market size and its fairly sophisticated business community [39th],” as per the report.
On Russia, which ranked lowest out of the countries with cities bidding for Expo 2020 the report stated in terms of social sustainability, the Russian Federation is characterised by a relatively weak social safety net, high and increasing inequality, and limited social mobility. In terms of environmental sustainability, its lax environmental regulations, resource depletion, and the slowly degrading quality of its natural environment emerge as the most important challenges.”
Qatar, the highest ranking country from the Middle East, dropped two places to 13th. Its population of 1.9 million has a gross domestic product (GDP) of $183.4 billion and a per capita GDP of $99,731.
The report stated “Qatar’s strong performance in terms of competitiveness rests on solid foundations made up of a high-quality institutional framework [4th], a stable macroeconomic environment [6th], and an efficient goods market [3rd].”
Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, came in behind the UAE at number 20. Its larger population (28.1 million) has a higher GDP of $727.3 billion but lower GDP per capita with $25,085.
“As much as the recent developments are commendable, [Saudi Arabia] faces important challenges going forward. Health and education do not meet the standards of other countries at similar income levels. Although some progress is visible in health and primary education,” the report stated.
Saudi Arabia went backwards on the ranking after placing 18th on the previous GCI.
Saudi Arabia “has seen a number of improvements to its competitiveness in recent years that have resulted in more efficient markets and sophisticated businesses,” the report said.
While Egypt dropped from 107 last year to 118 in the latest report, Syria was “not included in this year’s edition owing to the inability to conduct a survey”, the report stated.
The lowest ranked country, meanwhile, was Guinea in West Africa.
Similar to previous years the top 10 was once again dominated by European countries. Switzerland retained its position as the most competitive country on the index for the fifth consecutive year. This was followed by Finland (3), Germany (4), Sweden (6), Netherlands (8), and the United Kingdom (10), all finishing in the top 10.
The US (5) returned to the top 5 after finishing 7th last year.