Qatar has ranked highest of the Mena economies in the latest Global Competitiveness Index compiled by the World Economic Forum.
The annual survey ranks 130 countries based on 12 ‘pillars’ of competitiveness, split into three broad categories of basic requirements, efficiency enhancers and innovation factors. The scores are weighted according to wealth bands, with countries with the lowest GDP per capita (under $2,000) scoring more points for basic requirements and those in the highest band ($17,000 and above) skewed towards innovation.
Qatar, which was 26th in the overall list, is ranked as in transition between stage 2 and 3, meaning it has annual per capita GDP of $9,000-17,000. It scored a rank of 21 on basic requirements, 31 on efficiency enhancers and 35 on innovation factors. The region’s only stage 3 economy, the UAE, was 31st overall.
However, Bahrain – also a stage 2/3 transition economy – topped the Mena peer group in the ‘pillar’ of financial market sophistication, one of the pillars making up the ‘efficiency enhancements’ sub-index. It came eighth overall on this factor, ahead of Qatar (22nd), UAE (41st), Oman (50th), Kuwait (51st) and Saudi Arabia (73rd).
The other 11 pillars of competitiveness are institutions, infrastructure, macroeconomic stability, health and primary education, higher education and training, goods market efficiency, labour market efficiency, technological readiness, market size, business sophistication and innovation.
The report acknowledges that “the present global financial crisis has highlighted the critical importance of financial markets for the functioning of national economies”. It also highlights the importance of a “trustworthy and transparent” banking sector and a “thorough assessment of risk” to an efficient financial sector.
Commenting on Bahrain’s financial market sophistication ranking, Shaikh Mohammed bin Essa Al-Khalifa, chief executive of the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) said: “This widely respected and long standing WEF report reinforces Bahrain’s position as a world-leading international finance centre. The Kingdom offers a full range of financial services, with particular strength in banking and asset management and is home to the most advanced, transparent and respected regulatory regime in the region”.
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