The United Arab Emirates was ranked the most prosperous country in the Arab World in the 2017 Legatum Prosperity Index issued Wednesday.
The annual report issued by London based think tank Legatum Institute ranked the UAE at 39 globally jumping from 41 in the 2016 edition.
The Middle East and North Africa region has seen significant growth in the living standards of its citizens, the report stated.
The UAE saw the greatest increase in standard of living in the world in the last ten years; and there has also been an increase in people’s satisfaction with their standard of living right across into North Africa, it added.
Saudi Arabia ranked third in the Arab world making seven jumps from 85 globally to 78 in this years report.
Saudi reforms already have impact
According to Legatum Institute’s Senior Fellow Stephen Brien, the Saudi economic reform helped launch the country in the prosperity report of 2017.
“The reform program started to show some signs,” he told Al Arabiya English. “We can see it in two areas, one is in the economic quality where we see barriers to trade getting less with the Kingdom getting higher scores for that as a result of the government reforms and encouraging the development of the private sector in Saudi Arabia,” he said.
“We also see it in people’s attitude, there is a more positive attitude, we use the Gallup world poll survey to look at people’s happiness, sense of positivity etcetera and what we are also seeing in Saudi an improvement there,” he said.
The third reason, he said, is that there is an improvement on their education. “It’s a binary issue of King Fahad University getting ranked top 200 in the world and that being recognized,” Brien said. “That’s more in the longer term investment that the Saudi government put in to education that the Saudi government is seeing bearing fruit in this index”.
Qatar ranked second but corruption increases
Qatar, which ranked second in the Arab world and 47 globally, on the other hand was the fastest faller globally in the governance index according to the 2017 report.
The Qatari government was perceived as more corrupt than last year, the report stated.
“What we are seeing is that there are three areas where Qatar has fallen, one of them is the perceived independence of the judiciary, which is based on an expert panel looking at judicial practices across the world,” Brien said.
“As well a weakening in the rule of law has been registered and also, perhaps most importantly, a sharp rise in perception of corruption in the nation. The three of those combine in the governance index to weaken it,” he added.
Brien said that data for the index is mostly collected from publicly available sources and other worldwide reports like the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index.
The report also stated that Qatar, with in the business environment index, saw a large fall in investor protections.
Qatar, the report said, saw its score fall, as resolving insolvency became more difficult.
According to Brien the diplomatic crisis between Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt will have an effect next year but for now it did not affect this year’s ratings.
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