U.N. report marks improvement of human development in Arab countries

Qatar ranked highest among Arab states, while Sudan ranked lowest according to the U.N. annual report

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Despite lagging behind the global average, human development measures in the Arab world have improved, according to a recently-released U.N. report.

The report, which measures the human development index (HDI), a measure derived from life expectancy, education levels and incomes in countries around the world, concluded that Arab states are improving, albeit with “wide variations between countries,” according to a U.N. Development Programme press release.

HDI is measured between 0 and 1, with higher numbers indicate better development. Qatar placed highest in the region, achieving an HDI of 0.851 while Sudan placed lowest with an HDI of 0.473.

In its assessment of the Arab region, the report accounted for conflict, youth unemployment and inequalities, which “if left unchecked can hamper human development now and in the future.”

The war in Syria created the world’s largest refugee population which continues to face “daunting economic and social challenges,” the report said.

Syrian deprivation

The deprivations caused by the refugee-status of millions of displaced women and children may cause “lasting health problems, including mental health complications and contribute to lost livelihood undermining long-term [development] capabilities,” the report added.

However, the 2014 per-capita income in the Arab region is 15 percent higher than the world average.

The report also assesses human development in relation to gender equality – with the Arab region ranking in the bottom numbers. Libya placed highest in the region, followed by the UAE, while Yemen finished last.

Low female representation in parliament, gender discrepancies in labor force participation and other factors contribute to lack of development due to gender inequality, the report explained.

The HDI report called that states commit “to full employment as a policy goal, the universal provision of basic social services and social protections, and better global coordination in shoring up resilience to vulnerabilities.”