Saudi Arabia jumped 30 places in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business 2020 Index and took the 62nd position, making the Kingdom the world’s top improver.
The results indicate that widespread social and economic reforms carried out by the country are bearing fruit.
Saudi Arabia established a one-stop shop for company incorporation and removed the requirement for married women to provide additional documentation when applying for a national identity card, the World Bank noted.
“It also made importing and exporting faster by enhancing the electronic trade single window, enabling risk-based inspections, launching an online platform for certification of imported goods, and upgrading infrastructure at Jeddah Port,” the bank said.
The latest leap in ranking comes as the world’s largest oil exporter looks to raise the levels of private participation and foreign investment in sectors ranging from energy to construction.
After years of depressed oil prices, Saudi Arabia, under the leadership of Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, introduced the Vision 2030 program, a comprehensive plan that seeks to end the Gulf country’s dependence on the exports of crude alone.
Other reforms led to improving access to credit, strengthening minority investor protections, and facilitating the resolution of insolvency, the World Bank noted in its latest report.
In the rest of the Middle East, Jordan, ranked 75, Bahrain, at 43, and Kuwait, at 83, also made it to the list of top ten improvers. The United Arab Emirates remained the strongest performer overall in the region, placing 16th on the ease of doing business rankings.
“It is a year of records for economies in the Middle East and North Africa, and we are committed to continuing our support to all countries in the region” World Bank Regional Vice President for Middle East and North Africa Farid Belhaj said in a statement.
“The next generation of reforms should focus on transparency, fair competition and good governance to make MENA open for business and attract investments needed to create jobs for youth and women,” he added.