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Lesley Walker

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Qatar’s government is seen to be the most trustworthy of all in the Middle East and the North Africa (MENA), according to the latest results of an international league table.

In the 21st annual edition of the Corruption Perception Index 2015, Qatar came in 22nd place out of 168 countries worldwide, up four places from its position last year and finally beating out the UAE.

CPI 2015 global rankings

Transparency International

CPI 2015 global rankings

Berlin-based Transparency International ranks states according to their levels of public sector corruption, as judged by around a dozen world institutions such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, Economist Intelligence Unit and the Asian Bank.

Denmark took the top spot in this year’s index, while North Korea and Somalia came in joint bottom place. The UK took 10th position while the USA came in at 16th.

Region’s rankings

In the Gulf, the UAE fell just behind Qatar this year, coming in joint 23rd place with France, Chile and Estonia.

CPI 2015 - Regional rankings

Transparency International

CPI 2015 – Regional rankings

The other GCC states trailed further behind:

  • Saudi Arabia – 48th;
  • Bahrain – 50th;
  • Kuwait – 55th; and
  • Oman – 60th.

According to the index authors, top performers have high levels of press freedom, public access to budget information, high levels of integrity among people in power and an independent judiciary.

Conflict and war, poor governance, weak public institutions like police and the judiciary and a lack of independence in the media all contribute to low scores for states at the bottom of the rankings.

Qatar has steadily been moving up the table in perceptions of government trustworthiness, although this year’s index included seven fewer countries than last year’s 175. In 2012, Qatar came in joint 27th place with the UAE.

Qatar’s actual score for the index was 71 out of 100. A total of two-thirds of the countries rated by TI scored less than 50 in a system where 0 is for a state believed to be highly-corrupt and 100 very clean.

TI has created an international “heat map” showing how countries fare, with those colored red seen as the least transparent, and light-yellow the most.

Regional snapshot of 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI)

Transparency International

Regional snapshot of 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI)

While Qatar (darker yellow) is moving in the right direction, the index did warn that Qatar’s score meant it is ” perceived as cleaner, but not perfect”.

The report stated:

“The scale of the issue (corruption) is huge. Sixty-eight per cent of countries worldwide have a serious corruption problem. Half of the G20 are among them.

Not one single country, anywhere in the world, is corruption-free.”

Brazil was the biggest decliner in the index, falling five points and dropping seven positions to a ranking of 76th.

Countries showing the greatest decline over the past four years include Libya, Australia, Brazil, Spain and Turkey, while the big improvers are rated as Greece, Senegal and UK.

“Corruption can be beaten if we work together. To stamp out the abuse of power, bribery and shed light on secret deals, citizens must together tell their governments they have had enough,” José Ugaz, chairman of Transparency International, said in a statement.

Thoughts?

Texas A&M at Qatar

Alexander Cheek/Flickr

Texas A&M at Qatar

Two Qatar-based universities are among the top five higher education institutions in the Middle East and North Africa based on the quality of their research, according a new index that includes branch campuses for the first time.

Texas A&M University at Qatar, which specializes in engineering programs, took the top spot in a snapshot of the Times Higher Education (THE) ranking, while Qatar University (QU) comes in fourth place out of nearly 100 universities in the region that were examined.

THE has so far only released the top five institutions, and is expected to reveal the full ranking of 30 universities at its MENA Universities Summit it will host at QU on Feb. 23-24.

Lebanon also did well, with two of its universities making the cut in the “sneak peek” list. Saudi Arabia’s King Abdulaziz University came in third place.

  1. Texas A&M at Qatar
  2. Lebanese American University
  3. King Abdulaziz University (Saudi Arabia)
  4.  Qatar University
  5. American University of Beirut

Scoring system

This latest table judged the universities on one aspect – the excellence of their research, based on Elsevier’s Scopus database – and used a metric the rankings organization has called “field weighted citation impact.” This measures the ratio of citations received for each institution against the number which it would be expected to get based on the average of the subject field.

Articles, reviews and conference papers published between 2009 and 2013 across all subject disciplines were examined, although universities had to publish a minimum of 50 papers a year to qualify.

It did not consider the overall volume of research published – a factor that is part of an ongoing debate among academic experts over how universities should be rated.

THE has said that the purpose of its upcoming summit is for academic experts to discuss the factors that should be included in an index of universities in the region, and a full ranking is expected to be released next year.

For example, most Western rankings do not consider that some research in the region may only be published in Arabic and thus not garner the same number of citations outside of the region as an English paper.

Other rankings

The early results from THE’s table of top performers in the region is at odds with other recently-published rankings, which did not include branch campuses, but placed QU further down their tables.QU official pic

For example, in the region’s first-ever higher education ranking by Washington-based  US News & World Report, QU came in 29th place out of a total of 91 MENA schools.

In this index, quality and quantity of research was considered and the company looked at schools that had published 400 or more papers between 2009 and 2013.

Universities were then ranked according to nine weighted indicators, including the number of published papers and how frequently its research is cited in other articles.

Meanwhile, QS Intelligence Unit’s MENA rankings which were also released at the end of that year, put QU overall in 16th position for the region.

This measured a number of different factors, including academic reputation and employer reputation in addition to institutions’ research impact by looking at paper per faculty and citations per paper.

Thoughts?

Skyline

Stewart Lacey/Flickr

Qatar’s share of the Middle East’s leading companies has dropped since last year, as Forbes Middle East revealed its latest list of Top 500 Companies in the Arab World.

A total of 35 Qatari publicly-listed companies made the cut for 2014, compared to last year’s list, where there were 40 Qatari firms.

Of the firms which made the top 10 in the region, Qatar had two. Qatar National Bank (QNB) climbed one spot from last year to take third place overall, while telecoms firm Ooredoo made it to ninth place – two positions down from last year.

Industries Qatar, which had just sneaked into 10th place in 2013, this year dropped seven places to take the 17th spot overall.

Of Qatar’s ten leading businesses in the list, only two firms improved their position on last year, and they were both banks. In addition to QNB, Masraf Al Rayyan climbed nine places to take 28th position out of the list of 500 companies.

This year, four of a total of 15 sectors – banking, services, industrials and retail – were headed by Qatari companies.

Index details

Forbes ME top 20

Forbes Middle East

Top 500 Companies in the Arab World builds on Forbes’ Global 2000 list and was based on disclosed financial statements for 2013, collated from stock markets across the region. Criteria considered when producing the list include total revenue, net profits, total assets, and market capitalization.

The stock price – which determine market capitalization – of many publicly traded companies in Qatar, as well as the UAE, rose over the past year as investors snapped up shares in anticipation of a classification upgrade in May 2014 by financial services firm MSCI.

However, some have suggested that this caused many local companies to become overvalued and prompting a market correction this month as the Qatar Exchange’s main index tumbled more than nine percent.

While GCC countries dominate the list, Qatar’s share comes some way behind Saudi Arabia, which has an economy that’s more than four times as large as Qatar and is home to 108 of the 500 companies on Forbes’ list.

Saudi Basic Industries Corporation and Saudi Telecom took first and second place on the list respectively. You can see a full breakdown of the latest list here.

KSA is followed by Kuwait and then the UAE, which has 74 companies listed.

Qatar comes 7th in terms of total number of companies which make the list.

Sector breakdown

While Qatar’s overall position on the list has declined, some Qatari companies do lead the way in their sectors of expertise.

  • Industrials, the most widely represented sector with 107 companies, is headed by Qatar Industries for the second year with a market value of $31.3 billion.
  • The banking sector is led by QNB in terms of revenues ($5.4 billion), assets ($121.8 billion), profits ($2.6 billion) and market value ($37.1 billion).
  • Qatar has a total of nine companies in the list of 101 banks
  • Qatar Electricity and Water Company, which came in 66th place overall, headed the list of services companies.
  • In retail, 17 companies feature, with eight entries representing Saudi Arabia. However, top honors go to Qatar Fuel – Woqod, which boasted revenues of $3.5 billion and market value of $4.4 billion last year. Overall, Qatar holds four entries from this sector.
  • Qatar Insurance and Qatar General Insurance come in second and third places respectively in the insurance category, out of a total of 31 companies which made the grade this year.

Thoughts?