Browsing 'middle east' News

image

Qatar continues to host the Middle East’s most competitive economy, according to newly released figures from the World Economic Forum.

The Gulf nation ranked 11th out of 144 countries in this year’s Global Competitiveness Report, up three spots from last year, and trailing only larger developed nations such as the US, UK, Japan, Germany and Switzerland, which ranked number 1.

Saudi Arabia remains in the top 20 at 18th. The UAE improved slightly, ranking 24th, while Kuwait fell to 37th. According to the report, most countries in the MENA region “continue to require efforts across the board to improve their competitiveness.”

The WEF states that Qatar continue to score well for the following reasons:

Low levels of corruption and undue influence on government decisions, high efficiency of government institutions, and high levels of security are the cornerstones of the country’s very solid institutional framework, which provides a good foundation for heightening efficiency. 

The trustworthiness of Qatar’s financial markets also improved this year from 80th to 44th, the report stated. It continued:

Going forward… reducing the country’s vulnerability to commodity price fluctuations will require diversification into other sectors of the economy and reinforcing some areas of competitiveness…Given its high wage level, diversification into other sectors will require the country to raise productivity by continuing to promote a greater use of the latest technologies (27th) and by fostering more openness to foreign competition—currently ranked at 42nd, reflecting barriers to international trade and investment.

Below is the part about Qatar. Read the full report here.

Thoughts?

Credit: Photo by Jimmy Baikovicius

image

For the second year in a row, Qatar has moved up the Reporters Without Borders press freedom index, while the Middle East region as a whole has come under fire for not respecting journalists’ rights.

Qatar now ranks 110th in the 2013 World Press Freedom Index, up from 114th, surpassing the UAE, which fell two spots to 112th, for the first time since 2006.

But Qatar is still far from the 74th place it held in 2008. It also continues to trail Kuwait, which is 77th.

Last year, Jan Keulen, director of the Doha Centre for Media Freedom, attributed the relatively low rankings to the absence of an up-to-date media law. The same issue holds true today, he told Doha News.

A new draft of the media law, which hasn’t been updated since 1979, has garnered criticism at home and abroad for vague wording that bars critical reporting on Arab and friendly countries. It would also penalize news outlets for running anything that could be deemed offensive to Qatar’s ruling family or damaging to national interests.

GCC fares poorly

This year, Qatar fared better than most GCC countries, including Oman, which fell 24 places to 141st amid social and economic protests.

There, “some 50 netizens and bloggers were prosecuted on lèse majesté or cyber-crime charges in 2012. No fewer than 28 were convicted in December alone, in trials that trampled on defence rights,” the report states.

It is unclear why the UAE did not face a similarly steep drop in the rankings.

Last year, the country passed a sweeping cybercrime law, dismissed an American journalism professor for what he called a lack of self-censorship and expelled Gallup Abu-Dhabi, US-based National Democracy Institute and German think tank Konrad Adenauer Foundation for criticizing its policies.

The index once again put Finland in the top spot went to Finland, with Eritrea rounding out the bottom at 179th. Syria, the deadliest place for journalists last year, was also near the bottom, at 176th. Other GCC countries continue to dwell in the bottom of the rankings: Bahrain jumped eight spots to 165th, and Saudi Arabia fell five spots to 163rd.

Here’s the full report:

Thoughts?

The World Cup is an opportunity, it’s a catalyst. I’m not saying it’s the solution.

Hassan Al Thawadi, secretary general of the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee, on the impact that hosting the World Cup in the Middle East will have, given that the region has never held the games.

imageThe event won’t be a panacea for whatever ails the region, but Arab countries should take advantage of the spotlight by showing the world what they’re all about, he said in remarks published by Sports 360

“Today the world understands the Middle East but not completely,” he said.

The buildup to 2022 will have an especially tangible effect at home, he added, as Qatar works toward establishing a knowledge-based economy.

Sport 360 reports:

“Knowledge gap is an issue. For us, we saw the World Cup as an opportunity because it creates industries. We’re partnering with world experts, developing centres of experience and expertise within the region. Getting as much talented people from within the region to gain that experience, and bridge that knowledge gap will kick-start industries.

“After the World Cup, the intention is the transfer of knowledge that has happened over the past 10 years in preparation to host the event will be the seed to develop a sporting industry that’s sustainable in itself.”

Thoughts?

Credit: Photo by Aslan Media