For the second year in a row, the UAE has beaten Qatar for the title of the most competitive economy in the Middle East.
The two nations often go back and forth for the top spot in the World Economic Forum’s annual index, which assessed 137 countries this year.
Qatar fell seven spots to 25th in the latest edition of the Global Competitiveness Report 2017–2018, which was released yesterday.
Despite the tumble, it remains the region’s second most competitive economy.
The index scores countries on 12 economic “pillars” across three main themes. They are:
- Basic requirements such as infrastructure and healthcare;
- Efficiency enhancers such as higher education and technological readiness; and
- Innovation and sophistication factors, which are not specified.
Lower oil prices
According to the report, which conducted its analysis before the Gulf dispute began, Qatar slipped in the rankings due to lower global oil and gas prices.
The WEF had warned this might happen in last year’s report, saying Qatar’s economy is less diversified than the UAE’s.
In its latest report, the WEF explained:
“Qatar moved from a fiscal surplus of 10.3 percent (in 2015) to a deficit of 4.07 percent of GDP (2016) and public debt increased from 35.8 to 47.6 percent of GDP in the same years.”
However, Qatar’s infrastructure and goods markets remain strong, the WEF said.
In the future, more individuals and businesses need to embrace digital technologies, and the nation should also strengthen its educational institutions to get ahead.
Despite being bested by the UAE which fell one spot to 17th this year, Qatar came out ahead of all the other Gulf countries.
Saudi Arabia fell one spot to 30th and Kuwait tumbled 14 spots to 52nd.
Oman and Bahrain however moved up four spots, and are now 62nd and 44th, respectively.
As in previous years, the top three economies were Switzerland, the US and Singapore.