Doha > Dubai.

Ankush Chibber
Ankush is a journalist hailing from India, who has edited and written for publications in his home country, the UAE, US, and UK. Previously the editor of Gulf Business in Dubai and of Entrepreneur in India, Ankush is a keen student of economics, a follower of Manchester United since 1996 and a disciple of Archer.

Qatar has surpassed the UAE in being named as the most competitive economy in the Middle East, as per the latest World Competitiveness Ranking from the IMD World Competitiveness Centre.

In the rankings, the UAE went from 12th in last year to 15th this year, while Qatar held steady at 13th, making it the most competitive economy in the Middle East as per the IMD.

The 2016 edition ranks China-Hong Kong first, Switzerland second and the US third, with Singapore, Sweden, Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway and Canada completing the top 10.

“The common pattern among all of the countries in the top 20 is their focus on business-friendly regulation, physical and intangible infrastructure and inclusive institutions,” Professor Arturo Bris, director of the IMD World Competitiveness Centre, said in a statement.

In the MENA region, Turkey came in at 38 and Jordan at 52.Countries such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Iran are not included in the rankings.

The highlight of this year’s ranking was the overtaking of the US by by Hong Kong and Switzerland.

“The US still boasts the best economic performance in the world, but there are many other factors that we take into account when assessing competitiveness,” Bris said.

A consistent commitment to a favourable business environment was central to China-Hong Kong’s rise, while Switzerland’s small size and its focus on quality have allowed it to keep its economy on top.

“One important fact that the ranking makes clear year after year is that current economic growth is by no means a guarantee of future competitiveness,” Bris said.

“Nations as different as China Mainland and Qatar fare very well in terms of economic performance, but they remain weak in other pillars such as government efficiency and infrastructure.”

 

Qatar is currently undertaking large development plans linked to its hosting of the 2022 World Cup, with $150 billion to $200 billion being spent on infrastructure-related developments in the country, of which $8 billion to $10 billion is football related.

Data gathered since the first ranking was published more than 25 years ago also lend weight to fears that the rich are getting richer and the poor poorer, according to Bris.

There is growing inequality

“Since 1995 the world has become increasingly unequal in terms of income differences among countries, although the rate of increase is now slowing,” he said.

“The wealth of the richest countries has grown every year except for the past two, while the poorer countries have seen some improvement in living conditions since the millennium,” he added. “Unfortunately, the problem for many countries is that wealth accumulation by the rich doesn’t yield any benefits for the poor in the absence of proper social safety nets.”

“Innovation-driven economic growth in poorer countries improves competitiveness, but it also increases inequality. This is obviously an issue that demands long-term attention.”

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