For the fifth consecutive year, the U.A.E is the top ranked country from the Middle East and North Africa in the World Bank’s Doing Business index, which ranks global economies in terms of ease of doing business. Released this week, the U.A.E. was ranked number 21 by the financial institution, after coming in at 26 last year.
Beyond the U.A.E., several other regional countries landed in the top hundred spots on the list as well. Bahrain was the second to appear, at number 66. Then came Morocco at 69, Oman at 71, Qatar at 83, Tunisia at 88, Saudi Arabia at 92 and Kuwait at 96.
The U.A.E., Saudi Arabia (which rose two spots from last year) and Kuwait (up six spots) were the only regional countries in the top hundred to rise in the ranking. Elsewhere, for the second year in a row, New Zealand was the top ranked country globally.
Launched in 2002, the World Bank’s Doing Business project measures business regulations and their enforcement across 190 economies and selected cities. In particular, it looks at how these regulations affect small and medium-sized companies. The methodology takes into account factors such as ease of starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, getting credit and a host of other indicators.
This year the U.A.E. ranked highly in areas such as getting electricity, dealing with construction permits and paying taxes. Areas it lagged behind in included getting credit, trading across borders and resolving insolvency.
The World Bank singled out Saudi Arabia in particular for improving its business climate after implementing six business-related reforms in the last year—the highest such number among regional countries.
“The well-orchestrated and coordinated efforts amongst various government agencies should send a strong signal to investors interested in investing in the Kingdom,” said Nadir Mohammed, the World Bank’s Country Director for Saudi Arabia.