The World Bank recognized the United Arab Emirates as the best place in the Middle East to do business. Among the cities of the world it was ranked 21st.
The ranking is based on a study conducted by the World Bank. According to the study the rise to first place of the UAE was due to its economic policy reforms enacted over the past year which reduced bureaucratic hurdles for business. Four significant reforms were undertaken, including improved construction quality control and shortening the time to get building permits.
The World Bank added that during the course of the 15 years in which it has ranked cities for their business friendliness, the UAE has made the largest number of changes to its business structures in the region, with a total of 33.
Other countries in the Gulf ranked as follows:
• Saudi Arabia-92nd
According to the World Bank’s “Ease of Doing Business” ranking for 2015, Oman made significant strides, rising from 77th place in 2014 to 70th this year.
The ranking takes into account ten different regulatory aspects of business, such as “enforcing contracts,” “paying taxes,” and “getting credit.”
In the GCC region the sultanate was ranked the fourth best place to do business, ranking much higher than the UAE (31), Bahrain (65), and Qatar (68). Kuwait ranked 101st.
Oman’s rise is mostly due to great improvements in two measurements; ‘getting electricity’ and ‘trading across borders.’ Last year the country was ranked 124 in ‘getting electricity,’ and this year shot up more than 60 places to be ranked 60th in this parameter.
The report explained the change in Oman’s ability to deliver reliable power to business customers:
“In January 2015, the utility in Oman began recording the duration and frequency of outages to compute the annual system average interruption duration index and system average interruption frequency index. This enabled the utility to analyze outage date, identify and eliminate inefficiencies and accurately assess the impact of these initiatives on the distribution network.”
The sultanate climbed from 76th place to 69th in ‘trading across borders’ because
“Oman reduced the time for border compliance for both exporting and importing by transferring cargo operations from Port Sultan Qaboos to Sohar Port,” the report said.
The asset management firm Al Masah Capital published a report revealing that Oman and Bahrain have the highest unemployment rates than other Gulf countries.
The Great Job Rush
The Dubai-headquartered firm released ‘MENA: The Great Job Rush’, which described rates of 15% unemployment in each of the two Gulf states. In comparison, neighboring Qatar has an unemployment rate of 0.5%.
Saudi Arabia also revealed its own high unemployment rate of 10.8% while in the midst of a program of nationalization designed to help reduce this rate.
Kuwait’s jobless rate is also low, hovering at about 2.2%.
The report stated that “there is an urgent need for action.”
“Joblessness is a structural problem, particularly among the youth in the region. Short term solutions will not remove problems which took generations to fester. Deep structural changes are required, changes that go to the heart of cultural mentality.”
The MENA region has the highest unemployment rate in the world, with North Africa at 9.8% and the Middle East at 10.3%.
Youth Hit Hard
Saudi Arabia faces a serious unemployment problem among the young of the nation. The Kingdom’s youth are out of work at a rate double that of the global rate of jobless people, at 25.9% compared to 12.6% for the rest of the world.
A report of the World Bank published in 2003 predicted that the MENA region will need to create about 100 million new jobs during the 20 years between 2000 and 2020 in order to overcome a severe unemployment crisis.