World Economic Forum: Qatar most competitive country in the Arab world

Qatar is the Arab world’s most competitive economy ahead of all countries in the Middle East and North Africa, according to the World Economic Forum report.

Qatar ranks 17th globally, followed by Saudi Arabia in 21st place and the U.A.E. in 26th, ahead of countries such as China, Spain and India, the World Economic Forum, or WEF, said in its Global Competitiveness Report 2010-2011, released Thursday by the World Economic Forum ahead of its Annual Meeting of the New Champions 2010 in Tianjin, which covers a total 139 countries.

Oman, Kuwait and Bahrain rank 34th, 35th and 37th respectively in the WEF’s Global Competitiveness Index, or GCI, placing all Persian Gulf Cooperation Council states among the world’s 40 most competitive countries, the report said.

Qatar’s “strong competitiveness rests on solid foundations made up of a high-quality institutional framework, ranked 10th overall, a stable macroeconomic environment (8th), and an efficient goods market (12th),” the report said, adding Qatar was relatively unharmed by the global economic crisis and projected to post economic growth to the tune of 18.5% this year.

Going forward, “the country’s vulnerability to commodity price fluctuations will require diversification into other sectors of the economy and improving some of the areas of competitiveness,” the report said.

Saudi Arabia, the Middle East’s biggest economy, moved up seven places in the WEF competitiveness table after improvements helped build a strong and solid institutional framework, efficient markets, and sophisticated businesses, the report said.

Elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa, Tunisia ranks on 32nd position in the GCI, followed by Jordan on rank 65, Iran on 69, Morocco on 75, Egypt on 81, Algeria on 86, Lebanon on 92, Syria on 97 and Libya on 100.

Switzerland tops the overall rankings. The United States falls two places to fourth position, overtaken by Sweden (2nd) and Singapore (3rd), after already ceding the top place to Switzerland last year.