Qatar, UAE most Competitive Economies for Mideast

The latest Global Competitiveness Report 2009-2010, released by the World Economic Forum (WEF), has ranked Qatar and United Arab Emirates (UAE) as the most competitive economies in the Middle East and North Africa region.

The study - which covered a total of 133 countries - ranked Qatar and UAE at the 22nd and the 23rd spots respectively.

While the overall ranking was topped by Switzerland; the United States, Singapore, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Japan, Canada and the Netherlands followed the next places.

Saudi Arabia (28), Bahrain (38), Kuwait (39) and Tunisia (40), were the other countries in the Middle East that figured in the upper half of the rankings, apart from Qatar and UAE; with particular improvements noted in the Gulf States.

The report specified, while analyzing the UAE, that the available data suggested that the UAE had the underlying fundamentals of a competitive economy in place, despite the current cyclical downturn.

The report also said that the rising public debt and lower budget surplus led to the lower score in macroeconomic stability, which was aligned with most other countries' results in this field.

But WEF did inform about the persisting doubts related to the sustainability of public finances in Dubai, and the possible effect a further deterioration may have on the country as a whole.

It said: "As the global downturn continues to limit the availability of finance and reduces tourism and trade, the country's main sectors of activity are likely to be adversely affected."