The United Arab Emirates (UAE) took the top spot in the Middle East and ranked 8th globally in the 2017 Index of Economic Freedom, released by the US-based Heritage Foundation.
The UAE made incredible progress compared with the 2016 Index, which came second in the Middle East and ranked 25th globally.
The UAE advanced a whopping 17 positions outperforming world's major economies like the UK (12th), Luxembourg (14th) and the US (17th).
Hong Kong topped the list, while Singapore and New Zealand are in the second and third positions. Others in the top 10 are: Switzerland (4th), Australia (5th), Estonia (6th), Canada (7th), UAE (8th), Ireland (9) and Chile (10th).
The UAE is also rated among 29 countries, including Chile, the United Kingdom, Georgia, the US, and Mauritius, have been rated as "mostly free" economies with scores between 70 and 80.
Recent years’ broad-based and dynamic growth in the United Arab Emirates has been underpinned by continuous efforts to strengthen the business climate, boost investment, and foster the emergence of a more vibrant and diverse private sector.
The generally liberal trade regime has helped to sustain momentum for growth. The UAE aims to be a regional financial hub, and its banking sector is resilient, the Index said.
Among the GCC countries, Qatar was at 29th ranking on the list; Bahrain 44th; Kuwait 61st; Saudi Arabia 64th and Oman 82nd.
The Index analyses economic policy developments in 186 countries. Countries are graded and ranked on 12 measures of economic freedom that evaluate the rule of law, government size, regulatory efficiency, and the openness of markets.
With its far-reaching impacts on various aspects of human development, economic freedom empowers people, unleashes powerful forces of choice and opportunity, gives nourishment to other liberties, and improves the overall quality of life, the Foundation said.