On December 2, 2014, UAE celebrated its 43rd National Day. It has achieved, throughout its united journey, record-breaking rates of growth in all fields, which has placed it at the top in terms of global competitiveness, according to reports by specialised regional and international organisations.
These reports have ranked the UAE as one of the most developed countries in the world, with happy and contented citizens and other residents, as well as sustainable growth in many other fields, including the economy, trade, investment and communications, in addition to information, technology, tourism, infrastructure and human and social development.
It has also shown impressive growth in gender equality and in the political and economic empowerment of women.
One of the most notable achievements is in terms of development, its GDP having increased from Dh6.5 billion in 1971 to Dh1.54 trillion in the current year.
The Gross National Expenditure allocation in the annual budget increased from only Dh201 million in 1971 to Dh49bn and Dh100bn in 2015.
This indicates the volume of development programmes carried out over the past 43 years in the areas of infrastructure and providing essential services for citizens and residents.
These successes are due to the wise policies and essential foundations laid down by the prudent leadership of the founding fathers of the country, the first two being the late His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and the Late His Highness Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, who displayed economic, political, diplomatic and cultural openness, and built strategic partnerships with countries on all continents of the world.
Their policies and visions have been carried into the present by the leadership of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, as well as the members of the Federal Supreme Council and Rulers of the Emirates, and General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Commander of the Armed Forces.
Diplomatic relations have been established with more than 190 countries throughout the world, compared to relations with only three countries when the UAE was first established in 1971.
The UAE today has more than 75 bilateral tax agreements and some 50 bilateral investment treaties with strategic partners around the world, as well as air transport agreements with 168 countries on different continents of the world, as well as being signatory to hundreds of other bilateral and multilateral agreements.
The infrastructure of its ports and airports, as well as of its shipping fleet, now facilitates trading links throughout the world.
The UAE has now become an important player in the global economy and provides the regional headquarters for more than 25 per cent of the world’s largest 500 corporations.
Latest World Economic Forum Report
In the latest World Competitiveness Report issued by the World Economic Forum at Davos for the year 2014-15, in September, the UAE rose seven places in terms of overall economic competitiveness over the previous year, to 12th place globally, outranking countries such as Denmark, Canada, and South Korea in many indicators.
According to the report, which covered 144 countries, the UAE’s performance improved dramatically in 78 of the 114 indicators in just one year.
Sheikh Mohammed has said that the country, under the leadership of Sheikh Khalifa is advancing steadily in all developmental indicators.
He has said, "Our economy is constantly evolving, and indicators of security and stability in the UAE are among the best in the world, and the well-being of our citizens is our top priority."
Global Competitiveness Report
The UAE ranks high on a global level in the key indicators of the Global Competitiveness Report, and is ranked first in the world in terms of quality of roads, absence of organised crime, and lack of inflation. It is also ranked second globally in government procurement of advanced technology, the effectiveness of government spending, the infrastructure and quality of the aviation sector, and the lack of trade barriers.
The UAE also ranked third globally in citizens’ trust in the political leadership and the government, the lack of government bureaucracy, the quality of ports and efficiency of customs procedures, attracting technology through direct foreign investment, and attracting specialised talent in building a knowledge economy.
The UAE ranked 19th in the Global Competitiveness Report last year (2013-14), compared to 24th the previous year.
Notable progress in human development
The Human Development Report 2014 noted the remarkable progress made by the UAE with regards to human health, education and gross national income, with the human development index increasing to 0.827 as compared to 0.825 last year, ranking it in 40th position among 187 countries around the world.
According to the report, issued by the United Nations Development Programme in July, the average life expectancy of citizens in the UAE has increased to 76.8 years as compared to 76.7 years in the 2013 report, while the average number of years of schooling for citizens has now reached 13.3 years, compared to 12 years in the last report.
Sayed Agha, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, said, "This great development has placed the UAE among the category of countries with very high human development," adding that it had made significant progress at all levels of human development since 1980.
Agha noted that between 1980 and 2013, the human development index in the UAE had increased from 0.640 to 0.827, a 29.2 percent increase, with average life expectancy increasing from 67.6 years in 1980 to 76.8 years, and years of schooling from 8.6 years to 13.3 years.
Agha pointed out that the empowerment of women, involvement of youth, encouragement of national employment, development of human capital, and the ability to cope with environmental and human-made disasters, are some of the most important areas regarded by decision-makers, according to the Human Development Report for 2014.
Over the past decade, the UAE has ranked among the top countries in human development reports issued by the annual United Nations Development Programme. It also ranked second regionally, and 41st globally among 157 countries, in the Human Development report for 2013. In the Human Development Index, which includes 47 countries, it shared 41st place with Lithuania. This index, which measures the average achievements in basic aspects of human development.
Indicators of happiness and contentment of the people
The UAE figures among the countries at the top of several regional and international reports recording people's happiness and contentment indicators. As the second UN World Happiness report for 2013, the latest such index, revealed, not only did the UAE maintain its top place among Arab countries, but also advanced three places globally to 14th place in terms of indicators of happiness and contentment of world populations.
The UAE was also ranked first in the Arab World and 19th globally in the Social Progress Index, which measures the well-being of nations and their success in meeting the social and environmental needs of their citizens. The index is based on 52 different criteria, ranging from the availability of basic requirements to measures of well-being.
The index covered 50 countries around the world. The UAE ranked high in several categories, ranking 11th in basic requirements, 9th in personal safety, 30th in opportunities, access to higher education, personal freedom, and freedom of choice.
The index categorises countries according to their social and environmental performance in collaboration with the social progress initiative. This indicator is based entirely on social and environmental measures, which include basic human needs, the foundations of a decent living, and opportunities. It indicates the aspects on which a country must focus its efforts to improve the standard of living of its people.
The American Gallup organisation confirmed in a study prepared in collaboration with the Healthways Foundation, results of which were announced in September 2014, that about a third of the UAE's population enjoys three elements of well-being to an extent that is more than double that enjoyed by the Middle East and North Africa region as a whole, and that the high living standards enjoyed by the individual in the UAE, according to their share of the gross domestic product (GDP), is superior to the world average in terms of the five elements of well-being measured. Gallup noted that the rate of prosperity in the UAE at 49 per cent is among the highest in the world, surpassed only by a few countries, such as Panama at 58 percent and the Netherlands at 55 percent. The study pointed out that the high level of well-being in the UAE community reflects the satisfaction of citizens and residents in the country, as well as the leadership’s commitment to secure high living standards for the citizens and residents alike.
At the same time, the UAE is one of the countries in the world that most attract employment and residency, due to the security and stability in the country, and its good reputation. The UAE ranked first regionally and third globally on the list of top 10 countries for residence, and 24th globally in the index of best expatriate destinations, in the report issued by the Expat Insider for the year 2014. The UAE also ranked 1st globally in peaceful coexistence among nationalities, with people from over 200 countries residing here, according to the report of the UN International Organization for Peace, Care and Relief for 2014.
The World Bank placed the UAE in the 5th rank among the top countries in the world for sending cash transfers to resident employees. This amounted to about AED75 billion in 2013.
The UAE ranked 2nd in the Arab World and the Middle East and 35th globally, in the fifth annual list of countries with the best world reputation for the year 2014, issued by the international Reputation Institute for global consulting.
Global Innovation Index
In the Global Innovation Index 2014 issued by New York-based Cornell University, in collaboration with INSEAD and the UN-affiliated World Intellectual Property Organisation, the UAE ranked 1st in the Arab World and 36th globally out of 143 countries around the world covered by the index, announced in July.
Mohammed bin Abdullah Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs, has stressed that the UAE was established on principles of innovation, creativity, and knowledge, and there is no better evidence of that than the fact that Sheikh Khalifa and Sheikh Mohammed have announced the formation of the Emirates Space Agency, with plans for the first Arab Islamic project to send a probe to Mars.
The Minister said that the UAE is also characterised by its amazing ability to build an environment that encourages creativity, innovation and attracts talent, and that there are plans to make the transition towards a smart government and transform the cities into innovative, human-friendly smart cities. He added that large-scale projects are under way to transform education into smart education based on creativity and innovation, in addition to creating complexes for creativity in the fields of the internet, media, renewable energy, and manufacturing in the UAE.
The UAE, he noted, has a leadership that believes that innovation is the capital of the future.
The capital, Abu Dhabi, is ranked 1st among Arab capitals in terms of inventions, according to data announced by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) in October 2014, with 76 inventions being registered between mid-2010 and mid- 2014. Abu Dhabi, therefore, deserved the title Capital of Arab Innovation, WIPO said.
UAE 1st in government efficiency
The UAE ranked 1st globally in the field of government efficiency, the quality of government decisions, the absence of bureaucracy, and good management of public funds, according to a report in the annual World Competitiveness yearbook for 2014, issued by the International Institute for Management Development in Switzerland.
The country also ranked 2nd globally in the field of values and behaviour and in the ease of doing business, and 3rd globally in indicators of international trade, economic performance, and government financial policy, in a report measuring the global competitiveness of the 60 most important countries in the world. In addition, the UAE ranked among the top five countries worldwide in 35 indicators in the new global report, which consists of 330 indicators. The UAE ranked 8th globally in Global Competitiveness for the second consecutive year, outranking countries such as Denmark and Norway.
The UAE also achieved the 3rd rank globally in financial government policy, 4th globally in administrative practices, and 8th globally in labour market flexibility. According to the report, experts identified five main reasons for the UAE’s superiority in all global competitiveness criteria, including government efficiency, strength of infrastructure, diversity of national economy, and attractive investment environment, as well as the lack of taxes in the country. This year's report confirmed that the UAE has improved a large number of indicators, and is now ranked 2nd globally in ease of doing business, 3rd globally in transparency, 8th globally in true growth of GDP, and 5th globally in infrastructure, ranking among the top 10 globally, and the leader in the Middle East, in many indicators.
The UAE ranked 1st globally in the Edelman Trust Barometer 2014, rising from 6th to 1st globally. It also ranked 1st globally in the list of emerging countries in the overall trust indicator, advancing 13 points between 2013 and 2014. The UAE was also ranked 1st globally in the trust for government indicator at 88 percent, and 1st globally in trust in business at 82 percent, according to the annual index released by Edelman.
Additionally, the UAE ranked 1st among Middle Eastern countries and 26th globally in the Corruption Perceptions Index 2013 released by Transparency International. The index, which assesses the integrity and transparency levels in 177 countries around the world, showed that the UAE surpassed all other countries in the region and outranked many developed economies, such as Spain, which ranked 40th, Portugal which ranked 35th, South Korea which ranked 46th, and Turkey which ranked 53rd.
UAE in a leading position on its economy
The UAE cemented its competitive abilities on the economic level, ranking among the top countries in global competitiveness indicators and reports issued during 2014.
The UAE rose three places from last year's rankings in the latest World Bank report concerning ease of doing business, issued in October, maintaining its first rank among Arab countries and rising to 22nd place globally.
The International Monetary Fund predicted in its Financial Stability report, issued in October 2014, that the UAE would maintain a surplus in its government budget over the next six years from 2014 to 2019, at rates ranging from 6.9 percent to 10.5 percent of the GDP. In another report on exports, the IMF said that at the beginning of 2014, the UAE was on the list of the world's top 20 exporters and that its exports, including goods and services, will reach Dh1.47 trillion at the end of this year. The report also predicted that exports will increase to reach Dh1.59 trillion in 2015 and will reach about Dh2trillion in 2018.
The UAE ranked among the top ten countries in the Index of Economic Freedom 2014, issued by the Fraser institution in October, being the leader in the Middle East and North Africa region, and being placed 6th globally.
The UAE also ranked 1st regionally in the Middle East and North Africa and 16th globally in the Global Enabling Trade Report, advancing three places compared to its rank in 2012.
The methodology used in the classification of countries, according to the Global Enabling Trade Report, is based on four key indicators consisting of nine pillars, including access to the market, border management, transport infrastructure, and communications. In the business environment indicator the UAE ranked 13th globally out of 135 countries.
The UAE was ranked 1st among Arab countries and 6th globally in the world economic elasticity index, issued by the Swiss-based International Institute for Management Development in December 2013.
The UAE also ranked 1st among Arab and Middle Eastern countries for the second year in a row in Global Competitiveness for 2014, and ranked 4th globally with regard to its image abroad as one of the best countries in the field of purposeful business, according to the annual world competitiveness report for 2014 issued by the IIMD's World Competitiveness Centre in Lausanne. It made particular reference to the UAE's economic elasticity, the possibilities and capacities it provides in the field of business, and its developmental performance.
UAE ranked 2nd globally in attracting investment
The UAE ranked 2nd globally in attracting and receiving foreign investments, according to a 2014 report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). The report noted continued high inflows of foreign investments to the UAE for the fourth consecutive year. Overall, it said, the UAE had received in 2013 foreign investment of more than $10.5 billion dollars, pointing out that the rise in foreign investment has coincided with the economic recovery that the UAE has been witnessing since 2009, with the help of growth in the oil and non-oil sectors, expansion and sustainable development in the non-oil sector, especially in manufacturing, heavy industries such as aluminum and petrochemicals, and other sectors such as tourism, air transport and national airlines.
The UNCTAD report ranked the UAE 13th globally and first in the Middle East among the most promising destinations for investors from 2013 to 2015. The World Forum for Foreign Direct Investment report for 2013 noted that the UAE attracted foreign direct investment of Dh36.7 billion ($10bn) in 2012, compared to Dh28.14 billion ($7.67bn) in 2013; a growth of 31.5 per cent. The UAE ranked 2nd among Arab countries in terms of attracting foreign direct investment. It also ranked 3rd in West Asia, where foreign investment reached $47bn.
The UNCTAD foreign investment report for 2013 estimated total accumulated foreign direct investments in the UAE during the period from 2007 to 2012 at about Dh202.1bn while total investments of the UAE abroad during the same period reached some Dh146bn.
The Arab Investment & Export Credit Guarantee Corporation (DHAMAN), based in Kuwait, confirmed that the UAE ranked first in the Arab world, in terms of attracting foreign direct investment in 2013. Citing UNCTAD statistics, it said that 92 Arab and foreign countries had had an annual flow of investments totalling more than US$ 300 billion during the period from 2002 to 2012. The most important, in descending order, are France, Kuwait, United States, the UAE, United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Netherlands, China, and Germany.
The UAE ranked first in inter-Arab investments during the period from 2002 to April 2014, with the total value of projects amounting to $217bn.
The UAE’s record in attracting investment reflects the policies of openness it has adopted since its establishment. It ranks 4th globally and first in the Middle East in the openness to the world index and in benefiting positively from globalisation, according to the International Institute for Management Development report for 2013. In this report, in which Ireland ranked first, the UAE surpassed many developed countries in the world. According to this index, Ireland ranked first by obtaining 8.15 points out of 10, followed by Hong Kong in 2nd place at about 8.08 points, and the UAE at 7.82 points, while Malaysia ranked 5th at 7.8 points.
UAE 1st globally in foreign aid
The UAE has made a major step forward in terms of foreign aid, rising from 19th place in 2012 to first place globally, according to the preliminary official statement released in July 2014 by the Relief Aid Commission of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. It said that the UAE ranked first globally as the largest donor of foreign aid in 2013, in relation to its gross national income, with aid reached more than $5.2 billion, an increase of 375 per cent over the amount of aid spent in 2012.
The UAE ranked as the 16th largest donor of foreign aid in the world, according to a rating issued by the OECD Commission of Humanitarian Aid in April 2013. It said that aid granted by the UAE since its establishment on 2nd December 1971 and 2010 had reached more than $163 billion in the form of soft loans, non-returnable grants and relief aid, to around 137 countries and regions around the world. In 2011, a further $2.11 billion was given, with another $1.59 billion in 2012.
Information and Communication Technology
The UAE rose to 24th place globally in the Global Information and Communication Technology report for 2014, issued by the World Economic Forum, and covering 148 countries. It also ranked 32nd globally in the Networked Readiness Index for 2014 issued by the United Nations.
Further, the UAE also ranks 12th globally in online services and 13th globally in e-participation.
The UAE was ranked first in the Middle East and North Africa region and 2nd globally in the e-government index, out of 144 countries included in the global ICT report for 2013 issued by the World Economic Forum.
The UAE also ranked first regionally and 4th globally in the field of cyber security, according to the World Competitiveness Yearbook for 2012, issued by the International Institute for Management Development, and 3rd among Arab countries and 30th globally in the networked readiness index issued by INSEAD and the World Economic Forum in 2012.
The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority announced in February 2012 that the UAE had been ranked 7th in the web services indicator, one of the four indicators that make up the Networked Readiness Index issued by the United Nations in 2012, having been ranked 49th in 2010. It also ranked 2nd globally in terms of deployment of its fiber-optic network, according to the annual rating by the FTTH Council Europe for the year 2012, after completing the laying of a submarine communication cable connecting India and Europe and passing through the Middle East and the UAE region, at a cost of Dh57.2bn.
UAE in the lead in gender equality
The UAE’s achievements in the field of political and economic empowerment of women have gained widespread and, according to a report issued by the World Economic Forum in October 2013 in Geneva, the UAE now ranks first in the Middle East and North Africa in terms of gender equality in the quality of education, health care, and political and economic contributions.
The report, covering 133 countries, confirmed that the UAE has achieved excellent rates of gender equality. The country has been elected to the membership of the Executive Board of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women for a period of three years, from the beginning of 2013 to the end of 2015.
The UAE ranked first globally in terms of educational attainment rates for women, according to the 2012 annual report of the World Economic Forum with 10,000 points on the indicator. It also ranked 81st in terms of the political empowerment of women at 1206 points, and 122nd globally in the women’s economic participation index at 4751 points.
The UAE ranked first among Arab countries in the 2012 gender gap index issued by the World Economic Forum in October 2012. The report ranks countries in terms of gender gap based on four key areas: access to health care, education, political participation and economic equality.
The UAE has also been ranked first globally in competitiveness within the travel and tourism sector, based on six indicators included in the World Economic Forum report for 2013, notably the sustainability of development in the travel and tourism sector, the effectiveness of tourism promotion, and infrastructure advancement in international airports, air transport facilities, and airlines and support services. It occupied 8th place globally and first in the Middle East on the list of the most advanced countries in the tourism and aviation sectors, according to the 2013 travel and tourism competitiveness report, having risen two places since 2011.
UAE on the Global Map of Tourism
The UAE also ranked 9th in terms of tourism investment in the World Travel and Tourism Council report, covering 181 countries. The report said that the UAE’s investments in this sector reached around Dh92.9bn in 2013, compared to Dh84.3bn in 2012, a growth rate of about 10 per cent. The report predicted that growth would rise to 7.2 per cent, increasing the volume of investment to Dh104.4bn by 2014, and to Dh137.9bn in 2022. The report explained that these investments are concentrated in the construction of international recreational facilities and luxurious hotels, along with other tourist services.
The World Travel and Tourism Council noted in its report that the UAE accounts for the highest percentage of investments in tourism development in the Middle East, reaching Dh149.1bn in 2012.
The UAE ranked 30th globally out of the 139 countries covered in the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness report for 2011, issued by the World Economic Forum, while it maintained first place in the Middle East in the travel and tourism sector. 11.2 million tourists visited the UAE in 2012, according to the Forum, which predicted a rise to 18.8 million tourists in 2022. Total tourist spending in the UAE reached Dh111bn, and is expected to reach Dh113.8bn by 2022.
The UAE ranked 31st globally in terms of tourism revenue and growth during 2012, according to a report by the World Tourism Organisation, covering top 50 global tourist destinations in terms of revenue and growth in the tourism sector. The UAE’s revenue from tourism was reported as Dh192.6bn in 2012, out of overall global tourism revenues estimated at $1,075 trillion in 2012.
The UAE also ranked 4th globally and top in the Middle East in terms of tourism infrastructure, particularly in terms of the infrastructure of airports and the air transport sector.
A distinguished global presence
The UAE’s high rankings in the various global competitiveness reports reflect a 43-year journey packed with major achievements in various fields, and confirm the country’s leading position on a global and regional level and the respect and trust it has gained from the international community. Through the recognition earned from its diplomatic and political activities, the UAE has also come to be elected to the boards of a number of international and regional organisations and authorities.
Now the permanent headquarters of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the city of Abu Dhabi is the first Arab capital to host an international organisation and a global leader in the field of renewable energy.
The country also hosts, in Abu Dhabi, the International Centre for Countering Violent Extremism, Hedaya, in addition to the Muslim Council of Elders, which brings together Muslim scholars from around the world.
Further, the UAE hosts a number of other regional and international offices and organisations, including the Regional Office of the United Nations Development Group, the Regional Office of the United Nations Development Programme, the Regional Office of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, the Arab Monetary Fund, and the office of the Arab Trade Financing Programme. The International Air Transport Association is to open a regional office in Abu Dhabi while the World Organisation of Family Doctors in the Middle East also chose the UAE to be its permanent headquarters.
With the support and trust of the international community, the UAE was elected to host a number of international conferences and exhibitions, including Expo -2020, which will be held in Dubai, becoming the first city in the Middle East to host it, and the World Energy Summit 2019, which will also be the first time it is held in the Middle East, as well as the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference in 2018.
The UAE was also elected to the membership and boards of many regional and international organisations. Among these are:
* The election of the UAE on 27 October 2014 to the membership of the ITU for the third consecutive year.
* The UAE becoming a member of the World Tourism Organisation
* The unanimous election of the UAE by the International Atomic Energy Agency to membership of its board of governors in September 2013.On November 12, 2012, the UAE was elected, by a large majority of the UN General Assembly, to a seat on the UN Human Rights Council for the third consecutive year, which ends in late 2015.
* The UAE gained membership in the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) Council.
* The election of the UAE to the membership of the UN Executive Council of UN Women for three years, from 2013 until 2015.
* Selecting the UAE in November 2011 to participate in the Group of Twenty meetings.
* The election of the UAE in October, for the third time, to the membership of the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organisation.
* Election of the UAE in 2012 to the membership of the International Telecommunication Satellite Organisation advisory committee.
* Unesco selected the UAE in November 2013 for the position of Vice President of the Executive Council of the Arab Group. Selection of the UAE in November 2013 to be a member of the Executive Council of the World Organisation for Educational Evaluation and Grading, which regulates international examinations on a global level.
* The election of the UAE in 2013 to host the headquarters of the General Trust of the International Network of the Academic Certification Authority.
* The UAE won the presidency of the permanent Arab Parliament in its first session elections. On November 26, 2012, the Arab Women Organisation executive council, based in Cairo, elected Dr. Sheikha Saif Al Shamsi from the UAE as its General Director.
Journey of Achievements continues
The UAE continues its journey of national achievements by completing all the goals of the UN Millennium Sustainable Development Index, thus becoming one of the first countries to complete the timeline set out by the UN Millennium Summit, which was held in 2000 at UN headquarters in New York.
The UAE achieved more than 95 percent of the UN goals by the year 2012, finishing three years before the deadline of the end of 2015.
In celebration of the UAE’s ranking among the top 10 countries in global competitiveness and its ranking first in government efficiency, President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, said on 3rd May 2013 that the UAE, thanks to its wise visions, its prudent policies, its unique government, and the efforts of its male and female citizens, is reaping the fruits of empowerment in the form of international respect and acknowledgement of its political efficiency and its economic and management capabilities, along with the wellbeing, security, reassurance and optimism enjoyed by its citizens.
In his 41st National Day statement he added that, "The wellbeing of our citizens and residents has always been at the core of our strategic vision and what drives all our vital programmes and initiatives, which have placed our nation at the top of the world in terms of stability, prosperity and wellbeing, and have made it a cultural, economic and tourist destination, according to all reports and international indices."