The UAE has climbed 17 places to enter the top 10 of the US-based Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom.
The 2017 report, which measures 180 countries based on 12 criteria under rule of law, government size, regulatory efficiency and open markets categories, ranked the emirates in 8th from 25th last year.
This meant the country overtook the likes of the UK in 12th, the Netherlands in 15th and the US in 17th and stood at the top of the Middle East region.
The Heritage Foundation said recent years of “broad-based and dynamic growth” in the country had been met with efforts to strengthen the business climate, boost investment and foster a more vibrant 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,” it said.
The country improved its score in areas including property rights, government integrity, business freedom, labour freedom, tax burden and trade freedom, while dropping in monetary freedom, government spending and investment freedom.
Across the wider list, the Gulf countries had mixed fortunes. Qatar jumped to 29th from 34th, Kuwait climbed to 61st from 74th and Saudi Arabia stood in 64th from 78th. However, Bahrain dropped from 18th to 44th and Oman from 52nd to 82nd.
“In addition to reining in public spending and implementing additional structural reforms, action to firmly institutionalise the rule of law and enhance judicial independence and transparency is urgently needed,” Heritage said of Bahrain.
The list was led by Hong Kong, followed by Singapore, New Zealand, Switzerland and Australia.