The United Arab Emirates has been ranked as the top country in the Middle East and North Africa region on World Bank’s annual Ease of Doing Business report for 2016.
The UAE was placed 31 globally among 189 countries in the ranking, moving up by one spot from last year, the report said.
The country had been ranked 23rd last year but the methodology has been changed and the 2015 rankings have now been revised.
The Ease of Doing Business report measures the procedures and legislation which promote investment and trade and highlights obstacles to doing business. It also offers quantitative indicators on business regulations and the protection of property rights.
This is the third year in a row that the UAE has topped the region in the ranking. It was followed by Bahrain (65), Qatar (68), Oman (70) and Tunisia (74).
At the regional level, the UAE came first for criteria such as dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, registering property, paying taxes and enforcing contracts. It was also ranked second for starting a business and protecting minority investors.
The report also highlighted the four main improvements carried out by the UAE in the last year.
The UAE made dealing with construction permits easier by streamlining the process for obtaining the civil defense approval, the report found. The country also reduced the time needed to provide an electricity connection cost estimate.
“It strengthened minority investor protections by barring a subsidiary from acquiring shares in its parent company and by requiring that a potential acquirer, upon reaching 50 per cent or more of the capital of a company, make a purchase offer to all shareholders,” the report said.
In terms of enforcing contracts, the UAE implemented electronic service of process by introducing a new case management office within the competent court. It further developed the ‘Smart Petitions’ service allowing litigants to file and track motions online, the report added.
The UAE’s minister of Economy Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri said developed countries do take into account information from the report when drawing their general development policies.
“We have to pursue in the UAE the latest practices and necessary global methodologies to overcome the obstacles that face investors and entrepreneurs, as this would enhance the economic sector and ensure improvement in the Global Competitiveness Reports to achieve the goals of the UAE Vision 2021,” official news agency WAM quoted him as saying.
Globally, Singapore topped the Ease of Doing Business rankings, followed by New Zealand, Denmark, Korea, Hong Kong, United Kingdom, United States, Sweden, Norway and Finland.