The Social Progress Index, an index that ranks countries on their social and environmental performance, has ranked the UAE as the 19th most socially advanced country in the world.
Out of the 50 countries selected in the index, five are from the MENA region: Tunisia, Jordan, Morocco and Egypt were the other regional entries, ranking between 25 and 40.
The index, created by The Social Progress Imperative along with economists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, highlights the areas that countries should focus their efforts on to improve the well being of their people, with the help of a rigorous statistical technique and the best available data from internationally recognised sources, including the World Bank and the World Health Organization.
The UAE performed the highest in several categories out of the five MENA countries included in the index. It was ranked eleventh in basic human needs, and ninth for personal safety. The emirates also ranks 30th for opportunity, which encompasses personal rights, access to higher education and personal freedom and choice.
“Social progress depends on the policy choices, investments, and implementation capabilities of multiple stakeholders – government, civil society, and business,” said Professor Michael Porter, who was a part of the team formulating the index.
“Action needs to be catalysed at country level. By informing and motivating those stakeholders to work together and develop a more holistic approach to development, I am confident that social progress will accelerate.”
Sweden was named the most socially advanced country globally, followed by Britain.
The social index dispels the traditional indicators of economic growth like high income.
“The ‘Arab Spring’ of 2011 and the challenges in Mexico over the last decade have illustrated the shortcomings of economic growth as a proxy for social progress,” said Professor Porter. “In both business and economic development, our understanding of success has been incomplete.”
None of the countries scored in all the 12 components of the social progress index which are nutrition and basic medical care; air, water and sanitation; shelter, personal safety, access to basic knowledge, access to information and communication; health and wellness; ecosystem sustainability, personal rights, access to higher education, personal freedom and choice; and equity and inclusion.