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The Arab World Competitiveness Report 2013 highlighted job creation as the major economic challenges for leaders in the Middle East. Among the 13 countries included in the report; Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates are leading in overall competitiveness.
The challenges continuing to face the region are underdeveloped skills, weak institutions, and labour market inefficiencies are the main factors limiting competitiveness. The ability to create jobs also varies across the region.
According to the report, the Arab world must improve its economic competitiveness if the region is to solve its biggest economic challenge of creating enough jobs for its youthful and growing population.
The report is published by the World Economic Forum in collaboration with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). It identifies a number of areas where regional leaders could prioritise reform in order to unlock barriers to job creation and private sector expansion. These barriers differ across the region; with weak institutions and labour markets singled out as the most significant areas for improvement in North Africa. Weak infrastructure and institutions in the Eastern Mediterranean Levant region, as well as a pervasive education and innovation gap, were listed priorities for the Gulf states.
The report also found that leaders in the Arab world who embraced the challenge of lifting competitiveness and enable private sector growth could look forward to a ‘win-win’ scenario, characterised by higher employment and greater social stability.
Børge Brende, managing director of the World Economic Forum, said: “Strong leadership based on a shared vision of the future political and economic system will be necessary to navigate the countries of the region through the turbulent times. The findings of this report are crucial for informing the discussions at the World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa.”
Erik Berglӧf, chief economist of the EBRD, commented: “Arab world leaders must prioritise developing market institutions and structures, which can enhance the regulatory and business environment and ultimately attract more capital into the region. Sustainable growth and job creation can only come through the unleashing of the private sector.”