UAE maintains digital edge
The UAE has maintained its top regional ranking in global digital competitiveness and has also been bracketed among the world's top 15 most digitally-advanced countries.
According to IMD's World Digital Competitiveness Ranking 2020 released on Thursday, the UAE is ranked 14th worldwide, albeit down two positions from last year's ratings.
The UAE is ranked eighth in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region, while it is ninth when it comes to countries with a population of less than 20 million. The Emirates is ranked fourth for enabling the development of digital technologies and 11th for preparedness to exploit digital transformation and future readiness.
The UAE is also rated highly in sub-indices such as talent, international experience, highly-skilled foreign personnel, management of cities and net flow of international students, among others. Christos Cabolis, chief economist and head of operations at the IMD World Competitiveness Center, said that while the UAE posted a small decline of two places in the rankings, its trend over the past years is still one of advancement, having been 17th in 2018.
"There is no one area where the UAE has notably declined this year. It is more a case that other economies have improved faster so that there are small declines across the nine sub-factors. We do note a large decline in high-tech exports, down to 58th from 43rd and also see a large decline in investment in telecommunications [down to 50th] that may be cyclical," he said.
There are also small declines in the perceptions of business executives in a number of areas such as agility of companies (down to sixth) and availability of technological skills (from seventh to 17th).
In order to continue its upwards trajectory, Cabolis said the UAE needs to remain attractive to a highly-skilled foreign workforce - it is currently in third place - and to further diversify its economy.
"In the longer term, the UAE needs to be supported by improvements in training and education where it performs poorly in criteria such as PISA math assessment [45th] and higher education achievement in 47th place. This is turn is currently impacting its scientific concentration [52nd], its weakest sub-factor, where we see low performances in high-tech patent grants [27th] and research publications [55th]," added Cabolis.
Rajesh Ganesan, vice-president of ManageEngine, said the UAE has introduced many policies in the recent past to power its economy with emerging technologies such as the UAE Strategy for artificial intelligence, Dubai's DataFirst initiative and more.
"To further improve its digital competitiveness, the UAE must focus and invest more in research and development to create new value and accelerate innovation to remain future-ready," he added.
Among Arab countries, the UAE is followed by Qatar (30th), Saudi Arabia (34th) and Jordan (53rd). Globally, the US and Singapore retained their first and second positions, respectively, according to the IMD World Competitiveness Centre.
Denmark moved up one position to third place while Sweden slipped one to fourth. Hong Kong, Switzerland, Netherlands, South Korea, Norway and Finland have been ranked in the top 10.