The Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal released a 2015 Index of Economic Freedom. Globally, this index was led by Hong Kong, with a score of 89.6, followed by Singapore, New Zealand, Australia and Switzerland.
In the GCC region, it shows Bahrain with the highest level of economic freedom.
Bahrain came out 18th on the Global Index, with an overall score of 73.4, down by 1.7 points from last year. Its score however fell while the UAE’s rose in the Global Index that ranks 178 countries worldwide. Its overall score decreasing can be traced back to perceived declining investment, monetary and business freedom.
The sharp drop following civil unrest in 2011 have affected business and the country’s general conditions in which business is conducted resulting in the economic freedom score declining by 4.3 points registering as the 10th largest score decline.
“Renewed efforts to enhance the foundations of economic freedom through firm institutionalisation of property rights and greater transparency remain critical to ensuring long-term economic development and a successful transition to a more open society,” as told in the report.
Meanwhile, the UAE ranked at the 25th spot, is the second highest Gulf state on the index, with an economic freedom score of 72.4, up by one point from last year.
The report elaborating on the Emirate’s higher score move as driven by improvements in investment freedom, balanced management of government spending, and freedom from corruption that outweigh a small combined decline in monetary, trade, and fiscal freedom.
The UAE has unlike Bahrain, seen its economic freedom move by 4.6 points over the past five years due mainly to gains in the regulatory environment and monetary freedom.
“Improved economic freedom has corresponded with moderate levels of growth. Economic reforms have cemented the UAE’s position as a commercial, financial, and logistical hub,” the report said.
“However, institutional reforms have not been comprehensive. The obvious0 level of corruption has declined, but the relatively inefficient judicial system remains vulnerable to political influence,” it added.
Qatar ranked 32nd with a score of 70.8; Oman followed at 56th scoring 66.7; Kuwait was placed 74th with a score of 62.5; and Saudi Arabia ranked the lowest at 77th scoring 62.1.
The ranking is split into categories with the MENA countries showing at :
- Mostly free with Bahrain and the UAE
- Moderately free with Jordan, Turkey, KSA and Morocco
- Mostly unfree with Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Mauritania
- Repressed with Algeria and Iran
- Not ranked with Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Syria and Somalia