Bahrain and Qatar Make Strides in Global Competitiveness Rankings | Kanebridge News
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Bahrain and Qatar Make Strides in Global Competitiveness Rankings

Bahrain and Qatar have significantly improved their positions in the 2024 World Competitiveness Ranking, highlighting their commitment to economic growth and development.

Wed, Jun 19, 2024 1:47pmGrey Clock 4 min

Bahrain achieved a remarkable leap of nine places, securing the twenty-first position in the 2024 World Competitiveness Ranking published by the World Competitiveness Centre – Institute of Management Development (IMD).

This significant advancement since its 2022 debut highlights the Kingdom’s firm commitment to developing its ecosystem to accelerate growth and enhance its unique competitive advantages.

Commitment to Growth

The latest report shows Bahrain ranking first globally in 12 indicators and placing in the top 10 across 75 indicators. This impressive performance spans diverse sectors, from the adaptability of government policy to effective public-private partnerships driving technological advancement.

Osama Saleh Alalawi, the Undersecretary of National Economy at the Ministry of Finance and National Economy, stated: The Kingdom of Bahrain has put in place the catalysts needed for a strong and competitive economy. With effective partnerships and an enabling environment following the best international practices, Bahrain will continue in developing a competitive economy that puts human capital at the heart of each policy, initiative, and strategy.”

Key Factors in Bahrain’s Success

IMD’s World Competitiveness Ranking emphasized Bahrain’s key features that create an effective launchpad for development. This includes the adaptability of government policy, where Bahrain ranked eighth globally.

The Kingdom’s capacity to foster productive partnerships with the private sector was also a significant strength, ranking eighth globally in Public-Private Partnerships.

The financial sector, a cornerstone of Bahrain’s diversified economy, saw several relevant indicators in the top 10 global ranks, including Banking and Financial Services (ninth globally) and Central Bank Policy (sixth globally).

Bahrain’s achievements underscore its strategic focus on human capital development, with its workforce recognized for its exceptional skill, adaptability, and productivity. Citizens remain the primary driving force behind key national achievements with an international impact, as reflected in the IMD World Competitiveness Ranking.

The Kingdom ranked fourth globally in the availability of a Skilled Labor force and sixth in Finance, Digital/Technological, and language skills. Bahrain’s labor force has also been recognized for its flexibility and adaptability, ranking second globally in this area. These features contribute to heightened productivity levels, with the country ranking ninth globally in Workforce Productivity.

Bahrain’s Positive Trajectory

Bahrain’s continued positive trajectory in the IMD World Competitiveness Ranking results from wise leadership, careful planning, and a shared commitment exemplified by the TeamBahrain spirit. The Kingdom’s competitiveness stems from multiple complementary accelerators bound by the pursuit of excellence.

The IMD World Competitiveness Ranking is a comprehensive annual assessment of nations’ ability to create and sustain an environment that fosters enterprise competitiveness. It provides valuable insights and benchmarks for governments, businesses, and individuals worldwide.

Qatar 11th in Global Competitiveness Ranking

The report placed Qatar at 11th out of 67 countries, most of which are developed nations, compared to the 12th rank last year.

In the report, Qatar ranked high in the four main factors: economic performance (4th), government efficiency (7th), business efficiency (11th), and infrastructure (33rd).

The competitiveness assessment was based on the developments witnessed by a comprehensive set of data and indicators provided at the local level, along with the results of an opinion poll of a sample of company managers and businessmen on the business environment and the competitiveness of the economy.

Highlights of Qatar’s Performance

Qatar’s rank was positively influenced by the outstanding performance of many subfactors classified under the four factors mentioned above. Under the economic performance factor, the most prominent indicators were the unemployment rate, youth unemployment rate, and terms of trade index, in which the country ranked first globally.

Within the government efficiency factor, the national economy ranked first in both the consumption tax rate and the personal income tax rate, while it ranked second in the public finance index. For the business efficiency factor, Qatar ranked first globally in both the effectiveness of corporate boards and the migrant stock, while it came in second place globally in the working hours index.

Under the infrastructure factor, Qatar ranked first in the subfactors of energy infrastructure and the number of internet users per 1,000 people.

Qatar’s Strategic Vision

This year’s report is the 16th edition in a row in which the country participated, a result of continuous cooperation between the International Institute for Management Development and the National Planning Council.

Secretary General of the National Planning Council, Abdulaziz bin Nasser bin Mubarak Al Khalifa, welcomed the results achieved by Qatar, saying: “These outstanding results reflect the insight and wise vision of Qatar’s leadership.

“They also confirm that Qatar is on the right track towards achieving the ambitions of the Qatar National Vision 2030 by implementing the contents of the Third National Development Strategy 2024-2030.”

Regional Competitiveness

The UAE climbed to seventh place in the global competitive ranking, taking the top spot for employment, household expenditure growth, and lack of industrial disputes. It was also listed among the top three places in the world for property taxes, tourism revenue, property taxes, immigration laws, and labor force growth.

Saudi Arabia also improved its position, reaching 16th overall of the listed countries.


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Kuwait’s Economy Faces Continued Challenges Amid Oil Production Cuts and Non-Oil Sector Decline

The oil sector remained constrained by Opec-mandated crude oil production cuts, while the non-oil sector recorded a steeper decline than in the previous quarter

Fri, Jul 12, 2024 4 min

The Preliminary estimates from National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) Economic Research reveal a 4.4% year-on-year decline in Kuwait’s GDP for Q4 2023, slightly improving from Q3’s -5.8% outcome.

The oil sector remained constrained by OPEC-mandated crude oil production cuts, while the non-oil sector recorded a steeper decline than in the previous quarter.

For 2023 as a whole, the non-oil economy contracted for the second consecutive year. Parallel data on the expenditure side of the national accounts showed that investment’s share of GDP stood at a modest 17% of GDP in 2022 (the latest year available). This figure could rise significantly as the new government pursues its diversification and development goals.

Oil GDP Contraction

The figures indicated a 6.4% year-on-year decline in oil GDP in Q4, a slight improvement over Q3. Kuwait maintained crude oil production at 2.55 mbpd, in line with its OPEC+ production cut obligations. For the full year, oil GDP contracted by 4.3%, a marked turnaround from the robust expansion witnessed in 2022, when a tighter oil market prompted Kuwait and its OPEC counterparts to raise production.

However, oil’s positive performance in 2022 largely defied the trend, as oil GDP growth has been negative in seven of the last ten years, fluctuating with OPEC supply policy adjustments in response to the post-US shale landscape of ample supply and downward oil price pressures. Kuwait’s crude oil production in 2023 (2.59 mbpd) is about 10% lower than in 2014 (2.87 mbpd).

Looking ahead, oil GDP growth is expected to rise from Q4 2024 after OPEC+ announced in June that members’ 2024 voluntary production cuts, including Kuwait’s 135 kbpd, will be gradually unwound over the course of a year starting in October. “We estimate Kuwait’s oil GDP will rise by 0.9% q/q in Q4 and by 4.0% y/y in 2025 if this production is restored fully as planned, though Opec has left open the possibility that it could pause and even reverse these supply gains if market conditions dictate,” NBK said.

Non-Oil Sector

Meanwhile, GDP in the non-oil sector remained in contraction territory at -2.3% year-on-year in Q4 2023, extending a sequence that has lasted for five consecutive quarters. For 2023 as a whole, non-oil activity fell by 2.9%, marking a second consecutive annual decline following 2022’s fall of 0.1% (downwardly revised from +0.3%). This is the weakest reading in the available series and well below the 2011-2019 average of +3.3% per year.

Performance at the sectoral level in 2023 was led by transportation & storage (+20%), hotels & restaurants (+17.4%), and household employment (+13.1%). The latter pointed to burgeoning demand for domestic labor, while the increase in hospitality sector output, for the second consecutive year, signifies strong consumption and efforts to develop and expand local dining and tourism capacity.

However, larger sectors such as manufacturing (-17% year-on-year), trade (-2.8%), and other services & real estate (-2%) performed markedly worse in 2023 compared to 2022.

The Central Statistical Bureau (CSB) also published GDP data characterized by expenditure up until 2022, offering a different perspective on Kuwait’s economy. In 2020, amidst the pandemic, private consumption (-11%) and total investment (-36%) fell sharply, contributing to that year’s near-5% decline in real GDP.

Private and government consumption led the recovery in 2021, while investment saw little change (+1.8%). Exports drove the continued recovery in 2022, a year when Kuwait’s oil output and exports recorded double-digit increases amid a tight market impacted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Cuts to Capex

Investment surged 44% in 2022 from a low, Covid-affected base, but in real terms, it remained below pre-Covid levels. This trend was reflected in successive government budget cuts to capex, which fell from a peak of KD3.8 billion ($12.43 billion) in FY19/20 to KD2.5 billion in FY23/24.

This trend reinforces what other figures suggest about Kuwait’s post-Covid economic recovery, largely driven by consumer spending and oil exports. Gross investment (public and private), at 17% of GDP in 2022, will need to increase substantially if the government is to succeed in its reform and economic diversification goals.

The release confirms previous indications that Kuwait’s economy recovered to its pre-pandemic size more quickly than originally thought. Nominal GDP reached KD42.9 billion ($143 billion) in 2021 from KD33.6 billion in 2020, increasing by 28% year-on-year, largely due to surging oil prices which propelled oil GDP up by more than 67%. However, GDP declined to KD50.3 billion (-9.8%) in 2023, reflecting changes in oil GDP. Consequently, per capita income dropped to $33.7k in 2023, partly due to this fall and an increase in population (+2.3% year-on-year according to PACI data).

External Shocks

The modest growth in the non-oil economy since the Covid-19 pandemic, averaging +0.8% per year compared to a pre-pandemic average of 3.3% (2010-2019), highlights a sector performing well below its potential in recent years. This underperformance reflects a succession of challenging external shocks, including the pandemic, oil price volatility, and aggressive global central bank monetary tightening. Despite traditionally high levels of government spending, non-oil performance in Kuwait has lagged behind some of its GCC peers.

To close the performance gap with neighboring Gulf economies, changes in the composition of public spending, emphasizing capital investment, will be necessary. The private sector‘s role must be significantly enhanced, with the government providing regulatory tools, incentives, and initial capital to help businesses expand and deepen the non-oil base, driving long-term productivity gains. The new government has stated its intention to prioritize structural fiscal and economic reforms and accelerate the implementation of development plan projects.


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