UAE among the most digitally-advanced countries globally

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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The UAE has grabbed a spot among the world’s top 15 most digitally-advanced countries by securing 14th position, according to IMD’s World Digital Competitiveness Ranking 2020. 

The country has been ranked 8th in the EMEA region (Europe, Middle East and Africa) and while considering the countries with a population of less than 20 million the Emirates is at the 9th position. In terms of enabling digital technology development, the UAE is placed 4th and it secured the 11th position for preparedness to exploit digital transformation and future-readiness.

The Emirates has also gained higher rankings in sub-indexes including talent, international experience, highly-skilled foreign personnel, management of cities and the net flow of international students and more. 

The chief economist and head of operations at the IMD World Competitiveness Center, Christos Cabolis, stated that even though the UAE had to face a small decline of two positions when compared to 2019, it is still in the path of progress, having been at the 17th position in 2018.

The UAE hasn’t faced significant declines in many areas, it is just that the other countries have shown faster growth which in turn affected small fall-offs in nine sub-factors. The high-tech exports, in which UAE fell from the 43rd to 58th and the 50th ranking for investment in telecommunications are the only two noticeable decline, says Cabolis.

To maintain this advancement path, the UAE must continue to be attractive for the highly-skilled foreign workforce, for which it currently is in the 3rd position.

Christos Cabolis
Christos Cabolis
Chief economist & Head of Operations IMD World Competitiveness Center

“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, in 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].”

The vice-president of ManageEngine, an enterprise IT management software, Rajesh Ganesan stated that the UAE has initiated several policies in recent years to empower its economy by involving technologies like artificial intelligence. The country must increase its investments and focus on research and development to generate new value and accelerate innovation to prepare for the future, 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.