UAE tops MEA in inclusive growth

Economic diversification and entrepreneurship schemes create jobs for youth.

By Abdul Basit - Chief Reporter

Published: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 11:06 PM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 3:18 PM

Dubai — The UAE has ranked top among Middle East and African (MEA) countries for inclusive growth. The country is only 6.8 points behind the global average of developed countries in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

This was revealed on Wednesday in MasterCard’s 2015 Middle East and Africa ‘Inclusive Growth’ report.

The UAE got an overall score of 57.58, followed by Qatar in second place (55.22), Bahrain (54.56), Saudi Arabia (51.45) and Oman (50.95).

A commonly accepted definition of inclusive growth is sustainable output growth that is broad-based across economic sectors, creates productive employment opportunities for a great majority of the country’s working age population and reduces poverty.

Inclusive growth is, therefore, about both the pace and pattern of economic growth, which leads to a more vibrant consumer market that can support robust domestic demand.

The report highlighted the UAE for its regional leadership position and dedication to advancing its performance across both present and enabling conditions, and persevering in diversifying its economy away from oil and gas. This, combined with enhancing its education, healthcare and tourism sectors, has resulted in the creation of more job opportunities and increased sustainability.

According to the report, inclusive growth can be driven through job creation and encouraging an entrepreneurial ecosystem to support a thriving economy.

Dr Yuwa Hedrick Wong, chief economist for the MasterCard Centre for Inclusive Growth and co-author of the study, said: “Our report seeks to assess present and enabling conditions that are driving inclusive growth, and to suggest ways in which improvements can be made. To that end, present conditions include economic growth and expanding economic opportunity, as well as equality of outcomes and similarity in the economic conditions of individuals; while enabling conditions involve employment and productivity, access to economic opportunity, governance and youth.”

“It could be argued that inclusive growth is the solution for economic development concerns in the MEA region,” Dr Yasar Jarrar, vice-chair of the Global Agenda Council on the Future of Government (World Economic Forum), and co-author of the report, said  in a report on Wednesday .

“When income distribution and opportunities are equalised, countries will be able to boost local consumption, power growth and reduce poverty and unemployment, while also seeing a rise in social and economic mobility, leading to an expanding, dynamic and increasingly prosperous middle class,” he added.

Dr Jarrar further said that the UAE’s leadership position can be attributed to its continued focus on economic diversification, national competitiveness and its encouragement of entrepreneurship — all of which are essential to meeting the demands of a burgeoning youth population.

The recent example is the government-backed UAE Innovation strategy, which has been designed to boost interest and job creation in seven critical sectors — renewable energy, transport, education, health, technology, water and space.

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