Bahrain and the UAE are "economically free" but are the citizens?
Oman has been ranked among the top five nations in this year's Economic Freedom of the Arab World report compiled and published by the Fraser Institute, one of Canada's leading public policy thinktanks.
The report, published in partnership with the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Liberty and the International Research Foundation of Oman, compares and ranks Arab nations in five areas of economic freedom.
In the latest edition, Bahrain and UAE shared the top spot, followed by Jordan in third place, Kuwait in fourth, and Lebanon and Oman sharing fifth position ahead of the larger economies of Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Egypt.
“We are pleased to see Oman ranked a joint fifth in the 2012 Economic Freedom of the Arab World Report. This reflects the hard work and progress we’re making as a nation with regard to creating an attractive and competitive business environment,” said Dr Salem bin Nasser al Ismaily, chairman, the Public Authority for Investment Promotion and Export Development (PAIPED).
“Increases in economic freedom that are, in effect, a return to the classical Arab model of free trade and open markets, would help generate the economic dynamism needed to create the jobs and prosperity the region requires for a successful future.”
Dr Ismaily, along with Azzan al Busaidi, PAIPED’s newly-appointed director general of research and IT services, will represent Oman at the Arab Economic Freedom Conference in Tunisia later this month.
“Research has shown that economic freedom is important to a society’s overall well-being. Globally, economic freedom is positively correlated with per capita income, economic growth, greater life expectancy, lower child mortality, the development of democratic institutions, civil and political freedoms, as well as other desirable social and economic outcomes,” Busaidi said.
The report stated that the main weakness of Oman was mainly the size of the government, bringing down its overall score for this sector to 5.4. It had the same score in this area as last year, coming 15th after dropping a place.
Legal structure and security of property rights is an area where Oman performed well with a score of eight points and was ranked second. Oman’s score on access to sound money improved by 0.1 point to 8.4, keeping it at tenth place in the index.
“In such difficult economic times, it’s crucial for an externally-oriented economy such as Oman to develop new markets, encourage the free flow of information, goods and capital, maintain a level playing field for business and encourage an economically free society. Indeed, this is exactly what we at PAIPED are focusing on,” said Busaidi.
Dr Ismaily, said, “We are always looking at ways to reduce red tape, eliminate outdated regulations, safeguard property rights and promote trade and investment. Our ranking in this year’s Economic Freedom of the Arab World Report illustrates the progress we’re making as a nation in many of these areas. However, there’s still work to be done.”