Gulf states top Arab world in economic freedom

Special to World
Monday, December 1, 2003

Gulf Cooperation Council states have topped the Arab world in the latest index that rates economic freedom.

Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates topped the Arab world in the Economic Freedom Index. The annual 161-nation index has been issued annually by the Washington-based Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal and seeks to monitor progress by developing states in transparency and other standards of economic freedom. The index is regarded as useful to foreign investors.

Abu Dhabi and Manama once regarded as among the most controlled economies in the developing world -- were listed as the top two of 25 nations regarding economic freedom. Bahrain was ranked 16th in economic freedom and the UAE was cited as No. 24.

Neither GCC country was deemed as having total economic freedom. Bahrain received a 2 and the UAE a 2.2 rating, classifying them as countries with semi-total economic freedom at the end of 2002. The UAE, criticized for failing to opening up certain sectors to foreign investment, slipped from its 2001 rating of 2.15. A rating of 1 to 1.95 means that a country has a totally free economic policy.

Kuwait was rated No. 40 and deemed a country with semi-economic freedom. Oman was ranked No. 56, followed by Saudi Arabia.

Algeria, Djibouti, Egypt, Lebanon, Mauritania, Syria and Yemen were ranked as states with poor economic freedom. Iraq, Libya and Sudan were cited as not having any economic freedom.

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