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Qatar economy 'most competitive in Arab world'

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Qatar has the most competitive economy in the Arab world thanks to strong public institutions, low corruption levels, and a transparent legal system, an international study showed today.

The Arab World Competitiveness Report 2005, unveiled by the Geneva-based World Economic Forum (WEF), said Qatar's per-capita income of $34,600 was the highest among 12 Arab countries surveyed in 2004.

The UAE ranked second, helped by a strong economy, a thriving private sector and the most effective use of technology in the Arab world.

Bahrain ranked third followed by Oman, Jordan, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Egypt, Algeria, Lebanon and Yemen.

The report said Lebanon suffered from a weak economy, with the highest budget deficit in the Arab world in 2003, at 14.6 per cent of GDP.

Yemen had the least stable macro-economic environment of all countries assessed, with double digit inflation, a large budget deficit and an 'extremely pessimistic business community.

Researchers could not gather enough data to make a proper assessment of other Arab countries including Iraq, Syria and Kuwait, the report said.

All Arab countries, including those with high rankings, had to reform their economies to tackle mounting unemployment, which runs as high as 20 percent in some countries, the WEF said.

The study ranks countries according to their use of technology, the quality of public institutions and the macroeconomic environment.

It uses statistical analysis and interviews with leading business figures in each country to produce the final ranking.
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