DUBAI: According to “Forbes – Middle East” study “2011 Top Performing Economies in the Arab Region,” the high oil prices, witnessed during the past year, have contributed to the achievement of profitable revenue growth in the economies of the Arab oil-exporting countries, 7 of which topped the list of “2011 Top Performing Economies in the Arab Region.”
Saudi Arabia topped the list, followed by the UAE in second place, Qatar in third place and Oman in fourth place. The results of the study showed that those countries have taken advantage of the surplus revenues to increase spending on investments in domestic infrastructure and other vital sectors, such as health and education, in addition to raising their people’s standards of living, as most of those countries have approved significant increases in employee wages. For these same reasons, Kuwait occupied fifth place on the list, to be followed by Iraq and Algeria.
Morocco deserved to win, with distinction, the first place amongst Arab nonoil exporting countries. It occupied eighth place on the list as it achieved GDP growth rate of nearly 4.6 percent. Trying hard to get out of the cycle of the world’s poorest countries, Mauritania comes in ninth place on the list, achieving a growth rate of 5.1 percent. Jordan occupies tenth place, with its economic institutions working hard to implement a financial policy that can rescue the country, get it out of its debts that exceed $19 billion, and improve its growth rate that reaches 22.5 percent. Given that the Arab Spring hasn’t reached these countries, the internal stable security has proved beneficial.
On the other hand, Syria, Tunis, Egypt and Bahrain, have largely been affected by the popular revolts and the high oil prices as they are oil importers. Those two factors stand behind the decline in most of their economic indicators, such as foreign currency reserves and foreign investments. Meanwhile; those countries occupied places from 11th to 14th, respectively.
Lebanon occupied 15th place as it was affected by the events on its borders with Syria, granting the “Cedar Country” the title of “Master of Debts”, as Lebanon’s public debt rate reached 126 percent of its Domestic Product. We can understand why Sudan, which suffered much during 2011, occupies second place at the bottom of the list, especially, as the Khartoum government had lost more than half its oil supplies due to the disengagement of Southern Sudan from the North. Yemen occupies the last rank in the list, to be the poorest Arab country that possesses the worst economic policy performance at the level of the MENA region.
The study is part of Forbes Middle East’s interest in assisting governmental financial and economic planning sectors to develop and build future economic policies, based on accurate and objective data and analysis. The magazine also aims to provide the Arab readers all over the Arab world with a comprehensive panorama about the most important financial and economic events and facts, the region has witnessed in 2011. The study, that was conducted in cooperation with the International Monetary Fund in the US, included 19 Arab countries, 17 of which were present, excluding Libya, for the lack of sufficient data, and Palestine, for the failure of its central bank to provide the IMF with its annual financial data.
Editor in Chief of “Forbes – Middle East” Khuloud Al-Omian says: “As we bid a farewell to 2011 and receive a new year, we are optimistic that the positive winds of change have reached, or at least are about to reach all the Arab countries. Here we chose to evaluate the performance of these countries economically with the goal to get an idea about the future vision of the reality of our Arab economy that has achieved the sum of $1.05 trillion in gross domestic product in 2011, with growth rate of about 3.7 percent.
She adds: “Perhaps the deterioration in the economic and living conditions of the Arab nations was due to their involvement in politics, ignoring the importance of hard work and depending always on figures during the 2011 revolutions that witnessed a wave of change. And so, we expect that 2012 would be a year of reform and more governmental spending in the right way. Everyone seeks to achieve the demands of the nations by several means, including increasing the minimum wage rates, lowering prices, restricting taxes, improving living levels and investment in education, health and infrastructure, in addition to investment in development projects and others.
Al-Omian also noted that “some” Arab governments still have an opportunity to implement the long-awaited economic reforms, the first of which is to get rid of sovereign debts. She says: “Ultimately, we know very well that the nations are not concerned with ascending or descending order of figures. They are more concerned with the establishment of security, safety and a better future. Libya was a good example, as its figures put it amongst the strongest Arab countries, whilst the IMF today tries hard to find one figure, revealing what is going on in the new Libya, but so far, in vain.”