The Middle East's Most Competitive Countries

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Global Competitiveness Report

As one of the the most difficult economic climates in generations continues, Western countries still dominate the top 10 slots in the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Report, led by Switzerland and the United States. But in the Middle East, 13 countries continue their upward trend of recent years, with a number of countries measurably improving their competitiveness. In this respect, significant differences between countries persist. In many energy exporting countries, abundant oil
Photo: Adam Gault | OJO Images | Getty Images

As one of the the most difficult economic climates in generations continues, Western countries still dominate the top 10 slots in the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Report, led by Switzerland and the United States.

But in the Middle East, 13 countries continue their upward trend of recent years, with a number of countries measurably improving their competitiveness. In this respect, significant differences between countries persist.

In many energy exporting countries, abundant oil windfall profits have triggered a wave of reforms aimed at improving competitiveness. As a result, some of the more successful reformers, such as Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia, place in the top tier of the emerging markets.

Although non–oil exporting countries from the region also benefited from the boom through foreign investment and remittances, the progress in improving competitiveness has been less pronounced or nonexistent.

Click ahead to see where these countries rank in the Global Competitiveness Report.

13. Armenia

GCI Rank: 97Total Population: 3 millionGDP Per Capita (US$): 3,360.5Direct Foreign Investment: $1.13 billion*Most Problematic Factor for Doing Business: CorruptionGovernment Type: Republic**Chief of State: President Serzh Sargsian (since April 2008)**
Photo: Walter Bibikow | The Image Bank | Getty Images*The World Factbook, CIA**United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

GCI Rank: 97
Total Population: 3 million
GDP Per Capita (US$): 3,360.5
Direct Foreign Investment: $1.13 billion*
Most Problematic Factor for Doing Business: Corruption
Government Type: Republic**
Chief of State: President Serzh Sargsian (since April 2008)**

12. Syria

GCI Rank: 94Total Population: 20.4 millionGDP Per Capita (US$): 2,756.6Direct Foreign Investment: $2.12 billion*Most Problematic Factor for Doing Business: Gov't bureaucracyGovernment Type: Republic under authoritarian military-dominated regime**Chief of State: President Bashar al-Asad (since July 2000)**
Photo: David W. Hamilton | The Image Bank | Getty Images*The World Factbook, CIA**United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

GCI Rank: 94
Total Population: 20.4 million
GDP Per Capita (US$): 2,756.6
Direct Foreign Investment: $2.12 billion*
Most Problematic Factor for Doing Business: Gov't bureaucracy
Government Type: Republic under authoritarian military-dominated regime**
Chief of State: President Bashar al-Asad (since July 2000)**

11. Georgia

GCI Rank: 90Total Population: 4.4 millionGDP Per Capita (US$): 2,925.1Direct Foreign Investment: $1.56 billion*Most Problematic Factor for Doing Business: Access to financingGovernment Type: Republic**Chief of State: President Mikheil Saakashvili (since Jan. 2004)**
Photo: De Agostini | Getty Images*The World Factbook, CIA**United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

GCI Rank: 90
Total Population: 4.4 million
GDP Per Capita (US$): 2,925.1
Direct Foreign Investment: $1.56 billion*
Most Problematic Factor for Doing Business: Access to financing
Government Type: Republic**
Chief of State: President Mikheil Saakashvili (since Jan. 2004)**

10. Turkey

GCI Rank: 61Total Population: 75.8 millionGDP Per Capita (US$): 10,471.7Direct Foreign Investment: $18.20 billion*Most Problematic Factor for Doing Business: Tax regulationsGovernment Type: Republican Parliamentary Democracy**Chief of State: President Abdullah Gul (since Aug., 2007)**
Photo: Scott E. Barbour | The Image bank | Getty Images*The World Factbook, CIA**United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

GCI Rank: 61
Total Population: 75.8 million
GDP Per Capita (US$): 10,471.7
Direct Foreign Investment: $18.20 billion*
Most Problematic Factor for Doing Business: Tax regulations
Government Type: Republican Parliamentary Democracy**
Chief of State: President Abdullah Gul (since Aug., 2007)**

9. Azerbaijan

GCI Rank: 51Total Population: 8.5 millionGDP Per Capita (US$): 5,349.4Direct Foreign Investment: $11 billion*Most Problematic Factor for Doing Business: CorruptionGovernment Type: Republic**Chief of State: President Ilham Aliyev (since Oct. 2003)**
Photo: David Davidson*The World Factbook, CIA**United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

GCI Rank: 51
Total Population: 8.5 million
GDP Per Capita (US$): 5,349.4
Direct Foreign Investment: $11 billion*
Most Problematic Factor for Doing Business: Corruption
Government Type: Republic**
Chief of State: President Ilham Aliyev (since Oct. 2003)**

8. Jordan

GCI Rank: 50Total Population: 6.1 millionGDP Per Capita (US$): 3,421.4Direct Foreign Investment: $1.95 billion*Most Problematic Factor for Doing Business: Tax ratesGovernment Type: Constitutional Monarchy**Chief of State: King Abdallah II (since Feb. 1999)**
Photo: Hugh Sitton | Stone | Getty Images*The World Factbook, CIA**United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

GCI Rank: 50
Total Population: 6.1 million
GDP Per Capita (US$): 3,421.4
Direct Foreign Investment: $1.95 billion*
Most Problematic Factor for Doing Business: Tax rates
Government Type: Constitutional Monarchy**
Chief of State: King Abdallah II (since Feb. 1999)**

7. Oman

GCI Rank: 41Total Population: 2.7 millionGDP Per Capita (US$): 18,987.8Direct Foreign Investment: $2.93 billion*Most Problematic Factor for Doing Business: Restrictive labor regulationsGovernment Type: Monarchy**Chief of State: Sultan and Prime Minister Qaboos bin Said al-Said (since July 1970, prime minister since July, 1972)**
Photo: Gulfimages | Getty Images*The World Factbook, CIA**United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

GCI Rank: 41
Total Population: 2.7 million
GDP Per Capita (US$): 18,987.8
Direct Foreign Investment: $2.93 billion*
Most Problematic Factor for Doing Business: Restrictive labor regulations
Government Type: Monarchy**
Chief of State: Sultan and Prime Minister Qaboos bin Said al-Said (since July 1970, prime minister since July, 1972)**

6. Kuwait

GCI Rank: 39Total Population: 2.9 millionGDP Per Capita (US$): 45,920.3Direct Foreign Investment: $38.22 billion*Most Problematic Factor for Doing Business: Gov't bureaucracy Government Type: Constitutional Emirate**Chief of State: Amir Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jabir al-Sabah (since Jan. 2006)**
Photo: Mark Daffey | Lonely Planet Images | Getty Images*The World Factbook, CIA**United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

GCI Rank: 39
Total Population: 2.9 million
GDP Per Capita (US$): 45,920.3
Direct Foreign Investment: $38.22 billion*
Most Problematic Factor for Doing Business: Gov't bureaucracy
Government Type: Constitutional Emirate**
Chief of State: Amir Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jabir al-Sabah (since Jan. 2006)**

5. Bahrain

GCI Rank: 38Total Population: 800,000GDP Per Capita (US$): 27,247.8Direct Foreign Investment: $1.75 billion*Most Problematic Factor for Doing Business: Restrictive labor regulationsGovernment Type: Constitutional Monarchy**Chief of State: King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa**
Photo: Frank Udo | Gulfimages | Getty Images*The World Factbook, CIA**United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

GCI Rank: 38
Total Population: 800,000
GDP Per Capita (US$): 27,247.8
Direct Foreign Investment: $1.75 billion*
Most Problematic Factor for Doing Business: Restrictive labor regulations
Government Type: Constitutional Monarchy**
Chief of State: King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa**

4. Saudi Arabia

GCI Rank: 28Total Population: 25.3 millionGDP Per Capita (US$): 19,345.3Direct Foreign Investment: $4.63 billion*Most Problematic Factor for Doing Business: Restrictive labor regulationsGovernment Type: Monarchy**Chief of State: King and Prime Minister Abdallah bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud (since Aug., 2005)**
Photo: Tim E White | Photographer’s Choice | Getty Images*The World Factbook, CIA**United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

GCI Rank: 28
Total Population: 25.3 million
GDP Per Capita (US$): 19,345.3
Direct Foreign Investment: $4.63 billion*
Most Problematic Factor for Doing Business: Restrictive labor regulations
Government Type: Monarchy**
Chief of State: King and Prime Minister Abdallah bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud (since Aug., 2005)**

3. Israel

GCI Rank: 27Total Population: 7.0 millionGDP Per Capita (US$): 28,365.4Direct Foreign Investment: $9.64 billion*Most Problematic Factor for Doing Business: Access to financingGovernment Type: Parliamentary Democracy**Chief of State: President Shimon Peres (since July 2007)**
Photo: Jon Hicks | Photographer’s Choice | Getty Images*The World Factbook, CIA**United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

GCI Rank: 27
Total Population: 7.0 million
GDP Per Capita (US$): 28,365.4
Direct Foreign Investment: $9.64 billion*
Most Problematic Factor for Doing Business: Access to financing
Government Type: Parliamentary Democracy**
Chief of State: President Shimon Peres (since July 2007)**

2. United Arab Emirates

GCI Rank: 23Total Population: 4.5 millionGDP Per Capita (US$): 54,606.5Direct Foreign Investment: $13.70 billion*Most Problematic Factor for Doing Business: Access to financingGovernment Type: Federation with specified powers to UAE federal gov't, other powers to member emirates**Chief of State: President Khalifa bin Zayid al-Nuhayyan, ruler of Abu Dhabi (since Nov., 2004)**
Scott E. Barbour | The Image Bank | Getty Images*The World Factbook, CIA**United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

GCI Rank: 23
Total Population: 4.5 million
GDP Per Capita (US$): 54,606.5
Direct Foreign Investment: $13.70 billion*
Most Problematic Factor for Doing Business: Access to financing
Government Type: Federation with specified powers to UAE federal gov't, other powers to member emirates**
Chief of State: President Khalifa bin Zayid al-Nuhayyan, ruler of Abu Dhabi (since Nov., 2004)**

1. Qatar

GCI Rank: 22Total Population: 900,000GDP Per Capita (US$): 93,204.1*Direct Foreign Investment: $6.70 billionMost Problematic Factor for Doing Business: Restrictive labor regulations**Government Type: Emirate**Chief of State: Amir Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani (since June 1995 when he ousted his father in a bloodless coup)
Photo: Walter Bibikow | The Image Bank | Getty Images*The World Factbook, CIA**United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

GCI Rank: 22
Total Population: 900,000
GDP Per Capita (US$): 93,204.1
*Direct Foreign Investment: $6.70 billion
Most Problematic Factor for Doing Business: Restrictive labor regulations
**Government Type: Emirate
**Chief of State: Amir Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani (since June 1995 when he ousted his father in a bloodless coup)

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