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WEF ranks UAE as 'stand out' digital economy

Digital Evolution Index highlights pace of change in digital economy, UAE rates 22nd worldwide

WEF ranks UAE as 'stand out' digital economy
The WEF Digital Evolution Index attempts to assess countries on their digital maturity and pace of adoption of digital.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has released its 2017 Digital Evolution Index, which ranks the UAE as most digitally advanced country in the Arab world.

The Digital Evolution Index (DEI) was created in 2015 by Harvard Business Review, Tufts University and Mastercard, as a measurement of digital evolution and the pace of change in the digital economy development,

The 2017 DEI report shows that two-thirds of the world's largest economies are slowing in their growth of change, and smaller, faster moving, countries will need to demonstrate how public policy can be used to maintain momentum.

Sixty countries are assessed in the DEI, based on an assessment of four drivers of change - supply conditions including infrastructure; demand conditions to assess how digitally engaged consumers are; the institutional environment including legal landscape; and innovation and change. Countries are given an overall score, and also ranked against two axis - their current state of digital evolution and the pace of digital evolution.

The UAE scored 3.22 overall, putting it 22nd out of the 60 countries. The Emirates was one of only three countries, along with Singapore and New Zealand, which ranked highly both on progress achieved and pace of change, qualifying as ‘stand out' countries.

Stand out countries are described as "highly digitally advanced and exhibit high momentum. They are leaders in driving innovation, building on their existing advantages in efficient and effective ways."

"The UAE has come a long way since our leadership first launched the Dubai Plan 2021 and the Dubai Smart City Strategy," noted Her Excellency Dr Aisha Bint Butti Bin Bishr, Director General of the Smart Dubai Office. "The strategies, projects and initiatives that have been implemented in the Emirates - and Dubai, in particular - brought together all the necessary ingredients to create the incredible momentum that catapulted the country to the high ranks of the World Economic Forum's classification."

"We have a responsibility now," Dr Aisha added, "to continually sustain this momentum over time, using innovation and a future-oriented outlook to galvanise further expansions. Setting our sights firmly on the future, as directed by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, Ruler of Dubai, is the engine that will drive us forward as we work to make Dubai the smartest and happiest city in the world."

The top three countries on the index were Norway, Sweden and Switzerland with scores of 3.79, 3.79 and 3.74 respectively.

From the other countries in the Middle East that were assessed for the index, Saudi Arabia ranked 31st, with a score of 2.8, and a high momentum score making it seventh worldwide in pace of change, but less achievement to date. Jordan was ranked 40th overall, (score of 2.41) with an average degree of momentum and progress; while Egypt was 54th, scoring 1.74. Egypt falls into the category of ‘watch out' for countries that "face significant challenges with their low state of digitalization and low momentum; in some cases, these countries are moving backward in their pace of digitalization."

The report notes that public policy plays an important role in driving the growth of the digital economy, with both high-performing countries and high momentum countries typically showing strong government director and policy making for the digital environment.

Policy makers should also identify their country's unique drivers of digital momentum and take steps to allocate resources accordingly.

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