The United Arab Emirates is the third most innovative economy in the Middle East and North Africa, according to the 2020 Global Innovation Index.
The UAE also ranked in the top 35 countries overall.
The report pointed to the UAE’s commitment to entrepreneurship as being a driving force in its innovative economy.
“The Ghadan 21 accelerator program is investing $13.6 billion to boost Abu Dhabi’s knowledge- based economy, supporting over 50 initiatives that promote the establishment of start-ups and spur innovation and research and development efforts,” the report reads.
Ghadan 21 was launched as a response to the global economic challenges in 2020, and 16 initiatives that will improve the ease of doing business and reduce costs of living in the emirate have been announced.
The UAE received top scores across three of seven pillars researchers used to evaluate countries’ levels of innovation. The country earned top marks in human capital and research, infrastructure, and business sophistication.
In the top 100 most innovative countries, the UAE was accompanied by others in the region, including Israel, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia, which was slotted in 66th place. Iran, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Jordan, Oman, Egypt, and Lebanon also fell among the 100 most innovative economies.
Israel topped the regional list, which the reports’ authors defined as Northern Africa and Western Asia, giving the second slot to Cyprus.
The UAE, Israel and Cyprus are the only countries in the region that rank in the top 50 of the Global Innovation Index overall, the authors wrote.
While Saudi Arabia ranks eighth in the region overall, it ranks third worldwide for its efforts to protect minority investors and 18th in the global brands value, owing to the fact that the country is home to 46 brands in the top 5,000 globally, led by telecoms STC.
The UAE ranked 16th in global brand value, “thanks to its leading brand, the telecoms company Etisalat, as well as the Emirates airline and the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company.”
While Switzerland topped the 2020 list, Sweden, the US, and the UK followed in the second through fourth slots.
The Global Innovation Index is co-published by Cornell University, INSEAD, and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), a specialized agency of the United Nations.
“The Index is a ranking of the innovation capabilities and results of world economies. It measures innovation based on criteria that include institutions, human capital and research, infrastructure, credit, investment, linkages; the creation, absorption and diffusion of knowledge; and creative outputs,” the report said about the index’s method for compiling the list.