Global Innovation Index: UAE Trails Behind Saudi Arabia in Global Rankings

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UAE, former regional list topper of 2014, sees massive descend on the global innovation index rankings of 2015

Placing second among the countries of the Gulf, the United Arab Emirates lagged behind Saudi Arabia in this year’s Global Innovation Index. On a wider canvas, the UAE placed 47th in the survey, while the United Kingdom secured the 43rd position. Jointly published by World Intellectual Property Organization, INSEAD business school, and Cornell University, the index took into consideration 79 indicators while judging capabilities of innovation in 141 economies from all over the world.

In this index, the Middle East is placed under the ‘Northern Africa and Western Asia’ region in which Israel took the first place, ranking 22nd in world index. Closely following Israel were the countries Cyprus and Saudi Arabia, placing 34th and 43rd respectively. However, the Emirates’ innovation index took a massive plunge compared to its world ranking of 2014, i.e. 36th place. The index report has no mention of the reason behind this downfall.

A few positives of UAE’s state of ranking includes its 33rd position in providing a favourable environment for trade and commerce, 26th position in terms of political stability, and a high rank in terms of providing a suitable infrastructure for information and communication technology.

In spite of the overall good performance, the Emirates lags behind in a vital field that is of utmost importance to this system of ranking. Based on the number of applications for patents and publication of technical research papers, the ‘knowledge creation’ section saw a very poor performance from the residents of the UAE. UAE has already taken a number of initiatives to improve its innovation over the previous year.

In 2014, the country put forward a strategy for national innovation, aiming at making the UAE the most innovative in the world within the next seven years. Seven important sectors have been earmarked as the focus of this strategy, namely- education, technology, health, renewable energy, transport, space, and water resources.

To accelerate the process, the cabinet of UAE has declared the current year as ‘The Year of Innovation’.
In spite of commendable government initiatives, research shows that there remain many practical problems in the path of an innovation boom.

PA Consulting Group conducted another study among various companies of the UAE and its neighbouring Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The findings of this study indicated that these countries were not keen on taking major risks in the field of original research and innovation. Among the companies, only 27% took the risk of sponsoring risky inventions, yet they had to have possibilities of high returns.

One of the major impairments of these countries in this regard is the inability of calculate the return on investment for these innovative projects, hence they became less and less keen on sponsoring and undertaking these projects, noted the study.

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