The United Arab Emirates, positioned as a gateway between the East and the West, offer strategic advantages for trade and investment. The country boasts of a diversified economy, with sectors like oil and gas, tourism, real estate, and financial services contributing significantly to its GDP and the UAE’s “Vision 2030” aims to reduce dependence on oil revenue to promote sustainable growth.

With a business-friendly environment offering tax incentives, free trade zones, and modern infrastructure, the UAE attracts multinational corporations and entrepreneurs. Additionally, its vibrant tourism industry attracts millions of visitors annually, contributing to its economic prosperity. The large expatriate community, drawn by employment opportunities and a high quality of life, adds to the country’s cultural diversity and economic vibrancy.

Based on these attributes, let’s explore how the UAE perform, according to leading rankings and indices.

Let’s take a closer look at:

  • UAE’s soft power and country brand strength
  • Its appeal to skilled labour, investors and visitors
  • The country’s global contribution to peace and well-being
  • How well it fares in terms of happiness and sustainability

UAE’s soft power and country brand strength

How do the UAE compare in terms of reputation and country brand value? 

In the Global Soft Power Index 2023 by Brand Finance, the UAE secured the 10th spot, slightly trailing Italy (9th) and Switzerland (8th). The UAE’s score has grown by +4.50. However, the position remains the same as in the previous year.

In the U.S. News Best Countries 2023 ranking, the UAE secured 19th position, behind Belgium (18th) and Spain (17th), climbing two positions since 2022.

Notably, the UAE excels in three key areas: movers (2nd); assessing a country’s future growth and how prepared it is to weather challenges posed by the global economy; cultural influence (9th), which analyses trendiness, modernity, and strength of consumer brands, and power (10th) analysing the attributes of a country shaping global economic patterns.

The Anholt-Ipsos Nation Brand Index (NBI) calculates its ranking based on averaging the scores of six factors: exports, governance, tourism, culture, people and immigration, and tourism. According to the NBI 2023 ranking, the UAE secured the 45th position, an improvement by one position from the 2022 ranking.

Is UAE a ‘good’ country?

What is UAE’s contribution to global well-being?

In the Caf World Giving Index 2023, the UAE ranked 11th, trailing behind New Zealand (10th) and Nigeria (9th). Notably, the UAE perform admirably in the subfactor of helping a stranger, with 63% of the adult population partaking in such activity. The UAE improved from 15th position in the Caf World Giving Index 2022.

In the Good Country Index, the UAE currently hold the 65th position overall, with notable subfactors as follows: Science & Technology (83rd), Culture (40th), International Peace & Security (15th), World Order (51st), Planet & Climate (145th), Prosperity & Equality (63rd), and Health & Well-being (17th).

It’s worth mentioning that in 2022, the UAE were ranked 51st, and in 2021, the emirates held the 52nd position. The country has experienced an overall drop in its ranking; the most significant changes are Prosperity and Equality, dropping from 6th position in 2022 to 63rd position in 2023 and International Peace and Security, dropping from 95th place in 2022 to 150th place in 2023. However, the Culture attribute improved from the 76th position in 2022 to the 40th position in 2023.

According to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) Democracy Index 2023, the UAE ranked in the orange (2-3 range) with a 2.90 out of 10. This is higher than Saudi Arabia, which scored 2.08 and lower than Qatar, scoring 3.65.

The 2022 Corruption Perception Index ranks the UAE 27th, tying it below Taiwan (25th) and Bhutan (25th). The UAE’s score has dropped by two since 2021.

The Sustainable Development Report 2023 ranks the UAE 79th. The Report highlights that the UAE faces major challenges in several of the 17 SDGs. However, no factors are experiencing a downward trend; some factors are experiencing moderately increasing positive change – SDG 2 (No Hunger) or SDG 5 (Gender Equality); many are stagnating – SDG 13 (Climate Action) or SDG 15 (Life on Land), and a few are on track – SDG 1 (No poverty) and SDG 9 (Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure).

Talent attraction and competitiveness

How well is UAE performing in attracting and retaining talent?

The World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Index 2019 edition placed the UAE at 25th position among 141 countries. However, it’s important to note that an updated version of this Report hasn’t been released in the past five years, and the situation may have changed since then.

The UAE, classified as a high-income country within the Northern Africa and Western Asia regional group, currently hold the 22nd overall position and 1st regional position in the Global Talent Competitiveness Index 2023. Notably, the UAE ranks best in the ATTRACT (4th) and GROW (17th) pillars, while the RETAIN pillar presents the UAE’s biggest challenge, where it ranked 59th.

In terms of education excellence, the UAE does not have any university within the top 100 worldwide, according to the World University Rankings 2024. However, Khalifa University ranked 49th in the Young University Rankings 2023.

UAE’s appeal to digital nomads, business, trade and travel 

What is the global perception of UAE as a destination for living, conducting business, and tourism?

The Expat Insider 2023 ranks the UAE 11th. The country performs well in Safety and Security (11th), Healthcare (10th), Leisure options (6th), Culture and Welcome (14th), Career Prospects (2nd), Salary and Job Security (8th), and Work Culture and Satisfaction (6th). Rankings in the Expat Insider suggest that the UAE are a welcoming country with a high quality of life and work balance.

As per the UNCTAD World Investment Report 2023, the UAE secured 16th position for FDI inflows in 2022, trailing behind Israel (15th) and Poland (14th). In 2021, the UAE ranked 22nd. Regarding FDI outflows, UAE ranked 15th in 2022, a slight shift from its 20th position in 2021, while the levels of FDI remain consistent with the previous year.

The Bloom Consulting biannual Country Brand Ranking Trade Edition 2022-2023 assesses investment-related variables, emphasising perceptions of a country’s trade-specific brand and evaluating branding performance. Regionally, the UAE ranks 13th, surpassing Pakistan (14th) and just behind Saudi Arabia (12th). Worldwide, the UAE ranks 37th.

In addition, the Bloom Consulting Country Brand Ranking Tourism Edition 2022-2023 places the UAE at the 21st position in the Asia Region, dropping one position since last year’s ranking. The UAE ranks behind Georgia (20th) and Jordan (19th). Worldwide, the UAE ranks in 70th place, surpassing Barbados (71st) and behind Bulgaria (69th).

The UAE captivates tourists with its rich history and modern culture blend, offering a unique and appealing destination that seamlessly fuses tradition with innovation.

In the IMD 2023 World Competitiveness Ranking, the UAE secured the 10th position, showing a slight shift from its 12th ranking in 2022. Currently, it sits between the USA (9th) and Finland (11th).

Regarding specific characteristics, the UAE excels in economic performance, securing 4th position in 2023. Government efficiency ranked 8th and experienced a slight drop of five positions compared to 2022. UAE improved its position for business efficiency from 17th in 2022 to 16th in 2023; however, in 2019, UAE ranked 1st. Infrastructure in the country ranked 26th and is remaining at the same level as in 2022.

How peaceful are the UAE?

The Global Peace Index 2023 ranks the UAE 75th, with a jump of three positions over last year’s index. The UAE now sit ahead of Kazakhstan (76th), Jamaica (77th) and Bolivia (78th), all of which fall in the medium sector of the ‘State of Peace’ spectrum as defined by the Institute for Economics & Peace. The UAE is positioned 5th regionally amongst fellow countries in the Middle East and North Africa Region, led by Qatar (1st) and Kuwait (2nd).

The Institute for Economics & Peace similarly ranks the UAE within the very low impact zone in terms of ‘Impact of Terrorism’ in the 2024 Global Terrorism Index. The UAE rank 79th, tying with Iceland and behind Paraguay (78th).

Meanwhile, the World Happiness Report 2023, which displays the Ranking of Happiness based on a three-year-average 2020–2022, ranks the UAE 26th, dropping by two positions from the 2022 report.

UAE’s environmental performance

How does UAE perform in rankings measuring environmental sustainability?

The 2022 edition of the Environmental Performance Index (EPI) ranks the UAE 39th. The EPI analyses the performance of 180 countries, scoring and ranking these countries on their environmental performance using the most recent year of data available, as well as providing calculable changes in scores over the previous decade. The UAE have experienced a positive change in scores in the past ten years.

Last updated in April 2024. More country profiles here.

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