UAE slips on KPMG change readiness index, Qatar makes gains

19 June 2019 4 min. read

The United Arab Emirates has slipped in KPMG’s latest global change readiness index – while Egypt, Lebanon and Qatar have seen a significant improvement.

Measuring the internal capacity of countries to respond and adapt to significant changes resulting from both short-term events (such as natural disasters and sociopolitical instability) and longer-term economic, environmental, technological and social-demographic trends, the latest Change Readiness Index (CRI) compiled by Big Four professional services firm KPMG has seen the UAE slip down the rankings. Qatar meanwhile has made a sizeable jump.

Placing third globally on the Big Four firm’s 2017 index, the UAE has this year forfeited its position to both Singapore and Denmark, falling to fifth behind Sweden (which also dropped two places) while Switzerland once again claimed the top spot. The UAE was followed by Norway, which leapt five places into 6th, but Qatar was the biggest mover at the top – climbing seven spots to crack the top dozen (albeit still short of the country’s 3rd place in 2013).

To arrive at its rankings, KPMG’s change readiness analysis takes in the weighted scores of numerous subindices centred around three main pillars; Enterprise Capability, which for example looks at nation’s business environment, labour market, economic diversification and innovation; Government Capability, including security, regulations, fiscal performance etc.; and Civil Society Capability, covering areas such as human capital and entrepreneurship among others.

In terms of Enterprise and Government categories, the UAE dropped from 1st and 2nd in 2017 to 5th and 3rd respectively this year. Among all the measures however, the UAE ranked first worldwide for ‘Government strategic planning and horizon scanning’, and placed in the top five globally for entrepreneurship, ‘safety nets’, demographics, fiscal and budgeting, food and energy security, environment and sustainability, technology infrastructure, and economic diversification.2019 Change Readiness Index - Middle East and North AfricaQatar, meanwhile, improved its position in two key pillars, ranking 16th for Enterprise (up from 24th in 2017) and 4th for Government (up from 11th), while slipping one place to 22nd for Civic Society. In respect to sub-measures, Qatar registered some impressive results, first globally for environment and sustainability, food and energy security, gender, and demographics, and top four for government strategic planning, financial and informal sector, and fiscal and budgeting.

Elsewhere, the majority of the Middle East and North Africa countries assessed saw their overall rankings slip – bar Egypt, which was one of the globe’s biggest climbers. Of the 140 countries featured, Saudi Arabia fell from 26th to 30th, Jordan also dropped four places to 42nd, and Tunisia and Morocco (67th and 68th) lost ground by around a dozen places each. Lebanon – which has been struggling with a chronic economic crisis – however jumped 15 places to 77th.

Egypt (81st) though was one of this edition’s star performers, its 22-position rise placing it behind only Tonga and Russia in terms of improvement and overall ahead of a number of countries with higher incomes – including Libya in 135th – with gross national income a fairly reliable performance indicator (certainly at the top). In fact, Libya, determined as an upper-middle income nation, was the worst performer of all, 25 percent below its GDP predicted score.

Another fairly decent indicator is Environmental Performance, with half of the overall top ten featuring in the top ten globally for the measure, although wealth doesn’t insulate a country from climate risk – indeed, as might be expected, climate events tend to have greater economic impact in developed countries and greater social costs developing ones. The Middle East in general has a relatively poor profile for climate change readiness, but is also on the low end of the risk scale.

“Our research highlights that too many nations can be reliant on either business, government or civil society to shoulder the responsibility for change readiness, but in our experience this doesn't yield the best long term results,” concludes Timothy Stiles, Global Chair of KPMG's International Development Assistance Services. “True preparedness is when each segment of society – enterprise, government, and people and civil society – works in harmony toward a shared outcome.”