UAE, Qatar and KSA lead the Arab world in trade resilience

15 December 2023 3 min. read

The UAE, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia are among the hardiest economies in the Arab world when it comes to trade and the myriad risks and uncertainties that can cause issues up and down the supply chain.

That is according to International management consultancy Whiteshield, which has launched the inaugural edition of its Global Trade Resilience Index, shedding light on which economies are the most resilient to external trade shocks such as geopolitical disputes, trade bottlenecks, wars, and pandemics.

The launch of the Index coincided with the UN’s COP28 summit held in Dubai.

UAE, Qatar and KSA lead the Arab world in trade resilience

In the Middle East, the UAE was ranked the top Arab country for trade resilience in the 31st position globally. The country is a major regional trade hub and mostly exports oil and precious metals, both of which are considered low complexity products. The main challenge for the UAE is diversifying its exports, especially in a rapidly approaching future scenario in which fossil fuels are to largely be phased out around the world.

That was followed by Qatar, in 46th place, and Saudi Arabia, which landed in 47th place. Their economies are built on much the same basis as that of the UAE, with oil playing a major part. These countries have, however, in recent years all made significant moves to diversify their economies towards more sustainable industries like tourism, tech, and finance.

All three countries have frameworks in place to reach net-zero emissions within the next few decades.

UAE, Qatar and KSA lead the Arab world in trade resilience

Globally, the top leaders in trade resilience can be found in Europe. Germany was placed first on the Index, with countries like the Netherlands and France in the top 5. China made 9th place, Singapore made 8th  and the US was listed as 3rd globally. The distinction between these global leaders and Middle Eastern countries has to do, in part, with regulation.

Countries like Germany and other EU countries have strong regulations in place to ensure the smooth functioning of supply chains, while other regions like the Middle East have been left behind in that arena, though Qatar stands out as uniquely well regulated.

“While Europe dominates the rankings, showcasing the proactive measures taken by its nations to cultivate a sound institutional environment, African and Middle East countries except Qatar lack representation, underscoring the two regions′ challenges to establishing strong institutions,” the report noted.

Understanding the Global Trade Resilience Index

With offices in London, Astana, Vancouver, and three in the Middle East (Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Riyadh), Whiteshield is an award-winning consulting firm specialized in strategic advisory and public policy.

UAE, Qatar and KSA lead the Arab world in trade resilience

The Index relies on an extensive dataset of indicators derived from both trade data estimates and from international public databases. The methodology is grounded in innovative techniques rooted in network theory, and it includes simulations of trade shocks to trace their potential impact on trade flows.

“The release of this report coincides with the 28th UN Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai, and we hope that the report will contribute to the achievement of the conference's objectives, particularly in areas that allow the use of trade and supportive policies to help stimulate climate protection measures and promote sustainable development,” said Fadi Farra, founder and managing partner at Whiteshield.