A survey recently published by the International Institute for Management Development (IMD) found that Saudi Arabia's business competitiveness is improving faster than any other country.
"The kingdom rose 13 places in the latest edition of the annual survey, jumping to 26th in the world," Arab News reported.
In its report, the Switzerland-based business school listed the reasons behind the drastic improvement, stating that the Gulf nation's investment in education - which is the highest ranking in the world - was one driver. The kingdom's stable tax regime and "quality of public and business finance" was another.
In a statement on the matter, Christos Cabolis, the chief economist and head of operations at IMD's World Competitiveness Center, said the kingdom invested nearly double the global average on education.
"Saudi Arabia spends 8.8 percent of its gross domestic product on education, against a global average of 4.6 percent," he explained.
"The message is to keep up the good reforms and attempt to be more transparent," he added.
Cabolis also explained that the kingdom's attempts to diversify its economy under Vision 2030 was "slow but noticeable" and has contributed to the country's improved score.
Even though Saudi Arabia is making sweeping strides in business competitiveness, it still faces some major challenges and obstacles. The country "performed comparatively poorly in some categories, notably international trade, technology and infrastructure, health and environment."
According to the think tank, to see more improvements in the future, the kingdom's "policymakers have to continue government efforts to boost the non-oil economy, as well as to increase employment opportunities for young Saudi men and women under the human capability development program."
"They should also continue reforms to restructure and streamline procedures and fees for licensing activities, and increase efforts to attract foreign direct investment."
The UAE topped the Middle East's rankings in the survey
Regionally, the UAE ranked the highest among countries in the Arab world, climbing up the ranks to become the first Middle Eastern country to break into the top five.
The Emirates' Vice President and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum tweeted about the major accomplishment, writing:
"The UAE has climbed to the 5th most competitive country globally in the IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook 2019, ranked 1st globally for business efficiency & management practices, and 2nd in government efficiency, international trade & infrastructure. No end to our ambitions."
Improvements for Saudi Arabia and the Emirates were recorded despite the fact that both countries are facing challenges when it comes to the "performance of their oil-dominated economies."
Other countries in the region, including Jordan, suffered to develop and sustain business advancements due to "inflationary and other fiscal challenges."
Internationally, Singapore came in first
IMD's survey found that Singapore has the world's most competitive economy, replacing the U.S. which held last year's top spot, while Hong Kong ranked second.
The report stated that Singapore's rise to the top was a result of its "advanced technological infrastructure, the availability of skilled labor, favorable immigration laws, and efficient ways to set up new businesses."
The study also revealed that Ireland rose five places from last year and now ranks 7th, "while the UK - partly as a result of Brexit uncertainty - slipped to 23rd."