UAE is now on the verge of being ranked as one of the top 10 economies in the world: Professor Xavier Sala-I-Martin

Abu Dhabi: UAE is now on the verge of being ranked as one of the top 10 economies in the world, Professor Xavier Sala-I-Martin, world renowned economist and the mind behind the Global Competitiveness Index, said.

Commenting on the UAE’s economic standing during his talk as part of its two-day 35 year anniversary celebrations of the First Gulf Bank (FGB) , on December 10th and 11th, 2014, Professor Xavier said: “As you know, the UAE is enjoying a positive situation today and confidence in the economy back. Many factors have contributed to this, including regional stability, ongoing economic diversification and the successful bid for Expo 2020.

The Global Competitiveness Report publishes an annual index and the UAE’s score has been going up, where it is now on the verge of being ranked as one of the top 10 economies in the world.” He added: “Looking ahead into 2015 we need to examine a number of global and internal aspects. In order for the UAE to continue to succeed, it is important to focus on doing things differently and to innovate. Competiveness is reliant on innovation, adaptability and on being flexible. All sectors must innovate, and this can take place in traditional sectors that have existed for centuries. Innovation for many of the world’s successful businesses did not come from research, instead, they come from regular people. The Global Competitiveness Report will be measuring the innovation pillar differently from next year and one of the key factors we will be looking into is how countries invest in human capital.” The Professor shared his insights into a range of important topics, including key global and regional economic risks, and how the UAE and UAE companies can manage these risks, remain competitive and stay at the forefront of the global economy.

Professor Xavier Sala-I-Martin is an economics professor at Columbia University, and Chief Economic Advisor at the World Economic Forum. In 2003 he created the Global Competitiveness Index and is also co-author of The Global Competitiveness Report. He is a passionate football fan, and has served as Treasurer, Member of the Board, and President of the Economic Committee of Barcelona Football Club.

FGB welcomed its clients to these anniversary events at the Ritz Carlton hotel in Dubai and the Shangri-La hotel in Abu Dhabi, where over 150 attendees were present on each day. Polls held throughout the sessions presented interesting insights into a number of important economic trends in the region. For instance, 33.33% of attendees believed that diversification was going to be a main driver for continued economic growth in the GCC. 26.67% believed that external investment would play a key role in this growth, 23.33% attributed it to oil prices and 16.67% felt that the area’s regional stability would be a main driver for this continued development. On the other hand, 47.42% of participants saw that unaffordable budget deficits in the Middle East, cuts in government spending and possible political unrest, which is influencing OPEC to cut production, would lead to oil price increases in 2015/2016. 34.02% attributed it to lower oil prices which would force high-cost US producers out of the market and 18.56% believed it would be due to sustained low oil prices where consumer disposable incomes rise, consumption spending increases and world aggregate demand grows.

Commenting on the events, FGB’s CEO, Andre Sayegh, said: “I would like to thank Professor Xavier for being part of our celebration and for the valuable insight he provided us during the different sessions. These events, which mark our 35 year anniversary, are a great way of engaging with our customers and clients who are at the heart of everything we do at FGB. I am especially pleased that we were able to provide an opportunity for them to experience Professor Xavier’s analysis and unique perspective of the markets.” “We are very proud of FGB’s achievements and contribution to the UAE’s economic growth over the past 35 years. We share the UAE’s strategic focus on diversification, expansion, committed leadership and determined, planned growth,” he added.