Qatar tops the MENA rankings, followed by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, according to the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Competitiveness Report 2010-2011.

Switzerland remains the world’s most competitive economy, while the United States has fallen from second to fourth after losing the top spot last year. Sweden, in second spot, and Singapore in third leapfrogged the United States.

Qatar, ranked 17th, enters the top 20 this year and reaffirms its position as the most competitive country in the MENA region, the WEF said.

With a projected growth rate of 18.5% for 2010, the country is the fastest-growing economy in the world, as well as one of the wealthiest, it said.

Qatar’s strong competitiveness rests on solid foundations made up of a high-quality institutional framework, ranked 10th overall, a stable macroeconomic environment (8th), and an efficient goods market (12th).

Low levels of corruption and undue influence on government decisions, high government efficiency, and excellent security are the cornerstones of the country’s solid institutional framework, the report said

Compared with many other economies, the country was relatively unharmed by the global economic crisis, with its growth rate slowing to 9% in 2009, down from 16.4% in 2008. This high growth, combined with prudent government support for the financial sector, contributed to maintaining macroeconomic and financial stability, the report concluded.

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