The UAE jumped to No.5 for global connectedness and became one of the world's most connected countries as globalisation hits record high, according to the DHL Global Connectedness Index.
The UAE rose five places to claim the highest rank achieved yet by a country from the Middle East and North Africa region. "The UAE has proactively supported connectedness by, for example, fostering vibrant activity in free trade zones such as the Abu Dhabi Airports Free Zone that focus on non-oil products as part of the government's economic diversification strategy," DHL said in a statement.
"Given the UAE's strategic location - one-third of the global population being reachable within a four-hour flight and two-thirds of the global population being reachable within an eight-hour flight - provided an opportunity which is being rightly harvested."
Atik Munshi, senior partner at Crowe, said that the UAE is truly a multicultural, cosmopolitan and an inclusive country which is witnessed by the diverse residents from across the globe who have made UAE their home.
"A significant part of the population is made of expatriates and UAE's connectivity is one of key which holds them together in this place. Non-oil trade, contribution by the UAE free zones, rise of the knowledge economy in the forms of tow major financial centres [the Dubai International Financial Centre and Abu Dhabi Global Market] have all been catalyst to catapult UAE in the top five position globally on the connectivity index. It will not be surprising if UAE occupies the top three positions in a few years' time," Munshi said.
Bahrain, Mauritius, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles and Lebanon all made it into the Index's Top 50, while Sub-Saharan African countries like Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Guinea on the West African coastline showed remarkable improvements in connectivity, the DHL report said.
"While oil exports continue to underpin the Emirates' connectedness to the global economy, the establishment of free trade zones like the ADAFZ has attracted businesses worldwide, serving as a strategic hub and gateway to Abu Dhabi, the UAE and the wider region," said Nour Suliman, CEO for the Middle East and North Africa at DHL Express.
"Increased trade from companies based in these zones have directly contributed to the rise in the UAE's non-oil foreign trade in sectors like aviation, pharmaceuticals, technology and e-commerce, accounting for 62 per cent of total trade. Over the past few years, deals with key partners like Saudi Arabia have reached $10 billion, while UAE-India trade partnerships are expected to cross $100 billion by 2020," said Suliman.
"The region continues to face geopolitical headwinds as well as issues around quality and reliability of infrastructure, but things are changing thanks to new policies and investments from government and industry alike. DHL Express recently opened a $5.8 million logistics facility in Jordan as part of the company's commitment to invest $170 million in infrastructure developments across Middle East and Africa as we continue to drive greater regional and global connectedness with innovative, high-quality end-to-end logistics services," said Suliman.
DHL report said central theme of research by GCI co-authors Steven A. Altman and Pankaj Ghemawat is that at the global level, the world is still less connected than most people think it is, even after globalization's recent gains. "For example, just about 20 per cent of economic output around the world is exported, roughly seven per cent of phone call minutes (including calls over the internet) are international, and only three per cent of people live outside the countries where they were born. The report also debunks the belief that distance is becoming irrelevant. Most countries are much more connected to their neighbors than to distant nations."
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