In the list of developed nations that have achieved "Very High Human Development", the UAE has been bracketed with top-ranked Norway, Switzerland, Australia, Ireland, Germany, Singapore, the US, the UK amd Japan among others. Niger, the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Chad and Burundi have the lowest scores in the HDI's measurement of national achievements in health, education and income.
Among GCC nations, Qatar has been ranked at 37th, Saudi Arabia at 39th, Bahrain at 43rd, Oman at 48th and Kuwait at 56th.
Nimish Makvana, senior partner at Crowe UAE, says most of the countries look mainly at GDP to define growth, But if countries want higher quality of life, then they need to look at alternative metrics and HDI is one such alternative.
"The UAE is ranked high in HDI mainly due to two key social parameters; life expectancy and education have seen significant improvement for the UAE over the years. This is mainly on account of the sustained policies and focus by the authorities to provide a state-of-art-health and education infrastructure in the country. In fact, the UAE is well-poised to become a major hub in the region both for health and education. In addition, the UAE is also in the forefront in the Gender Development Index, signifying the active role of women and their empowerment in all walks of life," Makvana said.
M.R. Raghu, managing director of Marmore Mena Intelligence, stated the UN HDI is a broader measure of the richness of human life as measured by their ability to lead a long and healthy life (life expectancy at birth), knowledge (years of schooling) and standard of living (GNI per capita).
GCC countries, in general, have fared well in this index with scores varying from 0.86 in the UAE to 0.80 in Kuwait.
"Persistent higher level of incomes, continued expansion of health services and focus on educational programmes have enabled them to score high," he added.
How to improve ranking?
Raghu stressed that sustained spending on health services and educational programmes to enhance the reach of services, improving the student enrollment especially at the tertiary level could lead to further improvements in the index score.
"Enhanced focus on the quality of education could lead to further accrual of benefits and enrich the life of its citizens," Raghu added.
While there are significant investments in the health and education sector in UAE, according to Makvana, there is a need to make them more affordable to its residents, such initiatives will propel the UAE to much higher ranking in the years to come.
"The government's initiatives for human development will be successful only if residents of country participate and authority should encourage residents to be part of initiatives for the betterment of society and country standing. Some of the other initiatives like green UAE with more and more plants to grow to improve environment; big no to plastic bags initiative to support environment; and continuous initiatives with mechanism to measure the result for healthy residents will improve country's rating," Makvana added.
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