In This Review

The Arab World Competitiveness Report 2002-2003
The Arab World Competitiveness Report 2002-2003
Edited by Peter K. Cornelius
World Economic Forum, 2003, 412 pp.

The World Economic Forum, which has produced annual global competitiveness reports since 1979, offers its first such report focused on the Arab world. The work of 29 specialists, mainly economists, this substantial study serves as a fine complement to the UN's recent Arab Human Development Report 2002 (reviewed in these pages in September/October 2002). Part one contains 14 separate chapters on subjects ranging from economic growth to education, with several addressing foreign trade. Part two offers country profiles detailing the key foreign-trade indicators for the Arab countries (except Iraq and Sudan, the latter to be included in a forthcoming competitiveness report on Africa). Part three provides the findings of a survey of top business executives in ten Arab countries. The tabulated results, addressing such issues as the business costs of corruption, research-and-development spending by firms, brain drain, the quality of the countries' public schools, and much more, are fascinating (although the book warns that the sample was small). One sees much more positive executive responses to business conditions in the Persian Gulf states and a less favorable response in Lebanon, where an entrepreneurial ethos once reigned.