Jul. 6, 2015

Dr. Nadir Mohammed

UAE, Dubai

Dr. Nadir Mohammed

Country Director, GCC Countries for the World Bank

TBY talks to Dr. Nadir Mohammed, Country Director of GCC Countries for the World Bank, on the country's performance in international rankings, and areas that could be improved in the business environment.


Before taking up his current post, Dr. Nadir Mohammed held various positions with the World Bank between 1999 and 2009 relating to Egypt, Yemen, Albania, and the MENA region. During 2010-12, Dr. Mohammed was on external assignment from the Bank, serving as Acting Director of Strategy for the Kuwaiti Prime Minister’s Office. He also served as Senior Advisor in the Poverty Reduction and Economic Management (PREM) network in 2012-13. Before joining the World Bank, Dr. Mohammed worked for the African Development Bank, 1994-96, and the Islamic Development Bank, 1996-98. He started his career in academia, and is a graduate of the University of Khartoum with a BSc in Economics. He also has both a M. Phil and a PhD in Economics from the University of Cambridge, UK.

What is your assessment of the reforms made in the local business environment in the UAE?

The UAE is the best performer in the Arab world in the Doing Business 2015 rankings. This strong performance is a direct result of consistent reforms to the business and investment climate in the country. Actually, the UAE is ranked 22nd in the 2015 overall ease of doing business table, but is also among the top 10 most improved performers in the world in the areas measured by the Doing Business survey. For the period covered in the last report, the UAE implemented several reforms that resulted in an improved business regulatory environment. Firstly, in the area of registering property, the country has made property transfers easier by introducing new service centers and a standard contract for property transactions. In the area of getting credit, the UAE improved access to credit information by starting to exchange credit information with a utility. Thirdly, the UAE strengthened minority investor protections by introducing additional approval requirements and greater disclosure requirements for related-party transactions at the stock exchange.

What factors lend to the UAE's distinction in the World Bank's Doing Business report?

Trading across borders continues to improve in the UAE. Many measures have been implemented over the past few years. The UAE made trading across borders easier through adding greater capacity at the container terminal in Dubai, eliminating the requirement for a terminal handling receipt, and improvements in the banking sector reducing the cost of trade finance products. It streamlined document preparation and reduced the time to trade with the launch of Dubai Customs' comprehensive new customs system, Mirsal 2. Accordingly, exporting only requires three documents, and takes seven days on average. The cost to export is $665 per container. Similarly, imports require five documents and take about a week. The cost of importing a container is about $625. These impressive achievements are the result of concerted reforms and significant investments to improve the trading system. The UAE has made significant improvements in other areas measured by the Doing Business Report as well. The country is ranked fourth globally in dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, and registering property, and is the best country in the world in terms of payment of taxes. These gains in the business climate make the UAE a favorite destination to do business.

What issues do you expect to be at the forefront in regards to further improving the business climate and competitiveness of the Emirates?

Three areas require more reforms to realize even greater improvements in the UAE business climate and its ranking. Firstly, the time it takes to enforce contracts could be improved. Secondly, resolving insolvency requires more reforms to improve the legal framework, cost, time, and recovery rates. And lastly, getting credit could be facilitated further, by building on recent gains in legal rights and by expanding the coverage of the credit bureau and credit registry. The World Bank will partner with the UAE through a new effort to promote competition and further improve the business environment in individual Emirates. As you know, Dubai represents the UAE in the annual global Doing Business Report that compares 189 economies globally. The new subnational project will go beyond Dubai to measure business regulations and their enforcement in other Emirates by benchmarking business regulations and their implementation across selected locations and comparing them among themselves, as well as with over 180 economies benchmarked by the annual global Doing Business Report. The project will identify regulatory constraints, provide national and international good practice examples, and recommend actions for reform in the areas measured. It will provide a strategic policy tool to the federal and local authorities to advance the regulatory reform agenda at the subnational level in the areas measured.