The UAE has improved one place in an annual global ranking of perceived corruption, cementing its position as the best placed Arab nation in the survey.
Transparency International’s study of outside perceptions of dealings with public sector officials showed the UAE had risen to 26th.
The civil society watchdog draws on data from independent institutions to gauge the likelihood of bribery and accountability of public officials across 177 nations.
Denmark and New Zealand were viewed as having the cleanest public officials, scoring the highest marks of 91 in the Corruption Perceptions Index. Somalia, North Korea and Afghanistan ranked bottom.
After the UAE, Qatar was perceived to have the second lowest level of corruption in the region. It ranked 28th.
But generally, perceptions of abuse of power and bribery in the Arab world were high.
A total of 84 per cent of countries in the Middle East and North Africa scored below 50. The index ranges from zero, indicating most corrupt, to 100, least corrupt.
Sudan was the lowest ranked Arab country in 174th place. Libya ranked in 172nd and Iraq in 171st.
Anger at a perception of public officials unfairly benefiting from power was one of the many sparks igniting the Arab Spring.
“The Corruption Perceptions Index 2013 demonstrates that all countries still face the threat of corruption at all levels of government, from the issuing of local permits to the enforcement of laws and regulations,” said Huguette Labelle, the chair of Berlin-based Transparency International.
The group said countries’ scores within the index could be improved by strong access to information systems and rules governing the behaviour of those within positions of power. In contrast, a lack of accountability across the public sector and ineffective public institutions hurt perceptions of corruption.