x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

In Deloitte’s 2014 Social Progress Index, the UAE was listed at 37th out of 132 countries and first in the region in terms of social progress.

Improved access to advanced education could see the UAE rank even higher in the social progress index, the report says. Christopher Pike / The National
Improved access to advanced education could see the UAE rank even higher in the social progress index, the report says. Christopher Pike / The National

ABU DHABI // A lack of opportunities to advance quality of life is partly behind the recent instability in parts of the region, according to an international professional services firm.

Rashid Bashir, partner and head of strategy consulting for Deloitte in the Mena region, said the public and private sectors should work together to help to improve social progress.

“If you look at what is happening across the Middle East region, there are some serious issues that are bubbling up from lack of social progress,” he said.

In Deloitte’s 2014 Social Progress Index, the UAE was listed at 37th out of 132 countries. It was also first in the region in terms of social progress.

The study defined social progress as society’s ability to meet basic human needs, establish building blocks for well-being and help people to reach their full potential.

The UAE scored highly in meeting basic needs, such as clean water and shelter, as well as creating provisions for well-being through health care, education and access to information.

It ranked first among seven other countries in the region, followed by Kuwait at 40, Saudi Arabia at 65, Jordan at 75, Lebanon at 83, Egypt at 84, Iraq at 118 and Yemen at 125.

But more could be done to help people reach their potential in Arabian Gulf countries, Mr Bashir said, noting that wealth did not necessarily indicate higher social progress.

“In terms of opportunity, I think that’s where more work is required,” he said.

Opportunity includes personal rights, freedom and choice, tolerance and inclusion and access to advanced education, the report said.

“That is, in our opinion, the real issue, because economic growth on its own, if it doesn’t lead to social progress, is not quite a fantastic story and this could lead to social instability.”

lcarroll@thenational.ae