x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

UAE best place to be born in Arab world, Sheikh Mohammed proudly tweets

The UAE is also ranked among the top 20 in the world, according to Economist Intelligence Unit, taking into account factors including life expectancy at birth, quality of family life and job security.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai and Vice President of the United Arab Emirates, who proudly tweeted the nation's latest global standing. Rich-Joseph Facun
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai and Vice President of the United Arab Emirates, who proudly tweeted the nation's latest global standing. Rich-Joseph Facun

If you could choose the place of your birth you would not go wrong by opting for the UAE, a study shows.

The Emirates was ranked by the Economist Intelligence Unit among the top 20 countries in the world – and the leading Arab country – in which to be born, based on life expectancy, quality of family life and job security.

Switzerland took the top spot, while Nigeria came last.

After tweeting the news to his more than one million followers, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, commended the country on being placed 18th of 80 countries.

"We aim to be one of the best in the world, and our 'Vision 2021' has laid out a clear road map to accomplish this goal," Sheikh Mohammed wrote on his Twitter account.

The study was published on Friday in The Economist.

Researchers referred to a 2006 Gallup study on life satisfaction as a template.

Indicators listed by Gallup included the quality of family life (taking into account divorce rates), political freedom, climate, gender equality, governance, personal safety and the quality of community.

A breakdown of statistics, including the number of people polled and whether or not the UAE data included the views of Emiratis and expatriates, was unavailable.

For Faizan Uddin, 24, security was one of the most important factors in determining quality of life.

"The safety and security being provided in the UAE is much better than many other developed countries," said Mr Uddin, a Pakistani expatriate who has lived in Abu Dhabi since 2010.

"The UAE provides a culture that is adaptable to people coming from different backgrounds, which is evident from the fact that 200 different nationalities coherently live in Emirates."

Although the ranking provides some significant indicators, it is not 100 per cent accurate because some wealthy countries are missing, said Dr El Sayed El Aswad, a professor of anthropology and chair of sociology at UAE University.

Counting peace, freedom and democracy among some of the more important factors people consider when thinking about quality of life, the UAE shows strength in many areas, Dr El Aswad said.

"Tolerance, multiplicity of cultures, a good economy and respect of others constitute some of the country's strengths," he said.

But gender issues and job security for expatriates are some areas that need to be improved, Dr El Aswad said.

While the study may be of interest to some, it is unlikely to influence where people decide to raise their children, he added.

It did rank the country accurately when it came to life expectancy, reflecting the progress made to improve birth rates, said Dr Abdulla Al Khayat, chief executive of Latifa Hospital in Dubai.

"About the ranking, yes, we are a pioneer among the Middle Eastern countries," said Dr Al Khayat.

"To be put in that rank is not only because of the equipment or manpower you have. No, I think it's because of the system, and we have a very good system."

This year, the Statistics Centre – Abu Dhabi put the crude birth rate, or the annual number of live births for each 1,000 of population, at 15.01 in 2010. The crude birth rate among UAE nationals jumped to 31.43 over the same period.

Although the overall birth rate has decreased in the past decade, in line with worldwide trends, the relatively static birth rate among Emiratis has been attributed to financial stability, government support and culture.

The country should be proud of how much it has achieved in such a short period of time, said Khalifa Al Suwaidi, 24, from Abu Dhabi.

"We're already making phenomenal progress and I daresay we've already enshrined ourselves in the history books, despite only being a 41-year-old nation," Mr Al Suwaidi said.

zalhassani@thenational.ae