It is the second year in a row that the kingdom has been placed first, ahead of UAE, Kuwait and Bahrain.

In its annual ‘Ease of Doing Business’ report, the World Bank placed Saudi Arabia above more advanced economies such as Germany and Austria. The kingdom has risen from position 67 in 2004 to position 38 in 2006 to its current place in the top 20.

The kingdom has made concerted efforts to liberalise its economy, most notably through the Saudi Arabia General Investment Authority’s (Sagia) 10 x 10 initiative, which sees the kingdom aim to become one of the top 10 most competitive countries in the world by 2010.