Middle East and North Africa
The Middle East and North Africa region comprises 15 countries that had sufficient data for coverage in the Index. Out of these, only one—Israel (18)—makes it into the top 20 of the overall Index. Three gulf states—the United Arab Emirates (45), Bahrain (47) and Qatar (55)—outperform the rest of the region’s Arab countries in terms of human capital development, benefitting significantly from the strong perceived quality of their education systems, and score in the mid-range of countries ranked in the Index overall. However, relative to their income levels these countries have additional opportunities to further boost their human capital performance, reporting some of the lowest skill diversity scores and tertiary and vocational enrolment rates in the Index. Turkey (75) crosses the 60% mark on the strength of its young generation’s high tertiary and vocational education enrolment rates. Similar to other economies in the region it is held back, however, by low human capital outcomes across the Deployment subindex, due in large part to significant employment gender gaps.
The North African nations Algeria (112), Tunisia (115) and Morocco (118) make up the lower end of the regional rankings, ahead of Mauritania (129) and Yemen (129). Gender gaps in secondary school participation and youth unemployment continue to be widespread in a number of countries, risking a lasting impact on the workforce of the next generation.
Saudi Arabia (82), the Middle East and North Africa region’s largest economy, ranks ahead of Egypt (97), its most populous one. While Egypt scores ahead on the Know-how subindex, as home to one of the region’s most diversified economies and labour markets, Saudi Arabia’s efforts to expand its future human capital potential are in better shape in terms of education quality and staff training, for which Egypt ranks near the bottom of the Index on both indicators. Both countries suffer from high unemployment rates among its young generation and have high employment gender gaps, pointing to both countries’ additional untapped human capital potential.
The Middle East and North Africa is one of the most disparate regions in the Index—spanning three income group levels and ranging in scores from those that are in line with high-income economies in Western Europe and elsewhere, to those more in line with the worst-performing countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. For example, Kuwait (96), whose GDP per capita is nearly eightfold higher, performs at a comparable level to Egypt, highlighting that economic factors alone are an inadequate measure of a country’s ability to successfully develop their human capital. While the region’s overall average score of 55.91 masks some of these significant differences in countries’ circumstances, it also points to opportunities for countries to learn from one other across the region.