United Arab Emirates: UAE Leads The Region In Fight Against Corruption

Last Updated: 4 April 2018
Article by Mark Beswetherick and Nicholas Braganza

The Middle East as a whole has not fared well historically when assessing the risk of public sector corruption in business. But the reality is not so uniform, as indicated by the latest version of a global survey published last month. The UAE has improved its Corruption Perceptions Index ranking by clinching the 21st position, leading the region as a place to do business in the Middle East.

Transparency International (TI), the leading international organisation combatting and monitoring bribery and corruption around the world, has published its latest Corruption Perceptions Index 2017 last month.

This is a global index that ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived (rather than actual) levels of public-sector corruption according to a range of expert organisations. The index uses a scale of 0 to 100 with 0 being highly corrupt and 100 very clean.

New Zealand topped the list with a score of 89.

Top ranking for the UAE

While TI has concluded that some Middle Eastern countries have seen a "drastic" rise in their perceived level of corruption in the past year, the United Arab Emirates has maintained its position as the cleanest country in the Middle East according to the index, placed at 21st in the league table – up 3 places from last year – with a 2017 score of 71. This ranking places the UAE ahead of France and fifteen other European Union countries.

The UAE's impressive score and ranking were, according to TI, the result of "good and efficient management of public finances, improved public procurement and better access to public services and infrastructure".

Hamad Al Hurr Al Suwaidi, chairman of the Abu Dhabi Accountability Authority (ADAA), the anti-corruption governmental body in Abu Dhabi, however, commented that "21 is not good enough; we aim to continue to progress in our efforts to boost transparency and efficiency in government."

In the recent years, the UAE authorities have adopted a zero-tolerance policy on corruption and empowered bodies such as the ADAA and the Federal Audit Department in Dubai to root out corruption in the public sector. There is comprehensive legislation (including provisions in the UAE Federal Penal Code and the Federal Human Resources Law) that combat bribery and are regularly enforced and applied by the Public Prosecutor and enforcement authorities.

In other areas, the UAE has implemented legislation to improve transparency and stamp out corruption. For example, there is specific anti-money laundering and terrorism financing legislation in place since 2002, which was significantly updated and enhanced in late 2014 when the UAE brought its legal framework into closer alignment with the OECD Financial Action Task Force's Recommendations.

GCC States see mixed results

Most Arab states did not score above 50 in the Corruption Perceptions Index, though Saudi Arabia scored 49, placing it third in the region and in 57th place overall.

Indeed, Saudi Arabia saw a significant improvement to its ranking, moving up five places from its previous year's rank of 62nd to a rank this year of 57th (up from a score of 46 to 49). The news comes on the back of the recent campaign by Saudi Arabia to stamp out corruption in the country and target the objectives of "Vision 2030". In 2017, Saudi Arabia made concerted efforts to combat corruption including establishing a National Anti-Corruption Commission led by Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman in November 2017 which led to a series of arrests of some prominent Saudi Arabian princes, government ministers, and businessmen.

Saudi officials welcomed the results in the Corruption Perceptions Index, with Minister of Economy and Planning Mohammed Altwejri, stating that "we are dedicated to achieving the objectives in the Vision 2030 plan, which includes improving transparency and accountability in every facet of our government, and this report shows we're making progress".

The trend in the GCC was largely split with the UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia on the one hand all seeing improvements on their 2016 scores, whilst conversely Oman, Kuwait and Bahrain fell down the league table in the Corruption Perceptions Index. Bahrain in fact experienced a sharp drop since last year with its score plummeting 7 points from 43 to 36.

Low ranking for some Middle East countries

The falling standings of the three Gulf States point to the deeper problems across much of the Arab world, according to TI's press release entitled "Rampant Corruption in Arab States". Somalia, Syria, Sudan, Yemen and Libya all among the seven most corrupt states in the world, according to the rankings. These worst performing Arab states are said to suffer from weak public institutions, internal conflict and deep instability, primarily as a result of ongoing civil wars, and corrupt government and governance.

In contrast, TI saw signs of progress in a number of Arab countries, with Lebanon, Jordan and Tunisia, all taking positive steps towards fighting corruption and increasing transparency and integrity.

Progress in anti-corruption

While the Corruption Perceptions Index focuses on public sector (rather than private sector) corruption, and the observations of TI are understandably quite stark (with the intention of prompting governments to act in their respective countries), it is clear that the best performing governments in the Middle East, such as in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, are now reaping rewards from taking the TI rankings and the perception of corruption seriously and are making significant strides to address previous areas of concern.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions