Israel, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Iran, Turkey, Qatar and Egypt have been ranked among the 25 most powerful countries in the world by the US News and World Report.
The annual rankings are based on surveys that ask participants for their opinions on 80 countries with some 65 indicators in nine categories, including a strong military, strong international alliances, economic and political influence, and leadership.
Israel ranked highest of all Middle Eastern countries, in eighth place worldwide, with the report citing its military might and diplomatic support from the US. It was closely followed by Saudi Arabia in ninth position and the UAE in tenth, surpassing South Korea and Canada. Iran and Turkey followed, ahead of both India and Australia, with their economic potential noted.
Qatar was also included in the list, three places ahead of last year, despite being blockaded by its Gulf neighbours since last summer. Egypt secured the last twenty-fifth position, described by the report as “one of the world’s earliest and greatest civilisations”, which highlighted the country’s growth in tourism and manufacturing.
The US, Russia and China topped the poll, with Germany and the UK in fourth and fifth position.
Middle Eastern states ranked lower in terms of the overall “Best Countries” classification, with Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar occupying positions in the mid-thirties. The UAE was deemed the twenty-third best country in the world, ahead of Israel in thirtieth place. Tunisia, Jordan and Iran also scored low in the general ranking, with Algeria in last place of the 80 states considered.
Most of the Arab world also ranked low in terms of quality of education and countries considered the most forward looking, with the exception of the UAE.
The rankings particularly reflect public opinion towards the Gulf in the wake of the Qatar boycott, new regional economic development projects and the lifting of restrictions on women driving in Saudi Arabia. The alliance of most of the GCC states along with Egypt, who have sided with US President Donald Trump on numerous issues, including his proposed “Deal of the Century” to end the Israel-Palestine conflict and attitude against Iran, has also boosted perceived international standing.
Turkey’s high ranking has also been attributed to the strong leadership of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the country’s military involvement in Syria, negotiating on the international stage with Russia and Iran.