THE LEVANT – Saudi Arabia ranked 34th in the Human Development Index (HDI) of 2014 out of a total of 187 countries and territories.
Saudi Arabia’s HDI value increased from 0.583 to 0.836, an increase of 43.3 percent, or an average annual increase of about 1.10 percent, between 1980 and 2013.
The current figure is considered very high within the global indicator.
According to the 2014 Human Development Report released by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) office in Riyadh on Thursday, human development is improving in Arab states, with some countries showing very high development.
Still, there remain wide variations between these countries, as the region faces several challenges that can hinder progress.
Qatar ranks first among Arab countries in the index, while Sudan scores lowest. The region is ahead in terms of per capita income, at $15,817, which is 15 percent higher than the world average. The region, however, trails global averages in life expectancy and years of schooling.
The report, entitled “Sustaining Human Progress: Reducing Vulnerabilities and Building Resilience,” provides a human development perspective on vulnerability and proposes ways to strengthen resilience.
The report points to major challenges in the region, including conflict, youth unemployment and inequality, which have created overlapping vulnerabilities that, if left unchecked, can hamper human development now and in the future.
“By addressing vulnerabilities, development progress and human development will become increasingly equitable and sustainable,” UNDP Administrator Helen Clark said in her report.
Ongoing conflicts in Syria and elsewhere in the region have severely affected families and created the world’s largest population of displaced people and refugees who face daunting economic and social challenges, the report says.
Women and children, who make up the highest proportion of displaced people, face overlapping deprivations, the report adds.
They often live in poverty without access to public services, such as basic health care and education. Such deprivations can cause lasting health problems, including mental health complications, and contribute to lost livelihoods, undermining long-term capabilities.
Saudi Arabia has a Gender Inequality Index (GII) value of 0.321, ranking it 56 out of 149 countries in the 2013 index.
Meanwhile, 19.9 percent of parliamentary seats are held by women and 60.5 percent of adult women reach at least a secondary level of education, compared with 70.3 percent among their male counterparts.
For every 100,000 live births, 24.0 women die from pregnancy related causes, while the adolescent birth rate is 10.2 births per 1,000 live births. Female participation in the labor market is pegged at 18.2 percent, compared with 75.5 for men.
Sources – Arab News