United Arab Emirates rises 4 positions globally in Nature Index 2021 Annual Tables, despite pandemic


• UAE – 44th in top 50 countries globally, its highest achievement in four years

• UAE – 2nd in Arab World1 and 5th in both Western Asia and MENA2 countries on this year index

• UAE – in top 50 countries in Chemistry, Earth and Environmental sciences, Life sciences and Physical sciences

• Khalifa University – 2nd among Arab academic institutions, and 2nd and 4th in Earth and Environmental sciences and Physical sciences specialties respectively

• Included also – top academic institutions on the index contributing to the Arab World research

Dubai: In the Nature Index 2021 Annual Tables, as measured by the metric, Share*, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has jumped up four positions in the top 50 global countries in research output to reach the 44th place, its highest in four years. The country has achieved a remarkable growth increase of 27.4% in adjusted Share** and 12.6% in adjusted article count. It has also maintained its positions in research share as the 2nd in the Arab World1, and 5th in both Western Asia and MENA2 countries on this year index. Saudi Arabia remains the first in the Arab countries in the top 50, sitting at 29th in the global rankings.

By specialty, UAE is the only other Arab country alongside Saudi Arabia to make the top 50 global countries list, as well as the top 50 countries in all four specialties of the measured natural science journals. The country achieved 52% adjusted Share growth in Earth and Environmental sciences and a significant growth in Life sciences and Physical sciences, which resulted in joining the global performers in 41st and 49th places respectively. In the Arab World, it came second after Saudi Arabia by research share in Earth and Environmental, Physical sciences and Life sciences and third in Chemistry after Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

This year’s Nature Index Annual Tables include seventeen Arab countries with Saudi Arabia, UAE and Egypt still holding the top three positions respectively since 2017, and UAE again the second highest contributor to the overall research share after increasing its contribution by 3% (from 10% to 13%), the highest increase amongst its Arab peers. Egypt maintains its first position in North Africa2 and second in Africa.

David Swinbanks, Founder of the Nature Index, said: “UAE has moved up to 44th in this year’s Nature Index Tables after being at 49th in 2017 and 48th in both 2018 and 2019. It is third after Vietnam and Croatia in percentage rise in adjusted share at +27.4% amongst the top 50 countries. While many larger nations managed to slow or reverse the declines in research output of previous years, UAE is one of the eight countries – alongside China, Chile, Ireland, Poland, Thailand, South Korea and Slovenia – that managed an increase in their adjusted Share both from 2018 to 2019, and 2019 to 2020. Although Chemistry adjusted Share dropped to half, the Emirates increased its output by 50% in Earth and Environmental sciences in 2020.” It has also succeeded in joining the top 50 countries in Physical sciences research for the first time since 2015.”

By academic institutions in UAE, Khalifa University of Science and Technology remains in first place after reversing its decline in adjusted Share over the past two years and retaining its 2017 growth.

In 2020, it has jumped six positions up to 2nd place in the top fifteen academic institutions in the Arab countries. The latter 

list includes also the United Arab Emirates University (UAEU) that has increased its research share and jumped two levels up to 10th in the same list.

On the Nature Index 2021 Annual Tables, the top 10 Arab countries in order of research share are Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Qatar, Oman, Morocco, Lebanon, Tunisia, Algeria and Kuwait. 

The top fifteen academic institutions in the Arab countries, in order of research share, are: King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) – Saudi Arabia, Khalifa University of Science and Technology – UAE, King Abdulaziz University (KAU) – Saudi Arabia, King Saud University (KSU) – Saudi Arabia, American University of Beirut (AUB) – Lebanon, University of Nizwa – Oman, Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU) – Qatar, King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM) – Saudi Arabia, British University in Egypt (BUE) – Egypt, United Arab Emirates University (UAEU) – UAE, Ain Shams University – Egypt, Cairo University (CU) – Egypt, American University in Cairo (AUC) – Egypt, University of Carthage (UCAR) – Tunisia and Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) – Oman.

The top ten African countries in order of research share are South Africa, Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Tunisia, Uganda, Ethiopia, Algeria, Cameroon and Rwanda. Morocco maintained its fourth place while Tunisia moved up five positions to fifth and Algeria from seventeenth to eighth place.

At a global level, the institutions that have retained their positions at the top of the tables include the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Harvard University, the Max Planck Society, the French National Centre for Scientific Research and the Stanford University.

David Swinbanks noted: “While the annual tables are a good indicator of high quality research output in the natural sciences, we encourage readers to use the findings alongside other measures such as metrics that encompass research fields beyond the natural sciences as well as other scientific outputs such as data, software and intellectual property when considering research quality and institutional performance.”

*Nature Index’s signature metric, Share, is a fractional count for an article allocated to an institution, city or country/region that takes into account the proportion of authors on the article whose institutional affiliation is with that institution or location.

**Adjusted Share takes account of a small annual variation in the total number of articles in the Nature Index. For further explanation, please see natureindex.com/glossary.

1 Arab countries on Nature Index 2021 Annual Tables are Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.

2 MEA and MENA refer to the Middle East Africa and Middle East North Africa regions respectively. North Africa countries on

Nature Index 2021 Annual Tables are Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Sudan and Tunisia.

Note: The Nature Index is one indicator of institutional research performance. The metrics of Count and Share used to order Nature Index listings are based on an institution’s or country/region’s publication output in 82 natural science journals, selected on reputation by an independent panel of leading scientists in their fields. The Nature Index recognises that many other factors must be taken into account when considering research quality and institutional performance; Nature Index metrics alone should not be used to assess institutions or individuals. Nature Index data and methods are transparent and available under a creative commons license at natureindex.com.

About the Nature Index:

The Nature Index is a database of author affiliations and institutional relationships. The index tracks contributions to research articles published in 82 high-quality natural-science journals, chosen by an independent group of researchers.

The Nature Index provides absolute and fractional counts of article publication at the institutional and national level and, as such, is an indicator of global high-quality research output and collaboration. Data in the Nature Index are updated regularly, with the most recent 12 months made available under a Creative Commons licence at natureindex.com. The database is compiled by Nature Research, part of Springer Nature.

Nature Index metrics – The Nature Index uses Count and Share to track research output. A country/region or an institution is given a Count of 1 for each article that has at least one author from that country/region or institution. This is the case regardless of the number of authors an article has, and it means that the same article can contribute to the Count of multiple countries/regions or institutions.

To glean a country’s, a region’s or an institution’s contribution to an article, and to ensure they are not counted more than once, the Nature Index uses Share, a fractional count that takes into account the share of authorship on each article. The total Share available per article is 1, which is shared among all authors under the assumption that each contributed equally. For instance, an article with 10 authors means that each author receives a Share of 0.1. For authors who are affiliated with more than one institution, the author’s Share is then split equally between each institution. The total Share for an institution is calculated by summing the Share for individual affiliated authors. The process is similar for countries/regions, although complicated by the fact that some institutions have overseas labs that will be counted towards host country/region totals.

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