Dubai continued to lead the Middle East and North Africa region in global engagement, while Abu Dhabi was among the world’s top ten countries for prospects, according to a study by management consultancy Kearney.
Dubai moved up one place to 22nd out of 156 cities in this year’s Global Cities Index. This is also Emirates’ highest ranking to date.
Tel Aviv was ranked second regionally and 52nd globally, while Doha was third regionally and 57th globally. Other regional cities in the index include Cairo (fourth regionally, 61st globally) and Riyadh (fifth regionally and 70th globally).
According to Kearney, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi, also rose to number 76 in the global ranking.
The index measures the global engagement of 156 cities in five categories: entrepreneurship, human capital, knowledge exchange, cultural experience and political engagement.
It offers insights into how high global inflation, China’s slowdown, the ongoing economic and political fallout from the Russia-Ukraine war, and climate change have affected cities’ global engagement.
“Cities around the world have shown declining scores on the index over the past six years – an indication of the deglobalization that took place before the pandemic,” Abdo Al Habr, Kearney’s partner in the Middle East public sector, said.
“This year, business activity and human capital indicators have weakened in various parts of the world, but the Mena region has shown promise. In the Middle East, governments have been proactively setting goals for socio-economic development for years, and it is this careful, systematic strategy that has shaped their positive future.”
Dubai made progress in business, human capital and political engagement compared to last year. Abu Dhabi also registered growth in the index of business and political engagement, according to the report.
The index’s top four cities – New York, London, Paris and Tokyo – remained unchanged from 2021. Beijing moved up one place from 2021 to the top five, trading place with this year’s sixth-ranked Los Angeles.
Average index scores have fallen in all regions, not just in the most globally connected cities.
“The decline in scores is steeper in many cities in lower income areas than in cities in North America or Europe. This is likely due to the delayed effects of Covid-19 and the rapid recovery of many more affluent cities,” the report says.
Many African cities experienced only modest declines in ratings, possibly due to their relatively weaker connection to global markets.
The Middle East as a region surpassed China in the cultural experience dimension of the index. With the pandemic, iconic global events were held in the region, boosting local and international tourism.
The United Arab Emirates hosted Expo 2020, which drew 24 million visitors, and Qatar will host the soccer World Cup next month, Kearney said. Saudi Arabia has also recorded rapid growth in tourism since its National Cultural Strategy was published in 2019.
Dubai topped the region for cultural experience, while Riyadh’s rise of 46 points is the highest in the category globally.
Doha achieved a 17-point jump in the cultural experiences category and ranked first in the Mena region in sports events, according to Kearney.
At the same time, Abu Dhabi was ranked ninth globally in Kearney’s Global Cities Outlook survey, which assesses how 156 cities are setting the stage for their future status as global hubs.
This is measured in four dimensions: personal well-being, economy, innovation and governance.
Dubai’s outlook rose five places to 11, while Doha’s outlook climbed 23 points, the region’s highest jump, which Kearney said was supported by strong governance.
London retained its lead, and Paris, Luxembourg, Munich and Stockholm rounded out the top five.
“In the coming year, city leaders will need to prioritize their efforts and investments even more ruthlessly than in the past as they weather what is likely to be an exceptionally challenging economic storm,” Rudolph Lohmeyer, a Kearney partner at the National Transformations Institute, said.
“Leaders must drive policy innovation to protect their most economically vulnerable residents and attract key employers while ensuring fiscal sustainability.”
The report suggested ways for leaders to respond to the challenges facing their cities, including inflation, slowing economic growth, rising debt and worsening inequality.
These solutions include increasing income and equity with targeted non-tax revenues, using carbon dioxide as an alternative revenue stream to finance green infrastructure, and protecting the economically disadvantaged with targeted income guarantee programs.
Updated: 24.10.2022, at 02:30