Dubai leads Mena region in global engagement levels, study finds

Emirate climbs four places to 23rd position out of 156 cities, according to Kearney report

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Dubai continued to lead the Mena region in terms of global engagement levels, according to a study by management consultancy Kearney.

The emirate climbed four places into 23rd position out of 156 cities, making it the only Mena city to be ranked in the top 30 on this year’s Global Cities Index.

Tel Aviv was second regionally while Doha, which restored diplomatic relations with neighbouring countries, was third. Qatar’s capital city climbed 15 places in the largest jump for any city worldwide.

The index measures the global engagement of 156 cities across five categories – business activity, human capital, information exchange, cultural experience and political engagement.

It seeks to offer insights into how Covid-19 and the resulting containment measures affected their level of global engagement.

Cairo and Riyadh were ranked fourth and fifth, respectively, in the Mena region. The Saudi capital was ranked first in the GCC in the human capital category, highlighting its efforts to attract international talent, Kearney said on Monday.

“In the Mena region, GCC economies, particularly the UAE and Saudi Arabia, are poised to lead the regional recovery, supported by the accelerated efforts of their governments across the five main dimensions of the report,” said Antoine Nasr, partner and government practice leader at Kearney Middle East.

“What is also noteworthy is Doha has recorded the biggest gain globally for any city, a result of the compounded benefits of their strengthened economy and the newly restored regional ties. This reflects the importance of a balance between self-sufficiency and global connectivity.”

Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi and Dubai led the Middle East region in a separate global ranking of smart cities – outpacing advanced urban centres such as Tokyo and Beijing in the use of technology to improve the quality of life for residents.

Abu Dhabi jumped 14 spots into 42nd place out of 109 cities on the 2020 Smart City Index by The Institute for Management Development, slightly ahead of Dubai, which was up two positions in 43rd position, the Swiss institute said.

Dubai was also ranked fourth globally in the cultural experience category on the Kearney index, reflecting the city’s relatively early reopening to international travellers, according to the report.

In Mena, GCC economies, particularly the UAE and Saudi Arabia, are poised to lead regional recovery
Antoine Nasr, Kearney Middle East

New York, London, Paris and Tokyo retained their top four positions on the index while Los Angeles broke into the top five, displacing both Beijing and Hong Kong, which both fell by one spot, the Kearney report said.

“Though they were initially hit hardest by Covid-19, our 2021 report shows that the leading global cities have once again proven their resilience and adaptive capacity,” said Rudolph Lohmeyer, partner of the National Transformations Institute at Kearney Middle East.

“Their broad diversity of strengths positioned them for a quicker rebound.”

Overall, 21 cities in the Mena region were up six or more positions on the GCI rankings, compared with last year. Istanbul climbed seven spots while Addis Ababa moved up eight places, Kearney said.

Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi was ranked fourth globally on Kearney’s Global Cities Outlook, which assesses how the same 156 cities are creating conditions for their future status as global centres.

This is measured across four dimensions – personal well-being, economics, innovation and governance.

London retained its top spot, with Paris, Munich and Abu Dhabi each rising three places to take second, third and fourth place, respectively. Dublin rounded off the top five.

The personal well-being category was the biggest predictor of change in overall scores and rankings, reflecting the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Following last year’s 13-spot jump, Abu Dhabi progressed further, with this year’s change driven by its focus on providing accessible, high-quality health care and a commitment to reducing its environmental impact, which is core to the personal well-being dimension, the Kearney report said.

It suggested five ways in which city leaders can address the challenges their cities face. These include winning in the competition for global talent, embracing the rapidly growing digital economy, ensuring economic resilience by balancing global and local resources, adapting in the face of climate change and investing in personal and community well-being.

Updated: October 24, 2021, 8:01 PM