Dubai ranked 23rd on world's top cities index

Abu Dhabi also ranks among the top 30 cities globally in terms of outlook, Kearney research finds

Powered by automated translation

Dubai has retained its top spot in the Middle East and North Africa region in terms of global engagement, after ranking 23rd out of 156 cities in this year's Global Cities Index.

It is the third-consecutive year that Dubai has claimed a spot in the top 25 of the index, management consultancy Kearney said on Thursday.

Doha was ranked second in the Mena region and 50th globally, while Tel Aviv stood third regionally and 57th worldwide. Other regional cities featured in the index include Riyadh (fourth regionally, 61st globally) and Abu Dhabi (fifth regionally and 66th globally).

The study also ranked Abu Dhabi among the top 30 cities globally in terms of outlook.

The index measures the global engagement of 156 cities across five categories – business activity, human capital, information exchange, cultural experience and political engagement – and seeks to quantify the extent to which a city can attract, retain, and generate global flows of capital, people and ideas, Kearney said.

Key cities in the GCC made major improvements in their overall scores in this year's index, as they capitalised on the return to pre-pandemic levels of international travel to attract large volumes of migrant talent and tourism, according to the report.

“As global trade returns to normalised levels, key cities in the Gulf have emerged as beacons of prosperity, resilience and opportunity,” said Rudolph Lohmeyer, a partner at Kearney.

“Their resilient economic performance amid challenging global conditions, combined with a concerted focus on promoting livability and talent attraction, has succeeded in drawing ever-greater numbers of expats.”

In recent years, the UAE has undertaken sweeping economic, legal and social reforms to attract skilled workers.

The government’s overhaul of visa programmes has boosted opportunities for foreign workers to live and work in the country. That includes a revamp of the 10-year golden visa to simplify eligibility criteria and expand the categories of beneficiaries.

The green visa was also introduced to provide five-year residency to skilled workers without needing a sponsor or employer.

The UAE led the Arab world for attracting and retaining talent, while Switzerland is the top destination globally, according to the 2023 IMD World Talent Ranking.

The UAE ranked 22nd among 64 economies, thanks to an increase in scores for quality of life, management remuneration, health infrastructure, quality of education and labour force growth, according to the IMD World Talent index by the World Competitiveness Centre.

Meanwhile, the top five cities on Kearney's GCI index – New York, London, Paris, Tokyo and Beijing – remained unchanged from 2022.

However, there was substantial movement among the remaining top 30 cities, including considerable gains for Brussels and Madrid and declines for Washington, DC, and Boston, according to the report.

This year marked a continued decline in the business activity category, reflecting the persistent challenging global economic conditions, Kearney said.

Meanwhile, the human capital profile of global cities has risen for the first time since the start of the pandemic, as restrictions on movement have been removed and individuals are now free to travel.

Information exchange and political engagement scores showed moderate improvements this year, while the cultural experience indicator remained level after surging in the previous year with the reopening of many cultural institutions, Kearney said.

Abu Dhabi was ranked 27th globally on Kearney’s Global Cities Outlook, which assesses how the 156 cities are creating conditions for their future status as global centres.

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

San Francisco was ranked first in the Global Cities Outlook index, followed by Copenhagen, London, Luxembourg and Paris.

“In this shifting global landscape of distributed opportunity, top-tier global cities cannot take their positions for granted,” said Brenna Buckstaff, manager at Kearney.

“The traditional hierarchy of leading cities will only become more fluid in the future as opportunities for growth and enhanced productivity become less concentrated during the coming waves of artificial intelligence-driven innovation.”

Top 10 of the 2023 Global Cities Index

  1. New York
  2. London
  3. Paris
  4. Tokyo
  5. Beijing
  6. Brussels
  7. Singapore
  8. Los Angeles
  9. Melbourne
  10. Hong Kong

Source: Kearney

Updated: October 26, 2023, 8:45 AM