Abu Dhabi jumped 13 places to significantly enhance its position from 20th to the 7th ranking in the prestigious “outlook index” of the Global Cities Report (GCR) released on Tuesday by management consulting firm Kearney.
However, in the overall 2020 Global Cities Index ranking topped by New York, Dubai retained its 27th position, and is the only city in the Middle East to figure among the world’s top 30.
The 10th edition of the GCR report includes the Global Cities Index (GCI) and the Global Cities Outlook (GCO). Together they provide a comprehensive analysis of global cities’ current competitiveness and future prospects.
The GCO results led by London show more volatility in the rankings, reflecting intensifying competition to secure future global status.
Cities like Abu Dhabi that saw a dramatic rise in their outlook performance mainly improved in the areas of innovation and economics, where long-term investments were beginning to show results. Along with the capital city, Dubai also topped the economics metric in infrastructure, thanks to their openness to the private sector and robust engagement in public–private partnerships.
The most striking change in the GCI was Beijing’s rise to displace Hong Kong among the top five global cities, suggesting the impact of combining stability and growth with aggressive investments in human capital, said the report. However, despite these surprises, those in the highest positions—New York, London, Paris, and Tokyo—retained the top four places. This enduring strength highlights the breadth of advantages needed to reach and stay at the top of the Index, and the self-reinforcing power of global city status.
While the marked advance of Middle Eastern cities was led by the strong emphasis on national transformation and economic diversification in Gulf countries, Chinese cities made significant improvements in personal well-being, innovation, and governance scores. Still, New York, London, Paris, and Tokyo retain their respective top four positions, highlighting the breadth of advantages needed to reach and maintain the highest levels of global status.
“While the full ramifications of the pandemic will only be understood in the coming months and years, it has shattered the status quo, revealing new challenges and opportunities for city leaders,” said Rudolph Lohmeyer, partner, National Transformations Institute, Kearney Middle East.
“What is already abundantly clear in the emerging reality is that previous status will not be enough to secure continued global prominence. Instead, city leaders will need to make strategic choices and investments, which are likely to look very different from years past, if they are to emerge stronger and more resilient,” said Lohmeyer.
“As cities prepare for life after Covid-19, the report provides a snapshot of where they stood as they entered the crisis – a recent, but very different, past. This year’s results can be used as a reference point by city leaders to assess where they have come from as they prepare for a future of unknowns,” said Antoine Nasr, partner, Government Practice Leader, Kearney Middle East. — firstname.lastname@example.org
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