Immigrants Essential for Economic Growth, Say Experts

ABU DHABI - Inflow of migrants is an essential part of urban development, according to the experts attending fourth Global City event, which concluded here on Wednesday.

“Immigration is a very positive, dynamic factor for change,” said Marie Therese McGivern, Director of Development at Belfast City Council in the UK. “By nature, a migrant is an entrepreneur,” she added. “Welcoming migrants is a proposition with a strong business case. In Belfast, the story so far has been a good one.” Tom Bartkoski, Director of International Business Development at World Business Chicago, outlined how his city had embraced a long tradition of immigration. Chicago’s position as the third largest US city, in terms of economic output, would not have been possible without its intensive immigration over the generations, he said.

“Chicago is viewed as providing a good environment for international business because companies feel comfortable with the number of other cultures available in the workforce.’’

“There has been a consistency of openness of attitude by the Mayor, Richard Daley, to immigrants, and the city knows it must continue to embrace this welcome to newcomers,” he said.

Peter Woods, the Secretary General of United Cities and Local Governments in the Asia-Pacific region, warned that in spite of the success of a large number of cities in their immigration policies, there is still much more to do. “We have a long way to go because in many parts of the world, we are not adopting established principles against racism,” he said. “For cities to succeed, their populations need to embrace multiculturalism. A historic analysis of the world’s biggest economies shows that places that adapt well to immigration are the most economically successful.”

Tom Murcott, Executive vice-president and Chief Marketing Officer for Gale International, the developers of Songdo IBD in Korea, in his presentation emphasised the need to ensure the participation of the public sector in creating a new business city.

“It takes a strong, committed partnership with your co-developers to succeed,” he said. “You have to have an alignment of interests, which is no small challenge. Everyone has to understand the objectives of the partnership in spite of any political interests.”

Murcott also highlighted the importance for all parties to have a “significant financial commitment” for these futuristic cities to succeed. In addition, he said, other essentials for partnership include visionary leadership from the public sector, a highly enforced mission and business plan and a commitment to the rules.

“You have to be relentlessly optimistic in this business, as well as having a thick skin,”Murcott added.

Michael White, the Senior Planning Manager of the Abu Dhabi Planning Council said Abu Dhabi would have three million residents by 2030. “So we have to find ways to disperse the population from Abu Dhabi Island and providing better access for the rest of the city. Abu Dhabi’s vision will be underpinned by a multi-level transport policy.”

Held under the patronage of Shaikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince’s Court and Deputy Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Council for Economic Development (ADCED), Global city welcomed more than 100 leading international experts from 40 as speakers and forum participants.

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