Kearney names Dubai one of the world's top 25 cities

30 October 2023 3 min. read

Dubai has again been named one of the world’s top 25 cities to live and work by Kearney, with several other Middle East cities booking gains beyond the top 25.

The ‘Global Cities Index’ by Kearney evaluates the extent to which a city can attract, retain, and generate global flows of capital, people, and ideas. The 150+ cities assessed were measured against five key dimensions: human capital, information exchange, cultural experience, political engagement, and business activity.

While the top five has remained untouched vis a vis last year, further down the index all kinds of swaps, jumps and merry-go-rounds have taken place, with Brussel, Madrid, and Shanghai among the most notable growers.

Kearney names Dubai one of the world's top 25 cities

Having made its debut in the Global Cities Index in 2021, Dubai has retained its spot in the top 25 for the second consecutive year.

Dubai was noted by the researchers for the success of its sweeping economic, legal and social reforms over the past years to attract businesses and skilled workers. In addition, Dubai’s economy has proven resilient to several black swan events, with growing tourism and a surging real estate market among the private sectors driving the emirate’s attractiveness.

Doha ranked second in the MENA region and 50th globally, while Tel Aviv stood 3rd regionally and 57th worldwide. Other regional cities featured in the index include Riyadh (4th regionally, 61st globally) and Abu Dhabi (4th regionally, 66th globally).

Kearney said that Abu Dhabi in particular is well positioned to leapfrog rival cities in the coming years, given the emirate’s 27th spot in the ‘Global Cities Outlook’ list, a sub-index that looks at future potential instead of current performance.

According to Rudolph Lohmeyer, a partner at Kearney, the improvements of several GCC cities was in part thanks to their ability to “capitalise on the return to pre-pandemic levels of international travel to attract large volumes of tourism.”

“As global trade returns to normalised levels, key cities in the Gulf have emerged as beacons of prosperity, resilience and opportunity. A strong commitment to delivering on ambitious national visions and the maintenance of a regenerative mindset is paying off,” he added.

Kearney names Dubai one of the world's top 25 cities

Kearney’s rosy findings for the GCC echo a relatively similar study from Boston Consulting Group released earlier this year, which found that most GCC cities have over the past 12 months enhanced their attractiveness to businesses and people on the global stage. Boston Consulting Group’s methodology also looked at five factors, but had different underlying criteria.

A changing global order?

While the higher echelons of Kearney’s ‘Global Cities Index’ have been quite stable for over a decade (for example: the top 10 in 2015 was not very much different to the 2023 list), Kearney expert Brenna Buckstaff said that an era of disruption and a shifting global landscape means that top-tier global cities no longer should take their positions for granted.

“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 tech-driven innovation. Those cities that adopt a regenerative model – one that moves beyond resilience and thinks proactively – will have a competitive advantage,” she said.