For all the talk of the Gulf’s rising economic clout, the
region’s largest financial centers have failed to make it into the top rankings
of a bi-annual list of global economic hubs.
Dubai, Qatar, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia failed to break the
top 20 in the latest Global Financial Centres Index, posing little competition
to top-ranked cities London, New York and Hong Kong.
Perception of the Gulf’s competitiveness has fallen since
the last survey, the poll of 1,970 financial services professionals found.
Dubai, seen as a rising star before the 2009 debt crisis, retained
its position at No.28 on the list of 75 centres, but saw its rating fall by two
Bahrain, which has been gripped by more a month of violent
clashes between anti-government protesters and security forces, slid seven
places to 49. Neighbouring Riyadh rose one spot to 70, but saw its rating slip
by three points.
Gas-rich Qatar, which has sidestepped the uprisings sweeping
the Arab world, jumped four places to 30 in a challenge to Dubai’s financial
dominance. The rating gap between the two Gulf states has halved in the last two
years as Doha’s steady growth and massive wealth draws in foreign investors.
Rankings in the top three spots remained unchanged for a
second year. London, New York and Hong Kong – which together control about 70
percent of equity trading – continue to dominate, but there are signs the UK
capital is losing its gloss.
Forty-three percent of those polled said they had
considered, or are considering leaving the city, citing London’s high cost of
living and the tax burden.
A quarter of senior managers surveyed said it was likely
their firms would shift their operational teams out of the UK over the next few
By contrast, Asian cities are on the rise. Eight featured in
the top 20, compared to six American cities and five European ones. Seoul, the
highest riser in the index, saw its rating surge 25 points to put it in 16th
Respondents said Asian cities were likely to grow in
dominance over the next few years and were the most likely destinations for new
Dubai and Qatar also ranked among the top 10 centers most likely
to grown in global significant over the next few years.
The Global Financial Centres Index is compiled by London-based
think tank Z/Yen Group. The rankings award points based on interviews with financial
services professionals, covering points such as competitiveness, infrastructure
and market access.
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