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GCC Cities Climb Ranks for Livability: Kearney Report

Dubai was ranked among the top 25 global cities to live, while Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, Muscat and Doha improved their rankings significantly.

By Inc.Arabia Staff
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A report by global management consulting firm Kearney saw marked improvements in the livability indices of GCC cities. The report attributes the GCC’s cities’ success at attracting talent and to maintaining strong regional economic growth at a time of global volatility.

Kearney’s Global Cities Report includes a Global Cities Index (GCI) and a Global Cities Outlook (GCO). The GCI measures the ability of cities to attract, retain and generate the flow of talent, capital and ideas from the global market using five metrics: Human capital, information exchange, cultural experience, political engagement and business activity. The GCO, on the other hand, tries to identify the cities that are most likely to be prominent globally in the future using four indicators: Personal well-being, economics, innovation and governance.

Dubai ranked 23rd on report’s GCI, marking the third consecutive year for it to be listed among the top 25 global cities ranked in the report’s global cities index. Riyadh, Muscat and Doha improved their rankings by a respective nine, eight and seven places, primarily driven by the growth of human capital in those cities.

Abu Dhabi climbed 10 spots in the GCI rankings. It was also ranked among the top 30 cities in the GCO at 27th place. This year marks the fourth consecutive year that Abu Dhabi has been ranked among the top 30 cities in the GCO. Between 2020, 2021 and 2022, Abu Dhabi ranked at seventh, fourth and ninth place, respectively.

The report notes that this is the first year for travel to return to pre-pandemic levels, with trends showing trade and capital flows migrating toward “safe, geopolitically balanced hubs.”

A Global Shakeup: The Rise of Second-Tier Cities

Global trends in urban growth and development include the rise of second-tier cities and the continued impact of post-pandemic work trends on cities. The report saw significant GCI ranking improvements for Southern European cities like Barcelona, Rome, Istanbul and Zagreb. In the US, it saw talent pools being redistributed from established ecosystems like New York and Los Angeles to emerging cities like Miami, Dallas and Phoenix, as the GCO rankings of those cities improved.

Kearney also reported the fall of Chinese cities an average of seven places in their GCO rankings on the back of low projections for GDP growth and FDI. Other cities in Asia, like Singapore, Seoul, Osaka and Chennai rose in their GCO rankings due to the quality of government services and favorable business environments.

Generative AI and the Future of Cities

This year, the report focused on the effect of the boom in generative AI on global cities. According to the report, AI, coupled with the remote working revolution, threatens to disrupt industries that have defined the world’s global cities as it facilitates ease of working remotely, particularly in service industries. The continuous growth of the service industry indicates that remote work trends will continue to rise.

It also reports that the current trend of talent pool fragmentation will likely continue, as fields like business, technological innovation, education and art, which have traditionally been the bedrock of established metropolitan areas like New York, London and San Francisco, are increasingly disrupted by AI.

How Can Cities Attract Talent?

Cities will have to compete harder to provide quality of life, diverse cultural experiences and regulatory environments, says the report, noting that the shakeup of global cities will continue as remote work rises and generative AI changes the future of work. Factors that can make cities more attractive include upskilling and reskilling local talent and offering incentives to international students.

The report also notes the importance of utilizing generative AI to create smart cities and introducing sustainable energy sources to power data centers as AI usage scales up.

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