Cities of Opportunity 6 analyses the trajectory of 30 cities, all capitals of finance, commerce, and culture—and, through their current performance, seeks to open a window on what makes cities function best. We also investigate both the urbanisation and demographic megatrends that shape our cities.
Dubai ranked 16th out of 30 in the latest Cities of Opportunities report. The city performs remarkably well across several indicators, with top 10 scores in almost a quarter of the variables and 1st place in 3, demonstrating the range and depth of its strengths.
Dubai’s greatest advantage is cost-effectiveness, offering better value than most developed or emerging cities. It:
Dubai’s cost advantages are reinforced by its 8th-place finish as a city gateway. It ranks 1st in the efficiency of connections between its airport and central business district and 8th in international tourists, just behind Paris. It also scores in the top half of cities for the quality of its major airport, timeliness of flight departures (both #12), and passenger flows (#13).
Dubai also finishes in the top 10 for transportation and infrastructure. In addition to scoring 1st in construction activity (ahead of São Paulo, London, and Toronto) and 7th in housing (beating London, Chicago, and Stockholm), it ranks:
Dubai’s residents have a relatively easy commute, scoring 7th in that variable (taken directly from PwC’s survey of its global staff) and tying Berlin, Nairobi, and Kuala Lumpur for 8th in traffic congestion.
Although Dubai ranks #19 and #20, respectively, in ease of doing business and economic clout, it lands in the top 10 in 4 important variables in those indicators, including:
Dubai also has the 2nd highest working-age population, which translates into a robust workforce.
Dubai not only scores ahead of all emerging cities for its low crime rate, but also beats out every mature non-Asian city at #4. Within the overall health, safety and security indicator, Dubai scores in the middle of the board at #15, while also ranking #12 for its health system (outscoring all US cities) and end of life care.
Dubai’s weakest performance is in sustainability and the natural environment, ranking last out of our 30 cities. Although it obviously has to contend with an extreme climate, the city can take several measures on its own—in public park space and recycling, for example—which would improve its scores. It should be mentioned as well that Dubai ranks #27 in mass transit coverage, which does not help the city’s sustainability.
An improved focus on intellectual capital and innovation and technology readiness, which would take advantage of the city’s vibrant economy, is the other urgent task. Although Dubai nears the top 10 in both intellectual property protection (#11) and entrepreneurial environment (#12), its public library facilities (#24), math/science skills (#22), and population with higher education (#20) seem to reflect an educational framework in need of some support. Nonetheless, its 8th-place finish in Internet access in schools is encouraging and points the way to improving its scores in its digital economy (#17) and broadband quality (#28).