Kuwait needs to improve its global appeal if it is to rank higher on the ‘Global Cities of the Future’ list, reveals a new study on successful cities around the world. The report, titled ‘Global Cities of the Future – a GCC Perspective‘, finds that even among the handful of cities in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, Kuwait is ranked only sixth.
The new study, published by global consultancy firm A.T. Kearney to coincide with the World Government Summit 2017 that was recently held in Dubai, ranked cities on five dimensions that shape the success of successful cities — business activity, human capital, information exchange, cultural exchange, and political engagement. Kuwait City was found lagging in most metrics.
Dubai, the region’s financial and transportation hub, ranked in the first quartile in most dimensions, which made it the GCC’s leading global city. Abu Dhabi, the host city of many international news agencies, ranked high on information exchange and landed on second spot. Doha a regional leader in business activity and cultural exchange driven by strong movement toward a new city model and investments in cultural projects, ended up in third position.
Riyadh, with sizable investments in international education in recent years, ranked high in human capital development compared with other GCC cities and was placed fourth. Jeddah, the main gateway for pilgrims coming to Mecca from across the Islamic world and venue for the cultural exchanges involved in the process, ranked as the fifth most global city in the GCC.
The study pointed out that Riyadh, Abu Dhabi, and Doha are also the GCC’s strongest international political centers and play a prominent role in maintaining regional political stability and serve as a voice for the Middle East in world politics.
Kuwait City’s ranking as sixth global city in the GCC, just ahead of Muscat and Manama, was in recognition of its political engagement, as well as the entrepreneurial spirit demonstrated by its competitive private sector.
The lively political arena and strident parliament, as well as the presence of relatively large number of foreign embassies and international organizations, helped elevate Kuwait City to the third quartile in political engagement, human capital and cultural exchange. But when it came to business activity and information exchange, the city was dragged down to the fourth quartile.
Kuwait’s five-year development plan, which focuses on driving economic growth, maintaining political stability and developing diplomatic influence internationally, will likely raise Kuwait City’s ranking in the future. But for the present, it apparently needs to boost its global appeal by attracting more visitors and making its business environment conducive to drawing in more international investments.
Since 2008, A. T. Kearney has been studying the various factors that make a city truly global, including whether the city has influence and power on the global landscape, shares ideas and values that impact other cities, and if the city is attracting capital and talent from around the world.
Cities that feature high on A. T. Kearney’s global index have one core value in common — they are more international in their outlook and open to the outside world than other cities, or elsewhere in their own countries. The report found that the ‘globalness’ of a city could also be an indicator of its social wellbeing and economic wealth, as well as the long-term sustainability of both.
On an international scale, New York, London and Paris remain unchallenged as the world’s most global cities, although the attractiveness of London as a global hub may change in the future given the Brexit vote, said the report. Meanwhile, the A.T. Kearney Global Cities Outlook identifies Melbourne, San Francisco and Geneva as cities that could make great leaps forward in the coming years, driven by changing policies and a shifting socio-economic landscape brought about by globalization.
The report offers an unparalleled glimpse into the strengths and capabilities of GCC cities, and indicates how they are progressing toward their vision for the future. While many cities across the GCC have launched long-term plans to become successful global cities, with each having its own unique visions for growth, the speed and commitment to implementing the vision has often varied between cities.
While increased innovation, differentiation and distinctive visions will hopefully allow cities in the GCC to move from a rich past to a bright future, much will depend on the will to implement these plans. Though much progress has been achieved in the region, much more remains to be done; clearly the time for strategy and planning is over, it is now time for implementation and action.