Dubai and Abu Dhabi once again claim top slots in latest Middle East financial hub ranking

The DIFC jumped seven slots to be rated the 18th best center for global business. (Reuters)
Updated 13 September 2017
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Dubai and Abu Dhabi once again claim top slots in latest Middle East financial hub ranking

DUBAI: The UAE has enhanced its position as the leading financial hub of the Middle East, with Dubai and Abu Dhabi claiming first and second regional spots in the twice-yearly Global Financial Centres Index (GFCI).
Dubai jumped seven slots in the rankings, to No.18 in the world, while Abu Dhabi moved up three positions to become one of the leading 25 international hubs.
The report, compiled by Z/Yen Partners, the London consultancy that compiles the index in conjunction with China Development Institute, said: “Abu Dhabi, second in the region, reduced the gap to first-placed Dubai to just nine points. Elsewhere in the Middle East, there were good rises for Bahrain and Riyadh.”
Riyadh, despite the increased financial activity associated with the Vision 2030 strategy to privatize large parts of the economy, slipped back one slot to 77th in the world, though it showed a significant improvement in its rating.
Mark Yeandle, the Z/Yen executive who was the report’s lead author and the co-creator of the Global Financial Centres Index (GFCI), said: “With Riyadh, it is a question of international professional perception rather than fundamentals. The world knows there are vast sums of wealth that will eventually have an impact on the financial markets there.”
The financial center in Qatar’s capital Doha fell back six places to rank 45th in the world. The rankings took into account less than one month of the sanctions imposed on the country by its Arabian Gulf neighbours over fears of terrorism funding.
“Dubai and Abu Dhabi are putting more effort into reputation management than Doha,” Yeandle said.
Arif Amiri, chief executive of the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), the emirate’s financial free zone which was ranked last week at number 10 in the world by The Banker magazine, said: “We are encouraged to see how the rankings reflect the growing contribution of the finance industry in a number of locations across the region, using a model that originated in Dubai and the DIFC.”
Ahmed Alsayegh, chairman of Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), where Yeandle presented the report’s findings, said: “We are excited that Abu Dhabi is ranked among the top 25 cities this year. This serves as an endorsement of Abu Dhabi’s initiatives and efforts to enhance its strengths as a financial center.”
The top five positions were largely unchanged, with London the leading global center, followed by New York. Hong Kong moved ahead of Singapore into third spot, while Tokyo remained fifth. But the gap between Western centers and their rivals in the East is narrowing, Yeandle said, with the Brexit fallout continuing to roil the European financial scene.
“Western European financial centers are still volatile. Frankfurt, Dublin, Paris and Amsterdam all rose, but Zurich, Geneva, and Luxembourg fell in the ratings,” he added.
“Overall assessments for the European centers continued to fluctuate as people speculate about which centers might benefit from London leaving the EU.”
The biggest rise among the leading 25 cities came from Frankfurt, up 12 slots to 11th; the three biggest fallers were San Francisco, Boston (both down 10 slots) and Chicago, down 17. Washington fell 16 places to 28th position. All centers in North America also fell, but the decline of Canadian cities was less severe than the falls of the US centers, the report revealed.
Yeandle claimed uncertainty over economic and trade policies in the Trump White House was responsible for New York’s fall in the ratings.
“There is an overall drop in confidence amongst the leading centers. Of the top 25 centers, 23 fell in the ratings and only two rose,” he said.
The compilers researched 108 cities for the 22nd edition of the index, using benchmarks provided by the World Bank, the Economist Intelligence Unit, the OECD and the UN.


‘There is no free lunch’, Macron tells tech giant CEOs

Updated 24 May 2018
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‘There is no free lunch’, Macron tells tech giant CEOs

PARIS: President Emmanuel Macron told executives from the world’s biggest technology firms on Wednesday that he wanted innovation to be a driving force for the French economy, but also that they needed to contribute more to society.
The French leader paints himself as a champion of France’s plugged-in youth and wants to transform France into a “startup nation” that draws higher investments into technology and artificial intelligence. He is also spearheading efforts in Europe to have digital companies pay more tax at source.
Macron’s guest-list included Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg, IBM’s Virginia Rometty, Intel Corp’s Brian Krzanich, Microsoft Corp’s Satya Nadella and a raft of other big hitters in the corporate world.
“There is no free lunch,” he quipped in English to the executives lined up on the steps of the Elysee Palace for a photo call at a lunch meeting. “So I want from you some commitments.”
As Macron spoke, IBM announced it would hire about 1,400 people in France over the next two years in the fields of blockchain and cloud computing.
Ride-hailing app Uber also said it planned to offer all its European drivers an upgraded version of the health insurance it already provides in France in a drive to attract independent workers and fend off criticism over their treatment.
Macron will hold one-on-one talks with Mark Zuckerberg on tax and data privacy on the sidelines of the Tech For Good summit — a day after the Facebook chief executive faced questions from European Union lawmakers.
Those talks will be frank, an Elysee official said ahead of the meeting. While Macron will be pitching France Inc, he will also push his case for a European Union tax on digital turnover and a tougher fight against both data piracy and fake news.
Zuckerberg on Tuesday sailed through a grilling from EU lawmakers about the social network’s data policies, apologizing to leaders of the European Parliament for a massive data leak but dodging numerous questions.
Macron told the executives that business needed to do more in tackling issues such as inequality and climate change.
“It is not possible just to have free riding on one side, when you make a good business,” the French president said.