Christina/ June 16, 2011/ Culture


For years Dubai was „ahead by a nose“. Whereas Abu Dhabi still lived in permanent hibernation, Dubai equtated hard work, celebration and settting up of various records. However, „slowly but surely“ the biggest state of the United Arab Emirates built a new image. The Great Recession might have acted as some kind of midwife to let Abu Dhabi’s star rise while Dubai’s star seems to be waning.

This is how PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) describes its decision to replace Dubai by Abu Dhabi in its latest edition of „Cities of Opportunity“ (COP). Abu Dhabi, they say, „is rising as a business center while Dubai’s growth slowed markedly.“ Simply outdistanced.

Top-Ranks for Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi, according to page 12 of the study, “ranks in the top three places in 10 different variables, from the quality of its air to its hospitals to commute time to its economic competitiveness in everything from tax rates to ease of hiring to working age population.”
Moreover, it shares third place with New York and Istanbul (Istanbul has been added recently) in skyscraper construction activity. Altogether it reaches only rank 18, due to low scores in the categories of „Technology readiness“, „Sustainability“ and „Lifestyle assets“.

For the categories „Sustainability“ (composed of: recycled waste, renewable energy, consumption, air pollution und city carbon footprint) and „Lifestyle assets“ (composed of: cultural vibrancy, sport and leisure activities, skyline impact, hotel rooms, international tourists) the Indian city of Mumbai gets higher scores than Abu Dhabi (score 71:28!). A result – I’ve been to both cities -, that leaves me rather clueless. Concerning the sustainability I can only figure that the higher ranking for Mumbai is due to the fact that huge parts of the city do not have electricity at all and that the city itself might lost track of its waste production. Garbage collection? Negative Report! (Just think of the biggest slum in Asia „Dharavi“, which is in Mumbai’s city centre). Is that logical: where nothing burns, nothing is burnt?

What is even more confusing to me is that Mumbai is supposed to offer more lifestyle assets than Abu Dhabi (30:21). Apart from the fact that Mumbai is one of the most ugly and dirty cities in the world to me (rats big as cats on the streets), it does not offer anything of cultural interest compared to Abu Dhabi (z.B. Saadiyat-Island)! Granted you have the usual (American) luxury hotels (chains) and if you are fond of hanging around the hotel bar as many bored expats do, you might be thrilled. Possibly some people have fallen for the Bollywood feaver. But, please, where are the „international tourists“ and the „cultural vibrancy“ in Mumbai???

Aufbau der Studie

Once all of the 66 variables had been ranked and scored, they were placed into their 10
indicators (for example, economic clout or demographics and livability). Within each
individual group, the variable scores were summed to produce an overall indicator score
for that topic. This produced 10 indicator league tables that display the relative performance
of our 26 cities. The underlyinig key to the variables are visible on pages 79 – 82. Sounds objective so far – but raises questions upon a close look into the study.

In view to the ranking one could allege lack of objectivity to PwC in impulse in the light of the fact that three North American cities are sharing rank one to three: (1) New York; (2) Toronto and (3) San Francisco. I suspect that world market economy has already chosen other fast-growing regions (above all China).

Let’s have a look into some categories. To begin with: My opinion is naturally subjektive; inspired by many journeys abroad and many impressions gained on site. However, I cannot prove anything. Still, don’t they say, just believe in statistics you’ve forged yourself?

Ten categories

The study is divided into ten categories: (1)Intellectual capital and innovation, (2) Technology readiness, (3) Transportation and infrastructure, (4) Health, safety and security, (5) Sustainability (6) Economic clout, (7) Ease of doing business, (8) Cost (9) Demographics and livability and (10) Lifestyle assets.

Let us just take one exemplification to stress my point: Transportation and infrastructure. The listing of Mumbai (rank 24) at all in this category is risible. Anybody who visited the Indian „financial hub“ might approve this. Just try to move by public transport through the city. I am sure, the PwC employees in charge did not even try. Certainly, Mumbai airport has a high volume of traffic and maybe also a solid route system. But there is only one direct connection to the United States and not long ago, the airport building, passenger handling as well as the security precautions merely lived up to the standards Europe had in the times of World War I or maybe behind the „Safety Curtain“ shortly before the break up of the Soviet Union and the und the collapse of the Berlin Wall. Also duty free articles did not seem to have been part of the five-years-production-cylcle.

As a final footnote: Istanbul equals every US city in ease of starting a business; beats Tokyo, San Francisco and Berlin in international tourists and, finally ties for third with San Francisco, Sydney and Singapore (among other cities) for the quality of its air. Chapeau!

Share this Post