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Abu Dhabi: World’s No. 4 City?

September 4th, 2013 · No Comments · Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Hong Kong, Paris, Rome, UAE

It’s one of those stories that prompts an immediate reaction.

“Are you sure you heard that right?”

Abu Dhabi, capital of the UAE, is the No. 4 city in the world, behind only New York, London and Paris, according to a survey of more than 18,000 people from 24 countries around the world, including the U.S.

And Abu Dhabi is the No. 2 city in the world for doing business, behind only New York.

We will just guess and say that even Abu Dhabi’s tourist board would not have expected such lofty rankings.

How might Abu Dhabi have been ranked so highly?

The people behind the survey, Ipsos Mori, asked respondents to rank 48 world cities, listing only three cities among their responses, in three categories: 1) To live in; 2) to do business in; 3) to visit.

The company then added up the three numbers, and that’s where Abu Dhabi was fourth, behind only NYC, London and Paris.

Abu Dhabi finishes with 47 points, and 22 of those came from the “place to do business” ranking. But it also got a sturdy 14 percent mention in “place to live” (Zurich and Sydney were 1-2), and a not-awful 11 percent in “place to visit”.

(Top of the heap in “places to visit”: Paris, New York, Rome.)

A couple of things.

Abu Dhabi is clean and safe. It has good roads. Goods and services are not expensive. It has very little poverty, and none of the slums that blight most world cities. And lots of money is knocking around here.

All that is true; we just did not know that people outside the area know it.

(Dubai was not among the 48 cities from which respondents could choose, which must irk Dubai, the UAE’s biggest city, which considers itself a major tourist destination and a business haven — certainly more so than Abu Dhabi.)

What is surprising is that enough people, among those 18,000, had been to Abu Dhabi — or had an opinion on it. Certainly, tourism is on the rise, but enough to make Abu Dhabi competitive when many of the respondents live on the other side of the world and almost certainly have not been here?

Abu Dhabi’s reputation apparently precedes people actually coming here.

The survey indicated that Saudi respondents were quite enthusiastic about Abu Dhabi. Which makes sense, because Saudis do, in fact, come here in some numbers — a fun/getaway kind of place, nearby, and without the level of social conservatism, back home.

Much of the survey felt right. Like Karachi dead last, among the 48 cities, and Tehran second to last. No one would go there for any reason, if they could help.

Working up, from there, Tel Aviv, Warsaw, Casablanca, Budapest, Jakarta, Guangzhou, Buenos Aires, Sao Paolo, Kuala Lumpir, Mexico City …

(I think Budapest is getting a bad rap; I have been there, and liked it. It just may not be getting out the message. I have always wanted to see Casablanca, on the strength of the movie of the same name, but I have been told “don’t bother”.)

Los Angeles was among the 48 cities respondents could choose, and it did not do badly: ninth overall, just behind Hong Kong and Tokyo, just ahead of Rome, Berlin and Toronto.

Interesting stuff.

Anyway, this item comes to you from the fourth-best city in the world. What a concept. Makes you want to come visit, yes? And maybe get a deal done, while you are here.


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