Dubai is one of the most popular business destinations in the world, a new report by real estate consultancy CB Richard Ellis said yesterday.
The report, which focused primarily on population, gross domestic product, market transparency and the ease of doing business, said Dubai was the ninth most popular location in the world for businesses to have a presence.
Entitled "Business Footprints — Global Office Locations", the report profiled 280 major international companies across 101 countries and 232 cities.
The report shows just over half (56.1 per cent) of the companies surveyed said they have a presence in Dubai. Hong Kong, which is home to 68.2 per cent of the companies surveyed, was named the world's number one business location followed by Singapore (67.5 per cent), Tokyo (63.9 per cent), London (63.2 per cent) and Shanghai (61.4 per cent).
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"An important factor for Dubai is that it acts as a gateway city for companies who have plans to expand across the Middle East and North Africa (Mena)," said Nicholas Maclean, managing director of CB Richard Ellis Middle East.
"It also fares very well in the industrial sector as companies know they can employ good quality management teams in Dubai but also have access to relatively cheap labour.
"The quality of the UAE's airlines — Emirates Airline and Etihad Airways — is also a critical component of the UAE's success with around 60 per cent of new entrants to the Mena market choosing Dubai as their regional base," he added.
Maclean says Dubai appears to be punching above its weight when compared to the other cities occupying the top 10 positions. But he said a lack of competition had given Dubai a four to five-year advantage over other cities in the region with the UAE also offering relatively competitive salaries on a global level.
"Dubai has also benefited from the unrest in Egypt, which has a highly educated workforce," Maclean said. "In particular, a lot of banks have call centre and accounting operations in Egypt and Jordan and those companies are looking for stability," he added.
The UAE as a whole was ranked 15th in the report's country table with 171 companies (61.1 per cent) saying they had established a presence across the emirates. More international companies have a presence in Dubai than in Paris or New York, the report said. In the industrial goods and services sector, Dubai ranks seventh globally with 23 of the companies surveyed present, around 70 per cent of the total amount.
The report also said Dubai had emerged as a key base for professionals conducting business in countries such as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. "The strategy to turn Dubai into a regional hub has already been achieved and the emirate is now looking to replicate that success in other sectors," said Giyyas Gokkent, group chief economist at National Bank of Abu Dhabi.
"Dubai's financial sector has benefited slightly from the recent turmoil in Bahrain but it had already established a world class infrastructure across numerous other sectors," he said.
According to Gokkent, Dubai has some short-term concerns in the form of a real estate overhang following the debt restructuring processes at Nakheel and Dubai World.
He also said the distinction between Dubai and Abu Dhabi [in terms of infrastructure and proximity] would disappear as the two cities continue to sprawl and almost merge.
"The fact Dubai has been the first city in the Middle East to push ahead and become a regional hub will help cement its position in the years ahead," Gokkent said.