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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 17 December 2018

Abu Dhabi bucks trend in weakening confidence in international financial centres.

Advances by ADGM have lifted Abu Dhabi into top 25 globally

Abu Dhabi Global Market has risen to number 25 in a prominent ranking of international financial centres. Christopher Pike / The National
Abu Dhabi Global Market has risen to number 25 in a prominent ranking of international financial centres. Christopher Pike / The National

The more things change, the more they stay the same, it seems, at least in terms of the world’s largest financial centres. The 22nd edition of Z/Yen’s Global Financial Centres Index (GFCI), unveiled yesterday in Abu Dhabi, revealed a largely unchanged financial pecking order.

In spite of dire predictions in the wake of the UK’s Brexit vote last year, London remains the hub of choice for the international financial community. New York, the perennial runner-up, is once again in second place, with Hong Kong, Singapore and Tokyo continuing to make up the rest of the top five.

But the latest GFCI reveals some interesting insights about the international economy since the survey was last published six months ago.

Of the top 25 ranked financial centres, all but two experienced a drop in their score for the past six months, suggesting that confidence in the international economy is shaky at best. American cities like Chicago, San Francisco and Boston were amongst the hardest hit, suggesting the protectionist agenda of Donald Trump is hurting US trade.

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While the prospect of Brexit has yet to de-throne London from the top of the table, Frankfurt looks to be in poll position if the City loses its lustre, surging 12 places to number 11 in the rankings, and only one of two cities to improve their scores in the past 6 months.

The other city to post a higher rating? Step forward, Abu Dhabi. The capital rose three places in the last six months to hit number 25 in the rankings, thanks in no small part to the accelerating development of Abu Dhabi Global Market, its financial freezone, in areas such as fintech, arbitration and business education.

Abu Dhabi still has plenty of work to do to attract the big financial names; despite all of its hard work, ADGM is still a newcomer on the international financial centre scene, having opened its doors for business less than two years ago.

But the increased recognition by its international peers is an important milestone for Abu Dhabi and the UAE as a whole, which are seen as holding their own in difficult financial times.