Latest rankings put the UAE capital as second-best city in the world
For work, life and play, Abu Dhabi is a rising star among the cities
The equation is a little complex, but the answer it produces is simple. Abu Dhabi is the second-best city in the world to live in.
The city’s high ranking might come as a surprise to some. After all, what could compare to the haute cuisine of Paris, London’s heritage or the sheer crazy buzz of Tokyo?
But Abu Dhabi is playing a different game. It has adopted that most successful of strategies; that of the solid all-rounder.
The Top Cities Survey 2017, by market research and consultancy firm Ipsos, assesses 60 of the world’s leading metropolitan areas under three categories.
These rankings are added together to produce a single score. This year, New York again topped the table, but Abu Dhabi was in second, leaping two places from last time and ahead of London, Paris, Sydney, Zurich, Tokyo, Rome, Los Angeles and Amsterdam in the top 10.
Where the city scores especially well, is as a place to do business. One in five of those surveyed regarded the UAE capital as better than established business centres like London, Hong Kong and Zurich.
Abu Dhabi was also the third most popular city for living, and came a respectable sixth as a place to visit. It was enough to give the capital an overall score of 46, three points behind table-topping New York and five points clear of London in third.
Votes were cast by about 19,000 people in 26 countries, and were weighted for population size. Intriguingly, the UAE was not one of those polled, and participants did not have to have visited any of the 60 cities to cast a vote.
Mike Clemence, research manager for Ipsos Public Affairs, said Abu Dhabi may be benefiting from its glamorous reputation as: “A wealthy place with lots of tall buildings.
“It was a solid performer in 2013 and it has increased this year. Abu Dhabi is definitely cementing its reputation."
Ipsos also renders the results for each city as a triangle, each point representing one of work, life and play. The triangle for Abu Dhabi has a profile that is almost identical to New York.
Paris, which was crowned the most desirable place to visit, fell short in the ease of business category, dropping out of the top 10 with a seven per cent vote. The triangle for the City of Lights reflects this, elongated on the side for play but decidedly shorter for work.
Digging deeper into the results also suggests that Abu Dhabi’s march up the table is no flash in the pan. Younger people are particularly drawn to the city, reflecting its position as a role model of stability and prosperity in a generally troubled region.
While Baby Boomers – those born between 1945 and 1965 – still look to the old favourites of Paris and Rome for trips abroad, Abu Dhabi does significantly better among Generation X, Millennials and the new Generation Z, the latter defined as anyone born after 1996.
Overall, Abu Dhabi is only fifth in popularity for the over 50s, but comes a comfortable second among younger generations. The city scores especially well among young people as a place they want to live. For those under 21, it ranks second to Los Angeles.
The buzz created by Abu Dhabi’s efforts to reinvent itself as a cultural destination – the Louvre Abu Dhabi opens this year – and a reputation as a place where the last Star Wars film was shot undoubtedly adds to its appeal as a place on the “must visit” bucket list of world travellers.
“Older people are looking for places with a more established reputation,” says Mr Clemence. He thinks that younger people may be drawn to Abu Dhabi in a similar way that Hollywood and celebrity are part of the appeal of Los Angeles. “It has what they are looking for in a place to live.”