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Emerging global cities - a comparison of Singapore and the United Arab Emirates

Author Ali Parsa and Ramin Keivani, London South Bank University, Bassem Younes, University of Sharjah, and Ong Seow Eng, Sim Loo Lee and Adeesh Agrawal, National Unversity of Singapore
Summary In the global economy in which we now live and work, cities and regions compete for resources, for money, labour and for ideas. This has always been the case, but with the growth of the global economy over recent years, this competition has become more intense and more fundamental to the survival and vitality of cities. We have seen the growth of world cities, such as London, New York and Tokyo, but there are a host of other cities around the world which are trying to develop their own position in the world order. How they go about this and how successful they are depends on their vision and on their ability to achieve that vision.

We have looked at two areas of the world, one that has achieved its vision and one that is seeking to achieve it, to see what lessons can be learnt for other cities and regions around the world in responding to the challenge of globalisation. These two areas are Singapore — a prime example of a city that has established itself as a key regional centre within the global economic circuit – and the United Arab Emirates — a region that is seeking to establish itself on the world economic map as the main gateway and producer service centre to the Middle East region.


Getting the vision right

  • It is of fundamental importance that there is a clearly stated economic vision or strategy for the competitive position of the city in the global economy
Coordination as the linchpin of successful policy implementation
  • Once the vision has been decided upon, it is vital that all the players involved in delivering that vision are able to work together to achieve that vision
The stability of the business environment
  • A key factor in attracting and retaining international investment is the stability of the business environment and of the policies and laws within which organisations need to operate
Emphasising a secure business environment
  • Related to this, businesses need to feel confident about the security of the business environment within which they operate
Regional synergies
  • Going it alone is not really an option in becoming a global city. Creating stable regional partnerships plays a vital role, by allowing alternative and cheaper production and outsourcing sites for firms.

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