Dubai remains the most desirable financial centre in the Middle East, but Qatar and Abu Dhabi are gaining ground

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The stock of Middle Eastern financial centres is rising on the global stage, which shows that they’re becoming more desirable places to work. Dubai still leads the way, but Qatar and Abu Dhabi are becoming increasingly competitive.

The Global Financial Centres Index, published bi-annually by financial services research firm Z/Yen, is a good indication where in the world you should be working. It polls financial services professionals across the world on their perceptions of significant global cities and ranks them on categories like people, infrastructure and general competitiveness.

Middle East financial centres are performing well. As the table below shows, the majority of major cities in the region have moved up the rankings in the past six months – no doubt helped by the pain being felt in other financial centres around the world. The exception is Bahrain, which is still reeling from the ‘Arab Spring’ uprisings over the past 18 months, and subsequent departure of major international financial services firms.

What’s interesting, however, is the fact that Dubai’s crown appears to be wobbling. The DIFC has been investing heavily in attracting more financial services firms in the past 12 months, which has paid off to some extent, but Qatar has also been attempting to lure more insurance and asset management firms, which is reflected in its rise up the rankings.

Similarly, Abu Dhabi has been beating its chest and attempting to sway more financial services professionals from Dubai with the lure of bigger pay packets and greater job opportunities.

Significantly, however, when it comes financial centres where new offices will be opened, only Dubai makes it into Z/Yen’s rankings.

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