Capital among world’s top ‘Cities of Opportunity’


By Vicky Kapur

Abu Dhabi ranks No. 1 in the world in terms of ease of hiring and total tax rates, putting it among the Top 20 cities overall of 26 included in a new global study.

Etihad towersThe ‘Cities of Opportunity’ study released on Wednesday by PricewaterhouseCoopers shows that Abu Dhabi tops the total tax rate index, scoring a maximum 26 on the index, ahead of Hong Kong, Santiago, Singapore and Johannesburg.

The emirate also scores the best, along with Hong Kong and Singapore, in the ease of hiring index, which measures whether fixed term contracts are prohibited for permanent tasks, the maximum cumulative duration of fixed term contracts and the ratio of the minimum wage for a trainee or first time employee to the average value added per worker.

Abu Dhabi ties for second place with seven other global cities for the quality of its air and is placed third, along with Istanbul and New York, in skyscraper construction activity.

“Abu Dhabi ranks in the top three places in 10 different variables, from the quality of its air to its hospitals to commute time to its economic competitiveness in everything from tax rates to ease of hiring to working-age population,” the report states.

Overall, Abu Dhabi ranked No. 18 among the 26 cities studied with a total score of 705. New York topped the overall study at No. 1 with a score of 1,226, with the highest scores in the technology readiness and lifestyle assets categories. Toronto ranked No. 2 on the list, followed by San Francisco at No. 3. Rounding out the top five were Stockholm, and Sydney.

The PwC study ranks cities in 10 categories, each with multiple measured components: Intellectual capital and innovation; technology readiness; transportation and infrastructure; health, safety and security; sustainability; economic clout; ease of doing business; cost; demographics and livability; and lifestyle assets.

The emirate loses out on the carbon footprint rankings, but the report acknowledges that a large part of that is because of its geographic location. “Abu Dhabi is located in one of the harshest environments on the planet,” the PwC report acknowledges.

“Its explosive growth as a business and financial center has led to predictable problems, from traffic congestion to waste recycling. All indications are that rapid population growth will continue in the next two decades,” the report says but hails the emirate’s steps to counter the negative effects of growth.

“The city’s answer is Plan Abu Dhabi 2030, which integrates economic, social and cultural criteria into all development decisions. Abu Dhabi clearly expects that its second-mover advantage will allow it to learn from the experiences of others and develop a comprehensive growth plan to avoid their mistakes. While Plan 2030 is still in its inception, the hope is that it will be a prototype for comparably growing cities,” the PwC report states.

“Abu Dhabi replaced Dubai [in the rankings this year] as the former is rising as a business center while the latter’s growth slowed markedly during the Great Recession,” the report added.