Dubai in the United Arab Emirates has once again been ranked fDi Magazine’s Middle East City of the Future, having performed well across all categories, achieving top positions in economic potential, infrastructure and business friendliness. This does not come as a surprise given the emirate’s successful track record for FDI. According to data from greenfield investment monitor fDiMarkets, Dubai was the top destination city globally for FDI projects in 2008 and 2009.

Israeli cities also performed well, accounting for seven of the top 25 Middle East Cities of the Future. Israel’s second largest city, Tel Aviv, ranked second, its success attributable to a high number of patents granted and a high presence of companies involved in research and development. Riyadh ranked third, boosted by strong performances in human resources and infrastructure.


fDi Magazine’s judging panel awarded Amman the top position in the FDI promotion strategy category, the only category based on information provided by the cities. The panel ranked Dubai and Manama second and third, respectively, as a result of their FDI promotion strategies.

Al Muharraq, Dammam and Fujairah ranked as the three most cost-effective Middle East cities in 2010/11. According to data collected by fDi Benchmark, the cost of industrial and office rent in these cities was among the lowest in the region. Tehran ranked top in the human resources category. The city boasts a large labour force and a high proportion of people who have graduated at tertiary level.

Doha just edged past Dubai and Abu Dhabi to top the ranking in the quality-of-life category. Doha has the highest GDP per capita and one of the lowest unemployment rates in the region. Dubai and Abu Dhabi scored high across the spectrum of data points for quality of life. Dubai and Abu Dhabi were also placed second and third in the infrastructure category due to their airport and port facilities; Dubai airport caters to more international destinations than any other airport in the region.

Based on jobs created by FDI and the growth of high-tech and knowledge-based companies, Dubai, Ras Al Khaimah and Manama were ranked as the most business-friendly cities in the Middle East.

Fahad Al Gergawi, chief executive officer at the Dubai Foreign Investment office comments: “Two years ago fDi’s Middle East ranking was the first assurance for Dubai and where it is in the investor’s eye. And to have come back again with the same result, we are so happy as it shows that we are, from the investor’s point of view, on the right track as an economy... And when it comes from fDi Magazine, it’s an important message. It reassures people of what Dubai is about: a multi-sector city with diverse cultures and strengths. And at the same time the vision that Dubai took was right, we are on the right track and we’ll continue as our government has assured the investors that we’re going on the same path we started on.”



To create the shortlists, the fDiIntelligence division collected data on 46 cities under six categories: economic potential, human resources, cost-effectiveness, quality of life, infrastructure and business friendliness. A seventh category was added: FDI promotion strategy. In this category, 12 cities submitted details about their strategy and this was scored by our independent judging panel. Cities scored up to a maximum of 10 points under each individual criterion, which were weighted by importance to give the overall scores.

Click on the link below for a PDF version of the complete results:


Download more Middle East Cities of the Future results here:

Middle East Cities and Special Economic Zones of the Future 2008/09