Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content

News Release


Dubai Identified as World’s 3rd Most Dynamic City

San Francisco, London, Dubai, Shanghai and Wuhan lead JLL MENA’s list of dynamic cities.

​​Recognizing that commercial real estate is no longer just a consequence of a city’s success but a driver of it, JLL MENA (NYSE:JLL) has identified San Francisco, London, Dubai, Shanghai and Wuhan at the forefront of cities that demonstrate the combination of strong short term socio-economic ​​and commercial real estate momentum and longer term foundations for success. In its new, proprietary City Momentum Index (CMI), JLL MENA goes beyond traditional, static economic rankings to delve into the underlying drivers that are the hallmark of highly dynamic cities. 

According to Jeremy Kelly, Director, Global Research for JLL MENA: “City momentum is about far more than just raw GDP growth. The true foundation of highly dynamic cities emerges from such factors as speed of innovation and creation of cutting-edge businesses along with new building construction, property price movement and investment in real estate from cross-border investors and corporations. 

The new City Momentum Index offers a fresh and uniquely comprehensive perspective that identifies the signals of change and characteristics of city momentum. By focusing on the features of a city that are likely to underpin future performance, the CMI stands apart from the standard historic performance upon which most indices are based. It is such measures of dynamism in infrastructure, connectivity and innovation that we believe will be steering many investment and location decisions in the future, though investors and corporates should note that high momentum can pose both risk and opportunity.”        

1​San Francisco​
3​ Dubai​
6​New York​
8​Hong Kong​
9​San Jose​
15​Los Angeles​

Alan Robertson, CEO for JLL MENA Middle East & North Africa said: “Our new Index provides clear evidence to support the view that Dubai is one of the world’s most dynamic cities. Events such as Expo 2020, along with Dubai’s strong global connectivity and growing status as a service hub for MENA and southern/central Asia will support sustainable momentum over the longer term horizon.”

The cities that top the CMI are characterized by these dynamics:

  • Elite cities that wield clear economic might on the global stage, accounting for one-quarter of the world’s direct commercial real estate investment activity from 2012-2013.
    • San Francisco (1), London (2), Dubai (3), New York (6), Hong Kong (8), Singapore (10), Los Angeles (15) and Tokyo (19)
  • Technology-rich cities that took early advantage of technology trends and provide fertile environments for innovation
    • San Francisco (1), Austin (7), San Jose (9), Boston (17) and Seattle (18)
  • Smaller, innovation-friendly cities that gained rapid momentum to achieve global position
    • Austin (7)
  • Rapidly urbanizing cities in China that continue to grow with massive city-building programs despite a slowing economy
    • Shanghai (4), Wuhan (5), Shenzhen (11), Beijing (13), Chengdu (14) and Tianjin (16)
  • Growth hotspots beyond the BRICs driven by urban consumerism
    • Jakarta (12) and Lima (20)
  • Resurgent cities gearing up for events in 2020 with renewed vigor
    • Tokyo (19) – 2020 Summer Olympics and Dubai (3) – Expo 2020

While Continental European cities are under-represented at the very top of the list and show lower momentum in comparison with emerging cities, several powerful and successful European cities possess the attributes for longer term success as validated by the ongoing high levels of real estate capital inflows.  Demonstrating success factors relating to education, innovation, sustainability and transparency, Paris, Berlin and Amsterdam, for example, are distinguished by their strengths in talent and new technologies, while Copenhagen has among the world’s strongest ‘green’ credentials.

The City Momentum Index assesses 111 cities world-wide with a weighted overall score based on 34 short-term and longer term variables.

Short-term socio-economic momentum variables (40 percent of the model) include recent and projected changes in GDP and population, air passenger traffic, corporate headquarter presence and recent levels of foreign direct investment as a proportion of a city’s economy.

Short-term commercial real estate momentum variables (30 percent of the model) include recent and projected percentage changes in office net absorption, office construction, office rents, shopping mall construction and retail rents, direct commercial real estate investment volumes and real estate transparency.

Longer term variables (30 percent of the model) that are likely to determine future economic strength and real estate momentum include high-value incubator indicators such as university presence and educational infrastructure, innovation capability and presence of technology and venture capital firms.

Craig Plumb, Director of Research for JLL MENA commented: “the results of our CMI illustrate that Dubai is among an elite group of major internationalised cities that are becoming truly global markets.  Dubai’s position in this list is due to its growth as a major global gateway that has fuelled rapid growth across a broad range of socio economic and real estate indicators."


Notes to editors:
What is the City Momentum Index?

The Index tracks the speed of change of a city's economic base and its commercial real estate market, combining measures of short-term economic and real estate momentum with longer-term success factors. The Index is designed to capture a broad range of factors, not only raw GDP growth, but speed of innovation and the creation of new businesses along with new building construction, property price movement and investment in real estate from cross-border investors and corporations. The Index covers 111 major cities worldwide and will be updated annually.