Cities

John Gapper

Dubai

Column on the Financial Times comment page. Read more

John Gapper

I am in Dubai this week to attend two conferences. This week is McKinsey’s annual strategy conference and next week is the FT/DIFC conference on world financial centres.

I have not been to Dubai before so I have the usual reactions of visitors to the place. It is an extraordinary accomplishment, but also a bizarre one. The rash of skyscrapers and beach hotels, including the sail-shaped Burj Al Arab, where I had dinner tonight, is an astonishing sight.

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Richard Florida picks up my mention of the growing role of city-states in the global economy on his blog. He mentions an interesting study that suggests that 40 mega-regions with output of more than $100bn produce more than 66 per cent of world output.

Almost as interesting is that the study identifies economically powerful regions by night-time light emissions seen on satellite photographs. It is always fascinating to look at such photographs and see, for example, the dispiriting lack of night-time light across vast swathes of Africa.