Within the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region – what are key financial centres? Specifically the largest ones?
The following presented will showcase key financial hubs in the MEA region, which is based on the thirtieth edition of the Global Financial Centres Index (GFCI 30). Published on 24 September 2021, the GFCI 30 provides evaluations of future competitiveness and rankings for 116 financial centres around the world. After looking at the first part of two, the following will now highlight the remaining higher-ranked MEA financial centre hubs:
Manama is the capital and largest city of the small Kingdom of Bahrain. Despite its small size, Bahrain is home to more than 350 licensed financial institutions, representing a rich mix of international, regional and local names. The financial sector is one of the most important non-oil sectors in the Kingdom’s economy, which accounts for more than 17 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP). Via the GFCI ranking Bahrain ranked at 71st.
The capital and largest city of the wealthy nation of Qatar, Doha aspires to be a leading financial services hub. Qatar Financial Centre (QFC), which is a business and financial centre, aims is to promote Qatar as an attractive business destination at the crossroads between East and West, according to its website. In terms of banks, Doha is home to Qatar National Bank, which according to assets is the largest bank in the GCC region. Globally, via the GFCI ranking Doha ranked at 68th.
The largest city in South Africa, Johannesburg, is home to some of Africa’s leading banks and financial institutions such as Standard Bank Group, Absa Group, FirstRand, Nedbank Group and Investec. In fact, in terms of the top ten largest banks in the African continent by asset, many on the list are in fact South African. According to the global GFCI ranking Johannesburg ranked at 64th.
Cape Town’s financial services sector was the largest contributor to GDP in 2016, contributing R43bn, and having experienced relatively consistent growth of 3.8%, on average, over the period 2011 to 2016. There is a large proportion of private investment, asset management, as well as insurance and personal service companies located in Cape Town – all according to the Invest Cape Town website. Globally the city ranked 62nd.
Long known as a bridge between East and West and located both in Europe and Asia, Istanbul is a megacity in its own rich with a rich history. Research commissioned by Türkiye Wealth Fund forecasts that the annual value of Turkey’s financial services exports is to increase from $2 billion to $16 billion by 2036, with Turkey’s financial services exports expected to rise to 1.3 percent of GDP, up from 0.3 percent in 2019. The Istanbul Financial Centre (iFC), a new financial center in Istanbul, will be pivotal in helping to drive this growth with its complete financial services ecosystem, delivering growth to both the Turkish economy and international investors by promoting increased regional and global capital flows. Istanbul ranked 61st on the GFCI ranking.
Casablanca is the largest city and commercial hub of Morocco. Much of its banks and growing fintech community are clustered there. An example of the growing financial services hub status and aspirations of Morocco’s largest city is the Casablanca Finance City (CFC), an African economic and financial hub located at the crossroads of continents. Recognised as the leading financial centre in Africa and a partner of the largest international financial centres, CFC has built a strong membership community of finance companies, regional headquarters for multinationals, service providers and holding companies. According to the GFCI ranking the city ranked at 53rd globally.
Tel Aviv is the largest city and commercial hub of Israel. With financial services as a whole, the country of Israel is home to a large financial services industry, The Top Ten Largest Banks in Israel, including the likes of Bank Hapoalim, Bank Leumi and Mizrahi-Tefahot Bank, combined in terms of assets the top ten are at estimated at over $500 billion. The Israeli commercial hub globally ranked at 49th place.
The capital of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi has been building its financial services ecosystem as a whole, which, of course, fintech plays a large role, as is in much of the rest of the world. The clearest example of its growing reputation as a hub in the region and beyond is Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM). It is the capital’s international financial centre and free zone. Known to have one of the world’s largest oil reserves, the economic development and diversification happening in Abu Dhabi showcases sectors like the financial services industry playing a part in its future innovation. The capital ranked at 36th place.
Dubai is a leading hub in the MEA region as a whole across various sectors, which includes the financial services industry. The crown jewel in Dubai’s wider financial services success and global hub status in the global economy is the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC). Tying more to fintech, DIFC FinTech Hive is based in DIFC, which is the Middle East and Africa and South Asia (MEASA)’s first and largest financial technology accelerator. Dubai was the only city in MEA to crack the top 20 list at 18th place.
To read part one of this piece you can view it here.