In the years since the 2008 global financial crisis, some regions have seen unprecedented growth, while others have been stagnating. In particular, metropolises around the world are exploding economically, with a majority in developing countries like India and China.
In fact, more than half of all metropolitan regions have fully recovered from the financial crisis, although about a fifth are still struggling. The slowest developing cities are predominantly found in North America and Western Europe, but where are the fastest developing cities in the world? In 2015, the Brookings Institute released a survey of more than 300 global metropolitan economies.
The highest ranked countries were those which sustained significant economic growth while also increasing employment numbers. The fifth fastest growing economy was Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, which is one of the few developed cities on the list.
Much of the Middle East has seen incredible growth through oil wealth, but Dubai has exceeded all expectations by evolving past an oil-dependent economy. The city has instead become an international transit hub, and is currently expanding their airport to accommodate up to 220 million passengers a year.
The world’s current largest airport in Atlanta, Georgia, services about 100 million annual passengers. Dubai’s transition in economy has led to about 4.5% growth in GDP per capita, while the rest of the UAE struggles to regain pre-2008 economic levels.
With high levels of tourism and trade, the surrounding service industry makes up nearly three quarters of the city’s GDP. In fact, Dubai is one of the richest metropolises in the region, with manmade ski-slopes in the desert, artificial islands, five star hotels, and high-rise condos.
The next three fastest growing economies were all Turkish cities. Izmir, Istanbul and Bursa have all seen about the same rates of growth in GDP per capita: roughly 2%, as well as 6.5% rises in employment.
Turkey’s economy has been booming, and for all the right reasons. Its location between Europe and Asia is perfect for infrastructure investments, especially as China seeks to bridge the gap with the New Silk Road.
These investments work in two parts: stimulating the economy through short term jobs, and laying the groundwork for better trade efficiency in the future. First on the list was one of China’s autonomous regions, Macau.
It is notably one of the largest gambling cities in the world and is often referred to as the “Monte Carlo of the Orient”. Gambling tourism has contributed significantly to their rapid growth, roughly .
Gaming represents roughly half the region’s GDP, and employs a fifth of the workforce. However, since the Brookings Institute named Macau the fastest growing economy, the autonomous state has seen its growth collapse.
One of the biggest reasons for the rapid decline was China’s crackdown on corruption in recent years. Nearly every provincial division of China has seen public officials taken down on corruption charges.
These VIP officials were ostensibly the lifeblood of Macau’s gambling growth, and without them, the industry took a big hit. With the exception of Macau, most of these cities have jumped around the list of fastest growing economies based on global demand and wise investment.
While we don’t know which cities will be in the top ten next year, they are mostly guaranteed to be in the developing world. As cities develop, their populations grow — leading to problems such as housing shortages and gentrification, like in Helsinki, Finland.
Rent has become so expensive there that a program is giving affordable apartments in retirement homes to millennials if they agree to socialize with the seniors.