Riyadh unlikely to unseat Dubai as regional financial hub


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Samuel Wendel

Senior Market Research Analyst, Al-Monitor


Dec. 21, 2022

Bottom Line:

2022 was a big year for Middle Eastern IPOs, which is seeing global banking players line up to snare more regional business. The UAE, as the preferred destination for banks and financial professionals eyeing regional opportunities, is a focal point of those moves, but the key player to watch currently is Saudi Arabia. Riyadh has long harbored ambitions of becoming a top regional financial center, but those efforts have mostly underwhelmed: the city ranked 98th in the most recent Global Financial Centres Index, which tracks the competitiveness of the world’s leading financial hubs. Dubai ranked 17th. But Saudi Arabia is making moves to upend the status quo, with the kingdom currently pushing multinationals to relocate regional headquarters to Riyadh if they want to secure government contracts from 2024 onwards. That ultimatum could move the needle for Riyadh’s financial hub ambitions as interest in Saudi Arabia’s market activity picks up, although it’s still unlikely to unseat Dubai.

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