A new report from JLL called Globalisation and Competition: A New World of Cities identifies the ten best performing “Emerging World Cities across” a range of global indices.

In the current age of urbanization and globalization, a ‘new world of cities’ is evolving.

The rigid global urban hierarchy is breaking down, with many emerging megacities and smaller cities rapidly staking their claims as major players on the world stage.

Emerging world cities tend to be major hubs in large growing economies that function as gateways for internationals firms, trade and investment into the wider region.

The ten cities are leading the way in the emerging world, yet each has its own story and strengths.

Each city, however, is connected by rapid economic growth and real estate development. Impressive mixed-use schemes and trophy developments are appearing in each of the ten cities.

However, to develop further, these cities must work to create a ‘sense of place’ and secure an individual identity for itself. Improvements in transparency are also needed to attract new capital, enhance the business environment and improve the quality of life for its citizens.

Asian cities are taking the lead with Shanghai and Beijing, followed by Taipei, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok.

The ten best performing Emerging World Cities

1. Shanghai

Shanghai skyline at night, panoramic. China, East Asia. Mstyslav Chernov
Shanghai skyline at night, panoramic. China, East Asia. Mstyslav Chernov

Shanghai is on the verge of becoming an ‘Established World City’ – already the 6th most globalised city in the world, having surpassed Tokyo for the first time. It is China’s business and finance hub, having firmly established itself as a global financial centre in recent years.

The city is seeking to build on this strength through the development of the Qiantan Zone, next to the city’s existing Lujiazui CBD. It is also looking to strengthen its entertainment offer and visitor attraction, through the arrival of Disneyland in 2016 and the DreamWorks-led ‘DreamCenter’ a year later.

2. Beijing

While Shanghai is the country’s commercial centre, Beijing continues to leverage its political, cultural and decision-making strengths as it matures. Like Shanghai, the city has set the bar in terms of urban management and investment – thanks to its status as a province-level municipality.

The Chinese government is now seeking greater integration in the ‘Jing-Jin-Ji’ region, alongside the neighbouring city of Tianjin and the province of Hebei. Tongzhou, a growing area on the edge of the city, will play an important role in this decentralisation thanks to the relocation of government functions.

3. Dubai


5. Taipei

Taipei has developed into an international business centre and is rapidly building its reputation as a financial hub. As such, the city is one of the top ten globally in terms of corporate headquarters and one of the 40 largest destinations for real estate investment.

The city is particularly noted for its efficient physical infrastructure and effective institutions and governance. It is the ‘World Design Capital’ for 2016, with a focus on smart cities, sustainable architecture and a new ‘City Museum Cluster’.

6. Kuala Lumpur


As one of the 25 most globalised cities in the world, the Malaysian capital acts as important gateway to the country and the South-East Asia region. It was the 6th largest destination for foreign direct investment in 2014, demonstrating its strong international appeal.

On completion in 2020, the new 635-metre tall KL 118 tower will give the city a new landmark and one of the world’s tallest buildings – towering nearly 200 metres above the city’s iconic Petronas Towers. Meanwhile, the Tun Razak Exchange project seeks to establish Kuala Lumpur as one of the world’s leading financial centres.

8. Sao Paulo

9. Bangkok

Bangkok is world famous as a tourist destination, with more than 17 million international arrivals in 2014 (behind only Hong Kong and Singapore).

Yet, the city is much more than just a tourist site, as one of a handful of rapidly emerging, globally competitive Asian megacities. As such the city is undergoing a number of transformational projects, notably the planned 615-metre Grand Rama IX Super Tower and the area, surrounding the recently constructed Mega Bangna Mall.

10. Mexico City

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