RIYADH: The Middle East needs another business hub to complement Dubai, and the new Saudi push to relocate regional head offices to Riyadh is a good move for the region, a partner at Knight Frank said.

Faisal Durrani, head of research for Middle East at the firm, said: “As it stands, the only global hub city between Cairo and Mumbai is Dubai, so it would be in the region’s interest to see another complimentary hub, be it Riyadh or another city in Saudi Arabia. History shows us that regional hub cities often compliment and support one another’s growth, rather than ‘rival’ each other.

Knight Frank highlights that despite this, Saudi Arabia is the region’s largest economy and has a population of around 35 million, strongly suggesting that there is room in the region for more than one business hub.“

The trifectas of Paris, London and Frankfurt, or indeed Hong Kong, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur give us a glimpse of what the region’s economic landscape may look like in the future”.

Durrani added in a statement today: “Inadvertently, businesses from elsewhere in the Kingdom are also opting to relocate to the capital, which is undermining office markets elsewhere in the country.”

Knight Frank notes that Saudi ‘Program HQ’ is likely to help redefine the future economic landscape across the Middle East for the better.

Durrani explained: “Clearly, the decision to position Riyadh as a regional rival to Dubai comes with its own considerations. These revolve around the quality and quantum of office space available, access to a global and diverse pool of talent, which Dubai has done extremely well over the past two or three decades, as well as taxation differences. The VAT rate in Saudi Arabia stands at 15 percent, compared to 5 percent in Dubai and the UAE, which adds to overall business expenses, as well as the cost of living”.

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