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🌎 Miami, Singapore, Dubai: Emerging Global Cities
The Global Cities Club: How Miami is building ties internationally to cement its role in the exclusive club
Watch our conversation with Dr. Alejandro Portes
The author of “Emerging Global Cities” traces the rise of Miami in our latest ALC luncheon. You can listen to portions of the event here.
Global cities are the places that have power and influence well beyond geographic boundaries. New York, London, and Tokyo are metropolises that have each held such heady status for many years.
But a new group of cities are emerging. And Miami is one of them.
This year acclaimed sociologist Dr. Alejandro Portes co-authored the book, “Emerging Global Cities,” which traces the rise of three cities that have emerged as highly cosmopolitan, commercial hubs that are nexus points for people and money across international regions. The three cities he cites that have ascended to this role: Singapore, Dubai, and, yes, Miami.
“What is an emerging global city? It is a city that has a regional profile in which people of an entire region of the world identify it as a central place - economically, financially, and culturally,” said Portes, who had a long career at Princeton University and now teaches at University of Miami. He previously won the Princess of Asturias award in 2019, one of the most prestigious prizes granted in the European Union.
Last week we held our latest Opportunity Miami Academic Leaders Council luncheon and featured a conversation with Dr. Portes.
NOT JUST SIMILAR SKYLINES
The ranks of truly global cities are not large. Dr. Portes’ book underscores Miami’s opportunity to continue building ties internationally and cement its role in an exclusive club.
The genesis of the book started when Dr. Portes was teaching at New York University-Abu Dhabi. He would make the hour-long trip to Dubai for visits and was struck by a skyline that appeared similar to Miami. Upon deeper examination, he found the similarities were more than superficial.
Not only that, a third city caught the attention of him and his co-author, Dr. Ariel Armony: Singapore.
Despite stark differences in origin and history (indeed, neither Singapore nor Dubai are democracies), all three cities share similarities in economic profile and social structure, the authors concluded.
All three are centers of international trade, with large ports and airports connecting people and goods to many countries.
All three are major international banking and financial centers.
All three have built an enormous real estate sector, with a “pro-growth” mindset to city building.
All three are important tourist destinations; and regional centers for commercial art as well
Meanwhile, all three are enormously cosmopolitan with a large percentage of the population that’s foreign born. In Singapore it amounts to nearly a third of the population; in Greater Miami, it’s more than half; and in Dubai, it’s eight in ten.
“The continuing inflow of people has not sunk the city,” said Dr. Portes. “On the contrary, it has added diversity, new energy, and made Miami much more cosmopolitan.”
Miami’s growth - along with Dubai and Singapore - has been built on intentional efforts. Each benefits from geography but have all made investments to drive their growth. For instance, when it comes to the arts in Miami, there was an intense building of cultural institutions across the city (by one measure, seven major cultural institutions opened their doors in Miami from 2006 to 2019 - roughly one every two years).
Miami’s path forward requires continuing to further bolster its current advantages. For instance, ongoing infrastructure investments to ensure it has a state-of-the-art airport.
But when asked what Miami should be intentional about next, Dr. Portes responded, “Talent, talent, talent.”
“When you are in this kind of global competition with other cities trying to play a similar role,” Dr. Portes said, “the skills of the population that come out of the universities is crucial.”
This was the third Opportunity Miami Academic Leaders Council luncheon, having previously featured Lumina Foundation CEO Jamie Merisotis and Magic Leap CEO Peggy Johnson. It was the biggest one yet, as 160 community leaders attended a packed lunch at The Idea Center in downtown Miami that was hosted and generously sponsored by Miami Dade College. Everyone walked away with a copy of Dr. Portes’ book as well, thanks to the University of Miami.
Thank you to everyone who attended - it was great to see you.
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