Searching for the Mecca of finance: Islamic financial services and the world city network

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Abstract

This paper presents an analysis of the geography of the booming ‘Islamic financial services’ (IFS) sector, which provides a host of financial services based on Islamic religious grounds. The relevance of such an analysis is discussed against the conceptual backdrop of the world city network literature. It is argued that a focus on the globalisation of the IFS sector may provide an alternative to hegemonic geographical imaginations of world city-formation through its focus on other forms of globalising economic processes and regions that do not commonly feature in this literature. Based on information on the location strategies of 28 leading IFS firms in 64 cities across the world, we analyse different features of this decentred global urban geography. Manama is hereby identified as the Mecca of the IFS sector, while other major Gulf cities such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi are also primary nodes in this urban network. Other major Middle East North Africa (MENA) cities such as Tehran follow suit, but also more traditional financial centres such as London are well connected.

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