These days the oil-rich Gulf is synonymous with building big, especially in the real estate department. Skyscrapers, airlines and malls are just a few examples.
Now, the race is heating up to develop an international financial center—something the Middle East needs, according to Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC) CEO Jeffrey Singer.
Earlier this week, the Global Financial Centres Index revealed four Gulf cities in the top 35 globally. On the list were Qatar, Dubai, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, ranking 26th, 29th, 31st and 32nd, respectively.
"As the region takes its rightful place on the international stage, I think you will see there will be more collaboration. But, in the short term, the competition does fuel growth and innovation," he told CNBC's "Access: Middle East."
Notable gains in the close contest were posted by Riyadh, which jumped 16 places, and Abu Dhabi, which leaped by 10 spots. Although Dubai dropped four places to 29th, it was still the only city in the region characterized as a hub with a global, rather than transnational or local, financial profile.