Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of Malaysia, is a vibrant metropolis known for its impressive skyline, rich cultural heritage, and strategic importance in Southeast Asia. The city is a major economic hub and is home to many multinational corporations, leveraging its mature transportation, telecommunications, and technology infrastructure​. Its burgeoning digital economy is expected to contribute significantly to the Malaysian economy, contributing 25% of Malaysia’s GDP by 2025, driven by investments in data centers, cybersecurity and AI. Kuala Lumpur’s dynamic urban landscape, coupled with its strategic location, makes it an attractive destination.

But how does Kuala Lumpur fare in terms of sustainability performance, city brand strength, and reputation according to leading rankings and indices?

Let’s explore:

  • Kuala Lumpur’s economic competitiveness and sustainability
  • Its city brand strength and attractiveness
  • Livability: Kuala Lumpur’s appeal for talent, digital nomads and locals

Kuala Lumpur’s economic competitiveness and financial performance

How attractive is Kuala Lumpur as a place to work and do business?

According to the Global Financial Centres Index 35, Kuala Lumpur ranks 77th overall, reflecting a positive change of 3 positions from the previous ranking. Additionally, Kuala Lumpur’s Fintech rank is 75th, showing an improvement of 6 positions.

In 2thinknow’s Innovation Cities Index 2022-2023, Kuala Lumpur ranks 163rd, demonstrating a significant improvement with a positive change of 60 positions. This highlights the city’s ongoing efforts in fostering innovation across various sectors.

City brand strength and attractiveness

Which factors help and hurt the brand of Kuala Lumpur?

According to Kearney’s 2023 Global Cities Report, Kuala Lumpur ranks 72nd overall,  declining 8 positions. In the Global Cities Outlook ranking, the city features 96th, increasing by 11 positions, suggesting potential for future growth.

The Global Power City Index 2023 ranks Kuala Lumpur 41st overall, whereas Brand Finance‘s City Index 2023 positions it a respectable 53rd rank.

Sustainability Performance

The Arcadis Sustainability City Index 2022 ranks Kuala Lumpur 71st overall, with room for improvement across the board.


Which aspects of Kuala Lumpur make it an attractive place to live, work and study?

The Mercer Quality of Living City Ranking places the Malaysian capital 86th, whereas the Mercer Cost of Living Ranking ranks it 180th, showing a slight increase of 1 position. This reflects its relative affordability compared to other major global cities.

Lastly, Kuala Lumpur is home to numerous educational institutions. According to the Times Higher Education ranking, Universiti Kuala Lumpur ranks within the 1501+ range. The QS World University Ranking places Universiti Kuala Lumpur within the 1001-1200 range.

Last updated June 2024.

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