What are the top five cities for business travel?

Some cities are better for doing business than others, it seems. Of course, business travelers (well, professionals in general) all have their preferences. Having done my time in Omaha, Winnipeg and London (Ontario), I can tell you that some places are better than others. So, I was pretty excited to see think tank Z/Yen put out its Global Financial Centres Index (PDF), which shows the top five cities in the world in which to do business.

There aren’t many suprises at the top end of the list, which comes out twice a year. The rankings are determined using “five key areas of competitiveness,” according to Inside Investor Relations: people, business, environment, market access, infrastructure and general competitiveness.”

So, what are the top five?

1. London
2. New York
3. Hong Kong
4. Singapore
5. Shanghai

As you can see, 60 percent of the top of the heap are in Asia, which signifies a spike in recent years. Inside Investor Relations reports that there were only three Asian cities in the top 20 when the index was first published in March 2007. Now, there are not only three in the top five but eight in the top 20, while North America has only six and Europe five.

Interestingly, the study notes that the top three are effectively tied. Inside Investor Relations notes:

According to the study, however: ‘there remains no significant difference between London, New York and Hong Kong… respondents continue to believe that these centers work together for mutual benefit.’

The top financial center in the Middle East is Dubai, which comes in at 28th overall. It is two places above Qatar. Next are Bahrain at 49th and Riyadh at 70th, still way back in the distance.

[Photo by TJ Morris via Flickr]

Bahrain unrest forces Formula 1 opening race cancellation

Yesterday, HRH Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalif of the Kingdom of Bahrain made the decision to cancel the opening race of the 2011 Formula 1 championship. The current unrest in the Kingdom made it impossible to ensure the safety of the thousands of visitors, and the country is still recovering from a week of turmoil.

HRH Prince Salman issued the following statement:

“After the events of the past week, our nation’s priority is on overcoming tragedy, healing divisions and rediscovering the fabric that draws this country together; reminding the world of the very best that Bahrain is capable of as a nation once again united.”

Because of this, the 2011 season won’t start till the Qantas Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on March 25th through the 27th. As of right now, the Bahrain race has not been rescheduled.

[Photo: John Moore/Getty Images]

Bahrain Protests: What you need to know (including where it is on a map)

The small country of Bahrain is now well into its third day of protests. Following the fall of Mubarak in Egypt, countries like Bahrain, Yemen and Libya have attempted to create a “Tahir Square movement” to create change in their own country.

The country, like Egypt, is protesting the lack of political freedom and economic opportunity. Protests have generally been peacful until police forces killed two protesters yesterday and attempted to subdue crowds by use of rubber bullets and tear gasses.

Bahrain protesters are calling for a new constitution as well as the release of hundreds of Shia men and boys who have been rounded up since August 2010 and an end to civil rights abuses.

The king went on state television promising to investigate the deaths of the two protesters and offering to set up a committee to discuss change, BBC reported.

Like in Tunisia and Egypt, social media is playing a key organizing role (see this great list of people to follow).

Where’s Bahrain, you ask? The small island country has Saudi Arabia to the west and Qatar to the southeast.

Flight attendants find dead Filipino passenger in Gulf Air lavatory

The cause of death – including suicide – still isn’t clear, but the facts are. Gulf Air flight attendants found a 36-year-old Filipino passenger dead in the plane lav today; he was flying home to Manila from Bahrain. Attempts to revive him using CPR were unsuccessful.

The event occurred on Gulf Air flight 154, and is the second strange lav event in as many months. In September, according to the Associated Press, an abandoned baby was found in the trash bin after a Filipino maid gave birth in the lav. This time, however, the outcome was life, as airport doctors were able to save the child.

The passenger‘s wife and relatives had traveled to the airport to meet him.

[photo by advencap via Flickr]

United Airlines adds flights to Africa, the Middle East and Europe

Starting May 2, 2010, United Airlines fans can fly the carrier from the US to Africa for the first time in the company’s history. United will offer flights from DC to Accra, Ghana (and then on to Lagos, Nigeria). Beginning April 18, 2010, passengers flying from DC to Kuwait can also continue on to Bahrain.

Chicago to Brussels nonstop on March 28, 2010. The carrier also added several other new routes this year, including DC to Moscow, and DC to Geneva.

“Our first-ever non-stop service to Africa will offer customers convenient and comfortable travel opportunities to visit two of the fastest-growing cities in the continent,” United’s senior VP of planning said in a press release. “In addition, our new services to Bahrain and Brussels will open more international routes to our customers throughout Europe and the Middle East.”