By Ido Vock
Once a hub of shipbuilding and manufacturing, Scotland’s largest city today offers greater employment prospects in financial services and the aerospace industry.
With a population of more than 600,000 (out of some 2.8m in the wider conurbation), Glasgow is the UK’s fourth-largest city. In the UK’s 2016 referendum, 66.6 per cent of the city’s population voted to remain in the EU. Two years earlier, 53 per cent of Glaswegians had voted for Scotland to leave that other contentious union, the UK.
On the international stage, the city will co-host the COP26 UN climate change summit next year if a joint British-Italian bid is successful.
Glasgow’s economy is the largest in Scotland, its annual gross value added totalling £41bn, ahead of the capital Edinburgh’s £40bn.
The city’s traditional manufacturing and shipbuilding industries have been overtaken by high-tech sectors such as biotechnology and aerospace. According to Malcolm Macdonald, director at the University of Strathclyde’s Scottish Centre of Excellence in Satellite Applications, Glasgow produces “more spacecraft than anywhere outside California”.
Property services company CBRE ranks Glasgow among the UK’s most dynamic centres for technological innovation.
Meanwhile, the likes of JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley have created 15,500 new jobs in the city’s international financial services district since 2001, while Barclays, the UK bank, is building a new campus for 2,500 staff by the river Clyde.
Overall the finance sector employed almost 40,000 people in the former “second city of the empire” in 2017, according to one estimate.
Low cost of living
Glasgow is one of the cheapest cities in the UK. According to cost-of-living database Numbeo, rents are almost two-thirds cheaper than in London, with a three-bedroom flat in the city centre costing on average £1,150 a month — £2,000 less than in the UK capital. Food and clothing cost around a fifth less in Glasgow.
Several museums, including the Zaha Hadid-designed Riverside Museum, contribute to the city’s vibrant cultural life.
The late 19th and early 20th-century architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh designed many of the city’s most notable buildings, including the Willow Tea Rooms and the Glasgow School of Art’s Mackintosh Building, which was partially destroyed by fire in 2014 and more seriously damaged in a second blaze last year.
The two best sides in Scottish football, bitter “Old Firm” rivals Celtic and Rangers, are based in the city. But Glasgow’s sporting scene extends to the international stage. The city hosted the 2014 Commonwealth Games and in 2018, with Berlin, co-hosted the inaugural multisport European Championships.
This month, the first Murray Trophy, a men’s indoor tournament named after Scottish tennis champions Jamie and Andy Murray, will take place at the city’s Scotstoun Tennis Centre.
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