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(File pix) Macau is also one of the most densely packed cities on the planet. Handout/SCMP Photo

HONG KONG: Just when you thought it was safe to store away the superlatives to describe its meteoric rise to the top of world gaming, Macau is set to outdo itself by becoming the richest place on the planet.

Fresh data from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicted that by 2020, the city would overtake oil-rich Qatar with the highest per-capita gross domestic product of any country or jurisdiction on earth.

The IMF’s World Economic Outlook Update – published at the end of last month – expected continuing economic growth in the casino hub would see it leapfrog Qatar by 2020.

This year the IMF ranked Macau, with a US$122,489 per capita GDP, second behind Qatar, for which it said the equivalent figure was US$128,702. Singapore was ranked fourth with US$98,014, just behind Luxembourg with US$110,870 while Hong Kong took 10th place with a per capita GDP of US$64,533.

However, by 2020, Hong Kong’s sister SAR – which outstripped Las Vegas to become the world’s richest casino destination several years ago – would become the richest place in the world with a per capita GDP of US$143,116, leaving Qatar, with a paltry US$139,151, in its wake.

The IMF forecast assumed a period of sustained growth which would see Macau continue to open up a gap on its rivals until 2023.

However, Macau lawyer and social commentator Sérgio Almeida Correia, wrote in his blog: “In terms of quality of life, green areas, pollution, education, health, sport, renewable energies, recycling of urban waste, hygiene and cleanliness of public spaces, accessibility for disabled people, road cycling, public transport might not rank quite as high by any means.”

With a population of just over 650,000, packed into just 30.8 sq km, Macau also holds top spot as the most densely populated place on Earth, according to the United Nations. The tight squeeze means the casino city has 21,322 people per square kilometre packed into its bustling streets.

Hong Kong, the fourth most densely populated place on the planet behind Monaco and Singapore, packs in 6,490 people per square kilometre.

However, within its most dense areas, such as Mong Kok, the population density is more than 120,000 people per square kilometre, according to the Population Division of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

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