Cities are considered to be the major drivers of the global economy for many reasons, including their creative and innovative potential in generating sustainable economic growth. Istanbul is one of the global cities searching for a long-term growth strategy. This paper starts with a modest effort of composing an index to be used in the evaluation of the creative potential of cities. Our proposed index, "global creative index", consists of five main criteria: (1) creativeness, (2) innovativeness, (3) intellectual development, (4) global network connectivity and (5) world cityness emphasizing multinational corporate economy, international division of labour and high intensity of producer and financial services. The use of the index is illustrated through the comparison of nine cities: Hong Kong, Istanbul, London, Los Angeles, Moscow, New York, Shanghai, Singapore and Toronto. The analysis of these nine cities shows that Istanbul is building an innovation environment, but it still lacks research and development infrastructure, technical support and investment in higher education. This comparison offers guidelines for policy-makers to sketch the growth of Istanbul along the lines of creativity and innovativeness.