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Abu Dhabi and Dubai most expensive Middle East cities to live in

ABU DHABI // Abu Dhabi and Dubai remain among the most expensive cities in the Middle East and the world, a global cost-of-living survey has revealed.

This year, Dubai ranked the 21st most expensive city in the world, up from 23 last year, while the capital came in number 25, up from 33 last year.

Hong Kong is the world’s most expensive city for expats, while the Angolan capital Luanda which had consistently topped the list in recent years, ranks number 2. Zurich and Singapore were third and fourth, unchanged from last year. Tokyo rose to 5th, from number 11 in 2015.

London has fallen down from 12th to 17th place, while Birmingham slumped 16 places to 96.

The UAE’s two largest cities have experienced a rise in their rankings following the wider Middle Eastern trend of GCC countries becoming more expensive.

Rob Thissen, talent mobility consultant at Mercer Middle East, attributed much of the change to exchange rate fluctuations.

“The main reason Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and in fact almost all cities in the Middle East, increased in rank is that their currencies are pegged to the US dollar with Riyadh, for instance, currently rated more expensive than Rome.”

Several cities experienced a jump in the rankings as they are pushed up by other locations’ decline, as well as the strong increase for expatriate rental accommodation costs, particularly in Abu Dhabi and Jeddah.

Beirut is the third most expensive city in the Middle East and 50th globally, down from 44th last year, and is tied with Amman, Jordan, also 50th, representing a rise of four places from 2015.

Riyadh is the 57th most expensive city in the world, down from 71 last year, while Manama, Bahrain, is number 71, up from 91 last year.

Doha is 76th, up from 99th last year, while Muscat ranks 94th, jumping from 117th last year. Kuwait City is number 103, climbing from 117 in 2015, and Jeddah is 121st, changed from 151st last year.

The rankings combine day-to-day expenditure on goods and services such as food, clothing and transport, with rental prices.

“While prices of most goods and services are considered to be cheaper in Saudi Arabia compared with Europe, it is the expatriate rental market that pushes cities like Riyadh and Jeddah up the ranking,” Mr Thissen said.

“What this means is that once again, cities in our region have become more expensive to send people to, with expatriates expecting increased cost of living and housing allowances.”

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(via The National)