Tale of two cities: how Dubai, Manama compare on prices, earnings

Two Gulf cities have been named among the biggest climbers in new research on how prices and earnings of 77 international cities fare against each other
Manama ranked 39th for price level, 35th for earnings and 31st for purchasing power.
By Sam Bridge
Sat 02 Jun 2018 12:58 AM

Dubai and Manama have been named as two of the biggest climbers in new research on how prices and earnings of 77 international cities fare against each other.

Dubai's ranking has risen 13 places to 14th globally since 2005 while the Bahraini capital jumped nine places to eighth in the same period, according to UBS Global Wealth Management’s Chief Investment Office.

Of Dubai, the research said: "Another Middle Eastern powerhouse, Dubai has risen 12 spots since our 2015 ranking. And while it's one of the most expensive expat destinations, it's pretty affordable when it comes to millennial must-haves."

UBS ranked Dubai as the third most expensive place for expats to live, behind Geneva and Brussels, but was one of the least expensive when comparing a list of things that generation Y might use as “millennial must-haves” in 2018, it added.

The cost of items which included an iPhone, a laptop, a pair of jeans, a pair of sneakers, a Netflix subscription, a cup of coffee, a Big Mac as a late night craving and avocados came to just over $2,000 in Dubai.

This compared to $3,696 in the Argentinian capital of Buenos Aires which was the most expensive of 11 cities from around the world chosen for comparison. Other cities included New York, Paris, London, Zurich, Hong Kong, Johannesburg, Moscow, Bangkok, and Toronto.

The research showed Dubai ranked 36th for both price levels and earnings while ranking 38th for purchasing power.

It showed that it would take a Dubai resident 21.8 minutes to earn enough to buy a Big Mac, compared to the top-ranked Hong Kong time of 11.8 minutes while it would take 107.6 working hours to buy an iPhone or iPod, compared to Zurich's time of just 38.2 hours.

The UBS research also ranked the emirate as the fourth most expensive city for housing ($2,653 per month), with only Hong Kong ($3,946), New York and Paris ahead of it.

By contrast, Dubai ranked a lowly 74th for public transport with an affordable $5.40 compared to the $108 demanded by Luxembourg.

Climbing less spots than its Middle Eastern neighbours, the capital of Bahrain nevertheless broke into the top 10 this year.

Manama ranked 39th for price level, 35th for earnings and 31st for purchasing power.

It would take a Manama resident 15.4 minutes to earn enough to buy a Big Mac and 80.9 hours to buy an iPhone or iPod.

Riyadh, the Saudi Arabian capital which is home to more than 6 million people, of which 35 percent are non-Saudi, also featured on the list and was ranked 60th for price level, 39th for earnings and 24th for purchasing power.

Globally, Zurich retained its position as the most expensive city, followed by Geneva and Oslo.

Los Angeles boasted the world’s best buying power for the average worker’s salary, with LA residents now able to afford almost a quarter more than New Yorkers.

The study, first launched in 1971 and now in its 17th edition, compares 128 prices of various goods and services as well as average earnings of 15 professions representing the average working population.

According to the study’s Purchasing Power Index, residents of European and North American cities typically enjoy the best buying power overall, with Bahrain’s capital Manama and Hong Kong the only non-transatlantic contenders in the top ten.

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Last Updated: Sun 03 Jun 2018 12:49 PM GST

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