Dubai one of worst cities for English language - study

Glitzy emirate may be cash rich but is lacking seriously when it comes to English proficiency
Expatriate, expat in Gulf
By Claire Valdini
Thu 13 Dec 2012 12:28 PM

Dubai is one of the poorest cities in the world for its proficiency in the English language, a position that could see it lose out to foreign direct investment, according to a new report. 

The emirate was ranked 49 out of 54 countries, below Qatar (37) and Kuwait (45) but slightly above Saudi Arabia (52), in the EF English Proficiency Index.

“English proficiency is a key factor that determines where multinationals in high-growth, knowledge-based sectors choose to locate their regional hubs around the world,” said Michael Lu, EF Senior vice president.

“Tourist destinations can never rest on their laurels. Locations with better English proficiency are better placed to gain share in the $6 trillion tourism market, which accounts for about nine percent of the global economy,” he added.

The survey, which polled 1.7m working adults from around the world, found Swedish employees to be the most proficient in English followed by Denmark and the Netherlands while those in Libya ranked the lowest, slightly below Thailand.

In most cases the research showed that people living in big metropolitan areas are much more proficient in English than those that live on the outskirts of a city or further afield. 

The largest proficiency gap in any one country was between Moscow and Russia as a whole, noted the report. “This reflects the large economic rewards and opportunities available to English speakers in international urban centres,” it said.

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