Muscat and Jeddah have ranked amongst the top ten cheapest cities in the world, according to a survey of 131 countries globally.
Jeddah, the largest city in Saudi Arabia’s Mecca province, was ranked 127 while Oman’s capital city placed 120, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s worldwide cost of living index.
The survey, which is based on costs of more than 160 items ranging from food and clothing to domestic help, transport and utilities, said Middle Eastern cities dominated the bottom of the list due to “the use of price controls and the pegging of currencies to the US dollar”.
Tokyo reclaimed the title as the world’s most expensive city followed by Osaka, Sydney and Oslo. Also featured in the 2013 top ten were Singapore, Zurich and Paris.
“This is a familiar position for the Japanese capital, which has been the world's most expensive city for all bar a handful of the last 20 years,” said the report.
Sydney and Melbourne were both surprise entrants on the top ten, ranked seven and eight, respectively.
“Australian cities have been rising very quickly up the rankings as economic growth has supported inflation and currency swings to make them costly,” EIU noted. Ten years ago there were no Australian cities in the top 50 cities, it added.
Languishing at the bottom of the list was Tehran, just behind Jeddah and Panama City. Other top cheapest cities included Dhaka, Kathmandu and Karachi.
“Although Asian hubs are making their presence felt at the top of the cost of living stakes, another kind of Asian hub is making its presence felt at the bottom. Three of the four cheapest locations hail from the Indian subcontinent, highlighting why India has been such a target of labour outsourcing, relocation and FDI over the last decade,” said the report.