Rising rents catapult UAE cities up global cost of living list

Dubai leaps 23 places up Mercer’s 2014 Cost of Living Survey while Abu Dhabi also jumps 11 places

Rising rents have catapulted both Dubai and Abu Dhabi up a global list of the most expensive cities to live in, it was announced on Sunday.

Dubai and Abu Dhabi have been ranked as the 67th and 68th most expensive cities, according to Mercer’s 2014 Cost of Living Survey.

Dubai was one of several cities in the region that experienced a jump in their rankings, with the emirate soaring 23 places from last year’s position at 90.

Abu Dhabi rose 11 places from its 2013 placement at 79 while Beirut topped the regional index for the highest rates of living expenditure incurred by expatriates, coming in at number 63.

Riyadh rose 11 places to rank 111th, while Jeddah continued to rank as the least expensive city in the region, being placed at 175.

The reports said that the cities that have made significant advances up the table have in part been pushed up by a strong increase in expatriate rental accommodation costs, particularly the case with Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

Nuno Gomes, principal, Information Solutions Leader Middle East, Mercer, said: “Dubai is now on a strong economic hub following the global market depression of 2008 and this renewed economic strength is reflected in an increase in accommodation costs, which is the main reason why the city has jumped so many places in Mercer’s 2014 Cost of Living Survey. 

“The steep rise in rental prices is a phenomenon witnessed over the past 18 months and can be traced to a renewed sense of confidence in the city, particularly in the wake of the Expo 2020 build-up and award.

"I believe that the situation will stabilise as we start to see more and more of the building projects that have been restarted after being put on hold come on line,” he added.

Globally, two African cities topped the list of most expensive cities for expatriates.

Although not typically recognised as wealthy cities compared to others, Luanda in Angola is the world’s most expensive city for the second year in a row, followed by N’Djamena, Chad.

European and Asian cities also continued to dominate as the costliest cities with Hong Kong in third place, followed by Singapore. Zurich jumped three places to rank fifth, followed by Geneva in sixth. Tokyo dropped four spots to rank seventh. 

Mercer's survey uses New York as the base city, and all cities are compared against it. Currency movements are measured against the US dollar. The survey covers 211 cities across five continents and measures the comparative cost of over 200 items in each location, including housing, transportation, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment.

Other cities appearing in the top 10 of Mercer’s costliest cities for expatriates were Bern, Moscow, and Shanghai while Karachi was ranked the world’s least expensive city for expatriates.

Most other cities from across the Middle East region went up in the 2014 ranking, mainly due to global currency fluctuations.

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