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Tue 23 Feb 2016 01:57 PM

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Dubai edges out neighbour to be named top MidEast city for expats

New Mercer list ranks Dubai at 75th globally, six places ahead of Abu Dhabi; Vienna named best in world

Dubai edges out neighbour to be named top MidEast city for expats

Dubai has been ranked as the top Middle Eastern city for expatriate living for the fourth year in a row, edging out its neighbour Abu Dhabi, according to Mercer’s 2016 Quality of Living Survey.

The human resources consultancy ranked the city 75th in the global rankings and number one in the Middle East and Africa region, just ahead of Abu Dhabi which was placed 81st.

Globally, Austrian capital Vienna claimed top spot, followed by Zurich in Switzerland, and Auckland in New Zealand.

Baghdad in Iraq came bottom of the global ranking, rated 230th in the world while Damascus in war-torn Syria was ranked second worst at number 229.

Elsewhere in the Gulf region, Muscat, Oman listed 107th followed by Doha, Qatar in 110th place. Kuwait City came in 124th, closely followed by Saudi cities Riyadh and Jeddah in 164th and 165th places respectively.

Rob Thissen, consultant on Global Mobility at Mercer ME, said: “Dubai and Abu Dhabi remain extremely popular destinations among expatriates around the world, to the point that less and less multinationals are actually paying hardship premiums to motivate their employees to move here.

“The rapid increase in the population comes with its challenges though - such as a worsening air quality – which was recognised in our scoring this year. On the other hand, many employees moving to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait or the Levant would expect a serious increase in pay, partly to compensate for a decrease in quality of living.”

He added: “Rankings in many regions were affected by recent world events, including economic and political upheavals, which resulted in currency fluctuations, cost inflation for goods and services, and volatility in accommodation prices.

“After a few years of sharp increase, Dubai’s residential market is showing signs of slowing down. The delivery of a significant number of new units added pressure to the residential market. Prices are expected to continue falling as the additional residential units will be ready for occupancy this year,” he added. 

Mercer’s survey takes into account factors such as the city’s political and social environment, medical care and health considerations, public services, recreation facilities and natural environment. 

The survey of 230 cities helps companies and organisations determine compensation and hardship allowances for international staff. It uses dozens of criteria such as political stability, health care, education, crime, recreation and transport.