Dubai is the most expensive city in the Gulf, according to a new report by the Economist Intelligence Unit. Abu Dhabi and Dubai both leapt up the global rankings as a result of the strength of the dirham, which is pegged to the US dollar. Dubai rose 26 places, to No 53 of 132 cities around the world, according to the survey aimed at helping companies calculate allowances for executives and their families sent overseas. Abu Dhabi rose 15 places from last year to No 80.
"The fact that the dirham is still pegged to the dollar has made both Abu Dhabi and Dubai more expensive cities to live in," said Jon Copestake, the editor of the report. "Also, as a result of the pegged dollar to other currencies within the region, the overall Middle East and North African cities' ranks rose by an average of 12 places." Tel Aviv remains the most expensive city in the Middle East, at No 32. Syria's currency also rose from Sept 2008 to February. Damascus rose from No 130 to No 87 in the ranking.
The most economical cities in the region were the Libyan capital, Tripoli, at No 127, and Tehran, which at No 131 was among the 10 cheapest cities in the world. Only Karachi was cheaper than Tehran in the survey, while the cost of living in Tripoli was less than half that of New York, which ranked 23rd. Globally, the strong yen made Tokyo and Osaka the world's most expensive cities for expatriates, while sharp currency declines lowered living costs in Australia and New Zealand. Oslo and Paris were the world's costliest cities in the previous survey.
Shanghai, with a cost of living only 2 per cent less than New York's, was more expensive than Sydney, according to the survey carried out last month. The previous survey was carried out in September last year, just as the US housing crisis was unravelling into a full-blown global financial and economic collapse. Seven of the world's 10 most expensive cities in the latest survey are in Europe, with Singapore joining Tokyo and Osaka as the only Asian cities on the list.
Paris is now the world's third-most expensive city, down from No 2 in the previous survey, followed by Copenhagen and the former No 1, Oslo. Zurich was in sixth place, while Frankfurt and Helsinki tied in seventh place, followed by Geneva. Shanghai rose to No 29 from No 45, while Beijing rose to No 36 from No 58. Sydney fell to No 35, from No 17. Bangkok is No 72 in the worldwide rankings, but the second most expensive city in South-east Asia, after Singapore.
Kuala Lumpur is No 90 worldwide and No 3 in South-east Asia. Of the world's 10 least expensive cities, five are in Asia - Manila, Kathmandu, New Delhi, Mumbai and Karachi. *with AFP email@example.com