Last Updated: Tue Nov 02, 2010 20:01 pm (KSA) 17:01 pm (GMT)

Dubai named most expensive Arab city for expats

A view of the busiest highway in Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road, which is lined with buildings, some residential
A view of the busiest highway in Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road, which is lined with buildings, some residential

Dubai has yet again made it to the top of a list, but this time it is for being the most expensive Arab city for expatriates, a survey published on Tuesday revealed, as press reports said the UAE's top executives were set to see their salaries cut by 25 percent.

In the midst of a financial crisis, which hit the region late last year, the cost of living in the glamorous city of Dubai has climbed 32 places to number 20 in a global ranking, published in the 2009 Cost of Living survey by U.S.-based management consultancy firm Mercer.

 As a direct impact of the economic downturn over the last year, there have been significant fluctuations in most of the world's currencies 
Bassam Gazal

The UAE's capital, Abu Dhabi, jumped to 26th from 65th.

"As a direct impact of the economic downturn over the last year, there have been significant fluctuations in most of the world's currencies," Bassam Gazal, who headed the survey for Mercer in the Middle East, told Reuters news agency.

"In the case of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, a stronger U.S. dollar meant an increase in rankings for these cities," he said.

In April, another Mercer survey said Dubai had the "best quality of life" out of all Middle East cities as it came in at 77 on a global list and Abu Dhabi came in second at 84.

Region's highs and lows

The report, which is based on data from March 2008 to 2009, ranked the Israeli capital of Tel Aviv as the most expensive in the region as it came in at 17 down from 14 and the Saudi city of Jeddah the least expensive as it moved to 109th from 126th.

The survey covered 143 cities across the world, measuring the comparative cost of over 200 items, including housing, transport, food, clothing, entertainment and household goods.

For other GCC states there was a massive gap between Dubai's 20 and Kuwait City's 77 or Manama's 82 or even Riyadh's 90 up from 119 last year.

As for other cities in the Middle East the Lebanese capital rose to 41st from 80th, while Algeria's capital climbed 17 places to 40th, and Tehran made a massive jump from 74th to 33rd.

Other cities in the region did not fall in the 143 rankings of the study, Mercer said, as it ranked Tokyo and Osaka as the world's most expensive cities for expatriates.

Salaries cut

 We are, indeed, witnessing a decline in upper-level salaries 
Panos Manolopoulos

Meanwhile, Emirates Business, a UAE daily, reported that chief executives, who are offered lavish salary packages to come to the UAE, will see their salaries slashed by up to 25 percent.

"We are, indeed, witnessing a decline in upper-level salaries," Panos Manolopoulos, of Stanton Chase International in Dubai, told Emirates Business, adding the drop ranged between 15 and 25 percent "in the overall compensation packages.”

The report said although CEO's basic salaries would remain stable, things such as bonuses and benefits have been cut.

"I haven't seen CEO salaries revised downwards, but their bonuses are definitely under pressure," Ian Guilianotti, associate director of HRM Consulting at Nadia Recruitment, was quoted as saying.

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