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Which GCC city is the most expat-friendly?

Which GCC city is the most expat-friendly?

The results are in.

August 9, 2009 12:48 by

A recent survey by HR consulting firm Mercer found Dubai to be the most expensive city in the GCC for expatriates to live in. The Cost of Living Survey, which compared spending habits of expat communities in 143 cities across the world, saw Dubai rise from 52nd place last year to 20th place this year.

But the high cost of living doesn’t seem to have deterred residents from staying there; according to our poll, 62 percent of respondents believe that Dubai is the most expat-friendly city in the GCC.

Manama was a distant second, voted as the most expat-friendly by around 17 percent of our respondents. Meanwhile Muscat came in third with around 10 percent of the votes, followed by Doha with 5 percent.

The least expat-friendly cities, according to our poll, were Abu Dhabi (with around 3 percent of the votes), Riyadh (2 percent), and Kuwait City (1 percent).

A Mercer survey in April this year found Dubai to have the best “quality of living” in the entire Middle East and African region. The city came 77th on a global list.

“Dubai’s transport facilities have witnessed improvements, with the development of its road infrastructure and expansion of its international airport, and the city is up six places in the ranking,” said the report.

The survey also identified the cities with the best infrastructure, based on the following factors: electricity supply, water availability, telephone and mail services, public transport provision, traffic congestion and the range of international flights from local airports. Once again Dubai topped the Middle East and African region, securing 35th place globally.

Although severely affected by the global financial crisis, Dubai seems to have retained its charm. And away from the glamour, practical developments such as the Dubai Metro should further improve life for the city’s residents.

Surprisingly, Abu Dhabi, which followed Dubai on all those lists, does not seem to be appreciated much by our respondents.  Can you think of reasons why?

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  1. ramel on August 10, 2009 7:16 am

    I utterly agree

  2. Peter M on August 10, 2009 8:32 am

    Yes, Abu Dhabi is boring. There aren’t enough things to do and enjoy for expats. It seems like everything in Abu Dhabi is jut second best to Dubai. Also Abu Dhabi locals are not very friendly and welcoming with foreign expats. Dubai locals have far more experience in dealing with foreigners.
    And let’s not start on driving skills… Abu Dhabi drivers are like Sharjah drivers on steroids.

  3. Andrew on August 10, 2009 9:18 am

    Abu Dhabi drivers may not be the best, but the ones coming from Al-Ain make anyone look good in comparison.

  4. harrybarry on August 10, 2009 4:26 pm

    Dubai may have had few issues is has to sort, but lets not forget, as long as you live your life within the law, you will live your life smoothly. and compared to other countries such as US, UK, Germany, france, etc. dubai is still much better off. only if dubai issued long term residency for people who own real estate, dubai would be the best place to live in the world, not just middle east

  5. Amin on August 11, 2009 11:38 am

    Way to go Mr. harrybarry May the inevitable happen before I shift my pension-plans elsewhere….Seriously, I have plans for dubai property…as a humble single investor, but not sure if long-term here is not vulnerable to ‘decrees’ ……..

  6. DG on August 12, 2009 1:07 pm

    Give me a break 100 Degree heat – it can never make it to best place in the world. Yes quality of living can be great for the wealthy and good for the others but you pay indirectly for every single thing you get.

  7. Mohammad Yousaf on August 13, 2009 8:49 am


    For all those saying the Abu Dhabi is boring place, please wait for few more years… Abu Dhabi will be one of the finest destination in the world.

    Presently, yes, its a bit boring comparing to malls and leisure centers, hotels and restaurants are more expensive than that of Dubai, but just look at the infrastructure they have developed, wide roads, lot of bridges and tunnels, and the most beautiful roads in GCC (look at the Al Ain Road or even Dubai Abu Dhabi Road), intelligent traffic system, friendly government and police.

    Also, Abu Dhabi host some of the finest events, concerts, exhibitions.

    Moreover, its calm and cool city, life goes smoothly unlike Dubai, where you have kick everbody to get your lane on the road, to save yoruself from camers that have been installed in every corner of the roads.

    No doubt Dubai is one of BEST city in the world, but Abu Dhabi has potential too… please visit sometimes :)…

  8. OFiroz on August 24, 2009 11:46 am

    Most expat friendly city is Dubai, worst is Sharjah. Any how this is my personal opinion from personal experience.(I am referring only UAE not whole GCC)

    I do agree with Mr.Mohammed Yousef on Abu Dhabi’s infrastructure, Abu Dhabi roads are less messy and easy to drive, places are easy to find for a person like me with low sense of direction. But still some thing is terribly missing there, it is amazing to realise that even people living in AUH are just like their city, calm, no rush attitude and very few on the road, park and public places.

    Dubai is with full of life, pulsating days & nights and almost everybody is on the go, rush, traffic. But that is what making Dubai a happening city after all, if you check all major cities around the world, more or less all of them will be same like Dubai as far as the life is concern, plus DXB has less crime rate compare to other major cities in the world!

  9. Appreciation should be given to SHARJAIANS on January 4, 2010 1:18 pm

    we should appreciate people who live in Sharjah, because with which city we will compare Sharjah, where u can hardly find water, electricity, or roads. Salaam to all Sharjaians who are ever ready for all type of taxes which will be imposed on them fortnightly, even wihtout getting benefits on behalf of it. See we have to cross all Saliks to reach to destination for work and within few days one more SALIK will be imposed. what about METRO, the most problematic traffic is always from and to Sharjah. was it wrong if they were starting the METRO from |Sharjah. it was easing the congestion from Sharjah.the longest hours paid parkings are in |Sharjah. either we are using the energy resources or not we have to pay their service charges? After rain showers you can see very easily the ponds and dams which we can see very easily in our homelands, A LOT MORE…. WHAT DO YOU THINK, IS THEIR ANYONE WHO CAN THINK ON THESE ISSUES, Main workforce is lving in Northern parts only. we are not deserving anything? PITTY WE ARE LIKE QURBANI KE …….. I WISH ANY RESOURCEFUL CAN THINK ON THIS AND WE ALSO CAN ENJOY


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