And you thought Dubai was bad, Qatar most expensive Gulf city for expats
Qatar’s tight rental market has made it the most expensive country to live in the GCC, Arabian Business comprehensive analysis on the cost of living in the region reported.
It has revealed the true cost of life in the GCC across sectors such as accommodation, food, healthcare, education, transport and lifestyle.
The Cost of Living Report (CLR) noted that in a like-for-like comparison of seven measures, Qatar came out the most expensive overall, followed by the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait.
Heavily influencing the result, the figures show the average cost in Q4 last year to rent a two-bedroom apartment in Qatar was $42,930 a year, which was $15,540 more than the next highest average of $27,390 per year in the UAE, and 15 times more expensive than Bahrain ($2,849 per year).
In its analysis, Dubai-based CLR said luxury developments such as The Pearl as well as limited supply and high demand had driven up rental prices in Qatar, while the Bahraini real estate market had been hit by political turmoil in the country and an exodus of expatriates in 2011-12.
Qatar also emerged as the most expensive GCC nation for renting a car with a monthly fee of $2,773 to rent a small SUV – almost double the $1,390.50 cost for the same car in the UAE – while an annual gym membership in Qatar was $2,686.5 compared to $81 a year in Saudi and a meager $48 in Oman.
The CLR report found a mid-level GP consultation was most expensive in the UAE ($78.50), followed by Qatar ($54), Saudi and Bahrain ($27), Kuwait ($26.50) and Oman ($13).
The price of a single person health insurance policy, though generally covered by employers, was most expensive in Bahrain ($2,312 per year) and cheapest in Kuwait ($266 per year).
However, CLR noted the UAE had the biggest range of healthcare in terms of international hospitals and clinics, while the more than seven big, local drug manufacturing plants in Saudi, where insurance was $1,350/year, brought down pharmaceutical costs somewhat.
The report also compared the cost of 21 typical food items across the GCC, including bread, bottled water and a McDonald’s Big Mac, with Bahrain emerging most expensive at $88.80, closely followed by Kuwait ($83.68), Oman ($74.28), Saudi Arabia ($61.85), UAE ($61.32) and Qatar ($56.19).
In Qatar, CLR noted, meat was subsidized while Bahrain had the smallest population in the GCC at 1.3m people with “little buying power leverage”.
The report found the cost of power, water and sewerage for an average three-bedroom apartment was highest in the UAE at $268.5 per bill, with Oman the second-highest at $160, followed by Bahrain ($135.50), Qatar ($135) and Kuwait ($83). Saudi was the cheapest country for utilities at a comparatively low $55.