Dubai (77) in the United Arab Emirates has been announced as the city with the highest ranking for quality of living in the Middle East, rising six places in the ranking from 83 in 2008, according to the 2009 Mercer Quality of Living report. Dubai’s transport facilities have witnessed improvements, with the development of its road infrastructure and expansion of its international airport, as have its telecommunication facilities and consumer facilities.
Abu Dhabi (84) is also up three places in the ranking, from 87 in 2008. The increase in availability of recreational facilities, international schools, and the development of the airport and increased connectivity with new networks of Etihad Airways have helped contribute to its improvement.
The Mercer rankings are based on a point scoring index which covers 215 cities globally and compares each to New York as the base city, with an index score of 100. It is conducted to help governments and major companies place employees on international assignments, and assist with hardship premiums that may apply where a significant deterioration in living conditions exist in the new host location.
In the city infrastructure index, most of the region’s cities rank below 100: Manama, Bahrain (111), Kuwait City, Kuwait (125), Riyadh, KSA (159), Jeddah, KSA (160), Tehran, Iran (178), Sanaa, Yemen Arab Republic (210). Baghdad (215) retains its position at the bottom of the table, though its score has increased due to some slight improvements in its infrastructure and steps taken to encourage investment. Nevertheless, the lack of security and stability continue to have a large impact on quality of living and the city’s score remains far behind
Out of the 25 lowest ranking cities, two are from the Middle East including Sanaa at 210 (207 in 2008) and Baghdad at 215 (215 in 2008).
According to Slagin Parakatil, senior researcher at Mercer at Mercer: “The Middle East as a region is continuously increasing in the Quality of Living rankings, especially in its’ infrastructure and recreation facilities. Our index continues to reflect the dynamic change underway across this part of the world.”