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Dubai is among the world’s most expensive cities for expats

Housing costs emerged as a major driver of the rankings, with Dubai experiencing a 21% jump in costs

Dubai is among the world’s most expensive cities for expats
[Source photo: Krishna Prasad/Fast Company Middle East]

Dubai is among the most expensive cities in the world for expats, according to Mercer’s  2024 Cost of Living City Ranking. The US consulting firm released its annual rankings of cost-of-living data for international workers in 226 major cities, detailing the most and least expensive places for foreigners to live and work.

Dubai is the most expensive city in the Middle East and 15th globally for international workers.

Hong Kong retained its crown as the priciest city for expats, followed by Singapore. Swiss cities dominated the top five, with Zurich, Geneva, and Basel rounding out the top five.

Abu Dhabi ranked at 43rd. Riyadh and Jeddah also made the list, at 90th and 97th respectively.

Housing costs emerged as a major driver of the rankings. This year saw significant fluctuations globally, with cities like Istanbul witnessing a staggering 301% increase in average rental prices. Conversely, Minsk in Belarus saw a 10% decrease. 

Dubai experienced a 21% jump in housing costs, mirroring similar trends in New Delhi and Miami (both 13% increase).

“The cost-of-living crisis is a major concern for multinational companies and their employees,” said Yvonne Traber, Mercer’s Global Mobility Leader. “Staying informed about cost-of-living trends and inflation is crucial for organizations to effectively manage these challenges.”

The report highlights the significant impact of the cost crisis on mobile talent. High living costs have forced some international assignees to adjust their lifestyles and reduce spending, with some even struggling to meet basic needs. 

This has made it harder for businesses to attract and retain top talent, leading to increased compensation costs and limitations on employee mobility.

Mercer emphasizes the importance of companies staying informed about cost-of-living trends and inflation rates in their operating locations to effectively navigate these challenges.

In May, Dubai was named one of the world’s richest cities and the wealthiest in the Middle East, with the number of millionaires surging by nearly 80% over the last decade.

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