Dubai and Abu Dhabi are becoming more expensive to live in, having ranked the 23rd and 33rd most expensive globally, from 67th and 68th respectively last year, according to a new report.
Dubai and Abu Dhabi are the most expensive cities in the Middle East for expatriates, followed by Beirut at 44th spot, which shot up 19 places from last year. Jeddah, however, is the least expensive, having ranked 151, according to the 2015 Cost of Living Survey by human resources consultancy Mercer.
Topping the list this year were Luanda, Angola, which came first for the third consecutive year, followed by Hong Kong, Zurich, Singapore, Geneva, Shanghai, Beijing, Seoul, Bern and N'Djamena, Chad.
The survey covers 207 cities worldwide and measures the comparative cost of more than 200 items in each location, including housing, transportation, food, clothing, household goods, and entertainment.
The report noted that most of the region's major cities have seen a significant increase in the cost of living, partly due to the strengthening of the US dollar which is pegged to some of the countries' currencies. Manama and Doha moved up 59 places to take the 91st and 99th spots, while Amman rose 49 places to rank 54th, Riyadh jumped 40 places to reach 71st and Kuwait City moved up 30 places to 117.
"Many currencies in the Middle East are pegged to the US dollar, which pushed the cities up in the ranking. Global currency fluctuations was a key factor influencing the significant changes observed in the overall raking in 2015," Nuno Gomes, Information Solutions leader for the Middle East at Mercer, said in a statement.
"Steep increase for expatriate rental accommodations, particularly in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, has also contributed to the increase of the cities in the ranking," he added.
Cities in the United States also become more expensive due to the strengthening of the US dollar against other major currencies. While New York continued to rank 16th, cities on the West Coast, including Los Angeles (36) and Seattle (106) climbed 26 and 47 places, respectively.
Switzerland is still one of the most expensive locations for expatriates due to the surge of the Swiss franc against the euro, Mercer said in the report.
However, Moscow, ranked 50th, and St. Petersburg, ranked 152, dropped 41 and 117 spots, respectively, as a result of the drop in Russia's rouble against the US dollar, lower oil prices, and a lack of confidence in the currency following Western sanctions over the crisis in Ukraine.
Canadian cities also dropped in this year's ranking due to the Canadian dollar weakening against the US dollar. Vancouver fell 23 places to 119, while Toronto (126) dropped 25 spots, and Montreal (140) and Calgary (146) fell 17 and 21 spots, respectively.