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Cost of Living - Middle East July 2013

The most expensive countries in the Middle East for expatriates to live in are: Qatar; United Arab Emirates; Israel;Lebanon and Bahrain. The most expensive cities in the Middle East for expatriates to live in: Doha (118th most expensive in the world); Abu Dhabi; Dubai; Jerusalem; and Beirut. The cheapest country and city in the Middle East for expatriates to live in is Sanaa in Yemen (110th cheapest in the world). The biggest mover down the rankings is Beirut in Lebanon, which has dropped from 278th in April to become the 292nd most expensive location in the world. The biggest mover up the rankings is Tehran in Iran, which has risen from 546th in April to become the 395th most expensive location in the world.


Xpatulator’s Cost of Living rankings are released every quarter and measure the comparative cost of living for expatriates in 780 cities, covering every country worldwide.  The cost of 13 basket groups with over 140 items are compared in each location, these include alcohol and tobacco, clothing, communication, education, furniture and appliances, groceries, healthcare, housing, personal care, recreation and culture, restaurants-meals-out and hotels, and transport.

Doha is the most expensive city in the Middle East mainly because it is a relatively small centrally controlled economy undergoing rapid growth with large scale infrastructure projects. More than 80% of expatriates in Qatar live in Doha. With a limited number of suppliers of goods and services to the country, when a shortage is experienced in one store, it is usually an indication that all stores will be out of stock. Most goods and services are imported at great cost. Added to the fact that salaries are reputedly the highest in the region (Nationals received a 60% salary hike in September 2011), the cost of living in Doha has increased relative to other cities in the region.

Particularly expensive in Doha are the following basket groups, alcohol, communication, furniture & appliances, housing, and meals out. 
To provide an assignee, sent from a low cost of living country to a more expensive country, with a similar purchasing power to what they have in their home country, requires an adjustment to their assignment salary.  The amount of adjustment depends on which country they come from. The larger the difference in cost of living, the larger the adjustment required to ensure a similar level of purchasing power in the host country.

The below ranking shows the overall Cost of Living Rankings in the Middle East by city:

  1. Qatar, Doha
  2. United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi
  3. United Arab Emirates, Dubai
  4. Israel, Jerusalem
  5. Lebanon, Beirut
  6. Kuwait, Kuwait City
  7. Bahrain, Manama
  8. Iran, Tehran
  9. Palestinian Territories, West Bank
  10. Saudi Arabia, Riyadh
  11. Saudi Arabia, Dammam
  12. Saudi Arabia, Medinah
  13. Iraq, Baghdad
  14. Syria, Damascus
  15. Jordan, Amman
  16. Oman, Muscat
  17. Saudi Arabia, Jeddah
  18. Saudi Arabia, Mecca
  19. Yemen, Sanaa


The below ranking shows the Cost of Living Rankings in the Middle East by city excluding housing, education, healthcare and transport basket groups: 

  1. Qatar, Doha
  2. United Arab Emirates, Dubai
  3. United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi
  4. Israel, Jerusalem
  5. Bahrain, Manama
  6. Lebanon, Beirut
  7. Syria, Damascus
  8. Palestinian Territories, West Bank
  9. Kuwait, Kuwait City
  10. Jordan, Amman
  11. Saudi Arabia, Riyadh
  12. Saudi Arabia, Dammam
  13. Oman, Muscat
  14. Yemen, Sanaa
  15. Iraq, Baghdad
  16. Saudi Arabia, Jeddah
  17. Iran, Tehran
  18. Saudi Arabia, Medinah
  19. Saudi Arabia, Mecca


The cost of living ranking information contained in this article is updated quarterly using data collected by Xpatulator.com over the past 12 months. The international cost of living indexes, on which the rankings are based, is only available using Xpatulator.com's online expatriate calculators that enable users to create personalized cost of living comparison reports which include:

Published by Xpatulator.com on 1 July 2013.

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