Dubai has been ranked the best city in the world for remote workers due to the quality of life it offers and prime rents.
For the first time Abu Dhabi made the annual top 20 list which is compiled by property consultancy Savills and has been ranked as the fourth-best city in which to live in its 2023 Executive Nomad Index.
The index rates the world's top cities for long-term remote workers, based on internet speed, quality of life, climate, air connectivity and prime rents.
Paul Tostevin, head of Savills World Research, told The National both Dubai and Abu Dhabi have been rated top due to their ability to offer city living and a high quality of life.
"Dubai has topped the list this year and really ticks all the boxes," he said.
"It has fantastic connectivity with Dubai International Airport, it offers great quality of life and very strong mobile connectivity. Other components include its prime residential market.
"Abu Dhabi is a new entrant to the list, it has a lot of comparisons to Dubai and is very popular due to its investment in leisure and entertainment. They both have the advantage of offering city living alongside beaches creating an improved quality of life."
Last year Lisbon was rated top but the Portuguese capital has now dropped to fifth.
Dubai was listed third last year.
“Dubai’s fast growing FinTech and financial services sectors, along with a tax-free environment and high quality of life, are proving powerful magnets for executive nomads,” said Swapnil Pillai, associate director of Savills Middle East Research.
“Most are Dinkies [Dual-income, no kids] and they favour high residential buildings in Downtown Dubai, close to the DIFC, the financial hub, or in Dubai Marina for proximity to Media City and Internet City.
“Most of the city’s co-working spaces are operating at near 100 per cent occupancy, which supports Dubai’s ranking as a top destination for executive nomads."
The index, part of the Savills’ Impacts programme, ranks 20 destinations that either have a digital nomad visa programme, or equivalent, or in the case of the US and the EU, are already part of a large economic bloc that allows free movement of people for living or work.
The cities must have a favourable climate all year round, a high quality of life and have established prime residential markets.
Dubai scored highly on both air connectivity and internet connectivity.
"Dubai International, its main airport, is the world’s busiest for international passenger traffic. Meanwhile, Dubai continues to invest in its digital infrastructure – with the UAE now home to the fastest mobile speeds in the world," Savills said.
“Connectivity matters to an executive nomad, so cities dominate the top list, taking the first five spots. The leading centres offer good transport and communications infrastructure, business networks, together with favourable climates, beaches and a high quality of life," said Paul Tostevin, director of Savills World Research, told The National.
“Established leisure destinations also make the cut, led by Barbados and the Algarve [Portugal] in sixth and ninth place, respectively. For some, this has enabled second homes to become year-round ones and extending seasonality in local prime property markets.”
It is the first time Abu Dhabi has entered the list.
“Abu Dhabi has become far more outward-looking in the last two years and there is so much on offer now, including Yas Island, a huge leisure destination, and Saadiyat Island, where you have the Louvre and the Guggenheim, which is due to open in 2025,” said Stephen Forbes, Savills head of Abu Dhabi.
"The emirate is proving particularly popular with Northern European executive nomads. A remote-working visa is available, and for those making a longer-term commitment, golden visas are designed to attract property investors and global talent in the creative industries, financial services and start-ups.
“Abu Dhabi’s Free Zones, which offer various incentives to companies, make the city far more attractive to corporate entities now, too. Demand for Grade-A office space in our Central Business District has never been higher,” he said of Abu Dhabi.
He said the UAE's one-year residency permit for remote workers has also been a major attraction alongside its world-class health care and an ever-growing range of cool, indoor leisure and entertainment options to escape the intense summer heat had also been driving factors.
Malaga is second in this year's list, followed by Miami.