Ras Al Khaimah has been ranked among the best global cities for expatriates to live and work, based on the high quality of life it offers and job opportunities, according to a report by global network InterNations.
Spanish cities dominated the top places in the index, with Malaga topping the global ranking, and Alicante and Valencia in second and third place, respectively.
Rounding off the top 10 were Madrid, Mexico City, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and Muscat.
Some of the worst cities for expatriates include Milan, Rome, Vancouver, Hamburg, Berlin, Dublin, Istanbul, London, Paris and Seoul.
InterNations polled 12,065 people in 172 nations and territories, asking questions based on five categories: quality of life, ease of settling in, working abroad, personal finance and an expatriate essentials index, which covers digital life, administration topics, housing and language.
“With a first place ranking in the expat essentials index, Ras Al Khaimah is the city where it’s easiest for expats to get started: 78 per cent had no issues getting a visa to move there [versus 57 per cent globally],” InterNations said.
“And about seven in 10 say that housing is both affordable [68 per cent compared with 38 per cent globally] and easy to find [72 per cent versus 49 per cent globally].
“What’s more, expats in Ras Al Khaimah enjoy the highest overall job satisfaction [first] and the second-best personal career options, making it one of the best cities for working abroad [ranking second]. Respondents are also happy with their financial situation, placing the city in the top 10 for personal finance [eighth].”
Another aspect that makes living in Ras Al Khaimah an enjoyable experience is its “tight-knit social life”, the report found.
The UAE, the Arab world’s second-largest economy, has introduced several economic, legal and social reforms in recent years to strengthen its business environment, increase foreign direct investment, attract skilled workers and provide incentives to companies to set up or expand their operations.
In 2019, amendments were introduced to the Golden Visa initiative to simplify the eligibility criteria and expand the categories of beneficiaries.
The 10-year visa is granted to investors, entrepreneurs and skilled professionals who earn a monthly salary of more than Dh30,000 ($8,167), as well as exceptional talent, scientists and professionals, outstanding students and graduates, property investors, humanitarian pioneers and front-line workers.
A green visa provides a five-year residency for skilled employees without the need for a sponsor or employer.
The UAE also introduced a one-year digital nomad visa in March 2021 that allows people to live in the Emirates while continuing to work for employers in their home countries.
Dubai also offers a five-year retirement visa for potential residents older than 55.
Abu Dhabi ranked sixth among global cities for quality of life, the InterNations survey found.
The UAE’s capital city also ranked first globally for car infrastructure, while expatriates rated it among the top three for medical services: 88 per cent are happy with the quality of health care compared with 70 per cent globally.
Expatriates in Abu Dhabi also rated the city high for personal safety and political stability, the survey found.
Abu Dhabi also ranked third globally for offering foreign workers one of the smoothest transition phases, according to InterNations.
The city scored well in terms of obtaining a visa, opening a bank account and the availability of government services.
Abu Dhabi ranked eighth globally for housing availability and is the easiest place in the world for expatriates to get by without speaking the local language, according to InterNations.
The UAE capital ranked ninth globally for working abroad, with 55 per cent of foreign workers saying that moving there has improved their career prospects.
The report revealed that 86 per cent of respondents are also happy with the state of the local economy compared with 62 per cent globally.
Nearly seven in 10 (68 per cent) expatriates said that Abu Dhabi's business culture encourages creativity and thinking outside the box.
Dubai was ranked fourth globally for offering newcomers an easy start, according to InterNations.
The city was ranked the easiest place in the world to get a visa, while foreign workers also ranked it third globally in terms of dealing with administration topics.
Dubai ranked eighth globally in the working abroad sub-index, with 78 per cent of respondents saying that moving there has improved their career prospects, the survey found.
The city also performed favourably in terms of work satisfaction among expatriates, with 77 per cent saying that the local business culture encourages creativity and 62 per cent saying that it promotes independent work and flat hierarchies, InterNations said.
Top 11 global cities for expatriates to live and work in 2023
- Ras Al Khaimah
- Abu Dhabi
- Mexico City
- Kuala Lumpur