Abu Dhabi and Dubai are best places to live in the Middle East, survey says

Abu Dhabi and Dubai have both climbed the ranks of a quality of living survey, while Abu Dhabi has been named as the safest city in the region.

Abu Dhabi has clinched the 78th spot among the most liveable cities in a global standard of living survey. Sammy Dallal / The Nationa

Abu Dhabi and Dubai have climbed the ranks of a global standard of living survey.

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Dubai offers the best quality of life in the Middle East, according to a report released yesterday by Mercer, a human resources, outsourcing and investment services consultancy.

Dubai was ranked 74th on the Quality of Living list, an improvement of one point from last year's report, while Abu Dhabi city moved up five steps, taking the 78th spot.

However, Abu Dhabi outperformed its neighbour in terms of personal safety, taking 23rd place. Dubai followed behind in the 39th spot in the ranking, which was based on internal stability, level of crime, effectiveness of law enforcement and the host country's international relations.

"Dubai and Abu Dhabi had an increase in criteria this year, mainly due to improvements in international schooling availability, medical supplies, and tackling infectious diseases, so these three criteria for Dubai have the maximum score … but we look at 39 different criteria," said Zaid Kamhawi, who leads Mercer's survey practice in the Middle East.

Regionally, Muscat came in 101st place, closely followed by Doha at 106, Manama at 113 and Kuwait City at 120. Baghdad was ranked last in 221st place due to ongoing security and stability concerns.

Globally, Vienna offers the best standard of living, with Zurich and Auckland following in second and third place, respectively. Munich was fourth, while Dusseldorf and Vancouver were both ranked fifth.

The survey is designed to help governments and companies calculate compensation packages when making overseas appointments.

But experts say cities that offer a good quality of life can also be more attractive to businesses and entrepreneurs.

"Bangalore, Palo Alto, and Santa Barbara, California are all said to have attracted entrepreneurship due to the quality of life," said Stephen Mezias, a professor of entrepreneurship and family enterprise at Insead business school in Abu Dhabi. Prashant K Gulati, an entrepreneur and angel investor based in Dubai, said the city had become even more attractive following the downturn.

"There's no question that Dubai is an attractive place for people to live, and in the last two years the cost of living has substantially reduced because of rents," he said.

Mr Gulati moved to the UAE 17 years ago intending to stay for a couple of years. He said it was easy to start a business in the country, but that was not why he stayed.

"It became something like that. The way we looked at it was it was a gateway to opportunity."

More than 60 per cent of owners in some apartments building in Dubai are not paying their service fees, creating havoc for cash-strapped homeowner's associations