Bahrain remains best expat destination in the GCC, but slips globally

The small island nation, which won the crown in 2017 and 2018, stays in the top 10 of Expat Insider poll

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Bahrain is the best country in the GCC for expatriates to live but dropped globally, according to the annual Expat Insider poll by InterNations.

Out of 64 countries, the country chosen as the world’s best expatriate city in 2017 and 2018, still tops the region, but slipped to seventh place overall. Other GCC countries to feature include Oman in 32nd position and the UAE in 40th, retaining the same ranking as last year.

Kuwait came in last place for the fifth time and Saudi Arabia was not included. Over 20,000 expatriates took part in the survey, representing 182 nationalities living in 187 countries or territories.

“2019 brings a mixed bag of results for the Gulf states,” the report said.

The survey, now in its sixth year, covers five indices: quality of life, ease of settling in, working abroad, family life and personal finance. The indices, along with the responses to the question “how satisfied are you with life abroad in general?” were averaged to arrive at the overall country ranking. A separate cost of living index provided insight into expatriates’ perception of living expenses, but did not factor into the overall ranking.

Taiwan, which has consistently ranked in the top five since 2016, reclaimed first place on the poll with Vietnam in second and Portugal in third.

The UAE ranked highly in safety and security, coming in sixth worldwide, with Oman taking the top spot. The Emirates also fared well for availability of government services online, claiming fourth place worldwide the report said.  Close to half the expats in the UAE (48 per cent) say these services could not be any better.

In the personal finance index, the UAE came in 61st. Affordable education was a major concern in the UAE, with over six in 10 expatriate parents disappointed by the cost of education.

The level of satisfaction among expatriates across the GCC was close to or above the global average of 75 per cent, except for Kuwait where it was 35 per cent. Bahrain fell 17 places to 18th in the working abroad index, though 82 per cent of expats say it is easy to settle down in the country.

Expatriates in Bahrain seem to be less satisfied with their working life. Last year, 81 per cent said they were content with their working hours, while this year only 61 per cent felt that way. But Bahrain still offers the best work-life balance out of the Gulf states, ranking 13th globally. Close to seven in ten expats are pleased with their work-life balance.

Kuwait ranked last overall, mainly due to poor scores in the ease of settling in and quality of life, placing last and second to last respectively. It also placed 60th in working abroad. It did, however, improve in personal finance, moving to 38th from 50th.