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Mercer ME 2017 Quality of Living Survey Ranks Dubai as Best City for Expats in Middle East and Africa

  • 14.03.2017
  • UAE, Dubai
  • Dubai ranks 74th globally in overall quality of living, making it the number one city in the Middle East and Africa region for the fifth year running
  • Infrastructure is pivotal in determining quality of living for expats and was ranked separately in Mercer’s Quality of Living Survey 2017
  • Dubai was ranked in 51st place for infrastructure, again making it the top city in the Middle East and Africa region

Dubai, United Arab Emirates – 2 March 2017: Dubai has again claimed the number one spot for quality of living across the Middle East and Africa region, according to Mercer’s 2017 Quality of Living Survey. The city came in 74th place in the global ranking, making it the region’s top city for the fifth year in a row.

Vienna occupies first place for overall quality of living for the 8th year running, with the rest of the top-ten list mostly filled by European cities: Zurich is in second place, with Munich (4), Dusseldorf (6), Frankfurt (7), Geneva (8), Copenhagen (9), and Basel, a newcomer to the list, in 10th place. The only non-European cities in the top ten are Auckland (3) and Vancouver (5). The highest ranking cities in Asia and Latin America are Singapore (25) and Montevideo (79), respectively.

Dubai (74) continues to rank highest for quality of living across Africa and the Middle East, rising one position in this year’s survey. It is followed closely by the neighboring Emirate of Abu Dhabi, which has climbed three spots since last year’s survey to claim 79th place,” in fact due to improvements in infrastructure mentioned above”, Rob Thissen - Mercer’s Middle East Talent Mobility Lead - mentions.  Saudi cities Riyadh and Jeddah find themselves further down the ranking, on 166th  and 169th spot, whereas Sana’a (229) in Yemen, Bangui (230) in the Central African Republic, and Baghdad (231) in Iraq are the region’s  and world’s three lowest-ranked cities for quality of living.

Ilya Bonic, president of Mercer’s Career Business, commented: “Economic instability, social unrest, and growing political upheaval all add to the complex challenges faced by multinational companies when analysing quality of living for their expatriate workforce. For multinationals and governments, it is vital to have quality of living information that is accurate, detailed, and reliable. It not only enables these employers to compensate employees appropriately, but also provides a planning benchmark and insights into the often-sensitive operational environment that surrounds their workforce.”

Mr Bonic added: “In uncertain times, organisations that plan to establish themselves and send staff to a new location should ensure they get a complete picture of the city, including its viability as a business location and its attractiveness to key talent.”

City infrastructure, highlighted separately in this year’s Quality of Living Survey, plays an important role when multinationals decide where to establish operations abroad. When sending expatriates to new locations, easy access to transportation, reliable electricity, and drinkable water are all important considerations when determining whether to give these employees any Quality of Living allowances based on differences between a given assignee’s home and host location. Also in terms of infrastructure Dubai ranked highest in the Middle East and Africa, coming in 51st place in the survey’s global ranking, proving again the city’s position as regional business hub.

While Dubai ranked highest for infrastructure in the Middle East and African region, only a few other cities in the region made the top 100 . These were Tel Aviv (56[TR1] ), Abu Dhabi (67), Port Louis (94), Muscat (97), and upcoming host of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Doha (96). Cities in African and Middle Eastern countries dominate the bottom half of the table for infrastructure, with Brazzaville (228) in the Republic of the Congo, Sana’a (229), and Baghdad (230) ranking the lowest.

Mercer’s authoritative Quality of Living Survey is the most comprehensive in the world, taking the city’s political and social environment, medical care and health considerations, public services, recreation facilities and natural environment into account, amongst myriad other factor. The report is compiled by the company to assist multinational companies in compensating employees fairly when placing them on international assignments. It also provides valuable information and hardship premium recommendations for over 440 cities throughout the world, ranking 211 cities across five continents based on criteria such as safety, economic transparency and growth.

Mr. Thissen concludes: “The success of foreign assignments is influenced by issues such as ease of travel and communication, sanitation standards, personal safety, and access to public services. Multinational companies need accurate and timely information to help calculate fair and consistent expatriate compensation – a real challenge in locations with a compromised quality of living.”

“A city’s infrastructure, or rather the lack thereof, can considerably affect the quality of living that expatriates and their families experience on a daily basis. Access to a variety of transport options, being connected locally and internationally, and access to electricity and drinkable water are among the essential needs of expatriates arriving in a new location on assignment. A well-developed infrastructure can also be a key competitive advantage for cities and municipalities trying to attract multinational companies, talent, and foreign investments.”

Mercer produces individual cost of living and rental accommodation cost reports for each city surveyed. For more information on city rankings, visit www.mercer.com/col.

-ENDS-

Notes to Editors

Mercer produces worldwide quality-of-living rankings annually from its Worldwide Quality of Living Surveys. Individual reports are produced for each city surveyed. Moreover, comparative quality-of-living indexes between a base city and host city are available, as are multiple-city comparisons. Details are available from Mercer Client Services in Warsaw, at +48 22 434 5383 or at www.mercer.com/qualityofliving.

The data was largely analysed between September and November 2016, and it will be updated regularly to account for changing circumstances. In particular, the assessments will be revised to reflect significant political, economic, and environmental developments.The list of rankings is provided to media for reference, and should not be published in full. The top 10 and bottom 10 cities in either list may be reproduced in a table.

The information and data obtained through the Quality of Living reports are for information purposes only and are intended for use by multinational organisations, government agencies, and municipalities. They are not designed or intended for use as the basis for foreign investment or tourism. In no event will Mercer be liable for any decision made or action taken in reliance of the results obtained through the use of, or the information or data contained in, the reports. While the reports have been prepared based upon sources, information, and systems believed to be reliable and accurate, they are provided on an “as-is” basis, and Mercer accepts no responsibility/liability for the validity/accuracy (or otherwise) of the resources/data used to compile the reports. Mercer and its affiliates make no representations or warranties with respect to the reports, and disclaim all express, implied and statutory warranties of any kind, including, representations and implied warranties of quality, accuracy, timeliness, completeness, merchantability, and fitness for a particular purpose.

Expatriates in Difficult Locations: Determining Appropriate Allowances and Incentives

Companies need to determine expatriate compensation packages rationally, consistently, and systematically using reliable data. Providing incentives to reward and recognise the effort that employees and their families make when taking on international assignments remains a typical practice, particularly for difficult locations.

Two common incentives include a quality-of-living allowance and a mobility premium:

  • A quality-of-living or “hardship” allowance compensates for a decrease in the quality of living between home and host locations.
  • A mobility premium simply compensates for the inconvenience of being uprooted and having to work in another country.

A quality-of-living allowance is typically location-related, while a mobility premium is usually independent of the host location. Some multinational companies combine these premiums, but the vast majority provides them separately.

Expatriates in Difficult Locations: Determining Appropriate Allowances and Incentives

Companies need to determine expatriate compensation packages rationally, consistently, and systematically using reliable data. Providing incentives to reward and recognise the effort that employees and their families make when taking on international assignments remains a typical practice, particularly for difficult locations.

Two common incentives include a quality-of-living allowance and a mobility premium:

  • A quality-of-living or “hardship” allowance compensates for a decrease in the quality of living between home and host locations.
  • A mobility premium simply compensates for the inconvenience of being uprooted and having to work in another country.

A quality-of-living allowance is typically location-related, while a mobility premium is usually independent of the host location. Some multinational companies combine these premiums, but the vast majority provides them separately.

Quality of Living: City Benchmarking[SP2]

Mercer also helps municipalities to assess factors that can improve their quality of living rankings. In a global environment, employers have many choices about where to deploy their mobile employees and set up new business. A city’s quality of living can be an important variable for employers to consider.

Leaders in many cities want to understand the specific factors that affect their residents’ quality of living and address those issues that lower a city’s overall quality-of-living ranking. Mercer advises municipalities by using a holistic approach that addresses the goals of progressing towards excellence and attracting both multinational companies and globally mobile talent by improving the elements that are measured in its Quality of Living survey.

Mercer Hardship Allowance Recommendations

Mercer evaluates local living conditions in more than 450 cities surveyed worldwide. Living conditions are analysed according to 39 factors, grouped in 10 categories:

  1. Political and social environment (political stability, crime, law enforcement, etc.).
  2. Economic environment (currency exchange regulations, banking services).
  3. Socio-cultural environment (media availability and censorship, limitations on personal freedom).
  4. Medical and health considerations (medical supplies and services, infectious diseases, sewage, waste disposal, air pollution, etc.).
  5. Schools and education (standards and availability of international schools).
  6. Public services and transportation (electricity, water, public transportation, traffic congestion, etc.).
  7. Recreation (restaurants, theatres, cinemas, sports and leisure, etc.).
  8. Consumer goods (availability of food/daily consumption items, cars, etc.).
  9. Housing (rental housing, household appliances, furniture, maintenance services).
  10. Natural environment (climate, record of natural disasters).

The scores attributed to each factor, which are weighted to reflect their importance to expatriates, permit objective city-to-city comparisons. The result is a quality of living index that compares relative differences

About Mercer

Mercer is a global consulting leader in talent, health, retirement and investments. Mercer helps clients around the world advance the health, wealth and careers of their most vital asset – their people. Mercer’s more than 20,000 employees are based in 43 countries and the firm operates in over 140 countries.  Mercer is a wholly owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies (NYSE: MMC), a global professional services firm offering clients advice and solutions in the areas of risk, strategy and people. With annual revenue of $13 billion and 60,000 colleagues worldwide, Marsh & McLennan Companies is also the parent company of Marsh, a leader in insurance broking and risk management; Guy Carpenter, a leader in providing risk and reinsurance intermediary services; and Oliver Wyman, a leader in management consulting. For more information, visit www.mercer.com. Follow Mercer on Twitter @Mercer. In the Middle East, Mercer has offices in Dubai, UAE and Riyadh, KSA.

 [TR1]NO MENTIONING OF ISRAEL IN THE MIDDLE EAST

 [SP2]To include the City Benchmarking weblink once finalised

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