Cap­i­tal counts cost of prop­erty prices

High rents and strong dol­lar fire Abu Dhabi up cost-of-liv­ing rank­ings

7 Days in Dubai - - FRONT PAGE - By Ma­hak Man­nan @Ma­hakLFC

Abu Dhabi has been ranked in the world’s 25 most ex­pen­sive cities as a strong dol­lar and ris­ing rents saw it climb eight places in 12 months.

The an­nual cost of liv­ing sur­vey by HR con­sul­tants Mercer charted the prici­est global hubs for ex­pats, with Hong Kong clinch­ing first place. Sin­ga­pore, Zurich, Shang­hai and the African oil hub of Luanda were also among the top 10.

Dubai, which was 23rd last year, climbed two places to 21st.

The study’s au­thors said the over­all rank­ings were af­fected by “volatile mar­kets and stunted eco­nomic growth in many parts of the world”.

Abu Dhabi saw in­fla­tion rise 3.2 per cent in the first three months of this year, com­pared to the same pe­riod in 2015. Dubai saw a head­line rise of 1.6 per cent in the same pe­riod, although within that the fig­ure was a 5 per cent hike in ed­u­ca­tion costs.

But ex­perts yes­ter­day said the two cities still of­fer bet­ter value for money than many other global hubs, in­clud­ing on rent. In Hong Kong, a two-bed­room flat in a good neigh­bour­hood is about Dhs300,000 per year, com­pared to Dhs140,000 in Abu Dhabi.

Hamzah Shalchi, from Guardian Wealth Man­age­ment in Dubai, said: “Rent is be­com­ing a lot more rea­son­able com­pared to other cities around the world.”

Hong Kong has been named the most ex­pen­sive city in the world for ex­pat res­i­dents, while Abu Dhabi moved up eight places into the top 25.

The Asian me­trop­o­lis - where the cost of a typ­i­cal two-bed­room apart­ment is Dhs300,000 per year - over­took Luanda in An­gola, which has seen a dra­matic oil boom in re­cent years, to clinch the top spot.

Zurich, Sin­ga­pore and Tokyo com­pleted the top five.

Dubai rose by two places to the 21st most ex­pen­sive, while Abu Dhabi leaped eight places from last year to be in 25th in Mercer’s 2016 Cost of Liv­ing Sur­vey. The strong Amer­i­can dol­lar, to which the dirham is pegged, was partly re­spon­si­ble, although Nathalie Con­stantinMé­tral, who com­piles the sur­vey for Mercer, said ris­ing rents was also a fac­tor.

Prop­erty por­tal Bayut.com cal­cu­lates the aver­age rent for a two-bed apart­ment in Abu Dhabi is Dhs139,000. A sep­a­rate re­port by Du­biz­zle ear­lier said it had seen in­creases of be­tween 5 and 11 in the first quar­ter of this year, com­pared with the same pe­riod in 2015.

Con­stantin-Mé­tral said: “The strong in­crease for ex­pa­tri­ate rental ac­com­mo­da­tion costs, par­tic­u­larly in Abu Dhabi and Jed­dah (ranked 121), is lead­ing sev­eral cities in the Mid­dle East to ex­pe­ri­ence a jump in the rank­ing.”

De­spite that, Hamza Shalchi, a re­gional man­ager for Guardian Wealth Man­age­ment, said a large re­tail mar­ket and dozens of malls and restau­rants en­sures com­pe­ti­tion is high and prices re­main lower than other ex­pat cities.

He said: “With the cur­rent ac­com­mo­da­tion sit­u­a­tion in Dubai, where sup­ply is higher than de­mand, rent is be­com­ing a lot more rea­son­able com­pared to other cities around the world.

“It is also very large in area - Dubai can keep spread­ing, com­pared to a place like Sin­ga­pore, which is an is­land.

“In terms of cloth­ing and food, there is so much more com­pe­ti­tion, all the best brands and restau­rant chains from across the world want to come to Dubai, which gives res­i­dents more choice and in turn the providers will price themselves com­pet­i­tively too.”

HONG KONG - 1ST

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