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Beirut ranked 4th most expensive Mideast city

BEIRUT: Beirut was ranked the fourth most expensive city in the Middle East and the 75th in the world, according to the annual survey on the cost of living in 214 cities worldwide by Mercer Human Resource Consulting.

It also considered Beirut to be the 15th most expensive city among the Upper Middle Income Countries included in the survey, as reported by Lebanon This Week, the economic publication of the Byblos Bank Group.

Beirut was the 80th most expensive city worldwide and the fourth most expensive in the Arab world in 2011.

The study measures the comparative cost of over 200 items in each location, including the cost of housing, food, clothing and household goods, as well as transportation and entertainment. It compares the cost of high-end items that are important to expatriates and their employers such as upscale residential areas and entertainment venues.

New York is used as the base city for the index and all cities are compared against it. The survey is conducted annually to help multinational firms determine compensation allowances for their expatriate workers.

On a global basis, Beirut was considered to be as expensive as Santiago in Chile and more costly than Los Angeles, Munich and Montreal; while it was less expensive than Cotonou in Benin, Frankfurt, and Luxembourg.

Among UMICs, Beirut tied with Santiago, was considered more expensive than Almaty in Kazakhstan, Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia and Port Louis in Mauritius; while it ranked behind Istanbul, Bogota in Colombia, and Havana in Cuba. Regionally, Abu Dhabi, Khartoum and Djibouti were the only Arab cities to be more expensive than Beirut.

Mercer said that the rankings of four Arab cities increased in 2011, while those of the remaining 16 cities dropped this year.

It attributed the decline in the rankings of the 16 Arab cities to the continuing fall in accommodation and housing costs across most of the region, which is reducing the overall cost of living for expatriates. Djibouti is the most expensive Arab city in 2011, while Tunis remains the least costly. Also, Djibouti and Khartoum ranked among the top 50 most expensive cities in the world.

The survey included four non-Arab cities from the region, as Tel Aviv ranked in 24th place globally, Istanbul came in 70th place, Limassol was in 119th place and Tehran ranked in 130th place.

Luanda in Angola remained the world’s most expensive city, and Karachi in Pakistan maintained its status as the least costly city globally.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 18, 2011, on page 4.
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