Doha is the second most expensive city in the Arab world

DOHA: Doha is the second most expensive city in the Arab world, according to a latest study. The USB, one of the world’s leading financial firms, recently released the 14th edition of its ‘Prices and Earnings’ review which has included Doha for the first time in the list of 73 international cities.

Placed in the 39th position in global ratings, Doha is the second most expensive city in the Middle East after Dubai and before Manama. The rating is based on 122 common goods and services. The study looks at the prices of goods and services, and wages and working hours for 14 professionals in 73 cities round the world.

The study reveals that Dubai has surpassed New York and London which were the biggest financial cities in the world. The finical crisis had lead to fluctuation in the rankings of many cities. London which was the second most expensive in the 2006 review plummeted nearly 20 places, landing in the middle of the Western European rankings. Doha is the most expensive city in the world when it comes to a low-class furnished four bedroom flat. With a monthly rent of $4,210, even posh cities like New York ($4,110) and Dubai ($3,950) come after Doha.

However, in high-class four-bedroom apartments, Dubai is one of the most expensive following New York, Hong Kong and Tokyo. In Dubai, such apartments cost $7,090, whereas in Doha they cost $5,580 and $ 3,400 in Manama.

The average rent in most local houses in Qatar is $1,650, $2,160 in Dubai and $890in Manama. With this Doha and Dubai rank among the top 10 most expensive cities in terms of average rents.

Expenditure on some of the 122 goods and services in Doha came to $2,006, while in Dubai it was $2,522 and in Manama $1,773.

One of the common features of ‘Prices and Earnings’ is the ‘Big Mac index’, which has been a trusty indicator of how long an average wage-earner has to work in order to afford that universal meal in each city. This type of comparison is ideal for products that can be purchased around the world in the same quality — products such as an iPod.

People in Doha had to work more as per this index. To earn a Big Mac, people here had to work 34 minutes, whereas in Dubai people could earn the snack with 18 minutes of work and in Manama with 25 minutes of work. To buy an 8 GB iPod nano, Doha residents would have to labour for 35 minutes, compared to 20 minutes and 23 minutes for those in Dubai and Manama, respectively.

While Zurich in Switzerland paid its employees the most (more than $22 an hour), Dubai paid an average of just $10.10, Doha $5.40 and Manama $6.30. The lowest pay was in Mumbai, where workers received an average of just $1.20 an hour.

Food prices are the highest in Japan, at $710, and Geneva ($660) based on 39 standard western food items. In Doha, food cost $379, in Dubai $426 and in Manama $341. Mumbai had the cheapest foods, costing $153.

Taxi prices were the cheapest in Doha at $3.69 for a five-kilometre ride. In Dubai, the same ride cost $4.27 and in Manama $10.61.

Meanwhile, an evening three-course-meal in a good restaurant in Doha cost $59, ranking it the fourth most expensive place, close behind Dubai where such a meal cost $60.

Also, for a short break, which includes an overnight stay in a first-class hotel and various other services, the city could be the second most expensive after Tokyo. A break in Doha and in London cost $1,000 each, following Tokyo, where it can cost $1,130.

The ultra-liberal economic policies of Qatar and Dubai have created an extremely favourable environment for foreign companies and workers here. However, employees in Middle East work more than their counterparts in other countries. Workers in Doha, Dubai and Manama racked up longer hours, averaging 2,210 per year, 308 more than the global average.

Source: The Peninsula, 27 August 2009

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