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Nation Home > Spotlight
UAE’s cities ranked best in Middle East and Africa

Amanda Fisher / 5 December 2012

The country’s two main cities have been ranked the top in the Middle East and Africa in an annual quality of life survey, while another Middle Eastern city, Baghdad, has been slated as the worst of all 221 ranked globally.

The 2012 Mercer quality of life survey, which crowns Austria’s Vienna the winner, followed by Switzerland’s Zurich and New Zealand’s Auckland, pitted Dubai at number 73 globally, and Abu Dhabi five places behind. Of the bottom 20 places, 15 were claimed by countries in this region.

One with a first-hand knowledge of life in the hard lane is Iraqi national Ammar Althuwaini, who has been living in the UAE for 13 years. The 45-year-old said while he loved life in his adopted home Abu Dhabi, he was not surprised Baghdad took the wooden spoon.

“Every year I visit I don’t see any progress in the city unfortunately, and sadly. It might be the non-existence of urban planning and real initiative and...there is no security so  development can’t take place. And there’s lots of corruption...you can have great projects but either they are very slow or they are just on paper.”

Baghdad had been a flourishing city decades ago, but that former glory was years away from being restored due to the war-ravaged country’s politics and economics.

“What did we benefit from the (American) occupation? Nothing at all...it (just got) worse.”

Infrastructure was a huge problem for the country, the public relations consultant said.

“I cannot imagine after 10 years or more we don’t have electricity...the whole of Iraq is suffering from that issue, til now.”

He loved both Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and said both cities were worthy of being in the global top 10.

Mercer’s sister survey on city infrastructure rated Dubai 34 globally, and Abu Dhabi number 72.

But one local who rates the capital over Dubai is Dubai-raised Emirati Ahmed Muftah, who now resides in Abu Dhabi.

“It’s nice to have a holiday (in Dubai) but living...is too expensive. It’s really expensive.”

The capital had better controls on cost of goods and services, he said.

“It’s similar, but I think Abu Dhabi’s much better myself.”

The 29-year-old harbour master said he had lived in Japan, South Korea, England and Egypt, but he loved the UAE best, having seen the country develop at the speed of knots in the past decade or two.

While he was happy in Abu Dhabi, he still had a fondness for his birthplace, having spent the first 16 years of his life in Jumeirah.

“When I was born there were no streets there, and the beach was much closer...everything is nice now, more civilised and more modern. It’s nice.”

Capital is Best Business City

Abu Dhabi has been named ‘Best Business City — International’ by Global Traveler magazine — the USA’s leading publication for frequent luxury and business travellers.

Having ranked highest in Global Traveler’s ninth annual Tested Reader Survey — an eight-month poll generating more than 25,000 reader votes — Abu Dhabi joins previous winners, Bangkok (twice), Barcelona and Istanbul in scooping the prestigious international business destination award. 



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