Abu Dhabi, Dubai among best cities for expats... here is why

Waheed Abbas/Dubai
Filed on November 29, 2020 | Last updated on November 29, 2020 at 09.33 am
Abu Dhabi performs especially well in the Getting Settled Index, ranked 17th - KT File photo

Dubai is world’s best city for the ease of living abroad without local language skills

Abu Dhabi and Dubai are among the world’s 20 best cities for expats, according to InterNations, a community for expatriates and global minds.

Abu Dhabi has been ranked 10th best city while Dubai is ranked 20th in the Expat City Ranking 2020, surpassing other major cities like Frankfurt, Brussels, New York, Zurich, Toronto, Geneva and London among others.

In the region, Muscat is ranked 14th, followed by Doha (15th), Dubai (20th), Riyadh (42nd), Cairo (47th) and Jeddah (52nd).

Abu Dhabi performs especially well in the Getting Settled Index (17th) while the Finance and Housing Index (23rd) is the UAE capital’s second best strength. Around 70 per cent expats say that it is easy to find housing versus 55 per cent globally. Around 63 per cent are satisfied with their financial situation, about the same as the global average (61 per cent).

The emirate’s results in Quality of Urban Living (33rd) and Urban Work Life (36th) indices are just about average.

Abu Dhabi benefits from the easy availability of healthcare (10th) and the high degree of personal safety (6th) as 78 per cent of expats feel completely safe there versus 45 per cent globally.


Dubai is number one for the ease of living abroad without local language skills. “Maybe this is one reason why expats are happy with their social life in Dubai (69 per cent versus 59 per cent globally) and consider it easy to make friends (61 per cent versus 47 per cent worldwide).

Dubai also performs better than average in the Quality of Urban Living Index 924th) as respondents consider it third safest city worldwide after Tokyo and Singapore. “I feel really comfortable here,” says a Chinese expat woman, according to InterNations.

Expats seem happy with the leisure options too. However, they are unhappy with the affordability of healthcare.


Iberian Peninsula in Europe is quite popular among expatriates as the trend observes that the five of the ten best cities are located on the Peninsula, with Málaga (6th) and Madrid (9th) joining Valencia (1st), Alicante (2nd) and Lisbon (3rd).

All five cities see some of their best results in the Quality of Urban Living Index as well as the Getting Settled Index.

The rest of the top 10 are more of an international mix, with Panama City (4th), Singapore (5th), Buenos Aires (7th), Kuala Lumpur (8th), and Abu Dhabi (10th) completing the list.

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