Covid-19 handling makes Abu Dhabi, Dubai region's best cities to live in

Waheed Abbas/Dubai
Filed on June 9, 2021
File photo

According to The Economist’s survey of the world’s most liveable cities, Abu Dhabi’s ranking jumped 10 positions from 73rd in 2019 to 63rd in 2021

Abu Dhabi and Dubai maintained their status as the best cities to live in the region, thanks to the successful handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to The Economist’s annual survey of the world’s most liveable cities in 2021, Abu Dhabi’s ranking jumped 10 positions from 73rd in 2019 to 63rd in 2021 while Dubai was rated 74th, slipping four positions.

Regionally, most of the cities saw their rankings falling. Doha slipped from 87th to 88th (joint); Muscat from 83rd to 94th; Kuwait City from 86th to 88th (joint); Amman from 199th to 103rd; Cairo from 125th to 128th; and Casablanca from 113th to 114th.

The survey was conducted between February 22 and March 21, 2021.

Ana Nicholls, industry director, The Economist Intelligence Unit, said this year's rankings are determined partly by the timings of the surveys compared with the lockdowns or social restrictions that are happening in many cities around the world.

“Compared with six months ago, both Dubai and Abu Dhabi scores have barely changed for most categories, including Culture and the Environment. For Abu Dhabi, its move up the rankings has been mainly the result of shifts in other countries, particularly in Europe, where many cities were in a middle of lockdowns in February-March. However, in Dubai we have seen more strain on the public healthcare system as a result of the pandemic, although it has gained some ground in other areas,” said Nicholls.

Among Saudi cities, Riyadh’s ranking remained unchanged at 108 while Jeddah fell by one rank to 114 while Bahrain bucked the trend as its ranking improved from 94th to 87th.

Globally, the global liveability score has fallen by seven points as compared to pre-pandemic level. However, the extent to which cities were sheltered by strong border closures, their ability to handle the health crisis and the pace at which they rolled out vaccination campaigns drove significant changes in the rankings.

Auckland, in New Zealand, is at the top of ranking, owing to the city’s ability to contain the Covid-19 faster and thus lift restrictions earlier, unlike others around the world. Six of the top 10 cities in the March 2021 survey are in New Zealand or Australia, where tight border controls have allowed residents to live relatively normal lives.

Many European and Canadian cities have fallen down the rankings, having battled a second Covid-19 wave by restricting cultural and sporting events, and closing schools and restaurants.

After top-ranked Auckland, the other top most liveable cities that made to the top-10 list in 2021 are Osaka, Adelaide, Wellington, Tokyo, Perth, Zurich, Geneva, Melbourne and Brisbane.

While the 10 least liveable cities are Damascus, Lagos, Port Moresby (Papua New Guinea), Dhaka, Algiers, Tripoli, Karachi, Harare, Douala (Cameroon) and Caracas (Venezuela).

“Conditions in the poorest cities are likely to deteriorate further, should cities fail to get the vaccines they need to prevent the spread of new Covid-19 variants. Weak healthcare systems could come under greater strain, as they have in India. A slower inoculation drive would result in a stricter lockdown, thereby affecting the expected recovery in economic growth. This, in turn, could affect other categories, including stability,” said The Economist.

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