Abu Dhabi, Dubai best cities to live in region

Abu Dhabi - According to The Economist’s annual survey of the world’s most liveable cities in 2021, Abu Dhabi’was ranked 63rd.

Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

By Waheed Abbas

Published: Thu 10 Jun 2021, 2:00 PM

Abu Dhabi and Dubai maintained their status as the best cities to live in in the region in 2021, 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, albeit slipping four spots.

Regionally, most of the cities saw their rankings falling. Doha slipped from 87th to 88th, Muscat from 83rd to 94th, Kuwait City from 86th to 88th, Amman from 99th to 103rd, Cairo from 125th to 128th and Casablanca from 113th to 114th.

The survey was conducted between February 22 and March 21.

Ana Nicholls, industry director at the Economist Intelligence Unit, a subsidiary of The Economist, 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,” she added.

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

Globally, the global liveability score has fallen by seven points compared to pre-pandemic levels. 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 rankings, with the city having contained Covid-19 faster, which in turn enabled it to lift restrictions earlier, unlike others around the world. Six of the top 10 cities in the 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 Auckland, the other cities in the top 10 are Osaka, Adelaide, Wellington, Tokyo, Perth, Zurich, Geneva, Melbourne and Brisbane.

Meanwhile, 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 more strict lockdown, thereby affecting the expected recovery in economic growth. This, in turn, could affect other categories, including stability,” The Economist added.

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