Every Arab is born dreaming of the day he/she will be able to depart to greener pastures, in a region that continues to be characterized by its high rates of emigration.
According to the latest report by the Arab Development Portal, “Recently, the migration level in the Arab region has tremendously increased. The net migration in the Arab region reached negative 1.2 million after the Arab Spring compared to 4.4 million in 2007.
“Political instability, violent conflicts, and food insecurity brought about an increase in the population displacement in the Arab region. By mid-2015, the Arab region was home to 11.6 million refugees (including the Palestinian refugees) representing 58% of world refugees, and 16.7 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) making up 47% of the world IDPs. The spread and amplification of Syria’s armed conflict in particular have led to a humanitarian crisis with 6.5 million internally displaced persons and 4.2 million refugees by the end of 2015.”
These numbers betray the extent of the longing among Arabs to search for other places in the world to eke out a living, away from the cacophonous wailing of the Middle East. Whether refugees or jobseekers, or those searching for better educational opportunities or simply a different way of experiencing life, these are the best cities to seek out your own ambitions.
The Best Cities to Live In
Mercer’s Quality of Living Ranking rates 230 cities according to thirty-nine factors grouped under ten different categories, as follows:
- Political and social environment (political stability, crime, law enforcement, etc.).
- Economic environment (currency exchange regulations, banking services).
- Socio-cultural environment (media availability and censorship, limitations on personal freedom).
- Medical and health considerations (medical supplies and services, infectious diseases, sewage, waste disposal, air pollution, etc.).
- Schools and education (standards and availability of international schools).
- Public services and transportation (electricity, water, public transportation, traffic congestion, etc.).
- Recreation (restaurants, theatres, cinemas, sports and leisure, etc.).
- Consumer goods (availability of food/daily consumption items, cars, etc.).
- Housing (rental housing, household appliances, furniture, maintenance services).
- Natural environment (climate, record of natural disasters).
In spite of its historical and cultural weight, the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, came at the bottom of the list, due to the political and security situation. Another five Arab capitals were classified among the worst cities to live in, including Tripoli (Libya), Damascus, Khartoum, Sana’a, and Nouakchott. This was attributed, in some cases, to the civil wars there, and in others to the deterioration of public services.
Meanwhile, Dubai and Abu Dhabi came at the forefront of Arab cities, making it into the top 100 cities in the Quality of Living Ranking.