Muscat is the second best city in the Middle East and 14th in the world for expatriates to live in, according to the latest Expat City Ranking 2020 compiled by InterNations, the world’s largest expat community with around 4mn members.
In 2020, nine Middle Eastern cities had enough respondents to qualify for the Expat City Ranking, which includes seven cities from the GCC states joined by Cairo and Istanbul.
Abu Dhabi performs best (tenth), followed by Muscat (14th), Doha (15th), Dubai (20th), Riyadh (42nd), Jeddah (52nd) and Salmiya (66th).
Muscat – Hospitable home away from home
Ranking 14th out of 66 cities, Oman’s capital city boasts excellent results in the Getting Settled (sixth) and Finance & Housing (seventh) Indices. In the Local Friendliness subcategory, Muscat comes first worldwide; 82 per cent respondents are happy with the general friendliness of its citizens (vs 68 per cent globally), and nearly 89 per cent appreciate the friendly attitude towards expats (vs 66 per cent worldwide). “I love the warmth and the hospitality,” says an expat from India. ‘No wonder 77 per cent of the respondents feel at home in Muscat (vs 64 per cent globally),’ the report stated.
Expats also consider it easy to find a literal home in Muscat: 76 per cent rate this factor positively (vs 55 per cent worldwide), and 53 per cent describe housing as affordable (vs 41 per cent globally). While the respondents are not as satisfied with the general cost of living (23rd), they are still happy enough with their disposable household income: 63 per cent say that it is more than what they need to cover expenses (vs 51 per cent globally).
However, the income seems to be hard earned. Muscat only ranks 53rd in the Urban Work Life Index. Expats worry about their job security (64th) and local career opportunities (59th). Two in five (40 per cent) are unhappy with the latter (vs 34 per cent globally).
Muscat ranks low in the Quality of Urban Living Index (48th). Nearly one in four expats (24 per cent) complain about the lack of leisure options (vs 15 per cent globally). Moreover, they are unhappy with the public transportation system (56th) and the availability of healthcare (42nd). On the bright side, 96 per cent feel safe in Muscat (vs 82 per cent globally).
‘What they (the seven Middle Eastern cities) all have in common are average to low ratings in the Quality of Urban Living and Urban Work Life Indices. Only Dubai lands in the upper half of the ranking for its quality of life (24th) and Doha manages the same in terms of work (24th),’ InterNations stated in the report.
‘On the other hand, all cities perform pretty well in the Finance & Housing Index, except for Salmiya (55th). And lastly, it seems a lot easier for expats to get settled in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Muscat and Doha than in Jeddah, Riyadh, and Salmiya.’
The Expat City Ranking is based on the annual Expat Insider survey by InterNations, which is one of the most extensive surveys about living and working abroad, with more than 15,000 respondents in 2020.
This year, 66 cities around the globe are analysed in the survey, which offers indepth information about five areas of expat life: Quality of Urban Living, Getting Settled, Urban Work Life, Finance & Housing, and Local Cost of Living. Valencia tops the ranking with Alicante, Lisbon, Panama City, Singapore, Málaga, Buenos Aires, Kuala Lumpur, Madrid and Abu Dhabi (10th) making the top ten cities for expats to live in 2020.
On the other hand, expats consider Salmiya in Kuwait (66th), Rome (65th), Seoul (64th), Milan (63rd), Nairobi (62nd), Paris (61st), Johannesburg (60th), Santiago (59th), Dublin (58th) and Hong Kong (57th) the world’s worst cities to live in.