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Kuwait becomes ‘cheaper’ place to live: survey – 9th most expensive in MENA region

KUWAIT: Kuwait has become a cheaper place to live, according to the 2016 Mercer’s Cost of Living Survey that was released recently. Kuwait ranked quite low on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) list at 9th place – the most expensive place to live in the MENA region is Dubai and the cheapest place to live is Jeddah. The cost of living in Kuwait is more or less equivalent to that in the majority of European nations for an average Western expatriate.

The cost of living index covers the prices of defined quantities of the same goods and services across several basket groups. But the lack of taxation is a major advantage in Kuwait, particularly on certain items like cars. However, the cost of living, just as the case is in any other location, largely depends on your personal lifestyle.

Very high
Eman El-Shahawy, who was born and raised in Kuwait, told Kuwait Times that the survey could be true if it was released 10 years earlier, as nowadays, the cost of living is very high compared to incomes. Mimi Rasmy agreed with Shahawy, commenting that Kuwait has become very expensive. “Ten years ago, times were good, when you were considered a rich person if you bought groceries for KD 10,” she said. “KD 10 was a big amount of money with which you could buy a lot of things, but now everything is expensive,” she added.

Cherine Wagih said that she has been living in Kuwait her entire life, and things have changed. “Our flat’s rent was KD 90 for two bedrooms, but currently, a one-bedroom flat costs about KD 250 or more. We used to buy a good amount of meat for KD 10, but now KD 10 will buy nothing.” But Zeina Saadeh has a different opinion. “I was living in Qatar – the rent was much higher than Kuwait. But school fees and the cost of living is the same,” she said. As for the advantage of living in Kuwait, Saadeh said that Kuwait always has discounts and offers on everything.

Hwaida El-Maghraby said education is expensive in Kuwait. “Of course there is a huge difference in the cost of living now and then. The problem is that salaries are still the same and some people cannot find job opportunities. The salary does not cover the expenses of rent, school fees and food. But Kuwait will still be our second home despite the difficulties,” she added.
On the other hand, Kuwait’s economy is expected to expand by 2.3 percent if the government pushes ahead with further fiscal adjustments. Mercer’s survey includes 209 cities across five continents and measures the comparative cost of more than 200 items in each location, including housing, transportation, food, clothing, household goods, and entertainment. The survey is designed to help multinational companies and governments determine compensation allowances for their expatriate employees. New York is used as the base city, and all cities are compared against it. Currency movements are measured against the US dollar.

Top 10 most expensive cities to live in the MENA region:
1- Dubai, UAE
2- Abu Dhabi, UAE
3- Beirut, Lebanon
4- Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
5- Manama, Bahrain
6- Doha, Qatar
7- Cairo, Egypt
8- Muscat, Oman
9- Kuwait City, Kuwait
10- Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

The 10 most expensive cities to live in the world are:
1- Hong Kong, China
2- Luanda, Angola
3- Zurich, Switzerland
4- Singapore, Singapore
5- Tokyo, Japan
6- Kinshasa, Dem Rep of the Congo
7- Shanghai, China
8- Geneva, Switzerland
9- Ndjamena, Chad
10- Beijing, China

By Faten Omar

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