DUBAI (Reuters Life!) - Cities of the United Arab Emirates offer the best quality of living in the Middle East, according to a global survey published on Tuesday.
U.S.-based management consultancy Mercer said Dubai ranked at 77, the highest of all cities in the Gulf region including Iraq in its annual report, citing its infrastructure of telecommunications, roads and airport as well as consumer facilities. That was up six places on the previous year.
Abu Dhabi, the UAE's capital city, was the second best performing Arab city at number 84, an improvement of three places on last year. The report cited the establishment of Abu Dhabi's own airline, Etihad.
Baghdad, scene of sectarian and insurrectionist fighting since the U.S.-led invasion of 2003, was the lowest ranking city in the entire survey at number 215.
"The Middle East as a region is continuously increasing in the Quality of Living rankings, especially in its infrastructure and recreation facilities," said Slagin Parakatil, senior researcher at Mercer in a statement.
"Our index continues to reflect the dynamic change underway across this part of the world."
The financial downturn has hit Dubai in particular, slowing down real estate development, but prices have fallen as a result and its roads are less clogged. Abu Dhabi, seat of the UAE's oil wealth, has been less affected.
Most of the UAE's population of over 4 million people are Asian, Arab and European blue and white-collar laborers, as the affluent federation of seven semi-autonomous "emirates" has become a magnet for people around the world.
The Mercer rankings are based on a point scoring index which covers 215 cities globally and compares each to New York as the base city, with an index score of 100.
Mercer says it conducts the survey to help governments and major companies place employees on international assignments, and assist with hardship allowances.
Reporting by Andrew Hammond, editing by Paul Casciato