The Most Expensive Cities in the Middle East 2024


most expensive cities in The Middle East
Middle East cost of living comparison
Middle East city cost of living indexes

In 2024, living in the Middle East comes with its fair share of expenses, especially if you're eyeing some of its most iconic cities. From ancient metropolises steeped in history to ultra-modern skyscraper-studded landscapes, the cost of living varies significantly. Here's a breakdown of the most expensive cities in the Middle East, making your decision on where to live or visit a bit easier to navigate.


Jerusalem remains the most expensive city for international professionals in the Middle East in 2024. With an Overall Cost of Living Index (COLI) of 93.4, it's not just leading in the region but also ranks among the top 30 globally. The main culprits for the city's high cost are land and construction expenses, skyrocketing rental prices. Additionally, the Israeli economy's centralized nature in key sectors like energy, food, and government services keeps prices high across the board.

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Abu Dhabi and Dubai

Abu Dhabi secures the second spot with a COLI of 77.8, some 15.6 points behind Jerusalem, while Dubai is hot on its heels in third place, with a 76.6 index. Both cities are more than 20% cheaper than New York City but still offer a luxurious lifestyle that comes with a price. These emirates are known for their ambitious architecture, high-end shopping, and upscale dining, contributing to their high living costs.

Rounding Out the Top Ten

The list of pricey cities doesn't end there. Doha, Sanaa, Manama, Riyadh, Kuwait City, the West Bank, and Jeddah complete the top ten. Each city has its unique factors contributing to its cost of living. For instance, Doha, hosts of the 2022 World Cup, was previously at the top of the rankings in the Middle East, is now a more moderate fourth, with a low inflation rate and stable economy. Similarly, cities like Riyadh and Kuwait City are affected by their economic statuses and policies that impact the cost of living for expatriates and locals alike.

Understanding the COLI

The Cost of Living Index (COLI) is a useful tool for understanding how expensive a city is compared to others. The index takes into account various expenses such as housing, transportation, groceries, and dining out. A city with a COLI closer to 100 is more expensive, with New York City serving as the benchmark at 100.

Navigating High Costs

Living in these cities means navigating the high costs that come with them. From rent to dining, every aspect of life can be more expensive. However, many find the cultural experiences, job opportunities, and quality of life worth the price.

Planning Ahead

For those planning to move or travel to these cities, it's essential to budget accordingly. Understanding the factors that drive up costs can help in planning expenses better. Websites like Xpatulator and various expatriate guides offer detailed breakdowns of living costs, helping you make informed decisions.

The Middle East offers a diverse range of cities, each with its charm, history, and modern luxuries. While the cost of living can be high in certain areas, particularly in Jerusalem, Abu Dhabi, and Dubai, these cities also provide unique experiences and opportunities not found elsewhere. By staying informed and planning ahead, you can navigate the expenses and make the most of what these remarkable cities have to offer in 2024.

Use Xpatulator’s Cost of Living Calculators and Tools for informed decision-making about the cost of living and the salary / allowance / assignment package required to maintain the current standard of living.