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Amman drops 14 places on ranking of most expensive cities

By Omar Obeidat - Jul 24,2014 - Last updated at Jul 24,2014

AMMAN – Amman has dropped 14 places from 89 to 103 in Mercer’s 2014 Cost of Living Survey, which shows the most expensive expatriate destinations in the world.

Nathalie Constantin-Metral, principal at Mercer responsible for compiling the survey, said Amman was driven down in the list mainly because several cities have risen in the rankings. 

A number of cities in the Middle East jumped in the ranking, as they are being pushed up by other locations decline, as well as the strong increase of expatriate rental accommodation costs, particularly in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, said Constantin-Métral.

The report ranked Angola’s capital Luanda as the most expensive city in the world, followed by N’Djamena, the capital of Chad.

The survey covered 211 cities in five continents and measured the comparative cost of over 200 items or services such as housing, clothing, transportation, food and entertainment.

Among Arab cities, Amman came fourth after Beirut (63), Dubai (67), and Abu Dhabi (68). Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah (175) continues to rank as the least expensive city in the region, according to the report released recently.

But expatriates and an analyst said they find Amman “a city that gets more and more expensive every year”.

Falah Mehdi, an Iraqi businessman based between Dubai and Amman, told The Jordan Times that it is true that Dubai is “much more” expensive than Amman, but even wealthy people find Amman as “extremely expensive”.

“Accommodation costs in Amman go up every year,” he noted, adding that the capital should have jumped up in the ranking.

Ramadan Sayed, an Egyptian worker in Amman, agreed.

As caretaker of a residential building, he does not pay rent and is offered free accommodation. However he insisted that the cost of living in Amman remains high when compared with his monthly income.

“Grocery prices and transportation costs are expensive here,” said Sayed, who has been living in Jordan for almost seven years.

People feel that Amman is “getting more and more expensive” as they “feel the heat in summer and the cold in winter”, said economist Hossam Ayesh.

The reason the city ranking went down was because other cities got more expensive and jumped up on the list, he said

The average prices of commodities and services in the city are high when compared with other cities in the Kingdom and in the region, Ayesh told The Jordan Times over the phone on Thursday.

Jordanians and expatriates find the cost of living in the capital to be high, he added.

For expatriates, rentals have risen sharply in the past two years due to large demand caused by the inflow of Syrians and other nationalities, and they also find fuel and telecommunication prices expensive, Ayesh said.

Moreover, taxes in Jordan are among the highest not only regionally but internationally, the economist said, indicating that tourists always complain of the high cost of staying in Amman.

For Jordanians, the analyst said official figures show that the average income of families is around JD8,800 a year while their annual spending is around JD9,200.

The gap between income and spending shows why the majority of Jordanian households are indebted to banks, he noted.

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