Jordan Watch
An update and analysis of development and reform challenges in Jordan from a social democratic perspective.

It is Official: Amman is the most expensive city in the Arab World!

So we have been living in an illusion in the past decade, believing that Dubai is the most expensive city in the Arab world. It has been proved as a misconception by the highly credible Economist Intelligence Unit who have carried out a global survey on the living expenses in 128 countries in the world compared to incomes. The results were published in a recent feature in the London-based Al Sharq Al Awsat newspaper and they plce Amman as the most expensive Arab city at the global position (70) beating Dubai to that title (71). The third expensive Arab city was Casablanca (80) followed by Abu Dhabi (82) and Manama (82).
The most expensive city in the world is Oslo the capital of Norway which beat Tokyo and Rijkiavik as the cities that will rip your money off.  The least expensive city in the world is Tehran while the least expensive in  the Arab world is Tripoli. So, who says the economies of Libya and Iran are not social-friendly?
Update: After a round of debates by readers of this blog about the results of the survey and the methodology, the editor of the survey Mr Jon Copestake has responded with a clarification about the methodology in the comments page. Please raed the response.

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(16) comments

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On February, 14, 2006 4:20 PM , HaSSaN HaSaNiN said:

At last some one is saying what we feel

On February, 15, 2006 1:27 AM , M Arrabi said:

Interestingly, it's different from these surveys. According to: for 2005

52 Beirut, Lebanon
58 Algiers, Algeria
59 Casablanca, Morocco
64 Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
67 Amman, Jordan

And according to this link on for 2004

37 Beirut, Lebanon
38 San Francisco, USA
62 Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
63 Amman, Jordan

On February, 15, 2006 1:51 PM , Blower said:

Amman I love you

On February, 15, 2006 5:32 PM , lizard of oz said:

Hmmm you are telling me that Amman is more expensive than Beirut and Dubai? livlihood is getting expensive here but I don't think think that it is the most expensive among all Arab capitals.

On February, 15, 2006 6:14 PM , Batir Wardam said:

Obviously this entry has been so controversial and many eye browses have been raised. Logic would suggest that Dubai and Beirut should be more expensive than Amman.
I have tried to find the exact formula for calculating the rankings from the EIU. The EIU is a subscription-service portal and the best open access is for the press releases. They have stated in their press release about the survey (
that the calculation is based on a "comparison of the cost of a representative basket of goods and services in dollar terms from over 130 cities worldwide to provide guidance for the calculation of executive allowances". I have to say that I did not manage to decifer this puzzle yet!
What was more surprising to find is that Tehran, currently the cheapest city in the world has been the most expensive in 1992 and then went slipping in the ranking.
Maybe we need the depth of an experienced economic analyst to help us.

On February, 18, 2006 2:31 PM , ohoud said:

I agree with Lizard, it sounds a bit too controversial. It would be interesting to know how they based these facts on to ground...

On February, 18, 2006 2:32 PM , Nas said:

i have to disagree with the findings. this prices are compared the standards of living and income. however there is a gap between the high income earners of western amman and the low income earners of the rest of the city. The gap is both geographical and social.

for instance, a low income earner is not going to shop at safeway. so for them their entire geography and demography serves them as west amman serves west ammanites.

if the prices of west amman were enforced on all of amman, then we'd have a problem. but considering a segment of society get their veggies at c-town and another segment of society get their veggies in the balad...

On February, 19, 2006 12:17 AM , Batir Wardam said:

Thank you all for your valuable comments. I personally think that there is an inherent problem with such global surveys that use one model of analysis which may not respond to the actual socio-economic and political differences between countries. However, I have forwarded this link with the comment to the editors of the EIU hoping for a clarification of the methodology.

On February, 20, 2006 12:42 PM , Jon Copestake said:

Dear All

I am the editor of the survey and, in response to any confusion I have been asked to clarify a few things.

Firstly the survey takes a basket of goods representative and taiored to the shopping habits of a wealthy expatriate. The intention is for using the survey as an indication for relocation rather than for assessing local cost of living levels based on income and general non comparable prices.

Secondly, by visiting our website you can access all of our methodology and a sample comparison for free by navigating the "resources" section on the website (on the left hand side) - this has a listing of the categories and weightings we include if this is of use.

In our published ranking Dubai is actually only marginally less expensive than Amman. One factor which may help explain this is that we do not include accommodation costs in the survey. I understand that these have been instrumental in bringing the general cost of living in Dubai up in recent years.

On February, 20, 2006 3:39 PM , Rami Malkawi said:

I have seen this email over the internet and i can't beleive it, i dont say Amman is not expensive but i travled alot and i have friends all over arab countries and i can say what we have in Amman is much better than lot of other places comparing to prices and life styles, you can check the offical ranking on this site and you'll find lebanon is more expensive than Amman and so i Abu Dhabi so there is no way that Amman comes first
I jsut wish that when someone publish or send anything just make sure of the information before you spread the news.


On February, 20, 2006 5:20 PM , Batir Wardam said:

Many thanks for Jon Copestake the editor of the EIU survey for taking the time to clarify the confusion that has been stirred by this survey and our feelings in Amman that the result is not very convincing. I think by stating that the "basket of goods" is a function of expatriate spending in relocation rather than local needs explains a lot.
Dear Rami;
Thanks for visiting the blog, and as you can see I have posted a feature based on authentic studies from a very well-known organization, and once the debate started I contacted the source for explanation and they have responded in due time. So, the principles of genuine information exchange and credibility have been met in this post. I hope you will continue visiting.

On March, 01, 2006 10:25 AM , Dr.Sami Makahleh/Equatorial Guinea said:

Dear Sir/madam,
It is a surprise to me as a Jordanian who works overseas and my family are still living in Jordan.We as Jordanians do not know the value of our country until we look at others. the standard of life, cost of living and above all security which counts when evaluating a country. I still belive and will always do that Our Jordan is a very Blessed country and by God's Grace will always be.
Best regards
Dr.Sami Makahleh

On March, 01, 2006 2:38 PM , Tayaraa said:

Come on, anyone who visits Amman, Beirut and Dubai regularly can directly tell that this data is completely inaccurate.

Except if they have looked at a single inidicator to measure cost of living !!

On June, 03, 2006 1:50 AM , M B A
from United Arab Emirates said:

Dear all,
I went through this when I had to decide and make up my mind of relocating back to Amman from Dubai, and I find out the following:
Despite the fact that Dubai’s homes rental prices are much more than in Amman almost triple or even more, in the other hand the cost of fuel and so many other things in Amman is more expensive because it’s mainly imported and taxed, so bottom line I find out with a detailed study in my case that the cost of living in Amman is around 80% out of the cost of living in Dubai dated on 1st June 2006.
This is to live almost the same lifestyle that I live as a married person in Dubai back in Amman.
“A reasonable lifestyle for a couple with no kids yet!”
Hope this will clarify things to all of you out there.

On September, 15, 2009 12:37 PM , pravesh
from India said:

really, too costly leave in Amman

On February, 20, 2010 3:34 PM , Hala Dasouqi
from Jordan said:

Another reason why we should leave, eh?

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