In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the most livable cities in the Middle East in 2023.
Cities in the Middle East are both some of the most contemporary and fastest expanding in the world, as well as some of the world’s most historic.
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Table of Contents
1. Dubai, UAE
Even though it is ranked as the fourth most visited city in the world, Dubai is undoubtedly the most well-known of the glittering, sophisticated metropolises that can be found in the oil-rich Gulf States. That is why it is one of the most livable cities in the Middle East in 2023.
Just fifty years ago, Dubai was a sleepy town with a population of less than one hundred thousand people. Today, the city has some of the world’s most opulent neighborhoods as well as some of the world’s tallest buildings.
City Life In Dubai
With a very high level of life, it is often regarded as the greatest city in which to reside in the Middle East by a large number of residents.
The emirate has some of the greatest shopping in the world, a climate that is hot and sunny all year long, and an international atmosphere that brings with it more possibilities for social interaction than other towns in the vicinity.
It is also more accepting to alternative ways of living than the majority of nations in the Middle East.
This implies that non-Muslims are able to readily purchase and drink alcohol in Dubai, even during the holy month of Ramadan. In addition, Dubai is a city with resorts, restaurants, and bars of the highest caliber, as well as numerous superb sports facilities.
Cost Of Living In Dubai
The high cost of living in Dubai, which is one of the most expensive locations to live in the Middle East, is the primary source of the city’s negative aspects.
You should also be mindful of the excessive heat that occurs throughout the summer months (although this is something that occurs in many cities around the region), as well as the high number of current construction projects, which can sometimes make the area seem like one large work site.
2. Cairo, Egypt
You’ll find that Cairo is not just one of the most fascinating and frenetic cities you’ll ever visit, but also one of the most unforgettable.
It is the entrance to some of the world’s greatest historic marvels and civilizations, but it is also home to 17 million people who make it throb with activity at any hour of the day or night.
Africa’s biggest and most cosmopolitan metropolis is also crossed by the Nile. It is also the continent’s most populous city.
Diverse architectural styles, extreme luxury and poverty, Parisian boulevards and decaying facades, skyscrapers and minarets, horrible traffic, busy cafés and nightclubs all make up a city that may not capture you at first glance but will leave a lasting impact.
Museums In Cairo
For more than a century, the Egyptian Museum has been displaying all of the significant artifacts and antiquities that have been discovered in the nation.
The museum has the most comprehensive collection of ancient Egyptian artifacts in the world; however, since there is so much to display, a significant portion of the collection is now being kept in storage until the completion of the building of a more expansive location.
But what you’ll discover on exhibit is enough to wow you for hours, notably the amazing jewels, the mummy chambers, and King Tutankhamun’s breathtaking collection of artifacts. You have the option of going on a private tour in order to make the most out of your time there.
The Coptic Museum is home to yet another significant collection, which happens to be the biggest collection of artwork from Christian or pre-Islamic Egypt in the whole world. Especially fascinating are the depictions of Egyptian gods interacting with Christians in these situations.
You might also consider going to the Museum of Islamic Arts, which has works of art from all around the Islamic world, such as pottery, woodwork, crystal, and textiles. If you do go, be sure to bring some time to browse around.
When it was finished being constructed in 1961, the Cairo Tower was the biggest concrete building that had ever been built anywhere in the globe.
To this day, it is easily distinguishable in the skyline of the city, and visitors may go to the observation deck atop the building to take in panoramic views of the area while enjoying a beverage or meal at one of the cafes or restaurants.
Talk to an expat financial advisor in Egypt if you want to live in Cairo.
City Life In Cairo
At the lively Khan El-Khalili bazaar, you’ll find just as many visitors as locals. This is a must-do experience because of the wide range of goods (from handicrafts to spices) that are for sale, for a stop at one of the numerous cafés, and most importantly, to enjoy the haggling with a healthy dose of sense of humor.
Taking a boat on the Nile is the cherry on top of an already amazing trip to Cairo, and it’s the best way to say goodbye to this magnificent city.
You may choose to go on a Nile cruise that you have pre-booked, or you can take a ride on a traditional sailboat with a lateen-rigged sail called a faluca that is docked nearby and offers rides at cheap pricing.
Shopping In Cairo
A trip to the souks in Cairo, particularly Khan El-Khalili, should be made more for the experience of being immersed in local culture and the aroma of exotic spices than for the purpose of doing any significant amount of buying.
Walking about the city will bring you by craftsmen selling their painted papyrus, fragrances, and a variety of other handicrafts, but the city does not have a true significant retail sector.
Just keep your eyes open while you’re walking about, and you could just stumble onto some original works that were designed and made by local artists and designers.
3. Amman, Jordan
If you work from home and aren’t looking for permanent employment, you should definitely search for somewhere cheaper than Dubai since the United Arab Emirates is by no means the cheapest place in the Middle East in which to live. You will get a lot better deal elsewhere like Jordan, for instance, for example.
While Amman holds the title of capital, it boasts a warm and inviting atmosphere that sets it apart from other bustling metropolises.
Jordan as a whole is steeped in rich history and culture, a quality that may be lacking in countries such as Qatar and the UAE. As such, Jordan is one of the most livable cities in the Middle East in 2023.
These nations have undergone significant transformations in recent decades, resulting in certain areas of their major cities feeling somewhat artificial.
For those who are concerned about the heat, Amman has a temperature that is somewhat more pleasant than the rest of Jordan. Jordan provides a lot of fantastic chances for travelers, and Amman is one of those places.
Its average high temperatures during the warmest months are around 33 degrees Celsius, which is approximately 8 degrees colder than the similar temperatures in Dubai for example during the months of July and August, while during the winter months there is a possibility of snowfall occurring.
4. Istanbul, Turkey
Istanbul is often considered to be both one of the most hip and most livable cities in the Middle East in 2023. It is the only metropolis in the world that spans both the continents of Europe and Asia, making it unique among urban centers throughout the globe.
However, several sections of the city have the appearance of either a city in North Africa or the Middle East, giving it the unique quality of not being able to be categorized as belonging to any one specific continent or area.
While located at the crossroads of East and West, the city’s stunningly gorgeous landmarks also combine cultures and faiths from throughout the world.
The well-known Hagia Sophia has served both as a church and a mosque throughout its history, and relics from the city’s previous lives as Byzantium and Constantinople can be found all around the huge metropolis that is Istanbul.
Despite the fact that history seems to seep out of every street corner in Istanbul, the city is firmly rooted in the 21st century and is filled with both intriguing modern attractions as well as historic landmarks.
Every traveler is in for a fascinating and enthralling surprise when they discover that it is also a contemporary city filled with hip cafes and clubs.
Visit the Blue Mosque in the afternoon, following which you should go to the Istanbul Modern Art Museum.
Your day should begin with a stroll around the Grand Bazaar and conclude with a stop to the mosque. Then, seize the chance to eat in Asia and party back in Europe till dawn, with the Bosphorus delivering picture-postcard vistas along the way.
Shopping In Istanbul
These days, the large bazaars and souks of ancient times have been replaced by modern shopping malls such as Kanyon, which has approximately 200 stores specializing in both foreign and Turkish brands.
However, the Grand Bazaar is still there, but it now serves more as a location for tourists to visit than as a retail district. Look for a memento in the covered lanes, where you may browse among carpets, spices, textiles, or jewelry.
However, if you’re looking for items that are more familiar to you, go to the Nisantasi neighborhood instead. On this street, known as Abdi Ipekci Street, the city’s affluent population can be seen shopping for luxury products.
Istiklal Caddesi is a pedestrian thoroughfare that is well-known for its assortment of stores and cafés; it is a popular shopping destination for both visitors and residents. From Taksim Square all the way up to the world-famous Galata Tower, this is a cosmopolitan boulevard that every tourist to the city should take the time to see.
5. Tel Aviv, Israel
Tel Aviv is most likely going to be the ideal place for you to live in all of the Middle East if you are someone who is concerned about the generally highly conservative sentiments prevalent across the area as well as the restrictions placed on your liberties.
Jerusalem, which may be a stressful area and is clearly one of significant importance for multiple faiths, provides as a stark contrast to this liberal Israeli city, which also acts as a counterpoint to Jerusalem.
Tel Aviv, on the other hand, is a global metropolis that is expanding at a quick pace and has a well-deserved reputation for wild nightlife. In addition to this, it has a reputation for being “gay friendly,” which stands in stark contrast to the rest of the area.
It is a highly popular tourism destination as well as a busy location to live 24 hours a day, seven days a week due to its cosmopolitan mix of ancient and modern neighborhoods.
To tell you the truth, this is another location that those who are more concerned with saving money would definitely want to steer clear of.
It was actually placed higher than cities like Paris, London, and New York as the most expensive city in the world in 2021, and it has earned a reputation as something of a playground for wealthy millennials and tech billionaires. Nonetheless, it is still one of the most livable cities in the Middle East in 2023.
Talk to an expat financial advisor in Israel before making a move to Israel.
6. Hurghada/El Gouna, Egypt
Egypt is possibly the finest nation in the Arab world to live in if the ability to save money while working remotely is a goal, as well as for anybody who is retiring or simply taking a vacation from active employment.
Even the country’s capital, Cairo, is a lot less expensive than other major cities such as Tel Aviv and Dubai, and you may get even better deals in other parts of the country.
The famed beach resort town of Hurghada can be found about 40 kilometers along the shore of the Red Sea, which is the body of water that divides Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
Hurghada was formerly a peaceful fishing hamlet, but it has since been transformed into a year-round sunny destination that is famous for its sandy beaches and chances for scuba diving.
El Gouna is another rising location for expats and foreigners searching for a sunny and economical new base in Egypt. It is one of the most livable cities in the Middle East in 2023.
It is located a little distance farther north along the shore. In addition to the several hotels and resorts, there are an estimated 20,000 inhabitants who either live there full time or part time. Although it may not be the best site for anyone who want to fully immerse themselves in the culture of the area, the price is really reasonable.
7. Doha, Qatar
When looking for a place to live in and in which to do business in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), the city of Doha, which serves as the capital of both the peninsula and the state of Qatar, is an additional viable alternative.
Economy Of Qatar
As of right now, Qatar has the eighth biggest GDP per capita in all of the globe, and it has a total population of 3 million people as of 2022, of whom 1.3 million dwell in Doha. With such economy, it is one of the most livable cities in the Middle East in 2023.
Because all of Qatar’s most important trading partners are Asian countries (Japan, South Korea, and India), Doha is an excellent location for companies who are interested in expanding their presence in Asian markets.
The discovery of oil on the peninsula in 1940 is solely responsible for Doha’s and Qatar’s overall economic success. Doha is located in the peninsula’s southeastern part.
Prior to this occurrence, the principal source of income for Qatar was pearl hunting, an activity that almost went extinct as soon as Japan joined the scene with cultivated pearls.
The extraction of crude oil and natural gas brings in the vast bulk of the cash for the nation as well as the city, but the government is working toward weaning itself off of its reliance on oil and diversifying the sources of income it receives.
In particular, Doha has been booming in the real estate business as well as the construction industry, notably in preparation for Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which will take place in the country.
Either the huge building going on in Doha, which causes a lot of clutter, or the fact that it’s a symbol of development and expansion might be considered as a good thing.
Starting A Business In Qatar
Before you may launch a company in Qatar, you are required to first complete a time-consuming registration procedure at the Ministry of Trade and Business.
The submission of articles of association, which are required to be produced and written in Arabic before being approved, is a required step in the process of registering a company, thus it is essential to either have a business partner who is fluent in Arabic or know someone who is.
You are need to locate a business partner who is a native of Qatar in order to hold at least 51% of your firm. This is because, similar to the United Arab Emirates, it is prohibited for foreigners to have majority ownership of businesses in Qatar.
As the majority owner, the partner is under no legal obligation to make a financial contribution to the business or to participate in the day-to-day operations of the firm. Additionally, the partner is free to put an end to business as usual at any moment.
Either an individual Qatari or a local business that is entirely owned by Qataris is required to act as the partnership’s primary representative. The World Trade Organization also counts Qatar as one of its member countries.
8. Muscat, Oman
When people think of the most livable cities in the Middle East in 2023, Oman is not the first location that springs to mind. This is because Oman is sometimes neglected. In point of fact, a great number of people will have difficulty in locating it on the map.
It is really quite a vast nation in comparison to some of the other Gulf States, and the distance between its capital city of Muscat and the Emirates of Abu Dhabi and Dubai is around 500 kilometers (km).
It is safe to say that Muscat’s cost of living is far lower than that of those two cities.
Because foreigners make up a smaller proportion of the population in Oman than they do in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, this provides an additional benefit in the form of a better chance to completely immerse oneself in the native culture.
Having said that, English is still spoken by a significant number of individuals, and residents of Muscat come from a broad variety of countries and cultures.
Oman does not impose any taxes on personal income, and the capital city of Muscat is regarded as one of the safest places in the country to make your home. This is quite normal for countries located in this region of the Middle East.
The stifling heat of summer might be a drawback, as could the fact that the local transportation network isn’t as developed as it is in some other cities, despite the fact that there are plans in place to construct a metro network.
9. Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
The city and emirate of Abu Dhabi is still another excellent option for most livable cities in the Middle East in 2023. In fact, many British expats live in Abu Dhabi.
Abu Dhabi is the most populous city in the United Arab Emirates and serves as the country’s capital. It is also the residence of Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the president of the UAE.
This emirate is now the wealthiest emirate in the nation and has one of the greatest GDPs per capita in the world on its own accord. Additionally, Abu Dhabi is a city of significant significance in terms of the economy.
As of right now, there is more than one trillion dollars worth of global investment in the city, which makes it a magnet for investors searching for new markets and businesspeople from all over the world.
Abu Dhabi, along with the rest of the United Arab Emirates, has earned its fortune off of its oil resources, which today account for around 49.7% of the country’s GDP (which is projected to be approximately 165.9 billion USD).
The economy of Abu Dhabi is now experiencing a significant transition away from its previous reliance on oil and gas, and the emirate is working to diversify itself by placing a greater emphasis on tourism and real estate development projects.
Abu Dhabi routinely makes it into lists of “Most Expensive Cities in the World” as a consequence of the new real estate projects that have been developed there.
Doing Business In Abu Dhabi
Because there are no sales taxes or import duties to pay, Abu Dhabi is well suited for conducting significant business transactions.
The reason for this is because the Emirate of Abu Dhabi sends back all of the cash earned from a foreign enterprise to its owners, without keeping any of the money for itself. As a result, Abu Dhabi is an incredibly competitive choice for a new location to do business.
Because the procedure for beginning a company and the limits placed on firms are the same across the whole United Arab Emirates (UAE), if you are not a citizen of the UAE, you will be required to have an Emirati partner who owns at least 51% of the business.
10. Beirut, Lebanon
Beirut, the capital of Lebanon and the economic core of the country, is well-known for its vibrant nightlife and plays an important role in current Arab pop culture.
Despite the fact that Arabic is the official language of the country, you’ll hear a lot of English and French used there because to the country’s colonial past. You’ll also hear a broad menagerie of international expats living there.
Despite a terrible civil war that lasted roughly 15 years (1975-1990) and a recent conflict with Israel (2006), the infrastructure, economic landscape, and cultural landscape of Beirut are fast changing.
This is generating a business climate that competes aggressively with the other commercial giants in the area.
Economy Of Beirut
The banking and financial sector contributes the most to Beirut’s gross domestic product. As a result of Beirut’s status as a free banking zone, which was created in order to permit the free exchange of currencies, the Lebanese Pound is a very adaptable currency.
Tourism is the second biggest component of the economy. Due to its advantageous location on a peninsula that juts out into the Mediterranean, Beirut has become a popular vacation resort for people from all over the globe, including Europeans and Arabs.
Although Lebanon does not have a free trade agreement with the United States, it does have various trade agreements with other Arab states, and its position on the Mediterranean allows it rapid access to the marine trade markets of North African and South European markets.
The internet speed in Beirut is criticized for being among the slowest in the world, while the city’s housing costs and property values are renowned for being among the highest in the area.
These are some of the possible difficulties of doing company in that location, and they are particularly relevant if you provide a technical service that is reliant on the internet or if your enterprise needs a significant quantity of land property.
11. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Riyadh, the nation’s capital and the most opulent city in Saudi Arabia, is an economic powerhouse and ranks as one of the one of the most livable cities in the Middle East in 2023.
It is an outstanding alternative for picking where to conduct business in the Middle East, with an average GDP per capita of roughly 32,000 US dollars, making it a good choice.
Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, reaps enormous advantages from the country’s thriving oil sector, which accounts for around 35.2% of the country’s total gross domestic product (GDP).
This comes as no surprise given that Saudi Arabia is home to the world’s greatest oil reserves. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is one of the most influential members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) because of its vast oil reserves and thriving oil sector.
In addition to this, Riyadh and the whole of Saudi Arabia are in the midst of a building boom, which indicates that the nation’s heavy industries are seeing positive growth.
Due to a shortage of arable land as well as the inefficiency of the non-oil based sectors, the Kingdom is forced to import a significant amount of food and other products such as textiles and equipment for its commercial purposes.
Trade accords have been beneficial to Riyadh’s relationship with a number of countries, notably the United States. In point of fact, Saudi Arabia is the United States’ most important trading partner in the Middle Eastern region.
Due to the fact that Riyadh is landlocked, there are no seaports or other access points to the ocean inside the city, which may be a significant limitation for some types of businesses.
It does, however, have access to Jeddah, which is situated on the Red Sea to the west, and Dammam, which is situated on the Persian Gulf, in a reasonably short amount of time.
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