Dubai ranks second globally for the price of jeans, but living costs decrease

29 June 2018 3 min. read

Dubai is the second-most expensive hub for blue jeans according to the global human capital firm Mercer.

The latest Mercer global cost of living survey has found that Dubai ranks as one of the most expensive cities in the world to purchase a pair of blue jeans,* trailing only Moscow and on par with the notoriously expensive Zurich – setting wannabe fashionistas back a whopping $150 per pair. That’s over $180 per metre of denim for your average pair of skinny jeans - compared to just $70 for a barrel of oil on current prices. Despite this, Dubai has dropped in this year’s overall cost of living rankings, from 19th down to 26th.

The annual Mercer index – now in its 24th iteration – seeks to aid multinationals and local governments in determining appropriate remuneration packages to attract and retain international employees. “While historically mobility, talent management, and rewards have been managed independently of one another, organisations are now using a more holistic approach to enhance their mobility strategies,” says Ilya Bonic, President of Mercer’s Career business. “Compensation is important to be competitive and must be determined appropriately based on the cost of living, currency, and location.”

In a comprehensive assessment of over 400 locations across five continents, measuring the comparative prices of more than 200 items across categories including housing, transportation, household goods and of course blue jeans, Dubai has this year been found to be fractionally cheaper for expatriates compared to trending hotspots such as Noumea in New Caledonia and the Ivory Coast’s Abidjan. It is also more affordable than Tel Aviv, the MENA region’s most expensive city at 16th on the global list – although a far cry from the cushy cost of life in Tunis, which featured second-to-last on the list in 208th spot. Average cost of Jeans around the worldOne factor in Dubai’s drop in the rankings was the depreciation of the dollar and dirham against several major currencies over the past year, with the index pegged to the US dollar and adopting New York as an international baseline. Another is the depression in the Dubai real estate market. “Rent for a two-bedroom apartment of international standards costs an average of $2,995 in Dubai, while it costs an average of $5,700 in New York [13th on the list] and $4,335 in London [the new 19th in place of Dubai],” states the report, noting the significance of rental costs for expats in the overall cost of living.

“On the whole, most Middle Eastern cities have dropped in the ranking, due to decreases in rental accommodation costs throughout the region,” Mercer’s Global Mobility Product Solutions Leader Yvonne Traber said. Rob Thissen, Global Mobility Lead for MENAT at Mercer in Dubai, adds that as a consequence of “the lower cost of living in comparison to several other major cities, the UAE consistently attracts top talent from around the world, which allows for further economic growth and innovation.”

Riyadh, on the other hand, has moved up from 52nd to the 45th spot on the cost of living index – closing in on Abu Dhabi in 40th – due to significant cuts in subsidies. The Saudi Arabian capital may, however, get a boost in Mercer’s other comprehensive global survey – the quality of living index – through the granting of permission for female drivers and the recent historic opening of its first cinema in over 35 years** – planned in consultation with BCG. Currently, Dubai leads the Middle East in quality of living with a global ranking of 74th (and a 12.2% increase in living standard over the past 20 years) ahead of Baghdad in 231st.

*No data was given for the price of other coloured jeans.
** The first movie screened at the landmark reopening was ‘Black Panther’, starring Chadwick Boseman.