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The capital of Turkmenistan turned out to be the most expensive city in the world for tourists: what is the reason for the high prices

The capital of Turkmenistan, Ashgabat, is the most expensive city in the world for foreigners. This is evidenced by the rating of cities by the cost of living from the analytical consulting firm Mercer. The edition told in more detail with the BBC.

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Ashgabat, Hong Kong, Beirut, Tokyo, Zurich, Shanghai, Singapore, Geneva, Beijing and Bern topped the rating of the most expensive cities.

The Turkmen capital, with a population of about a million, has surpassed last year's leader Hong Kong, Lebanese Beirut, the Japanese capital of Tokyo and Zurich, Switzerland.

In total, there are 209 cities in the ranking, which were compared in terms of the cost of housing, transport, food and other similar expenses.

Mercer says it evaluated more than 200 products and services in its study, which is designed to help companies around the world estimate how much they would have to pay their employees if they relocate to another city.

Expats are people who do not live and work in their hometowns.

The capital of Ukraine is almost in the first hundred

Kiev took 106th place in the ranking in the middle of the table - right after Belfast.

But the Ukrainian capital had every chance to enter the first hundred of the most expensive cities - last year it was in 149th place.

Accommodation in most of Kiev's eastern European neighbors was estimated cheaper: Bucharest was in one hundred and sixtieth place, Budapest - one hundred and sixty-second, Warsaw - one hundred and sixty-ninth, Minsk - one hundred and ninety-seventh.

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At the same time, the capital of Russia, Moscow, is considered more expensive - it is in sixty-second place, but it has significantly lost in the ranking, because last year it was generally on the 21st line.

Why Ashgabat

Most of the cities in the top 10 of the ranking are business hubs, where economic growth has led to higher prices for real estate and accommodation.

But Ashgabat is a slightly different story - it owes its high place among the most expensive cities for expats due to economic problems rather than prosperity.

In particular, Jean-Philippe Sarra with Mercer explained that the capital of Turkmenistan was in first place due to high internal inflation and the rise in prices for goods and services in the city.

Turkmenistan is an autocratic country known for its rich gas reserves. At the same time, it has been struggling for a long time with the economic crisis, which has led to poverty for most of the population.

The former Soviet republic still remains very dependent on gas exports to Russia.

Therefore, Turkmenistan's economic turmoil is driven in part by low natural gas prices, which fell in 2014.

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A Human Right Watch study last year said the COVID-19 pandemic "has sharply exacerbated Turkmenistan's food crisis."

“The food shortage, which has been increasing since 2016, has worsened further, and people have to wait for hours in line to try to get more affordable food. Often they are left empty-handed, ”the report said.

Despite this, the government of Turkmenistan began expanding Ashgabat. Long-term President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov has pledged to turn his capital into "one of the most prosperous cities in the world."

Similar problems apply to another leader, Beirut, which rose from 45th to 3rd place in a year.

Mercer attributed this to a number of factors, including "political problems" in recent years and "severe and widespread economic depression."

In particular, this was influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic and the huge explosion in the port of Beirut, which was followed by inflation.

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