Thursday, December 10, 2009

It's Official; the World's Friendliest Country is Bahrain

Oh my goodness.  Bahrain is officially the world friendliest country according to this article published at the beginning of December 2009 by Forbes magazine.


World's Friendliest Countries
"The Middle East has long had a reputation for being one of the world's perennial trouble spots. But for expatriates, the tiny Persian Gulf county, Bahrain ranks as one of the most welcoming places to work.

That's the surprising result of a new survey of 3,100 expatriates conducted by HSBC Bank. Bahrain ranked first in one key measure of how easy it is for expatriates to set up a new life for their families. It received high marks from expats who like the country's easy access to modern health care, decent and affordable housing, and network of social groups that expatriates can join.

Canada, which ranked first in a similar survey last year, fell to second place on HSBC's integration score, which measures how easily foreigners and their families can settle into a new country. Australia, Thailand and Malaysia rounded out the top five. Foreign workers in these countries found it easy to make local friends and said they enjoyed a higher quality of life than in their native countries.





Rank
Country
Making Friends
Making Local Friends
Joining Community Groups
Organizing School For My Children
Organizing My Finances
Organizing My Health Care
Finding Somewhere To Live
Setting Up Utilities
1
Bahrain
5
20
1
5
3
1
2
4
2
Canada
11
2
3
6
7
8
5
2
3
Australia
10
6
9
7
1
7
11
5
4
Thailand
1
16
18
4
11
2
1
9
5
Malaysia
4
14
19
1
3
3
4
13
6
South Africa
6
2
8
3
14
6
3
14
7
Hong Kong
3
17
12
17
2
5
8
3
8
Singapore
7
18
24
13
6
4
13
1
9
Spain
12
8
13
18
10
9
7
8
10
United States
15
7
4
12
20
24
10



Behind the Numbers
HSBC's Expat Explorer survey was conducted between February and April 2009. Survey respondents were from the U.S., Europe and elsewhere and lived in more than two dozen countries and on four continents. They ranked their new homes based on 23 factors, including food, entertainment, health care, commute and education. Of those measures, HSBC selected eight to create its so-called "integration score," a snapshot of which countries are most welcoming to expats.

It is possible that Bahrain's first-place finish is a fluke. Only 31 expats working in Bahrain participated in the survey, vs. more than 450 respondents from the United Kingdom. Bahrain ranked as the best country to join local community groups and coordinate health care. Respondents found it less easy to make local friends and learn the languages (Arabic, Farsi and Urdu), but the country ranked in the top five when it came to finding a home, setting up finances, and finding good schools.


And the Winner of the Wooden Spoon is
The United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom received some of the poorest scores on the integration scale. Expats in the Emirates reported finding it difficult to join local community groups; only 39% of respondents made local friends compared to 76% of respondents living in other countries. Foreign workers in England complained about the challenges of finding affordable housing.


Methodology
The Expat Explorer survey was commissioned by HSBC Bank International and conducted by the research company FreshMinds. More than 3,100 expatriates were surveyed between February and April 2009. The respondents were asked to rate 23 factors related to their quality of life, including food, entertainment, transportation, health care, finances, education and their ability to make friends.

Each criterion is equally weighted to arrive at a score. The overall ranking is based on the average score for a country across the criteria. 

Eight measures were also selected to comprise the integration score: organizing school for my children; organizing my finances; organizing my health care; finding somewhere to live; making friends; making local friends; setting up utilities; and joining local community groups. The integration score was used to determine the friendliest countries.






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3 comments:

Natalie said...

Interesting. As a Dubai resident (and one who enjoys living here) I must say that it seems like few Westerners make the effort to make friends with non-Westerners. Also in the mix is that Emeratis make up something like 20% of the population of the UAE, so you'd have to really work at it to go find one to be buddies with. I'd also like to comment Bahrain in that we passed through their airport a few weeks ago and were gratified by the Christmas trees! In our hometown airport in Seattle they don't have Christmas trees so as to separate state and religion. We enjoyed the warm welcome, even if we were just passing through.

Shirley Dockerill said...

good to see you here Natalie, thanks for visiting, hope to see you again :-)

Christine said...

Interesting! I wouldn't figure out this on my own.

To Natalie,
Thanks for an insiders comment!