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KARACHI: Karachi has been named among the least liveable cities in the world by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) — the research and analysis division of the Economist Group.

The annual EIU survey ranks 140 cities on a range of factors, including political and social stability, crime, education and access to healthcare.

This year, Karachi has been ranked 137th on the list — the fourth least liveable city in the world — only managing to fare better than Damascus in Syria, Dhaka in Bangladesh and Lagos in Nigeria.

Also read: Ghettoising Karachi

The survey found that civil war and terrorism played a “strong role” in the worst performing cities. Of the cities with poor scores, 11 occupied the very bottom tier of liveability, where ratings fell below 50 per cent and most aspects of living were severely restricted. The [low] rankings of cities like Damascus, Karachi and Tripoli suggested that conflict was responsible for many of the lowest scores.

Middle East, Africa and Asia account for the 10 lowest-scoring cities in the Economist global survey

This is not only because stability indicators had the highest single scores but also because factors defining stability could spread to have an adverse effect on other categories, the EIU observed.

It added that the Middle East, Africa and Asia accounted for the 10 lowest-scoring cities in the survey where violence, whether through crime, civil insurgency, terrorism or war, played a significant role.

The EIU noted that the only cities that had seen a decline in their stability indicators over the past six months were Abu Dhabi (71st) and Dubai (69th) in the United Arab Emirates, Colombo (130th) in Sri Lanka and Warsaw (65th) in Poland.

In Abu Dhabi and Dubai, the threat of military conflict increased owing to the UAE’s recent decision of extending its military reach in Yemen and Somalia. The UAE’s deployment of armed forces in Yemen, as well as political hostility with Iran, continued to pose a threat in the country and the region, it observed.

At the other end of the spectrum, Austria’s capital Vienna beat Melbourne to be named the world’s most liveable city, ending the southern Australian city’s seven-year reign. It’s the first time a European city has topped the rankings of the EIU annual survey.

Australia and Canada dominated the top ten, each boasting three cities. Australia had Melbourne, Sydney (fifth) and Adelaide (10th) while Canada had Calgary (fourth), Vancouver (sixth) and Toronto (joint seventh).

Japan — which alongside Osaka boasted Tokyo in the top 10 (joint seventh) — had a nationwide average of 347 people per square kilometre, but its cities were still famed for their transport networks and living standards.

Copenhagen was the only other European city in the top 10, at the ninth place.

In the survey, Manchester saw the biggest improvement of any European city, rising by 16 places to rank 35th. Manchester’s rise puts it ahead of London in the rankings by 13 places, the widest gap between the two cities since the survey began two decades ago.

According to the EIU, Manchester’s jump in the rankings was due to an improved security score.

The survey was criticised last year for demoting Manchester after the Manchester Arena attack which killed 22 people.

This year, the researchers observed that although Manchester had been “subject to high-profile terrorist attacks in recent years, it had shown resilience in the face of adversity”.

However, the researchers pointed out that wealthy financial capitals such as Paris (19th), London (48th) and New York (57th) tended to be “victims of their own success” with higher crime rates and overstretched infrastructure dampening their appeal.

Overall, the survey found that nearly half of the cities saw their liveability ranking improve over the past year.

Published in Dawn, August 15th, 2018