East Timor, or Timor-Leste as it is known in one of its official languages, Portuguese, is a small country in Southeast Asia just north of Australia across the Timor Sea. It is one of the world’s youngest nations and still feels relatively undeveloped. The main expatriate population comes from embassies, NGOs, aid organizations, and banks.
During my November 2018 survey, the dollar-to-rupee exchange rate showed minimal fluctuation. When I exchanged money in my hotel in Mumbai, I received new, crisp green 500- and pink 2000-rupee banknotes, along with the older, lower denomination notes of 10-,20-, and 100-rupees. Throughout the five major cities that I surveyed, all the 500- and 2000-rupee banknotes that I transacted were part of the new series.
This past quarter I surveyed Saint-Denis, Reunion, an isolated island that was a fascinating mélange of French and Creole cultures. Reunion Island is an overseas department and region of France located in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar and southwest of Mauritius. Its capital and economic center is Saint-Denis.
AIRINC’s onsite Surveyors investigate topics of international interest, including hardship situations. My colleague, Yimkwan Tsang, wrote about the water crisis in Cape Town after her February 2018 survey. At that time, Cape Town was expected to run out of water as early as June. However, this event, known as Day Zero, kept getting pushed back.
The HCMC Metro is a rapid transit project that has been in the works since 2001. Over the years, it has attracted international attention due to construction accidents and budgeting issues that have delayed construction of even the first line, which broke ground in 2008.
I surveyed three cities in the country from mid-January to early February of this year and I found citizen and expat opinions of the reforms to be mixed.
We’ve all seen pictures of hazy Beijing streets with people walking in masks, and that image is not far from the reality I found while on survey.
It is quite different! This is the first city that I’ve surveyed that is primarily Dutch speaking, has prices in three currencies (SRD, USD, EUR), and has opposite traffic patterns from what I’m accustomed to coming from the United States.
Today, many expatriates from Western Europe and North America have stopped coming to Istanbul and to Turkey overall.
Rents in Almaty are now surveyed in the local currency, KZT. Asking rents are down in KZT and USD for six and 12 months. The KZT has devalued due to a drop in gas and oil prices, a major source of income for Kazakhstan’s economy.