UAE shoots up global peace rankings

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UAE soldiers load their military vehicle with rockets during manoeuvres with the French army in the desert of Abu Dhabi May 2, 2012. (AFP/Getty Images)

UAE soldiers load their military vehicle with rockets during manoeuvres with the French army in the desert of Abu Dhabi May 2, 2012. (AFP/Getty Images)

The UAE jumped ten places in an annual countdown of the world’s most peaceful countries, despite world peace overall deteriorating for the sixth-year running.

The Global Peace Index (GPI), published every year by the Institute for Economics and Peace, ranked the UAE as the 36 most peaceful nation on earth, up from 46 place in last year’s study. The GPI was topped by Iceland, Denmark and New Zealand, respectively, while the highest placed Gulf country was Qatar at 19.

The report grades a country’s level of peace on factors including arms spending as a percentage of GDP; terrorism activity; political relations with neighbours; and violent crime.

On a global basis, world peace has deteriorated 5 percent over the last six years according to the GPI’s methodology, at a cost of $473bn to the global economy last year. The institute attributed this fall in peace primarily to 59 countries increasing their military expenditure as a percentage of GDP, and a dramatic number in the rise of homicides, particularly in Latin America.

In terms of the Middle East, the UAE, Kuwait, Oman, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Algeria and Libya all saw improvements in their peacefulness score, although the region as a whole became less peaceful due to the ongoing repercussions of the Arab Spring and Syria’s civil war. It is estimated that in 2012 the Gulf states alone spent $130bn on arms imports, with the US said to be in further talks with the UAE and Saudi Arabia over a new $10bn deal.

“The Middle East and North Africa’s GPI score has continued to be affected by the fallout of the Arab Spring,” the report read. “The resulting turmoil, combined with the concurrent crackdowns by long-standing incumbents keen to head off potential internal threats, has had a profound impact on the region’s overall peacefulness.”

The report highlighted Qatar as one nation that, despite its overall ranking of 19, saw its score on the index dip as it tumbled seven places, which it attributed to the wealthy Gulf state’s “funnelling of arms and money to the opposition” in Syria.

Syria ranked 160 in the world as a result of its two-year long civil war that has killed approximately 70,000 people, leaving the country ahead of only Iraq and Afghanistan. The deterioration of the situation in Syria also pressured the scores of neighbouring countries including Jordan and Lebanon.

Libya, which itself suffered a brutal civil war in a successful rebellion against the rule of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, rose to 145, while Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen all fell amid floundering leadership transitions.

In the Gulf, Bahrain dropped to 95 worldwide, while Saudi Arabia rose to 97. “With the exception of Bahrain, the wealthier Gulf Arab states have managed to remain largely on the peripheries of the Arab Spring, although their internal peace rankings are undermined by a lack of democratic institutions and intolerance of dissent,” the study read.

World's most peaceful countries:

1. Iceland

2. Denmark

3. New Zealand

4. Austria

5. Switzerland

6. Japan

7. Finland

8. Canada

9. Sweden

10. Belgium

World's least peaceful countries:

153. Central African Republic

154. North Korea

155. Russia

156. Democratic Republic of Congo

157. Pakistan

158. Sudan

159. Iraq

160. Syria

161. Somalia

162. Afghanistan

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