Preventing and containing violence in the UAE cost the economy $11.7 billion last year, the latest Global Peace Index report has revealed.
The expenditure is the equivalent of 4.3 percent of the UAE’s gross domestic product (GDP), or $1270 per person.
But Oman spent the highest percentage of GDP in relation to violence of all the six Gulf Cooperation Council countries, at 13.8 percent, or $3940 per person.
Kuwait’s expenditure also was high, at 5.2 percent of GDP, or $2480 per person, while Qatar spent $2995 per person, or 3.1 percent of GDP.
Qatar was ranked the most peaceful GCC country, and 22nd out of 162 countries. However, it is among the 10 countries in the world most likely to see a deterioration in conditions.
The index did not provide violence-related expenditure as a percentage of GDP for Saudi Arabia and Bahrain – the two GCC countries ranked the least peaceful, at 80 and 111 globally, respectively.
However, the report said Saudi Arabia spent $87.665bn preventing and detailing with violence last year and Bahrain spent $3.67bn.
Kuwait was the second most peaceful GCC country on the index (37 globally), followed by the UAE (40) and Oman (59).
The report says the UAE enjoys low levels of violent crime and murder and political instability improved last year, but freedom of speech has worsened, including a “crackdown on political activists”, and there is little democracy or freedom of the press.
“While the political system is largely unrepresentative, the population of UAE nationals is small and largely well cared for materially by the state,” the report says.
“There have been some signs of discontent from the northern emirates, where the benefits of economic development have not been felt as strongly as they have in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. The authorities are responding with various development programmes for the poorer emirates.
“… investments to reduce socio-economic disparities between the different emirates would help support the largely stable political scene. If such investments displaced a proportion of military spending, then the UAE’s score in the index would improve.”
The report also recommends reforms to improve independence and transparency in the UAE’s judiciary to increase confidence in the justice system and the country’s observance of human rights.
Globally, preventing and responding to violence last year cost the world economy an estimated $9.8 trillion, the equivalent of 11.3 percent of global GDP – or twice the size of the 54 countries in the African economy.
“Many macro factors have driven the deterioration in peace over the last seven years including the continued economic repercussions of the global financial crisis, the reverberations of the Arab Spring, and the continued spread of terrorism,” founder and executive chairman of the Institute of Economics and Peace, Steve Killelea, said.
“As these effects are likely to continue into the near future; a strong rebound in peace is unlikely.
“This is resulting in very real costs to the world economy; increases in the global economic impact of violence and its containment are equivalent to 19 percent of global economic growth from 2012 to 2013. To put this in perspective, this is around $1350 per person.
“The danger is that we fall into a negative cycle: low economic growth leads to higher levels of violence, the containment of which produces lower economic growth.
The annual Global Peace Index is compiled by the Institute of Economics and Peace.