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Wed 8 Jun 2016 01:52 PM

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Revealed: $29.8bn, the cost of keeping the peace in the UAE

Latest Global Peace Index says violence cost the UAE economy more than $3,200 per person in 2015

Revealed: $29.8bn, the cost of keeping the peace in the UAE
A squadron of United Arab Emirates (UAE) F-16 fighters stationed in one of Jordans air bases to support it in strikes against ISIL. (Getty Images)

Violence impacted the UAE's economy by $29.81 billion in 2015, 6 percent of its GDP, or $3,280 per person, according to the latest Global Peace Index (GPI).

The figure represented a decrease of 18 percent from 2008 and at 6 percent of GDP this was ranked 110th in the world.

Globally, the economic impact of violence on the global economy totalled $13.6 trillion or 13.3 percent of gross world product, equivalent to 11 times the size of global foreign direct investment, it said.

The UAE was ranked as the 61st country in the Global Peace Index (GPI) and third out of the 20 countries in the Middle East and North Africa region.

The tenth edition of the GPI highlighted a stark and growing inequality in global levels of peacefulness as the gap between the most and least peaceful countries continues to widen.

The study, by international think-tank the Institute for Economics and Peace, found that, while 81 countries improved, the deterioration in another 79 outweighed these gains, meaning that peace declined at a faster rate than in the previous year.

It said the UAE ranked last in weapons imports in the world despite seeing an improvement in this indicator over the decade. However there has been notable improvements in UN peacekeeping funding military funding and violent crime, it added.

The score for the Middle East and Africa (MENA), the least peaceful region in the world in last year’s report, dropped further as regional conflicts intensified, dragging down global peacefulness.

So intense is the current concentration of violence and conflict in MENA that, when considered separately, the rest of the world’s average peace levels improved. Three of the five biggest declines in peace occurred in the region including Yemen, Libya and Bahrain.

Steve Killelea, founder and executive chairman of the IEP said: “As internal conflicts in MENA become more entrenched, external parties are increasingly becoming more involved and the potential for indirect or ‘war by proxy’ between nation states is rising.

"This was already evident in Syria with the conflict between the Assad regime and multiple non-state actors, and is now spilling into countries such as Yemen. There is a broader proxy conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and more recently both US and Russia have increased their level of involvement.”

The global deterioration in peace in 2015 was driven by increased terrorism and higher levels of political instability. While the majority of terrorist activity is highly concentrated in five countries - Syria, Iraq, Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan – the breadth of terrorism is spreading, with only 23 percent of countries in the index not experiencing a terrorist incident.

Europe, which was once again the most peaceful region in the world, saw its average score deteriorate in this year’s report in the wake of terrorism incidents in Paris and Brussels, with deaths from terrorism in Europe having more than doubled over the last five years.

The report said the number of refugees and displaced persons has risen dramatically over the last decade, doubling to approximately 60 million people between 2007 and 2016, nearly 1 percent of the world’s population.

Europe was once again ranked the most peaceful region in the world. The largest improvement since last year occurred in Central America and the Caribbean, while South America also made progress in its levels of peacefulness.

MENA had the largest decline, followed by Sub-Saharan Africa, Europe and Asia Pacific respectively. MENA, which was already ranked the lowest in the 2015 GPI, had the biggest deterioration in peace this year, as the civil wars in Syria and Yemen deepened and led to increased external intervention.