UAE ranks 40th in world in new global peace index

The country has not suffered from internal conflicts or terrorism and has little violent crime - the main reasons for the high ranking.

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ABU DHABI // The UAE is one of the most peaceful countries in the region and world, a global index shows.
The country has not suffered from internal conflicts or terrorism and has little violent crime - the main reasons for the high ranking.
The Institute for Economics and Peace "Global Peace Index" rates the UAE 40th out of 162 - putting the country just outside the top 25 per cent of the world's most peaceful nations for last year.
"The UAE has placed a strong focus on domestic security, with considerable investment in maintaining a well-staffed police force," said the institute on Wednesday.
Only Qatar and Kuwait were placed above the UAE in the region when it came to peacefulness.
While Qatar ranked highest among Middle East countries, it was deemed one of the ten most likely to deteriorate over the next two years because of its perceived vulnerability to political, economic or environmental shocks, said Daniel Hyslop, vice president of global research at the institute, which has bases in New York, Sydney and Oxford.
"What we're doing in the global peace index is measuring negative peace - the absence of violence or the absence of fear of violence," Mr Hyslop said. "Peace is more than just whether or not there's war or no war."
Meanwhile, experts believe it is vital to consider the UAE's ranking in relation to location.
"If a country is living in a peaceful region, the likelihood that it ranks highly is big," said Abdul Noury, professor of political science at New York University Abu Dhabi.
"For a country that's living in an unstable region, such as the Middle East, then it ranks lower."
Location, size and wealth could lead to bias, said Prof Noury, an Afghan with Belgian citizenship who focuses on political economic development.
Researchers included factors that may not indicate a country's peacefulness, such as military expenditure, he said. This would lead to countries such as Iceland having higher rankings while penalising countries whose locations and size compelled them to invest in their militaries.
He said it was important to view the UAE's rank in context, particularly since it was in a region that experienced fluctuations.
"I would say that this ranking is good, given that the UAE is in the Middle East and that it's so open.
"It is important to really look carefully into each component to understand what's going on."
The rankings use 22 indicators to analyse each country's level of safety and security, extent of domestic or international conflict and degree of militarisation.
Last year, the UAE ranked 36th, while in 2012 the country was 46th.
The world's most peaceful countries were Iceland, New Zealand and Denmark, while the least peaceful were Iraq, South Sudan, Afghanistan and Syria.
Additionally, the world is 4 per cent less peaceful, while the global cost of containing violence amounted to US$9.46 trillion in 2012.
Other notable rankings included Jordan at 56, Saudi Arabia at 80, the US at 101, the Philippines at 134, India at 143, and Pakistan at 154.
Countries such as the UAE could play an important role in building peace in the region, with high degrees of violence in countries such as Iraq and Syria, the world's least-peaceful country, said Mr Hyslop.
Spending on prevention or dealing with violence was estimated at about US$12 billion (Dh47.08bn) of the UAE's economy last year, amounting to 4.3 per cent of gross domestic product.
The UAE's scores on external indicators and level of incarceration ranked it behind the other two Arabian Gulf countries, but the difference was small, said Mr Hyslop.
Countries that rank as high as the UAE could take the lead in driving cooperation between the states in the region and especially in terms of trade and political integration, he said.
"It is a very peaceful country."
lcarroll@thenational.ae