Regional conflicts lead to drop in UAE’s global peace ranking

The index, compiled by the Institute for Economics and Peace, puts the UAE at 61st out of 163 countries in its latest rankings, and 3rd out of 20 countries in the Mena region, behind Qatar and Kuwait, which ranked 34th and 51st globally respectively.
A peaceful park scene in Abu Dhabi, a common sight despite the UAE’s fall on the Global Peace Index.  Silvia Razgova / The National
A peaceful park scene in Abu Dhabi, a common sight despite the UAE’s fall on the Global Peace Index. Silvia Razgova / The National

ABU DHABI // The UAE has dropped in rank for the second year running in an annual Global Peace Index.

The index, compiled by the Institute for Economics and Peace, puts the UAE 61st out of 163 countries in its latest rankings, and 3rd out of 20 countries in the Mena region, behind ­Qatar and Kuwait, which ranked 34th and 51st respectively.

The GPI report said that the global deterioration in peace was largely being driven by the intensifying conflicts in the Mena region. Last year, the UAE was ranked 49th, down from 40th the previous year.

Experts agreed that the drop could be attributed to increasing conflict in the region, such as in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

“In many ways, the number of areas where the UAE scores low is because it is a hostage to the area in which it is in,” said Steve Killelea, the institute’s founder and executive chairman.

“Indicators where the UAE scored poorly include an increased number of armed personnel, import of weapons and military expenditure, as well as the number and duration of external conflicts, which relates back to issues with Syria. In many ways, for the UAE, resolving conflicts in Iraq, Syria and Libya would go a long way towards removing some of the underlying drivers pulling it down.”

Terrorism increased nine-fold in the past decade, with 77 countries deteriorating with the largest deterioration recorded in the Middle East. .

“The nexus of all these problems is Syria and Iraq,” Mr Killelea said. “What’s quite startling is, if you take out the Middle East over the last decade, the world would have become moderately more peaceful, which highlights the issues faced in the [region]. If we start to look at changes within the UAE over the last decade, extended external conflicts increased with terrorism in the area.”

Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, political science professor at UAE University, said: “The GPI is vital and critical and for the UAE to be ranked 61st globally and third regionally is not enough.

“Granted, the UAE lives in a difficult region and a dangerous zone and near difficult neighbours but it needs to be mindful of its status as a peaceful nation and stable state and watch its defence expenditure and human rights record. The aim for the UAE is to rank first regionally and among top 10 globally.”

Unsurprisingly, Mena was considered the least peaceful region in the world in last year’s report, and its rank dropped further as regional conflicts intensified. Three of the five biggest declines in peace occurred in the region – Yemen, Libya and Bahrain – while violence affected the UAE’s economy by US$29.81 billion (Dh109.5bn) this year, 6 per cent of its GDP.

“We live in a deeply interconnected world and these trends indicate the severity of shared threats and security challenges facing the international community,” said Sabahat Khan, senior analyst at the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis in Dubai.

“These findings are concerning for the UAE as they are for its international partners because most of the world is moving in a positive direction, but new challenges in the Middle East, such as ISIL and sectarianism, are ... adding to existing tensions.”

He said, however, that the ­index used metrics that were out of the UAE’s control, such as ­geography and the political stability of its neighbourhood.

“The UAE is a responsible international actor with a credible track record,” he said. “It’s important that research like the GPI is interpreted the right way.”

More countries improved in peace (81) than decreased (79) but the world became slightly less peaceful in 2016, with the average country score deteriorating by 0.53 per cent.

“We’re finding that the most peaceful countries are becoming more peaceful and the least are becoming less peaceful, so global inequality in peace increased,” Mr Killelea said.

cmalek@thenational.ae

Published: June 8, 2016 04:00 AM

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