Qatar has once again been ranked the most peaceful country in the Middle East – but needed to spend some $18 billion to get there, according to a new report.
The 10th edition of the Global Peace Index, published yesterday by The Institute for Economics and Peace, scored Qatar 34th out of 163 independent states and territories.
That’s better than any other nation in the region, but down from its spot as 30th in the 2015 rankings.
This is the fourth year in a row that Qatar has fallen in the league table. In 2014 it also came in 30th place, while in 2011 and 2012 it was 12th.
The latest edition of the report does not explain why Qatar continues to fall compared to other countries, but said the security situation is declining across the region, which has been again classified as the most violent in the world.
Cost of peace
The index measured countries’ peacefulness using 23 indicators across three main themes:
- The level of safety and security in society;
- The extent of domestic or international conflict; and
- The degree of militarization.
Qatar’s fared well due to the high levels of peace within its borders. A breakdown of its scores across the indicators also showed low levels of internal conflict, violent demonstrations or violent crime.
However, it got a 5/5 – the worst score – for weapons importing. Though the report did not explain why, this is presumably because it spends so much on military gear and reportedly supports rebel groups in other countries with arms.
It also had a score of 3.5/5 for security officers and police, and also for homicide.
Qatar also appears to be paying a high price to keep its country peaceful.
Containing violence cost Qatar $18.24 billion (QR66.39 billion) in 2014 (the latest figures cited in the 2016 report) – equivalent to 7 percent of the country’s GDP in 2014, the report states.
It based that figure on an “aggregation of costs related to violence, armed conflict and spending on military and internal security services.”
This works out to a per capita cost of $8,397 or over QR30,000, which is around the same price as a basic model of a new Suzuki Celerio for each person living in the country.
Deteriorating Middle East
Qatar was rated considerably more peaceful than its neighbors. Kuwait came in 51st, UAE in 61st, Oman 74th, Saudi Arabia 129th and Bahrain in 132nd.
The Emirates’ military involvement in Yemen, threats from ISIS in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain’s military contribution to the conflicts in Syria and Yemen all adversely affected their rankings, the report said.
Overall, the MENA region fared particularly poorly.
Already ranked the least peaceful region in the 2015 report, it suffered the most marked deterioration in peace this year as the civil wars in Syria and Yemen deepened and led to increased external intervention and a growing number of refugees, the index said.
In a statement, 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.”
Meanwhile, reflecting Europe’s overall classification as the world’s most peaceful region, the top positions of the index were dominated by European countries, with Iceland in first place, Denmark in second and Austria in third.
The UK came in 47th place and the USA 103rd. At the bottom of the table were Iraq (161st), followed by South Sudan and Syria – the world’s most violent country, in 163rd place.
The impact of violence on the world economy totaled $13.6 trillion last year and over the previous decade, has cost $137 trillion.