By Santhosh V Perumal
Qatar has topped the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region for the fifth consecutive year as the most peaceful country, a testament to the ability of successive leaders to ensure prolonged domestic stability, according to Global Peace Index 2014.
Among the Mena countries, Qatar was numero uno, followed by Kuwait, the UAE, Jordan, Oman, Morocco, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Algeria, said the Global Peace Index report, prepared by Sydney headquartered The Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP).
The index gauges global peace using three broad themes: the level of safety and security in society; the extent of domestic or international conflict; and the degree of militarisation.
The high-income Qatar’s overall score was 1.491 against the Mena average of 2.360, said the report, highlighting that the country has a “very high” level of human development.
Qatar, which is ranked 22 among the 162 countries in the world, had cost of violence containment at 3.1% of its gross domestic product and cost of violence containment per capita at $2,995.
“A country’s potential for peace is shaped by many positive factors including sound institutions, well-functioning government, low levels of corruption and a pro-business environment which we call the Pillars of Peace,” said Steve Killelea, founder of IEP. In terms of global ranking, Kuwait stood at 37th position, the UAE (40), Jordan (56), Oman (59), Morocco (63), Tunisia (79), Saudi Arabia (80), Bahrain (111) and Algeria (114).
The least peaceful countries in the Mena region, according to the report, were Syria (162), Iraq (159), Sudan (157), Israel (149), Yemen (147), Lebanon (146), Egypt (143), Libya (133) and Iran (131).
“Qatar continues to enjoy the benefits of the country’s vast hydrocarbons wealth”, even as there exists some risks, the report said.
Although Qatar has democracy “deficit” with Doha ranking 138 out of 167 countries as per the 2012 Democracy Index; IEP report said the wide discrepancy between the country’s pace and democracy scores is explained by the government’s commitment to providing its subjects with an “extremely” high standard of living, resulting in a very peaceful society.
Terming the orderly transfer of power to the present HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani as a “rare peaceful transition of power in a turmoil-hit region”, the report said “the refreshing of the political leadership has helped ensure that Qatar remains largely unaffected by the social unrest that has gripped parts of the region since early 2011.”
Finding that Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain had recalled their envoys in view of political tensions, Global Peace Index found “so far, business relations with the UAE and Saudi Arabia, on whom Qatar relies for much of its construction materials essential to completing major infrastructure works, have been unaffected.”
Highlighting that difficulty in developing peaceful relations with regional powers is among the greatest “threats” facing the country at present, it said “although an armed conflict with fellow Gulf Co-operation Council states and Egypt is a distant scenario, a prolonged stand-off with the former could undermine Qatar’s efforts to become a regional financial and business hub.”
The report also found that the Qatar government plans to amend part of its Labour Law, but the nascent stage of the judicial system “will prove problematic for foreign workers seeking to hold their employers to account.”Last updated:
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