Middle East home to half of the globe's 2019 high-risk hotspots

31 December 2018 Authored by Consultancy-me.com

Almost half of the world’s extreme danger-zones are to be found in the Middle East according to specialist risk consultancy Control Risks.

The global specialist risk consultancy Control Risks – which has offices in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Iraq among its more than 35 worldwide – has released its 2019 RiskMap, which measures threat levels for a variety of different risks across every country and region of the globe, including criminal and militant kidnapping, maritime risks such as piracy, risks as to the political landscape and general security risks.

In regards to the latter – security risk forecasts – of the some dozen or so red-shaded ‘extreme’ territories for 2019, roughly half could be found in the Middle East and North Africa, including large chunks of Libya, all of Syria and Yemen, about half of Iraq and most parts of the Palestinian territories. All of these nations were also deemed an extreme political risk, bar Iraq, which was assessed as ‘high’ alongside Lebanon and Iran.

The member states of the GCC on the other hand were all considered to be in the low security risk category (except for Saudi Arabia’s southern region bordering Yemen), placing the gulf region, including Iran, on par in safety terms with most of mainland Europe, the US, Canada, Australia and China. Although unlike most of Western Europe, which rates as low or very low, the political risk rating across the GCC remains medium.Political and security risk map Middle East & North AfricaWhile the eastern waters of the Arabian peninsula, from Oman stretching down to Somalia and covering the Gulf of Aden, is one of the world’s notorious maritime hot-spots, on the whole the Middle East and North African region is of relatively low risk for kidnapping, contributing 7 percent of worldwide reported cases in 2018 compared to 39 percent in the Americas, 29 percent in the Asia Pacific, and 24 percent in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Of the kidnapping cases in MENA however, a high percentage were committed by militant groups (25 percent) rather than those classified as criminal, with an abnormally high number involving foreign nationals (13 percent compared to 3 percent in the Americas) – leading to more prominent international reporting and then perhaps perceptions abroad of a greater risk of kidnapping in the Middle East region than elsewhere.

In addition to global mapping, the consulting firm’s analysts provide a zoom-in on a number of situationally fluid or volatile nations likely to be of note in security terms over the coming year, including Iraq and Iran. The former Control Risks considers will face mounting challenges due to weak foundations and ongoing threats, while in Iran the clouds continue to gather towards a potential crisis and confrontation with the US in 2019.

More broadly, the firm issues its top five global risks for the coming year, headed by the unfolding trade spat between the US and China – potentially leading to a new global order. Elsewhere, businesses face risks due to American domestic political deadlock with the Democrats regaining the House, rising extreme weather events, conflict as to global differences in approaches to cross-border data collection, and the likelihood of increasing trade barriers for multinationals with respect to the advance of nationalist politics around the globe.

Related: Accenture outlines growing Iran threat in global cybersecurity report.

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