Cost of Arab Spring estimated at $833bn

The cost of the Arab Spring registered $833.7 billion (more than Dh3 trillion), according to a report released at the opening of the eighth edition of the Arab Strategy Forum (ASF) in Dubai today.

The Arab Spring Cost Report has based the final numbers on a calculation that factors in the cost of rebuilding, losses in GDP, losses to tourism, the refugee crisis, as well as losses to the investments and securities markets.

The report highlights the detrimental outcomes of the Arab Spring on economic and social development in the region.

The report has based its analysis on data and information from studies by the World Bank, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), as well as the International Trade Center of the World Trade Organisation, and Thomson Reuters.

Mohammed Al Gergawi, Chairman of the Executive Office of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and Chairman of the Arab Strategy Forum, said: “This report summarizes the direct costs of the chaos following the Arab Spring and does not measure the missed development or economic opportunities.

“Nor does it factor in the cost of the educational and psychological rehabilitation of students, families and other segments that were affected by the chaos.

“The report also does not measure the costs that were deflected on other countries in the region and globally as a result of the significant surge in the number of displaced people and refugees. In addition, it does not track the huge security costs absorbed by countries as a result of terrorist threats by unstable powers.”

Gergawi added: “Whether we are with or against the Arab Spring, we have to look at it in the context of history and civilisation to realize that it has led to a sharp deterioration in the region, a dramatic loss in economic and growth opportunities over the past several years and destroyed the infrastructure that the region had invested decades, even centuries to build.”

Gergawi concluded: “The Arab Strategy Forum has compiled this report to raise awareness among key decision makers as well as citizens within the Arab world and elsewhere about the price we are paying every day as a result of the chaos and instability triggered by the Arab Spring.

“The Forum will continue issuing similar analysis and reports in the future with the aim to put the events occurring in our region in a clear context and measure their impact and outcomes based on neutral and highly credible sources.”

The Arab Spring Cost Report reveals the huge cost of the Arab Spring and spans nine key economic areas: GDP, tourism, employment, securities, foreign direct investments, refugee impact, and rebuilding infrastructure.

The report indicated that costs related to the Arab Spring between 2010 and 2014 reached $833.7 billion in addition to the human cost of 1.34 million people that were killed or injured because of wars and terrorist attacks.

The damage to infrastructure reached $461 billion besides the irreparable cost of destroyed historic and architectural sites.

The cumulative losses to the GDP that could have been sustained were estimated at $289 billion, based on GDP growth estimates and local currency exchange rates.

Meanwhile, stock markets and investment losses amounted to more than $35 billion, while losses to financial markets amounted to $18.3 billion and losses in FDI notched up an additional $16.7 billion.

The report points out that changes in the economies of the Arab Spring countries are very different from the changes in their geographic areas - Western Asia and Northern Africa.

The lack of stability and terrorist attacks caused a sharp decline in the number of tourists by 103.4 million tourists for the period between 2010 and 2014.

The Arab Spring caused the displacement of more than 14.389 million refugees, with the refugee crisis costing US$48.7 billion.

The Arab Strategy Forum 2015 convenes world experts, thinkers and leaders to forecast the outlook for the Arab region and the world at large in light of the dynamic geopolitical and economic changes.

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