There are many factors that affect the lives and livelihoods of people ... you could take a pick from poor general administration, bureaucracy, corruption and natural disasters.

But the most serious is the fallout from terrorism, and its effect extends to all walks of economic and social life apart from the destruction of infrastructure and lives lost. Terrorism also leads to capital outflow, the spread of unemployment, and destruction of small and medium-scale enterprises from population displacement, shortage of raw materials and the degradation of the agricultural sector and services.

A forum organised by ‘Al Ittihad’ newspaper held in Abu Dhabi last week highlighted the disastrous consequences from terrorism. It is a malaise which has spread across the world in recent years, specifically in the Middle East where countries have suffered losses that are difficult to put an estimate to.

Terrorist attacks usually lead to mass destruction, and does not exclude any single sector, even if it is directly linked to the ordinary person’s daily lives. The impact extends to all segments of society regardless of social status, ethnic, political or sectarian affiliations.

Many countries in the region — Libya, Iraq, Syria and Yemen — have seen comprehensive devastation that have seriously damaged their economies and led to the displacement of millions of people from the perpetration of heinous crimes. This systematic destruction is still continuing on a daily basis, leading to astronomical losses in developing countries such as Libya and Iraq and nations ranked among the most backward in the world like Yemen.

Worse is that there are no signs that the destruction of public facilities and infrastructure will stop in the near future. On the contrary, things are moving towards further a deterioration with the possession of new and sophisticated weapons by terrorist organisations, and with more supporters and partisans joining these groups.

Amid such a gloomy picture, the economic future of these countries seems bleak and overcast with more tragedies and destruction. Unfortunately, the harmful aspects are not limited to those countries directly impacted by wanton violence. There are negative repercussions on other countries and on the global economy as a whole, especially attacks that lead to widespread economic destruction in the main oil producing countries, or countries that enjoy strategic locations on the map of international trade, such as Egypt with ownership of the Suez Canal trade artery.

Hence, the issue of fighting terrorism has become global in dimension. This is because it is hard to imagine that economic damage would be limited to countries hit by civil wars or surrounding countries in the Arabian Gulf region, which accounts for more than 50 per cent of global oil reserves. Also, globalisation, open markets and unprecedented linkage among economies together emphasise the need for concerted efforts to stop the destruction that has hit the region.

Logically, it is not easy to do so as there are conflicting interests. There are also some powers in the world that benefit from terrorist operations, and this why they facilitate the implementation of these terrorist acts for their utterly narrow interests.

Therefore, long-range thinking requires a more holistic view of the interests of countries that support terrorism, as well as of the world economy as a whole. This is simply because no one will eventually benefit from economic destruction and the forced displacement of populations, nor from vandalism and destruction.

Acts of sabotage will lead to reduced cross-border trade and increase the flow of refugees, who constitute a heavy burden, as is the case in Lebanon where the number of Syrian refugees has exceeded 20 per cent of its overall 4 million population. This vividly illustrates that the cost of terrorism is exorbitant and more than one party will pay its high costs.

Dr Mohammad Al Asoomi is a UAE economic expert and specialist in economic and social development in the UAE and the GCC countries.