Abu Dhabi: Terrorist attacks worldwide are expected to rise in the next 20 years, says an international security expert. State-based conflicts are unlikely to exceed 40 conflicts a year till about 2030.

The news will not be welcomed by many governments.

Dr Ekaterina Stepanova, a lead researcher in Russia's Institute of World Economy and International Relations, expressed her views at the day-two Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR) 16th Annual Conference about future threats to national security.

"Non-state conflicts are expected to double in comparison to government intervention, which means more civilians than armed personnel will be targeted.

"On the positive side, these conflicts are usually less intense, shorter and have fewer fatalities than battlefield conflicts," said Dr. Stepanova.

Peace treaties

She said: "We've seen a three-fold increase in terrorism over the past decade, which is unlikely to decline in the next couple of decades, and only 23 per cent of conflicts in the past several decades have ended in sustainable peace agreements."

Asked by Gulf News to provide an opinion on future threats worldwide based on her research, Dr. Stepanova said: "Battle-related deaths will continue to decline unevenly, but overall levels of violence among civilians both targeted accidentally as collateral damage and targeted directly, as well as internationally, will not decrease and may even rise."

The overall number of conflicts worldwide is declining, however new conflicts are erupting, added the lead researcher. "Unfortunately, civilians are the main object of instability today, and in my opinion the most effective strategy is to build and improve state functionality and legitimacy."

Smart cities

In his speech on smart cities of the future and implications for state security, Richard Clarke, former adviser to the US president and National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism, explained that during the last decade, cities like London and Abu Dhabi were using counter crime material in their new developments and buildings.

"What usually kills people in terrorist attacks is the flying glass. Every new major development in Abu Dhabi goes through a design process to minimise the effects of a terrorist attack through the use of materials that help reduce the damage," said Clarke.

Cities need to predict what Clarke called the "worst-case scenario", be it an oil spill, nuclear meltdown, fire, flood, earthquake or a war.

"We can build safer and more secure cities, we can live in a safer world, but to do that we have to overcome our tendency to think that bad things don't happen, because the history of the first decade of this century is that year after year the worse case scenarios are happening."

Abu Dhabi Lt Col Jasem Abdulla Abdul Latif Al Sharafa, Executive Director, Operations Sector at the Critical National Infrastructure Authority (CNIA) has said that the CNIA has allocated a budget of approximately Dh10 billion towards a maritime safety campaign, to help increase awareness of beach-goers in Abu Dhabi.

He said the campaign to be conducted in the next few months will spread to private/public schools and colleges in the Western Region, in hope that students are well aware of maritime safety measures.

"We know that terrorist organisations target to destroy a city's infrastructure to obtain certain objectives, and are also aware that certain countries are harbouring these terrorist moves.

"That is why the CNIA has formed a risk management unit, to define strategic guidelines of the security measures by which we can build our infrastructure, through the help of highest level of technology and human capital," Al Sharafa said.