Middle East sees 11pc rise in civil unrest

Civil unrest in the Middle East rose 11% in the year to end March 2023, from 6,609 incidents to 7,401, with retailers, banks and multinational brands especially prone to damage from protests.

This is amongst the findings of research conducted by specialty re/insurance group Chaucer, which puts the rise in looting/property destruction, mob violence, protest and violent demonstration down to soaring inflation and sharp increases in energy and food prices.

Jordan saw a 30% increase in incidences of civil unrest (30 to 39) - largely due to protests that began in December over rising gas prices. Banks in Lebanon declared a three-day closure in September last year, citing safety concerns as the liquidity crisis there inflamed depositors. Protests over price rises were also prevalent in nations blighted by internal conflict. Syria saw a 19% increase in civil unrest, rising from 145 to 173 in the past year with a wave of protests erupting in early December due to inflation, power cuts and food and fuel shortages.

Fawzi Omari, senior executive officer of Chaucer’s Dubai office, says: “Rapid inflation has given rise to protests in certain parts of the Middle East, impacting countries in the region that have traditionally been considered as being relatively stable.”

“The trend for protests has also taken place in North African countries where the long-term effects of Covid-19 on the region’s economy, the war in Ukraine and accompanying supply chain disruption and commodity-price shocks – are still being felt.”

“Higher incidences of civil unrest have deterred some risk-averse insurers from covering physical damage from social unrest, creating opportunities for specialist insurers to fill the gap in the market - particularly in more volatile parts of the globe.”

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