Abu Dhabi named the most ‘resilient’ city in the Middle East

Abu Dhabi has been named the most resilient city in the Middle East in terms of city wealth (GDP), personal wealth (households with an income greater than $70,000), and demographics, according to research by Savills.

Abu Dhabi was ranked above Dubai, Riyadh, Kuwait City and Jeddah in the regional list.
Abu Dhabi was ranked above Dubai, Riyadh, Kuwait City and Jeddah in the regional list.

The UAE capital featured highest in the Savills Resilient Cities Index, launched as part of research which examines which cities will be able to withstand or embrace the technological, demographic, and leadership disruption facing global real estate today and in 10 years’ time.

It showed that investors looking for long-term returns should look to Middle East, Indian and second tier Chinese cities as the markets that are likely to grow in the face of global disruption in the coming decades, but today remain relatively untapped.

Read entire post Abu Dhabi named the most ‘resilient’ city in the Middle East | Sam Brigde | Arabian Business
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Solving the Smart City Puzzle

Governments and private entities throughout the Middle East Africa region are increasingly enthusiastic about collaborating to use the data they gather. Authorities understand that they will have greater control over their infrastructure — and the use of their infrastructure — if they can aggregate the right data to create actionable information.

However, many disparate platforms on the market provide siloed solutions, tailored to specific use cases or particular industry applications, where a true smart-city solution would have the ability to gather and use data from a multitude of sources and would not be restricted by traditional industry verticals, or siloes, enabling new use cases and efficiencies by sharing data from a variety of sources.

The definition of a smart city remains indistinct. As a result, there are countless examples where the smart-city vision has been broken down into discrete components. In Amsterdam, the components are known as ‘’themes.’’ In Barcelona, they’re referred to as ‘’axes.’’ In Singapore, they’re also known as ‘’initiatives’’ and, in Dubai, as ‘’pillars.”

> Read entire article Solving the Smart City Puzzle | Andrew Bevan | ME Construction News

Who cleans up after hurricanes, earthquakes and war?

Natural disasters can reduce entire cities to rubble, leaving streets littered with debris, bodies and toxic material.

Modern warfare’s devastation also brings the hidden dangers of unexploded weapons, landmines and booby traps. Who clears up the wreckage of natural and man-made catastrophes and where does it go?

Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria battered the Caribbean and the southern US throughout the last two months, killing dozens, shattering lives and leaving a trail of destruction behind them.
Then, in the middle of September, a 7.1 magnitude earthquake hit central Mexico causing dozens of buildings to collapse in Mexico City and beyond, trapping people beneath broken concrete and twisted metal.

Who clears up the wreckage of natural and man-made catastrophes and where does it go?

Continuing conflicts in the Middle East have also left thousands dead and major cities destroyed. Much of Mosul in Iraq has also been reduced to rubble and huge swathes of Syria’s Homs and Raqqa and the World Heritage City of Aleppo have been flattened.
Aleppo’s Old City has been devastated

The latest analysis of Aleppo, just completed by the UN’s satellite programme, UNOSAT, suggests more than 7,000 sites have been damaged in the Old City alone. Some witnesses describe rubble and wreckage piled to the top of buildings.

All these natural and man-made disasters have left behind millions of tonnes of debris. What will happen to it?

Read complete article Who cleans up after hurricanes, earthquakes and war? | BBC

Thank God for incompetent terrorists

Sometimes rocket science IS rocket science and must be practiced by rocket scientists. Luckily, very few people who have nefarious intent are rocket scientists and we should be thankful for that. We have all heard stories about hapless criminals who belong to the ‘gang that couldn’t shoot straight’ and we all have a good laugh.

The hapless criminal is on occasion a terrorist however. Hollywood portrayals like 24 where the bad guys are capable and devious and really, really scary and whom can only be stopped because the counter-terrorism good guys (think Jack Bauer) are more capable are not always reflective of reality (spoiler alert!). Yes, there are some very nasty terrorists who are very good at what they do – 9/11, Mumbai, etc. – but there are also many who are only slightly above incompetent.

Yes, there are some very nasty terrorists who are very good at what they do, but there are also many who are only slightly above incompetent

This is what appears to have happened on September 15th in London where an IED was detonated on a timer on the Tube during rush hour. At least 18 commuters have been injured, some seriously, through a combination of a ‘flash fire’ and the ensuing stampede to get the hell out of the car. Authorities in the UK, including MI5 (the UK CSIS) are still investigating and I am very confident that these excellent services will find out who was behind this heinous act, but they have already said that the damage and casualty count could have been much, much worse. The device didn’t do what it was designed to do, i.e. kill lots of people.

The device didn’t do what it was designed to do, i.e. kill lots of people

I was reminded of the case of Aaron Driver in Strathroy, Ontario a little more than a year ago. He was the convert jihadi on a peace bond who posted a martyrdom video online, somehow built a ‘bomb’, got into a taxi and detonated his device. Fortunately – for us, unfortunately for him I suppose – his bomb was lousy and did little more than singe him: it did not even hurt the cabbie sitting less than a metre away. Mr. Driver found his martyrdom when he was killed by the RCMP on site.

I also read regularly about Taliban and Islamic State terrorists in Afghanistan who die when preparing IEDs. Even some who resort to the jihadi weapon of choice these days – knives – sometimes fail as a loser in Paris today lunged at an anti-terror police officer but didn’t achieve anything.

I am not minimising the potential of these failed attacks. Even if mass casualties are not the outcome they do cause fear and terror (hence ‘terror’ism) and the stampede in the Tube is testimony to that. But we have to recognise that the gap between intent and capability is sometimes very large. Lots of terrorist talk the big talk but can only crawl, not walk. We need to stop lionising them and their campaigns to sow fear.

I suppose we should also count our blessings that more professional terrorists appear to be in short supply. This could change of course. In any event, our protectors – CSIS, the RCMP, MI5 – have to take all these threats seriously as they do not have the luxury of dismissing a plot because they assess that the perpetrator is a moron.

Let us hope that the parade of amateurs continues and that terrorists who intend to maim and kill don’t suddenly graduate from jihadi school or that groups like AQ and IS all of sudden attract real rocket scientists in droves. We should be grateful for small mercies.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR – Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting. He worked as a strategic analyst in the Canadian intelligence community for over 30 years, including 15 at CSIS, with assignments at Public Safety Canada and the Ontario Provincial Police. He specializes in radicalization and homegrown Al Qaeda/Islamic State/Islamist-inspired extremism. He has spoken to audiences about terrorism across Canada and the US and around the world. borealisrisk@gmail.com

Why we will never ‘eradicate’ terrorism

Scientists have made great progress in eradicating diseases that once maimed or killed millions of people. Think of smallpox. Or polio, which a few years ago was on the verge of disappearance though state instability and war have allowed it to cling to life. The reason why these scourges were defeated (apparently there is a difference between eradication and elimination but that distinction is beyond the scope of this blog) is that efforts at developing vaccines or removing the conditions under which the disease flourished were successful. And we should all be grateful for that.

There is, however, a vast difference between eradicating a disease and eradicating terrorism. The former is the result of a biological organism, the latter is a human-driven social phenomenon. So when I hear a world leader claim that his government has ‘eradicated’ terrorism my skepticism peaks. Recently, both Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and the Algerian Minister of the Interior have made such statements (and the Algerian Army has vowed to ‘resoundly defeat terrorism’).

When I hear a world leader claim that his government has ‘eradicated’ terrorism, my skepticism peaks!

In other words, dialogue, negotiations, talks, and compromise have been judged to be insufficient – hence the move to more physical means.

 In addition Malaysia’s new most senior police officer has said it is time to ‘weed out’ terrorism. Here is why I am not so confident that they are correct.

(As a side note it is particularly galling to hear the Saudi king say that his regime has won out over terrorism given that it is precisely his kingdom’s aberrant version of Islam that has fed it for decades).

Terrorism is a tactic whereby a person, or more frequently a group of people or a whole movement, decide that the use of violence to advance some kind of ideological goal is required. These people want change and they have concluded that the only way to achieve this change is through the use of force. In other words, dialogue, negotiations, talks, and compromise have been judged to be insufficient – hence the move to more physical means. I find that the founder of Al Qaeda, Abdallah Azzam, summed up this view very well when he proclaimed “Jihad and the rifle alone; no negotiations, no conferences, and no dialogues.” It is really hard after all to defeat a tactic.

Even if, sorry Mr. Azzam, negotiations with terrorist groups are sometimes possible – we have seen for example what are very promising peace talks between the Colombian government and the FARC – they are hard and they take time. As a non-state actor, a terrorist group is a difficult negotiating partner that can make demands a state cannot. And of course a given group can back out of a deal if it believes that the conditions have not been met or ‘rogue’ elements decide to return to violent means.

Secondly, as a tactic, terrorism is a tool available to a wide variety of ideological currents. We focus a lot on Islamist extremism these days, and for good reason, but as my friend Jamie Bartlett recently wrote in Foreign Policy the next big threat may come from the far left/green movement. If, as I expect, the jihadis aren’t going away any time soon (and a senior former UK intelligence official agrees with me), we may have to deal with multiple serious terrorist challenges simultaneously. That will tax limited resources.

In the end, a given terrorist group can be (temporarily) defeated. But terrorism cannot. We cannot eliminate a tactic that is used by such a wide variety of groups of people for the simple reason that it is simple, works, and grabs our attention (Brian Jenkins’ notion of terrorism as theatre). We generally date the genesis of terrorism to the latter half of the 19th century during the anarchist wave (using US political scientist David Rapoport’s ‘wave theory’ of terrorism idea) but it has probably been around since the creation of societies (rather than bands of hunter-gatherers). And it is here to stay.

Declaring victory against terrorism also suffers from the challenge of waging war against common nouns (think drugs, crime, etc.). These wars never end because one of the protagonists, unlike a state, cannot surrender: did you ever hear a bag of heroin say “Don’t shoot! I give up!”? So these proclamations are made for political and propaganda reasons but they really should be taken with a grain of salt.

This is not a defeatist position, it is a real one. And the sooner we can stop dreaming of unlikely goals the better off we will be.

>> NEXT WEDNESDAY: Why do we have anti-terrorism laws if are not going to use them?

Phil Gurski

President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting. Phil worked as a strategic analyst in the Canadian intelligence community for over 30 years, including 15 at CSIS, with assignments at Public Safety Canada and the Ontario Provincial Police. He specializes in radicalization and homegrown Al Qaeda/Islamic State/Islamist-inspired extremism. borealisrisk@gmail.com

Ramping up earthquake resilience in Istanbul

Turkish Catastrophe Insurance Pool issues second catastrophe bond

Straddling the Bosphorus, Istanbul is Turkey’s powerhouse, generating more than 40% of the country’s GDP. However, the 14 million people living and working in this vibrant metropolis live under constant threat of severe earthquakes, with the Northern Anatolian Fault running just south of the city beneath the Marmara Sea.

There is no telling when the next earthquake will strike. The government and businesses are acutely aware of the threat, and have already done a lot to strengthen the city’s resilience to destructive seismic activity.

Importantly, the government-sponsored Turkish Catastrophe Insurance Pool (TCIP) – managed by Eureko Sigorta – provides homeowners with compulsory earthquake insurance. In order to further strengthen the pool’s financial protection, TCIP has just sponsored a new USD 100m catastrophe bond.

Turkish Catastrophe Insurance Pool

Building relationships with the capital markets

The cat bond, known as Bosphorus Ltd. Series 2015-1 Class A, is the second of its kind. Providing a three-year cover as a derivative, the bond has a parametric trigger generating an immediate payout to TCIP if the agreed earthquake conditions are met. Complementing the existing traditional reinsurance program that Swiss Re also supports, the bond has an expected loss of 1.50% and pays an interest spread of 325 bps per annum to investors. The proceeds of the bond are invested in IBRD notes as collateral. Swiss Re Capital Markets acted as co-structurer for the transaction.

Andy Palmer, Senior ILS Structurer, explains that Turkey’s ability to transfer disaster risk to the international capital markets will help the country reduce pressure on government budgets and the broader economy in the event of a quake. Additionally, he adds, “Investors welcome this important sponsor back to the market, and recognise the diversification Turkey earthquake risk brings to their portfolios.”

Source: Swiss RE

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Upcoming training opportunities in Europe, the Middle East and Africa

Europe

Middle East

Africa


Contact Us

ContinuityLink
http://www.continuitylink.com
+1 514 572-4517
questions@continuitylink.com

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