UAE government urged to make national resilience a strategic imperative


  • National resilience is the ability to survive crises, seize opportunities, prevent and manage risks
  • Risks faced by GCC countries range from natural catastrophes to human-related accidents
  • OECD says negative consequences from major disruptive event can reach upto 20 percent of GDP


The growing number of natural and man-made disasters around the world – from earthquakes and floods to recent cyber attacks against organizations – highlight the need for GCC countries to adopt a National Resilience framework, according to a Booz Allen Hamilton report titled “Building National Resilience”. The report explains how national resilience is a nation’s ability to survive crises, seize existing market opportunities, and prevent and manage risks in a changing world.

According to data from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the negative consequences from a major disruptive event can reach up to 20 percent of a country’s GDP.

Taking prior precautions

The 2014 Ebola outbreak provided the starkest contrast of how building resilience can affect catastrophic events. Sierra Leone experienced the highest rate of infection in Africa with 8,706 reported cases, along with the second highest death rate, whereas Nigeria successfully contained the outbreak, suffering just 20 cases and eight deaths. How is it that these two West African states had such markedly different outcomes? The answer lies in resilience.

In the GCC, cyber attacks are costing the government an estimated $1 billion annually, according to the ICS Cyber Security Forum. The multiple Shamoon attacks on Saudi government agencies and the Gauss virus attack on Lebanese banks in 2012, are just two examples of how such disruptions threaten the ecosystem of organizations and nations not just in the GCC but even across the wider MENA region.

Gearing up for Expo 2020

The UAE for example, is investing $7 billion in infrastructure development for Expo 2020 to prepare for an influx of 25 million international visitors.

An effective national resilience strategy would help authorities implement integration between sectors (e.g., transportation, telecommunications, hospitality), fortify the security measures of existing systems, establish infrastructure redundancies to purposely create spare capacity to accommodate disruptions, and transform the 280,000 employment opportunities created by the event into a blueprint for sustainable economic growth.

Diverse nature of risks

Nabih Maroun, Executive Vice President at Booz Allen Hamilton MENA, says: “The risks faced by GCC countries are diverse, ranging from natural events such as flooding and sand storms, to human-related accidents. We encourage GCC governments to make national resilience an integral part of their strategic agendas in the next few years to address such possible disruptions, which are concerns for all mature economies.”

Booz Allen Hamilton indicates that the best way to tailor resilience strategy is to adopt and implement a comprehensive framework. As a starting point, the World Bank and the OECD have published resilience guidelines that are widely recognized in the international community.