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The UAE is the 40th most peaceful country in the world, and the third most peaceful in the Gulf region, according to a survey of 144 nations released yesterday.

New Zealand and Denmark topped the rankings, released by the Institute for Economics and Peace, a research centre that looks at the relationship between economics and peace. Afghanistan and Iraq were named the least peaceful."Many people's perception of the Middle East is that it is a violent place, but the presence of Qatar, Oman and the UAE towards the top of the table shows otherwise," said Steve Killelea, the Australian businessman behind the index, which is collated and calculated by the Economist Intelligence Unit and endorsed by the World Bank and the OECD.

A broadly peaceful world was necessary for humanity to face up to global challenges such as climate change, Mr Killelea said.

"Unless the world is peaceful there will not be the cohesion needed to solve these problems," he said.

In the index, peace is defined as an absence of violence, with more emphasis on violence that occurs within countries, such as murder, than wars between nation states, Mr Killelea said.

Qatar, tied for 16th place, was the most peaceful country in the Middle East because of its high per capita income, low homicide rate, low jail population and low military spending, Mr Killelea said. Oman, in 21st place, was seen as politically less stable than Qatar, he said.

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