Saudi Arabia Flexes it's Muscle: Monitor Events and Ensure Travel Risk Management Systems are in Place
By: Joe Gleason, AHT Insurance
Saudi Arabia was the at the center of three events last week that may signal an increase in tension across the region:
- Apparent interception near Riyadh’s airport of a missile fired from Yemen. Saudi officials have implicated Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah in the incident – escalating an already tense situation.
- Detention of many prominent Saudis, including members of the royal family and business leaders, on charges of corruption.
- Resignation of Lebanon’s Prime Minister, Saad Hariri during a trip to Saudi Arabia. Hariri had long been supported by the government in Riyadh and his departure was blamed on Hezbollah’s, and its patron Iran’s, role in continued political instability in Lebanon.
It’s difficult to know the extent to which these events, and an increase in tension, may impact business travelers to the region. With longstanding sectarian tensions, Lebanon may be most vulnerable to increased instability given Prime Minister Hariri’s resignation and the accompanying controversy. Last week’s events played out in the context of a wider proxy struggle between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Iran in the region including Syria, Yemen and the ongoing dispute between Qatar and other Gulf countries.
Organizations with operations in and travelers to Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and the region more generally should ensure they have appropriate travel risk management systems in place including:
- Monitoring events closely for changes in the security environment though media sources and local contacts as well as security assistance providers such as International SOS, AIG Travel Guard, United Healthcare Global, etc.
- Being prepared to alter plans at short notice based on developments on the ground.
- Reviewing communication resources and procedures to enhance the ability to reach people at short notice and account for personnel in the event of an incident.
- Tracking travelers to the region closely to quickly determine exposure in the event of an incident or significant deterioration of the environment
These travel risk management best practices are important in today’s complex global risk environment – and more so during times of increased tension. Ensuring these systems are in place prior to an incident or significant deterioration in the environment enhances response and helps meet duty of care obligations.