COVID-19 Pandemic as a Threat to National Security

Statement of the Threat

The 2019–2020 COVID-19 pandemic is an ongoing pandemic caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus. It broke out in the Chinese province of Hubei in December 2019 and within a few months has spread worldwide triggering a global health alarm and changing the daily lives of millions of people across the globe. The United Arab Emirates was the first country in the Middle East to report a coronavirus case at the end of January, followed by a steady increase in the number of positive cases, with a total of 10,349 total confirmed cases as of April 26, 2020 (COVID-19 Update, 2020). It is a dynamic and fast-moving global health crisis that poses an ongoing challenge to national security and stability.

Definition of the Threat

The COVID-19 pandemic is a biological threat of natural origin. The virus is transmitted from person to person when an infected person touches or exchanges bodily fluids with someone else. The estimates of the incubation period range between 1 and 14 days. Although the virus evolved from naturally occurring strains without any signs of it being biological warfare, the rapid spread of the disease and its impact on all aspects of people’s life still raises the questions of the nations’ preparedness for biological threats.

Current State of the Threat

The government of the UAE implemented severe measures to limit the spread of the virus, including the closure of schools and universities, cancellation of sports events, festivals, and religious services, and closure of retail outlets and public spaces. Many businesses and transportation services throughout the country were forced to close or highly impacted by shutdown restrictions. The citizens are required to follow a social distancing protocol. As Khaleej Times writes, MoHAP confirmed that it had taken “all the necessary precautions in accordance with the scientific recommendations, conditions, and standards approved by the World Health Organization” (100 Days of COVID-19, 2020). The quarantine measures are mainly focused on preventing the person-to-person transmission of the virus and minimizing the risk of exposure. With an increasing number of new COVID-19 cases being recorded every day, the response to the threat remains a national security priority.

Impact of the Threat

With the government undertaking severe measures to lessen the impact of the virus on the citizens’ health, the economic and social consequences of the pandemic are yet to be examined and analyzed. Regional and international quarantine regulations provide a number of challenges to all industries and business sectors of the Middle East economy (Kleinsmith, 2020). The pandemic caused a drop in domestic and external demand for oil and gas products, a downfall of oil prices, halts in oil and gas production, labor shortages, and a drop in consumer confidence, which resulted in the decrease of economic activities in the region. The quarantine has affected all major industries, including energy, aviation, travel, and tourism, e-commerce, retail, food, and culture. Unemployment rates have raised significantly, which revealed a number of social problems. Currently, the quarantine measures and their consequences provide a more significant threat to national security than the virus itself, with every aspect of the national security agenda being affected by the pandemic.

Future Projection of the Threat

The virus is anticipated to have both short- and long-term effects on every aspect of people’s lives, as well as on every organization and industry, particularly the most vulnerable sectors of the economy and national security. The quarantine measures are about to be lifted or softened in a few weeks, with several national air carriers planning to resume passenger fights on May 16, major retail outlets preparing for reopening in May, and the restrictions on the movement being eased up (COVID-19 Update, 2020). A number of quarantine measures are still in operation, including the disinfection of public spaces, curfew, and travel restrictions. The government is developing plans to minimize the economic pain and increase national security levels in order to prepare the country for recovery.


The COVID-19 pandemic became a major challenge to the country’s national security. It demonstrated that the measures required to provide an answer to a global biological threat cause serious consequences in every area of national importance. The unprecedented quarantine measures imposed by all countries throughout the globe affect all sectors of the economy, as well as all aspects of people’s life, travel, international politics, and communications. To adapt to the new environment, new strategies for dealing with global threats need to be established. As Laipson (2020) notes, “The global pandemic has shaken the confidence in governments’ capacity to respond to threats that the scientific and health communities have long been well aware of”. No country or health system worldwide was fully prepared for the globally catastrophic biological event of any sort. The virus itself provides fewer problems to the national security than the restrictions associated with the quarantine, and in order to provide a timely and adequate answer, the government policy regarding biological and economic threats has to be revised and updated.


100 Days of COVID-19: When UAE reported its first case. (2020). Web.

COVID-19 Update — United Arab Emirates. (2020). Akin Gump. Web.

Kleinsmith, E. (2020). COVID-19 and biological threats require a new approach to national security. Web.

Laipson, E. (2020). After the Pandemic: COVID-19 exposes threat of biological warfare. Web.

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