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The Business of… Illegal Drugs

No one knows its exact scale, but it’s thought to be one of the biggest industries on the planet, amounting to almost 1 percent of global GDP. Kipp takes a look.

November 29, 2010 3:48 by

Drugs in the region

According to CNN, the Middle East leads the world in amphetamine seizures, but governments have been slow to admit to the problem. Professor Jallal Toufiq, founder of the Middle East and North Africa Harm Reduction Association told CNN: “There is a worsening of the drug situation in the whole region, with no exceptions. We have to be very careful about this because there are no trend studies, but if you collect indirect indicators, I can tell you with certainty there’s an increase in drug abuse in the region.”

The UN reports that heroin use in the Middle East may also be increasing, however it concedes that data is limited. Meanwhile in 2007 the largest increase in cocaine seizures took place in the Near and Middle East.

But amphetamines appear to be the region’s drug of choice. The National reported only this week that Dubai and Saudi police claim to have shattered a multinational drug smuggling operation. A year-long operation dubbed Operation Fox Hunt led to the arrest of six people and the seizure of 11 million pills worth AED 550 million.


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