FIFTEEN PER cent of engineers working in the Middle East said this week that they planned to leave the region as a result of on-going conflict in Israel and Lebanon.
Many said that the hostilities had made working in the region more difficult.
More than 2,000 engineers were interviewed by international recruitment consultant EPCglobal in conjunction with NCE. Most, 71%, said that the region had become a more difficult place to work in, with 65% claiming that the region is more dangerous than ever before.
But security experts played down the risks. 'Let's not forget that unrest in the region goes back a long way, ' said one. 'I can understand why engineers think that, but it was probably the fall of communism in the 1990s that really made the world a more dangerous place, ' said security consultant C2i International director Mark Cooper.
'I suppose it has [become more dangerous] if you are based in Lebanon, but in the region as a whole I am not sure that much has changed. It is another scene in an act in a play, ' he said.
'Most danger comes from accidents. Road traffic accidents are still the biggest cause of death and injury for people working overseas, ' says Cooper.
However, a massive 72% of the engineers polled believed the biggest threat to personal safety in the region came from aggrieved groups or individuals, or the knock-on effect from the bombing of a symbolic institution or building.
According to the poll, engineers believe Iraq is the most dangerous place to work, followed by Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Cooper confimed this view: 'The most dangerous places to work in the world at the moment are: Iraq, followed by the Niger Delta, specifically for oil and gas engineers, Afghanistan and then Saudi Arabia - westerners are still being targeted there.'
For full survey results go to www. nceplus. co. uk.
(see also feature p16).