Gulf in the News – April 11, 2013

Billionaires Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, Bill Gates Team Up to Defeat Polio

Source: Saudi – US Trade Group (Read full story)

Two of the richest men in the world, and the two richest men in the United States and Saudi Arabia respectively, are teaming up through their foundations to finally eradicate polio, according to a press release. “The Alwaleed Bin Talal Foundation-Global (Registered in Lebanon), chaired by HRH Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud, signed a Memorandum of Collaboration (MOC) in a unique partnership with The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, co-chaired by Mr. Bill Gates to bolster the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.  The Alwaleed Bin Talal Foundation has pledged $30 Million to this critical global effort…

Yemen president orders military shakeup

Source: Khaleej Times (Read full story)

In his latest move, Hadi not only removed Saleh’s son and two nephews from their posts, but also effectively ordered them to leave the country by posting them abroad. He removed Saleh’s son Ahmed as head of the Republican Guard and appointed him ambassador to the United Arab Emirates. The force is an elite army unit that was once the backbone of Saleh’s rule. It was supposed to be reorganized and brought under the control of the Defense Ministry according to Hadi’s orders last year, but those changes had not materialized on the ground. In a sign of how challenging the overhaul has been, Republican Guard troops earlier this week forced businesses closed and clashed with police and residents in the city of Radda, about 160 kilometers (100 miles) south of the capital.

Qatar in extra $3bn aid offer to Egypt

Qatar has already announced an aid package of $5bn to Egypt, comprising an outright grant of $1bn and $4bn in bank deposits. An IMF delegation is visiting Cairo for talks on the financing programme and is expected to examine Egypt’s efforts at economic reform. The government has been walking a tightrope as the reforms required by the international lender are likely to spark social tensions. The size of the loan may change, IMF officials have said, without elaborating. Egypt’s authorities believe the loan will help restore investor confidence in the country, where unrest that accompanied the 2011 uprising that toppled president Hosni Mubarak has caused a significant drop in revenue from the once-lucrative tourism industry.

MPs: media law may turn Kuwait into a police state

Source: Kuwait Times (Read full story)

Lawmakers are examining a new media law approved by the cabinet in a meeting last Monday, and several MPs have insisted that it will be rejected “should it be meant to turn our society into a police state”. The draft law is expected to reach the parliament next week, where it will first be studied by the educational committee before being debated by lawmakers, who can then either approve or reject it. Head of the panel Mishery Al-Hosaini commented after reviewing the bill that it can “help control chaos when news websites are licensed, and technically the penalties can only affect the offenders”.

UAE-funded camp for Syrian refugees opens in Jordan

Source: The National (Read full story)

Yesterday, a second desert camp – this one funded by the UAE and run by its Red Crescent Society – opened in Mrajeeb Al Fhood, about 37kilometres from the border, and welcomed its first batch of 110 Syrians. Children quickly became more cheerful after Emirati Red Crescent workers distributed food, colourful building blocks and other plastic toys.  Majed Sultan bin Sulieman, the society’s relief director at the camp, said Mrajeeb Al Fhood will initially host 5,000 refugees but can be expanded to about 25,000 residents – all living in trailers. Anmar Hmoud, a Jordanian government spokesman for Syrian refugee affairs, called it a “soft opening,” adding that more Syrians would soon fill up the site.

High-tech strategy for Haj at final stage

Source: Arab News (Read full story)

The Haj Ministry is currently giving final touches to a 25-year strategic plan that would bring about qualitative improvement in services being extended to millions of pilgrims who visit the holy cities from different parts of the world. “The plan has taken into consideration the increasing number of pilgrims who come for Haj and Umrah and the limitation of the holy sites,” said Haj Minister Bandar Hajjar. “A technical committee, which was set up last year under a royal decree, is giving final touches to the plan and it will be ready soon,” the minister said. Addressing a forum at King Abdulaziz University, Hajjar revealed plans to deport expat workers who performed Haj without permit or prevent them from entering the Kingdom for 10 years. He estimated the number of illegal visitors at 2.6 million, adding that they squatted in public places creating problems for legal pilgrims.