Gulf in the News – September 24, 2013

Kerry thanks UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah

Source: The National (Read full story)

The US secretary of state John Kerry has thanked Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, the Foreign Minister, for the UAE’s support for efforts to hold Bashar Al Assad accountable for using chemical weapons in Syria, as well as its backing for peace negotiations in Geneva to end the civil war there. During bilateral talks on Sunday, Sheikh Abdullah and Mr Kerry also affirmed the importance of Washington’s insistence on a binding, verifiable removal of Syria’s chemical weapons, a US state department official said. Mr Kerry met officials from a number of Arab countries to discuss issues likely to be addressed by the US president Barack Obama’s speech at the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, including Syria, Egypt and the Palestinian-Israeli peace process.

Saudi Arabia passes historic domestic abuse law

Source: Arabian Business (Read full story)

Saudi Arabia has passed historic legislation criminalising domestic abuse for the first time, as well as establishing treatment and shelter for victims. Law enforcement agencies are now accountable for investigating and prosecuting domestic cases. Previously, police treated violence against women and children as a private domestic matter with few legal consequences, according to Saudi Gazette. Public and private sector employees also are being encouraged to report abuse cases to police or the Ministry of Social Affairs. “All civilian or military employees and all workers in the private sector who learn of a case of abuse — by virtue of their work — shall report the case to their employers when they know it,” the Cabinet said in a statement.

GCC gearing up for regional rail network as trade volume soars

Source: The Saudi Gazette (Read full story)

With these domestic projects now moving forward from concept to execution, experts say the GCC rail network is closer to forging ahead. Once completed, it will not only help address road congestion but also from a macro-economic perspective, boost economic growth, diversify economies, boost inter-regional trade and enhance the possibility of major Gulf cities becoming international trade hubs. With such far-reaching implications, the region’s rail network aspiration has become a priority development goal for GCC member countries and a matter of keen interest for international stakeholders. An assessment of the planned regional rail’s progress to date and the way forward will be made by Dr. Ramiz Al-Assar PhD, World Bank – Resident Adviser, Gulf Cooperation Council – Secretariat General, Riyadh (KSA); Ibrahim Al Sabti, Director of Transportation Department, the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf-General Secretariat (KSA) at the forthcoming MENA Rail and Metro Summit, organized by MEED Events, and scheduled to take place on October 29-30, 2013 at the Beach Rotana Hotel, Abu Dhabi.

Yemen hopes donors will fulfil aid pledges

Source: Gulf News (Read full story)

Yemen hopes that donor countries that meet this week will honour their pledges of $7.8 billion to the country, of which nearly a quarter has been paid, the international cooperation minister said Tuesday. The country’s delegation to a meeting of the “Friends of Yemen,” scheduled on the margin of the UN General Assembly meeting Wednesday, “will ask for the support of donors for the stage that follows the national dialogue,” Mohammad Saadi said. The national dialogue is aimed at drafting a new constitution and prepare for elections in February 2014. Yemen has agreed with donors over a list of projects which amount to 85 per cent of total pledges, said Saadi, who also holds the planning portfolio.

World Bank supports Bahrain’s energy efficiency program

Source: Arab News (Read full story)

The agreement was signed by Bahrain’s Minister of Finance Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohamed Al-Khalifa, and Farrukh Iqbal, World Bank director for GCC countries.
Per capita energy consumption in Bahrain is among the highest in the world, reaching 11,800 Kilowatt Hours in 2012 with a peak demand of slightly over 2,900 Megawatt Hours. Annual electricity demand has been growing at around 10 percent in recent years due in particular to low electricity tariffs that do not incentivize the efficient use of energy. By 2020, energy demand is expected to reach 19,706 Gigawatt Hours with a peak demand of 4,312 Megawatts. The EEIP seeks to reduce inefficient energy consumption in the buildings sector covering residential, commercial and public buildings.