Gulf in the News – September 27, 2013

3rd US-GCC Strategic Cooperation Forum

Source: SUSRIS (Read full story)

A joint communique from the second ministerial meeting of the U.S.-GCC Strategic Cooperation Forum, on October 1, 2012, described the purposes of the effort: “The Forum was launched in March 2012 to deepen strategic cooperation and coordination of policies to advance shared political, military, security, and economic interests in the Gulf region, foster enhanced stability and security throughout the Middle East, and strengthen the close ties between the GCC and the United States.” Aluwaisheg said the move probably reflected Washington’s recognition of the growing role of the GCC and its increased cohesiveness, coupled with the heightened threats in the region.

Shaikh Abdullah attends GCC meeting with Kerry

Source: Khaleej Times (Read full story)

Shaikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Foreign Minister, attended the Gulf Cooperation Council for Arab States (GCC) ministerial meeting with the US Secretary of State John Kerry, held on the sidelines of the 68th Session of the UN General Assembly on Thursday. The meeting was also attended by the US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel. During the meeting, the GCC foreign ministers discussed with Kerry ways to strengthen relations and strategic cooperation between the GCC states and the US in political, economic and security areas, including coordination between the two sides in the political, military and security fields. The two sides also exchanged views on the latest regional and international developments, as well as on issues on the agenda, in particular developments in the Middle East peace process, efforts to settle the standoff in Syria, the issue of chemical weapons in Syria, developments in Egypt and topics related to Iran, including the Iranian nuclear programme.

GCC plan to tackle employment of unskilled women

Source: Arab News (Read full story)

 GCC states are discussing a plan for the employment of GCC women with low educational qualifications who are over 35 years of age, said a Gulf source.  “The proposal will oblige contractors of the private sector to employ women in this category in projects pertaining to the government sector,” said the source. A recent meeting held between representatives of GCC labor ministers approved a plan to enhance job opportunities for GCC women, said Fawzi Al-Majdali, secretary general of a program that deals with the restructuring of the labor force. A timeframe to finalize plans and programs had not been discussed. Majdali said that each Gulf state would submit studies to employ women in the private sector.

Bahrain stung by Obama comment on tensions

Source: Arabian Business (Read full story)

Bahrain voiced disappointment with President Barack Obama’s description of the kingdom as beset by sectarian tension, arguing its problem was with “terrorists” who fomented division. Bahrain has been rocked by almost daily clashes by members of the Shi’ite Muslim majority since February 2011, when it quelled a Shi’ite-led uprising demanding the Sunni al-Khalifa dynasty give up power. In a speech to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, Obama mentioned “efforts to resolve sectarian tensions that continue to surface in places like Iraq, Bahrain and Syria”. The reference prompted Bahrain’s ambassador to the United States, Houda Nonoo, to say on a website described as her official blog that she was “disappointed to hear him compare the situation in Bahrain to that of the current situation in Iraq and the unfolding tragedies in Syria”.

Poor and desperate, Syrian refugees beg on Yemen’s streets

Source: Reuters (Read full story)

UNHCR says there are about 900 registered Syrian refugees in Yemen, the bulk of whom have arrived this year, and settled in the capital Sanaa, followed by the southern hub of Aden. Geddo says there may be as many as 1,600 unregistered refugees, according to a rough estimate compiled by an international non-governmental organization. “There is a fear of insecurity. When people are traumatized they may well fear that if the government found out that they went to another country they may be persecuted,” he said. Geddo said UNHCR was planning a program to encourage unregistered refugees to come forward and seek assistance. The agency can provide identification letters, blankets, kitchen utensils and cash assistance for the most vulnerable, as well as help admitting their children to schools in Yemen.

Saudi Arabia most attractive G20 country in tax and regulation

Source: CPI Financial (Read full story)


The tax system in Saudi Arabia imposes a particularly light administrative burden on entrepreneurs. There are only three payments to be made each year, whereas double figures are common elsewhere in the G20 countries. Similarly, the average time spent by businesses on their tax affairs amounts to just 77 hours which is the lowest across the G20 (2010-12 average). In addition, the cost of setting up a business is around a third less than the G20 average (2010-12 average). In terms of employment regulations, labour taxes are among the lowest in the G20. “This year, the barometer calls on G20 governments to collaborate with entrepreneurs in order to kick-start their economies and create jobs,” comments Abu-Sharkh. Room for improvement for entrepreneurship culture Among the G20 countries, Saudi Arabia ranked 20th, making fostering an entrepreneurship culture a primary challenge.