Gulf in the News – October 30, 2013

Amir urges it’s time to change ‘old concepts’

Source: Kuwait Times (Read full story)

HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah yesterday called for undertaking comprehensive reforms and change old concepts and launch a new page of cooperation between the government and the Assembly. “It’s time to launch a new decisive era and a major qualitative move aimed at achieving comprehensive reforms and completing construction, growth and development in all aspects of life,” the Amir said as he opened the new National Assembly term following a summer recess. The Amir also urged the legislature and the government to cooperate closely to undertake projects urgently needed by the country after delays as a result of political disputes witnessed by the country in the past few years.

Qatar and Oman seek ways to expand co-operation

Source: Gulf Times (Read full story)

HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and Sultan Qaboos bin Saeed of Oman held a session of official talks at Bait Al-Baraka Palace in the Omani capital, Muscat, yesterday.  The talks dealt with co-operation between the two countries and ways of expanding their scopes in various fields, and the latest regional developments and issues of common interest. Earlier on arrival in Muscat on a two-day visit, the Emir and the accompanying delegation was received by Sultan Qaboos,   a number of ministers, Qatar’s ambassador to Oman Abdullah Mohamed al-Khater, Oman’s ambassador to Qatar Mohamed bin Nasser bin Hamad al-Wahaibi and the Qatari embassy staff in the Sultanate. In a statement he gave on arrival the Emir expressed pleasure at visiting Oman and meet  Sultan Qaboos bin Saeed and wished the Omani people further progress.

Saudi Arabia is world’s second highest remittance-sending country

Source: AME Info (Read full story)

Saudi Arabian residents sent approximately $27.6 billion in outward remittances last year, according to the World Bank – ahead of the rest of the Mena region. The kingdom not only tops the list in the Arab world, but also is second worldwide, behind the US. It has been estimated that the majority of recipients were based in India ($8.4bn), Egypt ($5.7bn) and Pakistan ($3bn). Robust oil prices and vibrant economic activity in the country have led to a surge in urban development, which, in turn, increased the demand for foreign labour. Within the GCC region, the UAE is in second place with $20.3bn, way ahead of Kuwait, which comes third with $8.5bn. The Saudi Economic Review, published by The National Commercial Bank, records the average cost of sending $200 stands at approximately 4.5 per cent.

Joint GCC defense strategy stressed

Source: Arab News (Read full story)

The Gulf Cooperation Council has stepped up efforts to boost defense cooperation, align security initiatives and face security challenges, said Abdullateef Al-Zayani, GCC secretary general, while speaking at an international conference in Bahrain on Tuesday. Al-Zayani warned that the GCC has emerged as a strong regional bloc and that “an attack on any one member state would be considered an attack on all GCC states.” He said that the GCC has embarked on a path of defense cooperation keeping in view the external threats that aim to “destabilize” the region. Although foreign military threats are low, the policy to unify the defense policies of the Gulf states will continue because they are consistent with the emerging regional and international realities, and with the internal logic of the region’s development as a whole, he added.

UAE ranked 9th best country in the world for expats

Source: Gulf News (Read full story)

Increased job prospects, higher salaries and better economy. These are just some of the factors that prompted many expatriates in the latest HSBC Expat Explorer survey to choose the UAE as the best country in the world for foreigners. The 2013 edition of the survey, which was released on Wednesday, ranked the UAE the 9th best country overall for people choosing to move abroad. The ranking was based on expat attitudes towards their host countries in terms of several parameters such as financial incentives, quality of life and ease of raising children. The UAE landed the 16th spot in terms of economics and scored the 26th place in work/life balance, working environment, social life, entertainment and local transport, among many others.

Standardizing regulation ‘key to Islamic finance’

Source: Gulf Daily News (Read full story)

Standardizing regulation of the Islamic finance industry is vital, the Crown Prince said. This will ensure “universality of application, to keep the industry attractive, reliable and trusted, and able to meet the ever-growing demand,” His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander, First Deputy Premier and Economic Development Board (EDB) chairman, said in his speech to the ninth World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF) which opened in London yesterday. The Crown Prince encouraged the development of new asset classes within Islamic finance, covering private equity, infrastructure and liquidity products, while also calling for greater supply of existing products such as sukuk.