Gulf in the News – October 8, 2013

Government focuses on skills of Emiratis

Source: Khaleej Times (Read full story)

Shaikh Mohammed’s statement came during the graduation ceremony of the first batch of the Performance Management System for the employees of the Federal Government.  The ceremony was held in the Abu Dhabi Presidential Palace and was attended by Lt-General Shaikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, and Shaikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs.  Addressing the performance experts after the ceremony, Shaikh Mohammed stated: “We want our government’s work to be developed by the hands of our national experts and consultants. Government system is a contemporary science, and our objective is to develop specialised national competencies. We cannot keep competing internationally unless we qualify our national cadres to the international standards and make them an active part in the daily work cycle.

Kuwaiti economy “strong and stable” – finance minister

Source: Kuwait News Agency (Read full story)

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Sheikh Salem Abdulaziz Al-Sabah said that the economic situation of Kuwait is predominantly “strong and stable” – a point supported by the positive surpluses achieved in the internal and external budgets.  The strength of the economy is illustrated in the recording of an actual surplus of KD 12.7 billion (USD 45 billion) in the public budget for the FY 2012/13 which ended in March, representing 24.7 percent of the nominal GDP for 2012.  The current account balance in 2012 also achieved a surplus of around KD 22.  Two billion (USD 78.5 billion) representing 43.2 percent of the nominal GDP.  These financial surpluses, in spite of being a source of strength for the national economy, are fundamentally linked to the performance of international oil markets, which thus illustrates the importance of enhancing economic activity on a sustainable basis, he said.  He identified the most prominent challenges that face the economy, during this point in time, as being structural imbalances affecting the state public budget, the dynamics of the labour market and the limited private sector role in economic activity.

Le Drian: KSA, France have unified position on Syria

Source: Arab News (Read full story)

Speaking to a select group of journalists at the Royal Terminal in Jeddah on Monday, [French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian] said: “The shared French-Saudi approach is to strengthen and empower the Syrian National Coalition (SNC) and Gen. Salim Idris of the Free Syrian Army.”Le Drian conveyed a message from President Francois Hollande to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah during his meeting with him.  France has emerged as a strong ally of Gulf countries in an altered geopolitical scenario. The exceptionally warm reception that Le Drian received in Jeddah was indicative of the special relationship between the two countries.  “I am overwhelmed by the warm response from the Saudi leadership,” he said. “This goes to prove the depth of our strategic relationship.”  The minister said France was providing political, military and humanitarian support to the SNC and Gen. Salim Idris. “Our support and approach was commended by the Saudi leadership and the Saudi people,” said Le Drian.

Qatar supports OPCW resolution on Syria

Source: Gulf Times (Read full story)

Qatar has welcomed the resolution issued by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons’ (OPCW) Executive Council regarding the elimination of Syrian chemical weapons, believing in the principle of the inadmissibility of the use of chemical weapons under any circumstances.   In his address during the second session of the extraordinary meeting of the OPCW’s executive council No 33, Charge d’Affaires at the embassy of Qatar in The Hague Khalid Fahad al-Hajri called on the international community to fully co-operate with the organisation in responding to the destruction, horrific massacres and the scorched earth policy pursued by the Syrian regime against its people through the use of chemical weapons.

Egypt’s Mansour arrives in Saudi Arabia for first official visit

Source: The National (Read full story)

Saudi’s King Abdullah was the first Arab leader to recognise congratulate Mr Mansour’s government and pledged US$5 billion in aid to Egypt after Islamist president Mohammed Morsi was removed from power in July.  “Visiting the kingdom was a must, as I had to thank the custodian of the two holy mosques (King Abdullah) personally on his supportive stances that comforted the Egyptians,” Mr Mansour told the Saudi daily Asharq Al Awsat.  With the Egyptian economy in turmoil, Mr Mansour will be relying on continued support from Saudi Arabia.  “The goal here is to deepen the relationship with Saudi at a time when Egypt needs Saudi more than ever,” said Shadi Hamid, fellow at the Brookings Institution in Doha.  After Egypt’s military removed a widely unpopular Mr Morsi on July 3, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait offered the interim government a combined $12bn in aid.

Oman Fisheries aims to popularise Taqa brand in GCC

Source: Times of Oman (Read full story)

The Taqa brand of ready-to-use breaded seafood products is steadily establishing itself as a delicious, protein-rich and healthier alternative to junk foods that have flooded the market, garnering sales of as much as 400 tonnes last year across local and foreign markets.  Oman Fisheries is the first company to launch breaded and battered fish and seafood products in the Sultanate, a decade ago in 2003. And the sales figures are a clear indication of a slow but gradual preference for seafood among a large number of consumers.   “Consumption of breaded fish is truly picking up in the Sultanate, but challenges remain. There is need for more awareness drives to highlight seafood options,” an official at Oman Fisheries commented, adding the company plans to open more outlets to widen market reach of Taqa products.