Gulf in the News – November 18, 2013

Prosperous present, bright future: Oman marks 43rd National Day

Source: Middle East Online (Read full story)

On November 18, 2013, the Omani people celebrate the 43rd National Day… Over the years of the Sultanate’s modern renaissance, the Omani citizen constituted the cornerstone and the moving force for progress at all levels. The deep confidence and Royal patronage of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos formed a solid foundation for national development. This was made clear in His Majesty’s speech on November 12, 2012 on the occasion of opening of the 5th Term of Majlis Oman (Council of Oman), which coincided with the opening of the Majlis’s building in the area of Al Bustan, Muscat. On this occasion, His Majesty said, “We have directed the government to focus in its future development plans on social development (particularly in aspects related to citizens’ livelihood) by providing more employment opportunities and training programmes, and by raising the volume of productivity. We are following up the steps being taken and this matter will also be the focus of attention of the Supreme Council for Planning.”

Qatar appoints global firm to probe Amnesty claims

Source: The Peninsula (Read full story)

The London-based Amnesty International yesterday urged Qatar to step up measures to protect the rights of migrant construction workers but said the country’s leadership was much more open to suggestions on human rights issues.  Releasing a report on Qatar “The Dark Side of Migration” yesterday, Amnesty’s Secretary General Salil Al Shetty said: “It is simply inexcusable that  so many workers are being exploited in one of the richest countries in the world.” … The rights watchdog said Qatar should see 2022 FIFA World Cup as an opportunity to “address a problem which everyone thinks should be solved.” “In the Gulf region, Qatar is much more open and accessible on human rights issues. In all our meetings one of the refreshing things is that, across the board they are very willing to acknowledge that there is a problem and oriented towards finding a solution,” said Shetty. He said the Supreme Committee for Qatar 2022 had told Amnesty that it would issue conditions related to workers’ safety to be followed by contractors of the World Cup projects.

Arab, African FMs meet to boost cooperation

Source: The Kuwait Times (Read full story)

Arab and African foreign ministers met in Kuwait yesterday hoping to accelerate a strategy to bolster economic cooperation, investment and trade ahead of [The Third Africa Arab Summit] this week … The one-day meeting adopted the agenda for the summit, where leaders are expected to approve a raft [sic] of new measures to upgrade economic ties between the two regions, including the oil-rich Gulf and sub-Saharan Africa. The top diplomats approved the Kuwait Declaration, a statement regarding developments of the situation in Palestine and draft resolutions of the summit, diplomatic sources close to the meeting said. “It is time to upgrade and activate the Arab-African joint work to serve the peoples in both regions,” Kuwait’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Sabah told the opening session. Sheikh Khaled told reporters late Saturday the summit, held under the title “Partners in Development and Investment” is expected to discuss the possibility of creating an Arab-African common market.  Thirty-four heads of state, seven vice-presidents and three heads of government have confirmed their attendance at the summit, which will bring together 71 countries and organisations, according to organisers.

Riyadh on high alert after flooding

Source: Saudi Gazette (Read full story)

Three members of a family were killed and an expat woman’s body was retrieved after three people were reported missing in heavy rains that lashed Riyadh city and other regions of the province.  Civil Defense teams retrieved on Sunday the body of an expatriate woman who was swept away in flash floods in Riyadh’s Wadi Nimar Saturday evening, Col. Abdullah Al-Harthy, spokesman of Civil Defense, said. The teams are continuing search for the other missing people. A total of 228 Civil Defense personnel were taking part in the search operation.  Civil Defense units have rescued a total of 98 people trapped mainly in their vehicles as heavy downpour that began on Saturday night continued on Sunday in most parts of Riyadh.  Riyadh Emir Prince Khaled Bin Bandar held on Sunday afternoon a meeting of top officials to review the emergency measures taken to deal with the situation.   Prince Khaled and Deputy Emir Prince Turki Bin Abdullah directed the officials to take all possible measures to ensure safety of the people affected by rain and flash floods.

Houthi rebels shell school in Sadaa, 2 dead

Source: The Gulf Today (Read full story)

Three people were killed on Sunday when Houthi rebels shelled a school in a northern Yemeni town where sectarian fighting has killed more than 100 people, a spokesman for a hardline Sunni Muslim group said.  Houthi fighters control much of the northerly Saada province, on the border with Saudi Arabia, which has been their base for a long-running rebellion against the government, and the sectarian rivalry in the town of Damaj is now hampering reconciliation efforts.  Government-brokered ceasefires have failed to stop the fighting, which broke out last month when Houthis accused Salafists of recruiting thousands of foreign fighters to prepare to attack them.

KSA wins anti-dumping case against India

Source: Arab News (Read full story)

Saudi Arabia has won an anti-dumping case on petrochemical exports to India, Commerce and Industry Minister Tawfiq Al-Rabiah announced on Sunday.  “The ministry’s efforts, in coordination with the Saudi-based Chemanol Company, helped in ending the investigation launched by the Indian authorities,” he said.  He said New Delhi has agreed not to impose anti-dumping duties on Chemanol, the Kingdom’s only exporter of pentaerythritol. India had launched an investigation against the Saudi company on May 22, 2012 in light of complaints raised by local producers.  Abdul Rahman Al-Zamil, president of the Export Development Center, commended Indian authorities for adopting a realistic and positive approach to end anti-dumping cases against Saudi petrochemical exports. “This will benefit end users of products made of petrochemicals in India and boost India’s exports,” Al-Zamil told Arab News.