Gulf in the News – December 18, 2013

Kuwait Parliament Speaker praises deeply-rooted Gulf-EU relations

Source: Kuwait News Agency (Read full story)

Kuwait’s National Assembly (Parliament) Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanim lauded Tuesday the strong and historic ties between Gulf Cooperation Council member states (GCC) and Europe.  “Relations between the GCC countries and Europe are distinguished in all domains,” Al-Ghanim told KUNA following a meeting with the President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz.  He went on to say that “GCC states are the fifth biggest trade partner to the European Union.” Al-Ghanim added that GCC states are about to unify economic legislations to pave the way for broader and strategic partnership with the EU countries.

US shale gas ‘may hurt profits of Saudi petchem complexes’

Source: Arab News (Read full story)

Rising Saudi energy demand is a bigger threat to Saudi Arabia than surging US shale output, Jadwa Investment bank says in a study published on Wednesday.  But Jadwa sees a bigger impact from the US shale industry on Saudi petrochemicals companies that use gas as a feedstock.  It indicated that an abundance of cheap natural gas liquids (NGLs), produced by the US shale gas boom, could make Saudi petrochemicals industries less competitive than they have been to date. But Jadwa Investment expects steep decline rates of tight oil wells and their limited productivity to soften the blow of the US shale revolution on the Kingdom.  Over the last few years, the rapid increase of tight oil and shale gas production in the US has brought about a significant change to the global energy landscape.

Rights Group Raises Alarm Over Migrants in Qatar

Source: New York Times (Read full story)

Dozens of migrant workers hired to do construction work on a prominent skyscraper in Qatar are running low on food after working for almost a year without pay, a leading rights group said on Wednesday.  The allegations by Amnesty International add further pressure on the tiny but wealthy Gulf nation over its treatment of overseas laborers transforming the country as it prepares to host the World Cup in 2022.  Qatar and neighboring Arab Gulf states rely on millions of low-wage migrant workers, mainly from South Asia, to provide the muscle to raise high-rise towers, stadiums and other large-scale building projects.

Kuwait mulls amnesty for illegal expatriates

Source: Kuwait Times (Read full story)

Kuwait may grant an amnesty to illegal expatriates in early 2014 – the first time in three years – and just a few months after a similar amnesty in neighboring Saudi Arabia. Under the amnesty period, expatriates living illegally in Kuwait would be given the option to legalize their status by paying fines or leave the country without having to pay fines or risk being blacklisted.  …  No specific details were given on the duration of the amnesty period or when it might begin. Around 42,000 expatriates living illegally in Kuwait benefited from a four-month amnesty period which ended on June 30, 2011, according to the Interior Ministry.

National Day parade to be a star attraction

Source: Gulf Times (Read full story)

The magnificent parade by Qatar’s Armed Forces, to be held along the scenic Doha Corniche this morning, as in the last five years, will be the main attraction of the Qatar National Day celebrations.  Not withstanding the chilly morning conditions, several thousands of the country’s residents, both the citizens and expatriates, are expected to line up along the more than 1.6km stretch between the Qatar National Theatre and Emiri Diwan signals to view the parade.

Economists call for 40-hour work week

Source: Arab News (Read full story)

Economists have criticized the Shoura Council’s decision to postpone the approval of a proposed labor law, which calls for a two-day weekend and 40 hours of work per week.  According to Salim Ba’ajaja, an economist, the ministry is hesitant to implement the law due to the opposition of local businessmen who have cited grave concerns that a two-day weekend would lead to a rise in prices. In addition, businessmen have said that some 600,000 Saudi workers, employed in the last 18 months would face losing their jobs as a result of the implementation of such a decision.