Gulf in the News – February 3, 2014

Shoura clears 40-hour week for private sector

Source: Arab News (Read full story)

The Shoura Council has endorsed a proposal to reduce the weekly working hours for employees in the private sector from 45 to 40 with a two-day weekend.  The Shoura members, who met on Monday, adopted a number of amendments to the Labor Law and agreed to reduce total weekly working hours from 45 to 40. They also agreed to make the working contract unlimited if it is renewed three times and if the total employment period had touched four years.

Egypt court acquits Al Jazeera cameraman

Source: The Peninsula (Read full story)

An Egyptian court yesterday acquitted a cameraman working for Al Jazeera television and 61 others accused of taking part in clashes in Cairo, judicial sources said.  Mohamed Badr, an Egyptian, was arrested along with the others during clashes that erupted in Ramses Square in central Cairo, days after the July 3 ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Mursi by the army.  Prosecution had accused them of “carrying out acts of violence and thuggery … after an attempt to storm a police station and target police officers with firearms and birdshots”.

UAE summons Qatar envoy over ‘insults’ by Yusuf Qaradawi

Source: Arab News (Read full story)

The UAE summoned the Qatari ambassador on Sunday to protest against remarks made by a Muslim Brotherhood-linked cleric who slammed the Emirates for jailing hardliners, the Foreign Ministry said.
The summons was the first of its kind by a GCC state against another GCC state since the bloc’s formation in 1981.  Qatar’s ambassador to the UAE, Fares Al-Nuaimi, was summoned to the Foreign Ministry in Abu Dhabi and handed “an official letter of protest” over “insults” by cleric Yusuf Qaradawi, WAM reported.

GCC emergency center in Kuwait

Source: Kuwait Times (Read full story)

In a step that reflects the amount of anxiety and concern in the Middle East region, leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states decided to establish a GCC emergency center, to be headquartered in Kuwait, in order to provide all preparations and means to face disasters, whether natural or manmade.

40 die in Yemen as rebels overrun rival strongholds

Source: Arab News (Read full story)

Shiite rebels have overrun strongholds of a rival Sunni tribal group in fighting that has killed at least 40 people in northern Yemen in the last two days, tribal sources said on Sunday.  The fighting compounds the challenges faced by US-allied Yemen, which is struggling to stabilize a country that is home to one of Al-Qaeda’s most active branches.  One of the poorest countries in the Arab world, it has been in turmoil since mass protests in 2011 forced long-serving President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down.

WTO deal to spur GCC petrochemical exports

Source: Arab News (Read full story)

…According to the WTO, the benefits accruing to the world economy from the Trade Facilitation Agreement are estimated to be between $400 billion and $1 trillion as costs of trade are set to decrease by 10 percent to 15 percent, contributing to increased trade flows and higher revenues while creating a stable business environment.