Trump says he wants answers, yet acts differently

It looks as though Saudi Arabia has got away with allegedly killing a journalist- an outspoken critic of the Saudi regime- with little to no damage to its relations with the West. It is hardly surprising that it has happened. This is what Saudi Arabia was banking on. When I was in the Middle East, as a journalist (and yes I have met Jamal Khashoggi...
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Trump weighs Saudi Arabia's fate in Khashoggi affair

Will the US take "action" against Saudi Arabia for the alleged murder of Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, at the Saudi Embassy in Istanbul, Turkey? It's unlikely that any retaliatory measure will be severe enough to put a USD $110 billion arms deal by the US at risk. More than that though. The US still sees Saudi Arabia as a key ally against the ...
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Disappearance of Saudi journalist puts Erdogan in difficult situation

Keeping an eye on what is happening with “disappeared” journalist Khashoggi, it would appear that a full-blown diplomatic incident is looming. This is not surprising. Journalists often “disappear” in Saudi and in the United Arab Emirates. This is how Al Monitor reports the incident.

 

Disappearance of Saudi journalist puts Erdogan in difficult situation

Semih Idiz October 9, 2018

 Article Summary

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Qatar isn't paying World Cup stadium workers

One of the Qatari construction companies isn’t paying its workers. And workers just can’t up and leave, or move to another employers, according to the article below.

When I arrived in Dubai, in the UAE, the weekend was still only a day and a half (half of Friday and Saturday) although journalists seldom got Friday off (or I didn’t anyway). And if you wanted to leave an employer that was in Dubai proper- ie not in a free zone- you needed to ask the permission of your employer. Employers also retained employees’ passports.

This was the same in Qatar. A lot of people were not allowed to move to another employee.  And I’ve heard of other people and companies not being paid. Therefore, I was not surprised to read this article in The Daily Mail.

 

 Amnesty International says Qatar isn't paying World Cup stadium workers, with hundreds owed up to £4,000

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Barriers for refugees in NZ with employment and heathcare

Press Release: 24 September 2018- Christchurch, New Zealand

 Failure to speak English is the main barrier refugees face when looking for employment and accessing healthcare.

 Other barriers to finding employment include discrimination- ethnic and gender- a lack of local work experience and a failure by employers to recognise qualifications gained outside New Zealand.

 These are discussed further in a study carried out by the Canterbury Refugee Resettlement and Resource Centre (CRRRC). This study gathered information on the challenges refugees face when seeking employment, the quality of that employment, the state of refugee health and the ability of refugees to access health services.

 The information was elicited from refugees themselves via a questionnaire. “Although the survey was conducted among refugees in Christchurch and its surrounds, the answers can be extrapolated to the rest of New Zealand,” one of the co-researchers, Sumaiya Nasir, general manager of the CRRRC said.

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Filipina expat forced to work as prostitute in Arab country

There are many Filipinas/os in the Middle East, most of whom are looking for good employment opportunities so that they can send money back home- often to send their children to work. It’s a sad situation. Even more so, when we learn that the mother is forced into prostitution and documents taken away.

 I spotted this on the website of Khaleej Times, a national newspaper in the UAE.

 Filipina expat forced to work as prostitute in Arab country

Filed on September 19, 2018 | Last updated on September 19, 2018 at 05.58 pm

 

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Ben Bernanke on the financial crisis of 2008 (2)

There’s been a great deal in the media recently, the radio, the television and newspapers, about the financial crisis of 2008-2009- since it’s 10 years since the demise of Lehman Brothers, the investment bank.

I was in Dubai at the time, and suddenly our pay was cut somewhere between £2000-£3000 a month. It was then denominated in pound sterling rather than UAE dirhams, even though we had never agreed to the change. That seems to be the way companies are nowadays- domineering and bullying. Employees are only seen as a cost.

At the same time, the financial crisis coincided with the property crisis in Dubai- too much property and not enough investors. Blame the financial crisis, not government policy.

Here’s an article by Ben Bernanke, former chairman of the Federal Reserve, published by the Brookings Institute.

At the height of the financial crisis a decade ago, economists and policymakers underestimated the depth and severity of the recession that would follow. I argue in a paper released today by the Brookings Papers on Economic Activity (BPEA) that remedying this failure demands a more thorough inclusion of credit-market factors in models and forecasts of the economy. I also provide new evidence that suggests that the severity of the Great Recession reflected in large part the adverse effects of the financial panic on the supply of credit.  In particular, the housing bust alone can’t explain why the Great Recession was as bad as it was.

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Is Trump pushing Abbas to dismantle the Palestinian Authority?

I’m in the UK currently and the news is full of stories, especially about Jeremy Corbyn- the leader of the Labour Party and the opposition- and about how the media and politicians are antisemitic. Some of the concerns are true; some are not. No doubt, this comment will be deemed antisemitic.

On reading the article below (which appeared in Al Monitor) I recall a conversation I had in Bethlehem, Palestine, by someone who had negotiated with the Israelis. He said that for the Israelis the “status quo” would always be better than any future deal.

 Is Trump pushing Abbas to dismantle the Palestinian Authority?

Ben Caspit September 13, 2018

 Article Summary

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Bumpy road ahead for Egypt's first female Coptic governor

Bumpy road ahead for Egypt's first female Coptic governor

Menna A. Farouk September 4, 2018

Women's rights activists and Christian figures rejoiced as Egypt appointed its first Coptic Christian woman as governor of the Nile Delta city of Damietta.

The appointment of Manal Awad, the first Christian woman to hold the position of governor in Egypt, reflects an unprecedented state willingness to empower Christians and appoint them in leading government posts.

Former member of Egyptian parliament Gamal Assad said the Egyptian leadership’s attitude toward Christians has dramatically changed under the reign of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Assad added that there will have to be community support to any initiatives or decisions that are made in the interests of Christians in Egypt. “The new Christian governor in Damietta is going to be under threat because there are still followers of the Muslim Brotherhood group out there, and they are of course opposing the appointment of any Christian in a leading post,” he told Al-Monitor.

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Saudi Arabia hints at plan to turn Qatar into an island

pute between Saudi Arabia and Qatar has been going on for 14 months. Saudi Arabia has now decided to go one step further and cut off Qatar entirely from Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, and in so doing change the geography of the region. This is what Khaleej Times, a Dubai-based national newspaper says.

 

Saudi Arabia hints at plan to turn Qatar into an island

Filed on September 1, 2018

The plan is the latest stress point in a highly fractious 14-month long dispute between the two states.

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Will Hamas, Israel call Qatar-brokered truce?

 The role Qatar plays in Palestine, as well as with Israel, is an interesting one. There is more going on than often meets the eye. Here is an overview of what’s happening, from the Palestine Pulse, part of Al-Monitor. I was in Doha when Hamas had one of its first meetings there.

 Will Hamas, Israel call Qatar-brokered truce?

Adnan Abu Amer August 30, 2018

 

Article Summary

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Redefining Palestine

I’m posting this article from Al Monitor about President Trump redefining UNRWA- continuing last week’s theme. There is no doubt that UNRWA is an anomaly, given that there is already a commission for refugees- UNHCR.

 

Article Summary

Israeli diplomats claim that the UNRWA’s mandate must be revised so that the issue of Palestinian refugees will include only the generation that really lost its home.

In the words of President Donald Trump, the (symbolic) transfer of the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem served to take the Jerusalem problem “off the table.” Trump put a checkmark next to the Jerusalem issue, a conundrum that has cast a shadow on anyone who tried to mediate between Israel and the Palestinians ever since the 1993 Oslo Accord. Now, it seems, Trump is also removing the Palestinian refugee problem from the agenda. This is an issue that the Palestinian narrative views as central and imperative, even more than Jerusalem.

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Saudi halts Aramco IPO

The Saudi Aramco IPO was going to be the largest ever and it has now been halted. Here’s a report from CNBC this morning.

Saudi Arabia reportedly calls off Aramco IPO and disbands advisers

Saudi Arabia cancels plans to list shares of its state-owned oil giant Aramco, Reuters reports.The initial public offering was expected to be the largest ever and underpinned an ambitious plan to overhaul the Saudi economy.

Tom DiChristopher | @tdichristopher

Published 17 Hours Ago Updated 14 Hours Ago CNBC.com

Saudi Arabia calls off Aramco IPO: Report   16 Hours Ago | 02:06

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Turkey wants its share of Syria's reconstruction

Back at the end of 2013, when the war in Syria was in full swing, there was the belief among many Western and GCC politicians, construction companies and private equity firms that the war in Syria would be at an end in the following few weeks. And Bashir Assad would step down as President. How wrong they were.

This conference, held at the Madinat Dubai, was not well publicised. Back then, the war in Syria didn’t make the headlines, as it does now.

These people were talking about the reconstruction efforts, and what countries and companies, would get to do what- from water purification to airport reconstruction. There was no talk of Turkey.

With this in mind, I was interested to read the article below from Al Monitor talking about Turkey’s role in the reconstruction effort. How times have changed.

By Fehim Tastekin August 15, 2018

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Driving change in the #MeToo Era

I read  this article from the Institute of Public Relations (IPR) with interest. What is relevant in the West is not always relevant in the Middle East. Now that I’m living in the West again it is often statedthat it must be difficult being a single woman in the Middle East. It is. But no more but no more difficult than anywhere else. People find that difficult to believe.

In this article this is what companies in the West can do.

 

Driving change in the #METOO ERA

 

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UNRWA's work in Palestine

 President Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is reportedly pushing to annul the refugee status of millions of Palestinans and shutter the UN agency tasked with their welfare.

Reading the article, which I have posted below, I was reminded of a case study I wrote for a book on refugees- just being published. It is entitled: "Refugee reflections: a study of employment and health in New Zealand".

Here is what I wrote.

UNRWA’s work in Palestine has some lessons for New Zealand.

 The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) working with Palestine refugees has introduced a “family-medicine” approach in its treatment of Palestine refugees. This is because of the high incidence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) - which includes diabetes, high blood pressure, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, cancer and smoke-related chronic lung diseases. Director of UNRWA’s health programme for Palestine refugees, Akihiro Seita says the new programme was introduced four years ago and is working well. NCDs account for 70 per cent to 80 per cent of deaths of Palestinian refugees, he notes.

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Saudi Arabia- how much has changed?

Women in Saudi Arabia don’t get it easy. A great deal is made of the fact that they can now drive but how much has really changed?

My short trips to Riyadh haven’t been easy. Strange men knocking at the hotel room door at 10pm; trying to get food at a hotel and walking down the street to buy a kebab with rows of men staring at me.

So how have things changed? Can they change that quickly?

This feature article by Louise Callaghan, Middle East correspondent at The Times, sets about answering this question.

Go to: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/women-in-saudi-arabia-can-work-party-and-now-drive-but-is-their-newfound-freedom-all-it-seems-p97qt7xvp

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What does an empowered Saudi woman look like?

 

 

 Being a woman in the Middle East is not easy, a single woman in Saudi Arabia in particular. I am an expert on that. But things are slowing changes so that woman from the West are yearning to go there. This article from the Brookings Institute explains how Saudi Arabia is changing.

 

What does an empowered Saudi woman look like?

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The summer of Israel

I haven't written a blog for about a week because my Apple Mac Pro went kaput and I've been arguing with Currys PC World (in the UK) ever since. For the meantime, I've now got a PC but I miss my Mac. It was going to cost me £800 to have a new screen fitted- on a computer which needs replaced anyway because the memory was overloaded. I was first told by Currys that I could get the screen repaired for £60 plus the cost of the repair- which I was told would be about £60, a big difference from £800, which all the Mac shops also told me. Why the difference? Currys PC World  buys at trade so it's therefore cheaper. Turns out it isn't. To cut a long story short I am going to get my retrieved data tomorrow, for the fifth time.

Maybe this is just a deviation from the day-to-day writing I must do. But I'm not the only one who's deviating it seems- Israel is too. This article, from Brooking s Brief, (which first appeared in Foreign Policy) below explains why this is the case, and why "friends" might be fleeting.

Blind Spot

By Khaled Elgindy

U.S. President Donald Trump took a bipartisan hit after meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki earlier this month, with Republicans and Democrats alike assailing what’s being peddled as his full capitulation to Putin. Undercutting the U.S. intelligence community to endorse Putin’s denial of Russian tampering with the 2016 election, Trump won wall-to-wall scorn for his performance. Meanwhile, in Israel, the summit was understandable cause for celebration.

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NZ Superfund Investment Environment Report

Media Release24 July 2018Investment Environment Report - July 2018

 

In this 'Investment Environment Report' Mike Frith, Manager, Economics, explains the global investment environment and its implications for the NZ Super Fund.

Watch a short video of Mike Frith discussing the investment environment.

Economic and market backdrop

Economic fundamentals remain sound, underpinned by strong momentum, favourable market sentiment, supportive financial conditions, and expansionary fiscal policy in the United States. Together, these support corporate earnings and equity markets. However, it is not all one-way traffic. The strong performance of equity markets through 2016 and 2017 has not been sustained into 2018 thus far.   Central Bank liquidity is being slowly withdrawn and inflation expectations and interest rates have increased. These are all normal late-cycle market developments, although give cause for market participants to reassess expectations for corporate earnings growth. In addition, market volatility has increased due to global trade tensions and European political outcomes, which increase market uncertainty around the global outlook.

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