by P.K. Abdul Ghafour from Arab News
The six-member Gulf Cooperation Council yesterday reiterated its stance on reaching a negotiated settlement to the standoff between Iran and the West over Iran’s nuclear program and opposed plans to impose sanctions on Tehran. “GCC states don’t want to see any brotherly or friendly country subjected to sanctions,” said Abdul Rahman Al-Attiyah, secretary-general of the group, in reference to Iran. “The GCC wants a peaceful dialogue to resolve all the problems liable to affect international security and stability.” He said the GCC was studying prospects of signing a free-trade agreement with Iran. “The last foreign ministers’ meeting in Riyadh asked a committee comprising economy and trade ministers to discuss the Iranian proposal on setting up a free-trade zone,” he added.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
by P.K. Abdul Ghafour from Arab News
by Abeer Mishkhas from Arab News
In a situation truly the first of its kind, a 12-year-old girl managed to disrupt a football match in Al-Ahsa several days ago. The unprecedented presence of the alien “girl” was enough to trigger a long debate between the referees and the security guards concerning what should be done about the invader. After 36 minutes of discussions, the security guards asked the girl to leave the stadium ... It is a simple incident but it sheds light on an issue that has become one of the main concerns of Saudi society. I am speaking about a woman’s right to have a full normal life, one in which she is allowed to play sports and enjoy them. This is a very sore point for many women who would enjoy participating in sports but are prevented from doing so unless they go to private clubs — and even there the range is limited. This also brings us back to the illogical and twisted reasoning that has placed a ban on sports and physical education in girls’ schools.
by Lynne Roberts from Arabian Business
Saudi rights activists have urged the government to approve a human rights society set up four years ago ... Groups, including human rights watchdogs, should be allowed to operate "outside the control of government institutions," the statement said. The Shura Council has been looking into draft legislation which would grant the group, which advocates an Islam-based constitutional monarchy, recognition for over a year, it claimed. Two founders of the group were detained in Februrary along with seven other activists on suspicion of involvement in terror funding, and have since been held without trial. Appeals for their release have grown, with activists petitioning King Abdullah to intervene.
by Mariam Al Hakeem from Gulf News
The country has decided to recruit housemaids from Nepal following long delays and difficulties in getting housemaids from Indonesia and the Philippines ... The Indonesian and Philippines authorities, in a move to improve conditions of housemaids from these countries working in the kingdom, asked among other conditions, an increase in monthly salary of housemaids. The Philippines government has put tough recruitment conditions, including doubling of the monthly salary for every housemaid to 1,500 riyals (about Dh1,469) ... The chairman of the national recruitment committee at the Council of the Saudi Chambers of Commerce and Industry (CSCCI), Sa'ad Al Baddah, expects between 5,000 and 7,000 Nepalese housemaids to arrive in Saudi Arabia every month.
from The Media Line
The local media reported that extremists recently caused a commotion in a mosque in Skikda, in eastern Algeria, when they prevented an imam, a Muslim religious leader, from leading the prayers. The assailants, a group of Salafi youth, appointed one of their own to lead the prayers, the London-based Al-Quds Al-‘Arabi reported ... Another report in Al-Quds Al-‘Arabi quoted the mother of a youth, who carried out a suicide bombing in Algeria on September 8. She believed the bomber was provoked by radical Islamist ideas disseminated at Labroufal mosque in the capital, and she blamed the mosque’s imam for her son’s actions. The imam is known for his hard-line sermons, which often call on listeners to fight in Iraq and drive out the Americans, the paper reported. The mosque is also thought to be a recruitment point for young Algerian youth who wish to fight in Iraq.
by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard from The Telegraph
"This is a very dangerous situation for the dollar," said Hans Redeker, currency chief at BNP Paribas. "Saudi Arabia has $800bn (£400bn) in their future generation fund, and the entire region has $3,500bn under management. They face an inflationary threat and do not want to import an interest rate policy set for the recessionary conditions in the United States," he said ... As a close ally of the US, Riyadh has so far tried to stick to the peg, but the link is now destabilising its own economy. The Fed's dramatic half point cut to 4.75% yesterday has already caused a plunge in the world dollar index to a fifteen year low, touching with weakest level ever against the mighty euro at just under $1.40. There is now a growing danger that global investors will start to shun the US bond markets ... For Saudi Arabia, the dollar peg has clearly become a liability. Inflation has risen to 4% and the M3 broad money supply is surging at 22%. The pressures are even worse in other parts of the Gulf. The United Arab Emirates now faces inflation of 9.3%, a 20-year high. In Qatar it has reached 13%.
by Hadthiah PD Hazair from The Brunei Times
Speaking to The Brunei Times, an officer at the Sultan Sharif Ali Mosque in Kampung Sengkurong urged business owners not to neglect the compulsory daily prayers ... Business operators should not be afraid to lose 10 minutes of their time to be close to Allah, the officer said. Shop owners as well as market vendors in Brunei should perhaps follow business norms in Saudi Arabia where shops close for less than an hour to give both business owners and employees alike to perform the obligatory solat ... The charging of interest is central to businesses in Western nations, but this is forbidden under Syariah law. Business owners must refrain from charging interest especially when managing instalment purchases, the officer said. Islam considers its ummah who conduct business in accordance to the sanctity of its regulations as jihads.