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Question Marks on Future GCC Projects

Question Marks on Future GCC Projects

The sudden irruption of what was to be called the Qatar crisis has had through the literal blockade of all movements between 4 members of the GCC countries and Egypt of populations as well as goods and services by air, land and sea to and from Qatar the effect of silencing the media that posed question marks on future GCC projects.
This crisis shows yet another difficult challenge all GCC inter-countries projects have to overcome. From a long list of projects, the first one that comes to mind is the now well-known Railway network system that is these days being finalised. This was conceived in the first place as off the need for a safer and cheaper way to move freight and people across the Gulf countries for it has always been maintained that a regional railway line would facilitate tighter economic and political integration. That was as it were the design intent whereas in reality and as revealed by this crisis, all is now a matter of the GCC railway project not being high on the list of priorities as noted by many international media. Despite that, Qatar’s railway internal loop would not prevent the rest of the line from Kuwait to Oman to proceed as scheduled. Qatar Railways is also proceeding with its lot unshaken but logistically affected with its reception of its first train reception surprisingly ahead schedule. Connection of Qatar though to the rest GCC would perhaps be put on the back burner until the crisis is over. On June 15, 2017, AMEinfo wrote on the future of GCC projects as being hampered generally. We republish excerpts of this article as a refresher for all intents and purposes.
Question Marks on Future GCC Projects

Question Marks on Future GCC Projects

Question marks on future GCC projects

The Qatar issue has put a couple of question marks on projects within GCC countries, such as value added tax (VAT), the WorldExpo2020 in Dubai, the World Cup 2022 in Qatar and the GCC Railway.

VAT may hit first as the deadline to start a 5 per cent consumption tax in the Gulf countries is from January 1, 2018, and final policy guidelines were supposed to be issued in June.

The GCC Railway is another important project for the region as the 2177km rail network will connect all Gulf countries. The deadline was 2018, but there is no update regarding the completion of the project.

World Expo2020 in Dubai may also be impacted should the crisis prolong. This is because companies from Qatar will not be able to participate in the trade fair billed as the biggest such event to happen in the MENA region. An Expo 2020 Dubai team had travelled to Qatar last month as part of its ‘GCC Roadshow’ to urge businesses and SMEs in the tiny peninsular country to work directly with the Expo to create partnerships and to establish a lasting presence in the UAE.

More certainly, Doha will face issues with FIFA World Cup 2022 as the Gulf country is investing billions of dollars in building stadia for the big football event.

Experts say the diplomatic rift could potentially cause delays to World Cup preparations.

“The country is heavily reliant on imported goods, but the disruption of land, air and sea trade routes would force Qatar to look for alternative trade routes for their goods, resulting in a spike in inflation,” a recent BMI Research report said.

Moreover, BMI notes, Qatar will continue to “face infrastructure delivery challenges, including the sourcing of labour and materials, and local logistics that impact the pace of construction and development”.

Qatar faces economic issues

The immediate consequences of the crisis on Qatar are huge. Some 37 million passengers cross through Doha each year. But Qatar Airways now has to fly through Iranian, Iraqi and Turkish airspace to reach Europe. Half of the food in Qatar comes via Saudi Arabia through Qatar’s only land border. 600-800 trucks per day can no longer pass. The 19 flights per day between Doha and Dubai are called off.

Among other issues, the first impact was food shortage as the country was heavily dependent on imports, mainly from Saudi Arabia through land routes. To rescue Qatar, Iran has started sending cargo planes of food to the country that includes 100 tonnes of fruit and vegetables every day. Qatar has been in talks with Iran and Turkey to secure food and water supplies.

Trade will suffer the biggest impact in the prevailing situation. Qatar’s trade with Gulf nations reached $11 billion in 2016, constituting 86 per cent of Qatar’s trade with Arab countries and 12 per cent of its international trade. The UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain account for 85 per cent of Qatar’s trade with the Gulf, while Kuwait and Oman account for only 15 per cent. Qatar’s export sector in particular will suffer the biggest losses as the GCC constitutes 80 per cent of Qatar’s exports to Arab countries.

 

 

 

 

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D’où vient la Crise entre le Qatar et ses Voisins?

D’où vient la Crise entre le Qatar et ses Voisins?

D’où vient cette crise majeure?

D’abord, d’où vient la Crise entre le Qatar et ses Voisins?  Si elle est la plus grave depuis la création du Conseil de Coopération du Golfe (CCG) en 1981, elle n’est pas la première. En 2014, Riyad, Abou Dhabi et Manama avaient retiré pendant huit mois leurs ambassadeurs du Qatar (sans rupture des relations diplomatiques et de blocus).

Les griefs entre le Qatar et notamment l’Arabie Saoudite et les Emirats Arabes Unis sont donc anciens mais le véritable catalyseur de la crise de cette semaine est la nouvelle administration américaine.

Alors qu’en 2014, les raisons de la brouille faisaient suite au printemps arabe et à la résurgence et au soutien des Frères Musulmans – parmi d’autres groupes islamistes – par le Qatar, l’Arabie saoudite et les Émirats arabes unis ont vu ces groupes et ce mouvement comme une menace fondamentale envers leurs existences. par exemple, le coup d’État soutenu par l’Arabie saoudite et les EAU en Egypte en 2013 était censé remettre les mouvemennts des Frères Musulmans et le Qatar à leur place, ce qui a été le cas dans une large mesure. Doha a cependant continué à abriter la Confrérie sur son sol, comme le dirigeant du Hamas, ce qui reste un obstacle dans les relations avec d’autres membres du Conseil de Coopération du Golfe, dont l’Arabie saoudite et aux Émirats arabes unis.

Doha avait aussi soutenu des groupes entre 2011 et 2013 notamment dans ces « guerres civiles du Golfe » par procuration. En Libye, les « Brigades de défense de Benghazi » ont été liées au Qatar tandis qu’en Syrie, Doha a soutenu des groupes militants rivaux de ceux soutenus par l’Arabie Saoudite.

Pourquoi cette crise éclate maintenant?

Les experts ont avancé plusieurs raisons. Une explication est celle du renforcement de la relation entre Israël, l’Arabie saoudite et les Émirats arabes unis et leur volonté en commun de couper le Qatar du Hamas. De même, les relations de Doha avec Téhéran inquiètent Riyad et Abu Dhabi notamment en raison de deux appels téléphoniques récents entre l’Emir Tamim Al-Thani et le Président Hassan Rouhani.

Le veritable vecteur de la crise fut cependant l’attitude de la nouvelle administration américaine. Donald Trump et son équipe ont envoyé le message que Washington sera un allié beaucoup plus ferme que la précédente présidence américaine dans la région. Du point de vue de Riyad et Abu Dhabi, la nouvelle administration américaine leur a donné l’autorisation d’agir fortement contre leur ennuyeux voisin, le Qatar. Il s’agit donc d’isoler l’Iran mais aussi de faire quelque chose sur le front dérangeant des liens entre certains pays du Golfe, dont des Saoudiens et des Koweïtiens à des organisations extrémistes telles que Al-Qaïda et l’Etat islamique (voir à ce propos le livre le Christian Chesnot et Georges Malbrunot, “Nos très chers émirs”). Ceci inclut aussi des citoyens qatariens et des pressions existantes aux Etats-Unis, comme au Congrès, pour que des actions soient prises. Cela pourrait aller jusqu’au déménagement des installations militaires du Qatar, incluant actuellement le CENTCOM et une base aérienne majeure.

Dans ce contexte, la charge contre le Qatar est un moyen de lâcher du lest en pointant du doigt vers un coupable “idéal”.

Lundi 5 juin, le Qatar recevait Youssef al-Qaradawi. Que cela signifie-t-il?

Nous pouvons certainement voir cette rencontre à deux niveaux. Tout d’abord, elle illustre la volonté du Qatar de ne pas se laisser dicter son comportement par d’autres Etats, fussent-ils les Etats-Unis ou des régimes voisins du Conseil de Coopération du Golfe. Le Qatar a en effet toujours suivi une politique étrangère indépendante et se démarque par sa volonté de parler à tous les acteurs régionaux, quels qu’ils soient (en quelque sorte sa « marque de fabrique »). La rencontre avec Youssef al-Qaradawi peut également être vue comme un entretien qui a pour but de voir comment tactiquement répondre à cette mise au ban du Qatar sur la scène régionale et les suites donner à la relation avec les Frères Musulmans.

Est-ce qu’on peut s’attendre à une rupture des liens entre le Qatar et les Frères Musulmans ?

Pas véritablement sur le fond. Si la pression devient trop forte sur le Qatar, l’émirat prendra alors ses distances comme il l’a fait en 2014 lors du précédent incident diplomatique entre Doha, Riyad, Abou Dhabi et Manama. Ces trois pays avaient alors retiré pendant huit mois leurs ambassadeurs du Qatar mais sans rupture des relations diplomatique et à l’instauration d’un blocus contre Doha. Le Qatar avait à ce moment réduit sa relation avec la confrérie mais sans toutefois revenir sur l’essentiel de la relation stratégique entre les Frères Musulmans et l’émirat. L’incident actuel est bien le plus grave en revanche mais l’intensité de la rupture des liens entre le Qatar et les Frères Musulmans dépendra certainement de la position des Etats-Unis dans les semaines suivantes et de la volonté de l’administration Trump de mettre la pression sur le Qatar – notamment afin d’isoler l’Iran – en s’appuyant sur Ryad et Abou-Dhabi.

Dans l’optique d’une telle hypothétique rupture, le prix à payer serait certainement plus élevé pour les mouvements issus de la confrérie, que le Qatar a soutenu financièrement – comme le Hamas – ou bien médiatiquement, notamment avec sa chaine télévisée Al-Jazzera. Cela dit sur le Qatar s’engage dans un bras de fer avec les membres du Conseil de Coopération du Golfe, dont l’Arabie Saoudite, les dégâts à court terme peuvent être rapidement importants. Sa seule frontière terrestre, dont l’émirat dépend pour son approvisionnement en nourriture – importée majoritairement –  est fermée, et les conséquences économiques peuvent être majeures (par exemple pour Qatar Airways) pour Doha.

Une remise en question de la relation forte entre le Qatar et les Frères Musulmans ne changerait pas trop la politique étrangère du Qatar dans la région finalement puisque Doha avait déjà revu à la baisse ses ambitions régionales afin de se concentrer sur une politique traditionnelle de médiations comme cela a été le cas en Syrie avec l’accord dit « des quatre villes ». En Libye le Qatar a cessé ses livraisons d’armes et soutient le processus de réunification patronné par l’ONU.

Malls and most exclusive Shopping Centers in the GCC

Malls and most exclusive Shopping Centers in the GCC

Shopping generally in the Middle East in 2016 statistics showed despite all predictions, an unabated upward trend and is now being taken fairly seriously by the countries of the GCCs leadership in their drive towards diversification of their respective economies. In the shopping infrastructure and profusely omnipresent throughout the numerous malls and most exclusive Shopping Centers in the GCC are the top notch locally franchised brands of imported luxury range of clothing, jewelry, shoes, etc. mainly from Europe.
Dubai, for instance has over the years become the ultimate champion city in the range and variety spread of facilities starting with its airport Duty Free area and culminating with its planned Expo 2020.
Meantime, more retail space is being provided in Dubai as well as throughout the GCCs like these  shown here below as the newest 9 malls that were developed and / or completed last year. These are listed according to their size.
  1. Mall of the World, Dubai,
To be fully completed before 2020
  1. Nakheel Mall, Dubai
To be completed this year
  1. Mall of Saudi, Riyadh,
To be completed in 2022
  1. Al Diriyah Festival City Mall, Riyadh
Completion date not known to date.
  1. Mall of Qatar, Doha
Already completed in 2016 and open to the public
  1. Doha Festival City Mall, Doha
Completed and open to the public in 2016
  1. Mall of Oman, Muscat
To be completed in 2020
  1. City Center of Ishbiliyah, Riyadh
To be completed in 2018
  1. The Pointe Mall, Dubai ,
Completed in 2016
An article of TradeArabia of 4 days ago, gives a good account on the latest in the domain and is rpublished here below.

The Middle East eyes luxury shopping tourism crown

London may have recently been named as the world capital for luxury store openings in 2016, but when it comes to a place that is vying to be the ultimate destination for luxury shopping tourism, the Middle East is set to take this crown.

 

Despite cities such as Paris, London and New York, the UAE has established itself as luxury shopping paradise with more than 50 shopping mega malls, regular shopping festivals, and leading designer goods, available tax-free.

 

And thanks to the latest tourism figures, with Dubai alone pulling in 14.9 million visitors in 2016 and Dubai International Airport still being the world’s busiest airport, with expectations of traffic at over 89 million in 2017, this surge of travellers in the region is cementing its appeal as a luxury shopping haven.

 

And other destinations are also rising up the ranks. In Abu Dhabi – the capital of the UAE – guest stays were up by 8 per cent in 2016, with over 4.4 million tourists clocking up a staggering 12 million guest nights, with the UK ranking number one in terms of the amount of tourists visiting from Europe. This increase in foreign tourists represents a new record for the capital of the UAE.

 

In addition to a long list of luxury brands and a wide variety of retail choices, the UAE’s shopping centre’s have also been globally recognised for their distinctive amenities such as one-of-a-kind ski slopes and their proximity to the iconic Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. This also includes Yas Mall, which has been built on an island, and is home to the Yas Marina Circuit which sees record numbers of international visitors attend for the Formula One every year.

 

And when it comes to retailers, it seems the market is also booming. The UAE, is perceived as a key long-term entry market for companies, with many entering the market or expanding their stores in the region, resulting in more intensified competition on the international global shopping stage.

 

With an expertise spanning six decades, one of the leading player’s in the world of beauty, fashion and gifts, The Chalhoub Group, is helping to lead this retail evolution for luxury shopping tourism globally. Its specialty department store, TRYANO in Yas Mall, bears testament to this.

With over 20,000-sq-ft of retail space and a collection of over 250 coveted international and local brands, shoppers visiting the store, which runs across three levels, experience a ‘Sculpture Garden’, a deconstructed ‘Greenhouse’ and the ‘Fountain of Youth’, an interactive digital fountain that comes to life in streams of dancing LED lights that glitter and pulse to echo visitors’ movements

TradeArabia News Service

Qatar enjoys ‘lowest political risk’ in MENA

Qatar enjoys ‘lowest political risk’ in MENA

Doha News‘ Victoria Scott citing BMI Research  came up with this comforting piece of writing as per BIM R’s analysis and findings in a background of increasingly alarming news of upheaval reaching into the Gulf countries generally. Qatar enjoys ‘lowest political risk’ in MENA and anything contrary to that would pass perhaps unnoticed were it not for the forthcoming World Cup Football games of 2022. Seriously, the peninsula of Qatar with a population of no more than 350,000 nationals and almost 1,000,000 expatriate workers might seem to be a peace heaven to the naked eye, but it is not that different from the surrounding neighbouring countries of the GCC.  The latest United Nations estimates its total to 2,321,525 as of February 24, 2017 with the median age of 30.8 years. The evocation of this piece of statistics alone would no doubt allude to all those issues that have yet to come into the open.

Qatar enjoys ‘lowest political risk’ in MENA, despite austerity measures

Qatar is likely to remain one of region’s most stable economies in the coming years due to its strong economy, top-heavy governance and politically inactive population, a new report has found.

According to BMI Research, the government’s ability “to provide its citizens with generous subsidies and economic opportunities” is a main reason for the stability.

However, Qatar has implemented some austerity measures in recent years due to lower oil prices and budget deficits.

 

Photo for illustrative purposes only Reem Saad / Doha News

But when asked about actions such as rising utility and gas prices, BMI told Doha News that these were “unlikely” to have a negative effect on stability.

Andrine Skjelland, MENA Country Risk Analyst at BMI, said:

“The scope of fiscal consolidation remains limited, and the overall impact on Qatari citizens’ living standards will be minimal.

In any case, we believe the government would be quick to scale back measures at first signs of significant popular discontent, preventing unrest from spreading.”

However, BMI’s report noted that political involvement from Qatari citizens is expected to remain “minimal.” Additionally, it forecast that foreign workers will continue to be subject to “heavy restrictions.”

It added that national policies will continue to be shaped by “a small group of elite decision makers” who face few constraints, “in turn ensuring broad policy continuity.”

Trump effect

BMI was also optimistic in terms of the big picture. For example, it asserted that Qatar’s diplomatic ties with the US will remain strong.

This is despite Donald Trump’s presidency and his views on radical Islam and the Muslim Brotherhood.

The report concluded that the continued US military presence at the Al Udeid air base and deep economic ties between the two countries will outweigh other US foreign policy concerns.

BMI’s experts added that a softer focus on human rights by the US would likely work in Qatar’s favor.

“Compared with the previous administration, we expect the US government under Trump to focus less on human rights issues and the spread of democracy in its foreign policy – a trend that will likely be welcomed in Doha, as it limits the potential for external pressure on it to implement political and social reforms.”

Muslim Brotherhood links

Trump’s team is also currently debating whether to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization.

This move could strain diplomatic relations between the US and Qatar, whose support of the group in Egypt has caused past conflict with its neighbors.

 

European External Action Service

However, BMI asserted that Qatar’s ability to act as a peace-broker in the region, coupled with financial and military concerns, guarantee that the two countries won’t fall out over the issue.

“Doha’s ties to a broad range of state and non-state actors mean it is still considered a facilitator of MENA negotiations in Washington,” the report stated.

“The two countries also have deep trade links, particularly in the energy sector, and Doha has announced plans to invest $45bn in the US over the next five years.”

BMI added that Qatar would likely yield to US pressure over its Muslim Brotherhood ties if required to do so.

This is because relations with the US and other GCC countries are becoming increasingly important amid regional instability, according to the report’s authors.

Thoughts?

 

Qatar’s policy of qatarisation

Qatar’s policy of qatarisation

We have written on numerous occasions on Qatar’s policy of qatarisation (Ref. 15 years of Qatarisation), here is DohaNews produced article on Qatar peculiar situation of its minority autochthonous population.  We could safely say that it is about the same situation in all countries of the GCC.

Yes, Qataris have almost always been a minority in their own country

Qatar’s population is continuing to grow, but the number of Qatari nationals remains fairly static, at around 10 percent of the country’s residents, according to some estimates.

However, it used to be as high as 42 percent, according to Priya D’Souza.

The former editor of BQ Magazine was born in Qatar, and her family has lived in the country since the 1950s.

However, Qatari nationality is passed down almost exclusively through the father’s bloodline, and expats who are born in Qatar are not usually granted citizenship.

D’Souza recently left Qatar for good, and is now writing a series of posts for website calloftravel.com to “shed some clarity on the Qatar community (both local and migrant) to aid those looking to make Qatar home for the next few years.”

‘Waves’ of migrants

In her first post, “Have Qataris always been a minority in their country?” D’Souza outlines immigration patterns to Qatar since the 1940s.

She also charts the changing relationships between the local population and expats. Her family for example still has close friendships with Qatari families they have known for almost 70 years.

Souq Waqif

But it is difficult to call a country home and not a hold passport to that nation, she added. All families who have lived here for generations “have at some point hoped for Qatari citizenship.”

Now, changes appear to be afoot among this population, with many long-term resident families considering, “for the first time in decades” leaving Qatar.

She didn’t elaborate why, but added:

“While Qatar will always hold a special place in my heart as the country I was born in, the Qatar of the last decade and what it is turning into, is the reason I had very little choice but to leave,” she said.

D’Souza’s future posts will cover topics such as how safe the country is; whether Qatari society is hypocritical; migrant worker rights and treatment; working in Qatar and censorship; and Qatarization.

 

UN Arabic Language Day on December 18

UN Arabic Language Day on December 18

Today December 18, is Qatar National Day.    UN Arabic Language Day on December 18 is observed annually; it was chosen as the date for the Arabic language as it is “the day in 1973 when the General Assembly approved Arabic as an official UN language:” Wikipedia.

The National posted an article to mark the UN Arabic Language Day on December 18, Anna Zacharias, a former journalist at The National, tells us about her time in Oman.

Tea and culture: my journey to learn Arabic in Oman

Anna Zacharias

December 15, 2016 Updated: December 16, 2016

Last year, I left work in the UAE to study Arabic full-time in Oman. After almost two decades in the Arabian Gulf, I decided it was time.

When I first arrived from Canada at the age 13, Arabic wasn’t offered to me at school. I was told I was too old to learn the language and I should focus on GCSE French. I didn’t mind. I only planned to stay a couple of years in the Gulf.

Years passed. I picked up what academics call Gulf Pidgin Arabic or “taxi Arabic”, a mish mash of Arabic, English, Urdu and Hindi spoken by South Asian labourers, maids and shopkeepers. I had a smattering of Emirati words from majlis sessions but no grammar on which to hang these nouns.

Occasional attempts to fill in the gaps failed. I would register in classes and drop them when teachers, unhappy with my linguistic potpourri, wanted to start from the beginning. Again.

I wanted to study a Gulf dialect in addition to Modern Standard Arabic. A friend recommended a school in Muscat.

Another friend kindly gave me a crash course before I left. He began with the same introduction to Arabic he had received decades before: “Any word in Arabic means what it is. Any word in Arabic also means the opposite.”

In our first two hours, he did not teach me grammar or new vocabulary. Instead, we flipped through his thick, old dictionary. Each Arabic word is based on a two or three letter root, and the meaning changes when this root is fitted into different patterns.

My friend guided me to a favourite, a four-page entry for the root “qbl” and its associate words: to receive, to kiss, a tribe, the Qibla and a hotel reception.

He taught me the grammar that mattered most. “Don’t worry about the dual feminine,” he told me. “Only the stuffiest people will expect you to use it.”

The fourth question on my placement test was about the dual feminine. I did something I had never done in my life – I cheated.

When asked about my education, I wrote 100 words in perfect pidgin: “Ana kalimat. Grammar mafi. Yanni fi, bas mafi ziyada.” A rough translation: “I am words. Nothing grammar. I mean, exists, but not manys.” To fellow pidgin speakers, my response was clear and powerful. Eloquent, even.

When I arrived in Muscat, they ask me to recite the alphabet. I could read but did not know the names for letters. I was placed in a class for absolute beginners. All my cheating had been for nothing. This was my first lesson in Arabic language pedagogy: Arabic is taught sequentially. It is a line dance, not a breakdance.

In most Arabic classrooms, Fusha is king. Fusha is literary Arabic, a term that includes classical Arabic and media (Modern Standard) Arabic. Most classes teach Fusha rather than the Arabic spoken and used in daily life, like Egyptian or Lebanese Arabic.

For scholars and journalists, learning literary Arabic makes sense. For people interested in travel and chit-chat, it’s like learning Latin for a trip to Europe. Will you be able to learn other Romance languages quickly after you master Latin? Yes. Is it the best way to prepare for that trip to France? Probably not.

Part of the Fusha fixation is in deference to its beauty. But it’s easier to sell Arabic classes marketed as the world’s fifth most-spoken language.

Shortly after my programme began, the American students arrived with backpacks, baseball caps and clear Fusha. They came from universities across the United States. They had beautiful handwriting and some had studied Arabic for years. They loved to talk about how difficult Arabic was. “As hard as Chinese.” I heard this at least once a day.

The new students also came with an extensive political vocabulary. They knew words like “diplomat” and “United Nations” and “draft resolution”. But in our first conversation class, many did not understand when the teacher asked whether they preferred tea or coffee.

Textbooks focus on politics at the expense of culture. This is unforgivable in a language built on social eloquence. More worrying is the reinforced association of Arabic and the Arab with violence and politics. In all my years, I’ve had exactly one conversation in Arabic about a car bomb. I’ve had about 5,793 on tea. Words for tea are not in the textbooks. Nor are words for politely refusing a third serving of mandi.

There is much talk of Arabic being at risk, of a decline in usage. Meanwhile, conversations about the best form of Arabic are still more common than discussions on how to best engage students or present Arabic in a way that reflects the diversity and warmth of contemporary Arab cultures.

The best way to preserve a language is to share it. Our teachers in Oman understood this. My teachers were poets, familiar with both high Arabic and the banter of the Gulf. Our classes were filled with frankincense, our bellies with luqaimat dumplings, our ears with verses of pre-Islamic love poetry or first hand tales of djinn. My teachers knew the truth: the only rocket students should learn about is the rocket shawarmah.

Anna Zacharias is a former journalist at The National.

 

In solidarity with Doha News

In solidarity with Doha News

In solidarity with Doha News, we reproduce this article of Medium.com that is clearly about an act of blocking the free exercise of the profession and mission of journalism in its latest form of expression, i.e. E-Journalism.  We also “believe in the importance of a free press, and are saddened by this fact that Qatar, home of the Doha Centre for Media Freedom and Al Jazeera, has decided to take this step.”  

Doha News is scaling back — for now

It’s been five days since authorities in Qatar blocked access to dohanews.co inside the country.

We’ve since come to understand that this was an intentional act, in part due to issues with our licensing.

We’re continuing to speak to officials this week to see how we can resolve the problem.

At the same time, we reject the idea that our news website should be blocked over licensing concerns — this is a clear act of censorship, and a fairly unprecedented one in Qatar.

In the interest of protecting our team, we will be reducing the number of articles we publish until we can resolve the problem and get dohanews.co unblocked.

Many of you have expressed solidarity with us — a gesture we greatly appreciate. Others have asked how they can continue to read Doha News.

Here are some suggestions:

Our Daily Newsletter

The easiest way to get our news is to sign up for DN’s Daily Newsletter. They now contain all our articles in full and go out each day at 5pm Doha time.

If you’re not able to access the signup page, drop us a line on newsletter@dohanews.co and we’ll add you to the list.

Medium.com

We’ll be posting select articles (here) on medium.com/dohanews

iOS: Apple News

For Apple iOS device users, Apple News is a free app that comes bundled on the latest and updated devices.

If you can’t find it on your phone, you may have to set your location to the United States. Search for “Doha News” or “Qatar” and you’ll be able to subscribe to our updates.

Android: Google Play Newsstand

For Android device users, you’ll be able to read Doha News articles through the Google Play Newsstand App.

Click this link on your mobile device to subscribe , or search for Doha News in the app.

Mobile browser: Google AMP

Our articles are also available via Google’s new Accelerated Mobile Pages project.

Just search for “Doha News” in Google on a mobile device, and you should be able to read versions of our articles right in the search engine.

Tor (Browser) or VPN

Finally, The Tor project is free software that anonymizes internet use.

Similarly, Tor Browser is a web browser that uses the anonymous Tor network to allow people to access websites that may otherwise be blocked in their countries.

Alternatively, if you have access to a Virtual Private Network that resides outside Qatar, you should be able to access dohanews.co when logged in.

areas-of-habitation_qatar_populated_areas_400px_05c75b01de

 

 

 

omar chatriwala

Journalist. Co-founder and Publisher of @dohanews. Formerly: Executive Producer at @AJPlus, Producer and Editor at @AJEnglish.

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DohaNews

Covering breaking news, politics, business, culture and life in and around Qatar since 2009.

 

Qatari owned former US Embassy approved for a Hotel

Qatari owned former US Embassy approved for a Hotel

All London press announced back in April of this year, that the Qataris owners of the U.S. Embassy iconic building have plans to turn it into a luxury hotel.  The London’s Mayfair neighbourhood nine-storey building dates back to the late 1950s, but as State Department officials decided to move its offices to a new complex in South London.  This plan has lately been approved by the Westminster City Council on Tuesday evening.  The plans are to redevelop the embassy into a 137-room hotel with restaurants, stores, a spa and a ballroom, all designed by the UK architect Sir David Chipperfield.  Qatar Investment Authority subsidiary Qatari Diar is proposing a $1.4 billion refurbishment of the Qatari owned former US Embassy approved for a Hotel is scheduled to open in 2017.

Qatari owners got approval to convert the London former US Embassy into hotel.

The US Embassy Hotel main entrance

The US Embassy Hotel main entrance

According to most GCC’s online media, London’s 30 Grosvenor Square, Mayfair, is set to undergo a ‘re-use’ as it is transformed from the US Embassy into a luxury hotel.

Through “sensitive and adaptive re-use” the former US Embassy complex will become a 137-bedroom hotel with shops, restaurants, bars and a spa, Doha News reported.

Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Co. (QD) – the real estate arm of Qatar Investment Authority – bought the Grade II listed Modernist building when the US elected to move their offices next year to new premises in Battersea, South of the Thames in London.

QD’s plans to convert the US Embassy in London into a luxury hotel has received government approval this week, according to the project’s architect.

In a statement, UK-based David Chipperfield, Architects said existing security bollards and fencing around the complex will be removed, while the symbolic, gilded-aluminium bald eagle will remain in place atop the building before reminding that Westminster City Council granted a conditional planning permission and that detailed design and production drawings and specifications will be submitted for final approval.

After at least eight months of public consultations over the design of the new facilities, the planning approval was granted and, in an online consultation document, the developers assured that the main architectural features will be retained and the transformation would “breathe new life into this significant building”.  The refurbishment will include extend the hotel to use all nine stories, three of which will be underground, with a glass pavilion on the roof and the ground floor open to the public.

There will be some alterations in the neighbourhood road traffic arrangement due mainly to the relative relaxation of security of and around the building.  Plans to open roads between the former embassy building and the adjacent Grosvenor Square Gardens are envisaged.

Further reading and more details are at 30 Grosvenor Square.com.

Decision on the Number of 2022 World Cup Stadiums in “due course”

Decision on the Number of 2022 World Cup Stadiums in “due course”

This past week the AFP citing a FIFA official as saying the world’s football governing body will make a decision on the number of 2022 World Cup stadiums in “due course,” but not by the end of this year as expected.  The decision was part of an “overall ongoing infrastructure discussion”. 

In the world of football it is not only the beautiful game that counts most, it is also as nicely put by the Football Association of Ireland  about all infrastructure that surrounds it.  The purpose of this document was to ensure that ;

  • Quality and appropriate facilities of consistent standards are provided for players, coaches and officials;
  • Football spectators are accommodated in a safe, comfortable and customer friendly environment;
  • Media and press representatives are able to perform their business in an appropriate and safe working environment.
Al Bayt Stadium model

Al Bayt Stadium model

In an opinion piece in Qatar Tribune citing Qatar Living, Ahmad Ali, General Manager of Al Watan and Qatar Tribune newspapers, asks why the western world has turned against Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The opinion piece has been reproduced in full.  

2022 FIFA World Cup turned into a ‘political battle’ against Qatar

By Sportacus • November 6th, 2016.

Why is Qatar keen to host the biggest sporting events at the global level, or the most celebrated international gatherings?

I put this probing question, like thousands of Qataris and other interested observers, in the presence of President of Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC) HE Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad Al Thani, as the countdown begins for the 21st annual meeting of the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC), to be hosted in Doha on November 15-16.

ANOC President Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad, along with more than 1,000 leading international sports figures representing 206 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) and international federations of sports, led by the German, Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), are scheduled to participate in the ANOC meeting. These dignitaries, the global sport leaders and all other guests to the meet are most welcome in Qatar.

Perhaps, some can raise questions about the positive returns or benefits to our country from hosting such sporting events?

My answer to those raising such awkward questions is although they have every right to put these posers simply this: A global event like the ANOC meeting provides an opportunity to the participants to closely follow up the preparations made by Qatar to host the World Cup 2022.

They can see first-hand the progress of construction and logistics works for the global sporting gala. As the host, Qatar stands to gain immensely in its global stature. While the World Cup 2022 will help shine light on the rich Qatari civilization, it will also showcase the country’s ability to successfully organise the biggest global events.

The hosting of this ‘international sports summit,’ whose participation rate is no less than the United Nations meetings, reflects the international respect and global recognition our country enjoys.

It also shows the global interest and appreciation of our efforts to promote the sport, and our role in building bridges of communication between athletes across the world, especially after the unsubstantiated allegations and vicious campaigns targeting us for hosting the World Cup 2022.

It wouldn’t be tantamount to revealing a secret if I say that ever since we were awarded the right to host the World Cup 2022, a barrage of criticism has been directed at us, and voluble claims and I am not saying “controversy” have persisted, especially from countries that have enjoyed historical, political and sporting influence in the international arena.

After all, it was England that invented football and formulated its rules and laws so could this be the reason behind its supreme arrogance? Or, the United States which lost to us. And France, which is pressing through its newspapers and lobbies on this issue.

But we do realise the importance of a strong sporting culture and its ability to push the Qatari society forward and also bringing about huge benefits to GCC countries and the region through sport.

That’s why we have been keen to host the meeting of ANOC, which is deemed to be one of the pillars of the international sports movement. The last ANOC meeting was held in the US capital Washington last year, with the participation of global sport leaders.

ANOC is a world body that brings together national Olympic committees under its umbrella. Its headquarters, located in the Swiss city of Lausanne, was founded in 1979. The number of ANOC members was raised from 144 to 206 as it seeks to achieve integration between sports bodies and contribute to the development of global sports.

As part of our quest for ‘sports development’, we were keen to host the World Cup 2022, but there have been attempts by some western parties to detract us as they focus on finding human rights obstacles, climate constraints and other groundless accusations. The baseless accusations reached its peak when they called us a country practicing “modern slavery”.

These accusations by Western parties with mala fide motives have even reached the ‘European Parliament,’ which called for reconsidering the issue of Qatar hosting the World Cup 2022. If anything, this only reflects the extent to which politics dominates sports!

Since the politics-sports equation is difficult to deal with or work out, David Cameron, the former prime minister of the UK has left all important files placed on his desk located at 10 Downing Street, and made negative remarks, which reflects the extent to which the British have gone on this issue.

While nobody can deny the role of politics in sports, the campaign has turned into a political battle against Qatar, giving a go-by to all sports ethics.

Moving in to tarnish our image via the World Cup, many have tried to sound alarm bells over the ‘workers issue’ and other so-called issues, in a desperate attempt to settle scores with our country.

And I have every right to be surprised by the “unethical” media attacks led and driven by the British against Qatar and their determined attempts to spoil the World Cup 2022 by leveling false allegations, even while the football association in England suffers from endemic corruption!

Perhaps, the termination of their national team coach Sam Allardyce barely weeks after his appointment as a coach of the ‘Three Lions’ team, is the biggest proof that their sports body could be the most corrupt in the world.

After all, their sports body has been embroiled in a series of scandals, especially after the disclosure of their coach allegedly exploiting his position to circumvent the rules governing the transfer of players by reportedly negotiating a bribe of £400,000.

Also, corruption cases have been unearthed recently related to the World Cup 2006 in Germany and German football legend Franz Beckenbauer, after German weekly news magazine Der Spiegel revealed that the organising committee for the 2006 World Cup in Germany paid €6.7m to buy votes.

There is no doubt that it’s difficult for the overbearing racist Western mentality to accept the fact that a small GCC Muslim country, which is considered the smallest in size and population in the Middle East, is hosting the largest global sporting event after the ‘Olympics’.

And the pressure from these racist quarters comes in various forms, types, sources, contents, implications, directions and trends. I do not rule out the possibility that they may even demand a ban on wearing of ‘Ghutra’, the scarves that Qatari men wear, and ‘Iqal’, a doubled black cord that is used to secure the ‘Ghutra’ in place, during the World Cup!

Or, that they may go on to demand in the UK Parliament a ban on Qatari Kashkha, the Islamic women clothing, during the World Cup!

As for the hue and cry raised over the workers’ rights, this issue has been settled in accordance with the highest human rights standards. Here, I can assure and I am not just arguing for the sake of argument that anyone working as a family driver in Qatar lives a better life than any truck driver in the United States or Britain.

Here in Qatar, all items of their daily needs are provided to the drivers, including even the Karak Chai (a warm drink made with black tea, milk, sugar and spices)!

Quite frankly, the living conditions for foreign workers in Qatar has become much better, and after the legislation supporting workers’ rights, we may now need a ‘sponsor’ to guarantee us our rights in our country!

There is no doubt that these ‘external pressure’ groups will raise the pitch of their criticism as the World Cup approaches as it happened with each country hosting the World Cup, so no need to worry about it.

In 2010, South Africa was termed an “unsafe country” and in 2014 Brazil was lambasted for its “high crime rates”. Therefore, will it be surprising if someone wrote about the high rates of use of ‘Land Cruisers’ by citizens and residents in Qatar?

As a matter of pride, despite the criticism in the Western media, especially the English media, Qatar has responded to its critics by having the honour of hosting one of the top world events.

Qatar is preparing to host the World Championships in Athletics in 2019, after its successful hosting of the World Men’s Handball Championship last year, and the World Boxing Championships, the UCI Road World Championships, and the FINA/airweave Swimming World Cup in which the participation saw a record 46 delegations and 462 participants.

What’s more, all these world championships were successfully hosted in a short period, which confirms that our capital indeed deserves the title of ‘sports capital of the Middle East’, not to mention Doha being one of the most important capitals organising global sporting event.

All of this only confirms the international community’s trust and appreciation of Qatar as one of the best in the world in hosting such a big-ticket event. This comes at a time when the international sporting arena is witnessing intense competition among the cities seeking to host the 2024 Olympics. The IOC is scheduled to select the winning city through a voting during its meeting in Lima, the capital of Peru.

The ANOC meeting, which will be held in Doha, may provide an opportunity to the competitors for promotional propaganda.

With its full power, Los Angeles is aiming once again to host the Olympics to become the second city after London to win this event three times, as it has already hosted the top global event in 1932 and 1984.

I remember when as a sports reporter I had gone there to cover the participation of our Qatari teams, including our national football team, when HH Sheikh Abdullah bin Khalifa Al Thani was assuming the presidency of the Qatari Olympic Committee (QOC).

The door to host the Summer Olympics seems to be open for Los Angeles after Rome suddenly withdrew from the race. Now the competition has zeroed in between the French capital Paris, the Hungarian counterpart Budapest, and Los Angeles, which has announced the addition of three new stadiums.

Away from the Olympics, it’s a matter of great pride for us that 2022 World Cup has led an unprecedented infrastructure/architecture development in the region worth billions of dollars.

This has turned our country into a ‘workshop’ to accomplish ‘tournament projects’ and install vital facilities, which include the prestigious Rail Project which would make distances shorter through the day and night.

Since sport is an integral part and a pillar of our National Vision 2030 and aims at promoting our civilization, we shall keep chasing our sporting dreams driven by our Qatari morality, Arab identity and Islamic characteristics.

I am confident that our hosting of the World Cup 2022 will be a milestone in international events of the past and future.

Also be sure, that we will organise the best World Cup in the history of the championships even if the English newspapers keep lashing out at us, day and night, for hosting the World Cup, under the pretext that the sun in Qatar rises from the east and not from the Hyde Park in London!

Oil price forecast

Oil price forecast

On Sunday, October 9th, 2016 the Qatar National Bank (QNB) economic forecast focused on oil prices.  QNB economists who make it a duty to regularly look at the World Oil price forecast, came up with the following article.

September brought bad news and good news for oil prices. The bad news was the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) warning that weakening oil market fundamentals could delay the rebalancing of the oil market, possibly beyond 2017. But on 28 September, OPEC delivered the good and surprising news that its members have agreed in principle to cut production – the first such agreement since 2008. We believe that the two news items broadly offset each other, and that market rebalancing will continue to progress. As a result, we maintain our forecasts that oil prices will average US$45 per barrel ($/b) in 2016, before rising to $55/b in 2017 and $58/b in 2018.

The IEA’s assessment that the oil supply glut might persist into 2017 rattled markets. The price of Brent crude oil fell by almost 5% in the two days following the release of the report. The IEA revised down its forecast for oil demand growth by 0.1m barrels per day (b/d) for both 2016 and 2017. This was a result of weakening demand growth from China and India. On the supply side, non-OPEC output continues to decline steeply. US crude oil production has fallen by more than 1.1m b/d since it peaked in April 2015. But this was more than offset by record oil production from OPEC. Production in Kuwait and the UAE hit their highest levels ever; Saudi Arabia’s output is near a record high; Iraqi production continues to grow; and Iran has reached a post-sanctions peak.

However, on 28 September OPEC surprised markets with the news that its members had agreed in principle to limit production to a range between 32.5 and 33.0m b/d. Given that production from OPEC reached 33.5m b/d in August, according to the IEA, the new limits represent a production cut of 0.5-1.0m b/d, if implemented. The news buoyed markets. The Brent crude oil price has crossed the $50/b barrier and is currently up by more than 10% since the deal was announced.

While the deal could expedite the rebalancing process in the oil market, there is still uncertainty about its exact details. The agreement is not expected to be ratified until the next OPEC meeting on 30 November. So its implementation could be delayed until 2017. There are still issues to be debated and agreed on regarding individual country quotas. This issue is particularly thorny for two reasons.

First, both Iraq and Iran still aspire to increase their production.

Second, both Libya and Nigeria want their output to pick up following disruptions this year. If these countries are exempt from freezing or reducing their production, other OPEC members will have to cut deeper in order to maintain the production limit. This could prove difficult given the stretched public finances in many OPEC countries.

Until the agreement is ratified and implemented, our baseline view is that OPEC will maintain its production at the near-record high reached in August. This represents a middle ground between the cut implied by the agreement and our previous assessment of continued growth in OPEC’s production.

What do the IEA assessment and OPEC agreement imply for oil prices going forward? We believe that the bearish news from the IEA more or less offset the bullish news from OPEC. As result, we maintain our oil price forecast of $45/b in 2016. Beyond that, we expect the rebalancing in the oil market to continue, driven mostly by demand growth, notwithstanding moderately higher supply from the world’s major producers. Therefore, we expect oil prices to average $55/b in 2017 and to continue converging towards $60/b over the medium term.