A Qatar based media The Peninsula dwelt on how a local institution Qatar Foundation aka QF is stemming the brain drain meaning of earlier times. Qatar representing 0.10% of the total MENA region land area could perhaps be only doing that to the same proportion. Is it still worth it? Another hiccup would be that of the increasingly divested from and diminishing fossil fuels export-related revenues; could these be that helpful at the same rate in the future, be it near or far? In any case, let us see what it is all about.
The image above is for illustration only and is of the Qatar Foundation headquarters in Doha, Qatar.
QF stemming the brain drain
Doha: In the past decades, many of the MENA region’s best Arab scientists, inventors, engineers, designers, and innovators left their home countries for better opportunities in the West.
While the reasons for the “brain drain” in this part of the world have been varied, many of these talented youth cite a lack of support and resources as their reason for leaving. However, the situation is evolving – for the better.
For more than a decade, Qatar has become a confluence for science and innovation in the MENA region. It is home to Qatar Foundation’s (QF) edutainment show Stars of Science, and it hosts Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP).
The show falls under QSTP’s umbrella of programmes that support incubation and start-ups, enhancing capacity to further develop the Qatar Foundation Research, Development and Innovation (QF RDI) ecosystem. The area is fast becoming recognised as the epicentre for technological, engineering, and scientific innovation.
This ecosystem supports and nurtures home-grown innovations from some of the region’s brightest young Arab minds with a view to stemming the tide of MENA innovators seeking resources, support, and mentorship elsewhere. It provides inventors with a nurturing environment where they can refine their inventions, gain guidance, confidence, and mentorship, with the aim to retain promising talent. And with numerous alumni creating innovations that are being used globally, the program also helps to showcase Arab talent to the wider world.
While Stars of Science helps shape the region’s future through revealing the potential of innovators, QSTP promotes one of QF’s key objectives; empowering the innovator behind the idea.
Contestants are automatically enrolled into the flagship accelerator programme, XLR8, where they can continue working on their projects with QF’s support. This unique innovation hub assists inventive entrepreneurs with successful startups, helping them bring their creations to the market within the region, but also internationally.
One such innovator is Dr. Nour Majbour, former researcher at Qatar Biomedical Research Institute, part of QF’s Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU), who took her fascination with the human brain and created a laboratory kit designed to diagnose Parkinson’s disease in its early stages through antibodies. After the show, Dr. Majbour went on to further develop her Stars of Science project, named QABY, within Qatar’s supportive technological ecosystem and officially registered it as a trademark with QF.
Another alumnus from the show is veterinarian Dr. Mohammed Doumir from Algeria – his ingenious project addresses the issue of limping in racing camels. Post Stars of Science, Qatar’s unique collaborative ecosystem appealed to Dr. Doumir, and he stayed in the country pushing for technological advancement and promoting innovation. With the support of the QSTP Product Development Fund – which incubated and funded his idea – he opened his own company named Vetosis, and is now the director for veterinary research and innovation at QSTP. He is currently adding new applications to his device for camel training and fitness promotion.
In Stars of Science Season 11, Abdulrahman Saleh Khamis, from Qatar, took inspiration from his Islamic faith to develop Sajdah, the unique Smart Educational Prayer Rug. Targeted at young and newly converted Muslims, the rug teaches the user the correct way to pray — and more.
After Stars of Science, he started his own company, Thakaa Technologies currently incubated at QSTP where he received funding through the QSTP Product Development Fund. He also successfully completed a pre-order crowdfunding campaign on Launchgood, a platform co-founded by another Stars of Science alumnus, Omar Hamid.
These projects serve as prime examples of incredible collaborations with Qatar’s technological ecosystem, and are a testament to successfully promoting Arab innovators. They highlight Qatar’s unique atmosphere of innovation and support, to the benefit of the Arab region – and beyond – transforming ideas into inventions that positively impact local and international communities.
Two Thousand Dinars: A Lamentable Legacy By Nejoud Al-Yagout is a story that is fairly common to all countries of the GCC.
The picture above is for illustration and is of the Parliament of Kuwait.
First, we heard that residents above the age of 60 would not be allowed to renew their residencies if they did not hold a college degree. Then, after outrage on social media (by locals, to be sure, since any outrage by a resident would lead to arrest or deportation), there was talk that the rule may not be implemented; instead, we heard that those who came up with the decree would, at least, reconsider the age bracket, perhaps hiking it up to residents over 70 years of age (which in and of itself is lamentable).
Then, it was back again to 60 a few months ago, but with a proposal to fine residents annually (that is when talk of KD 2,000 arose). This latter proposal brewed for a while until it was announced only recently – in the midst of a pandemic, in the throes of increased unemployment and suicides and drug-taking and crimes, and in the whirlwind of murders and corruption – that the Public Authority of Manpower would “allow” residents above the age of 60 who do not hold university degrees to renew their residency provided they pay an annual fee of KD 2,000; as though by making it look like a favor, a permission granted, so to speak, the harsh brutality of the cost of remaining in Kuwait would seem less pronounced, brushed under the rug.
Though already considered official by all of us who read about it in the news, it appears that the “decision” needs a couple more weeks, perhaps, to be considered bureaucratically official, unless a person with strings will use his position of power to take a stand against it. The likelihood of such a selfless act transpiring is well, let’s just say, unlikely. Highly unlikely.
Although many residents above 60 who have graduated from college may have breathed a collective, perhaps even audible, sigh of relief, many others will be in tears, for they have parents and siblings aged 60 and above who live with or near them and who do not hold college degrees, and they themselves, holders of college degrees, will not be able to afford such a fee to keep the family together. And what about us locals? We cannot ignore the two-thousand-dinar elephant in the room.
Many of us who work in the public or private sector, with or without university degrees, or even with Master’s degrees and PhDs, would not ourselves be able (or willing) to pay such a lofty fee. Two. Thousand. Dinars. Imagine. And if we think this will not affect us, we are wrong. “They” are us! They, who we consider expatriates and foreigners and residents are us. We are them. We are one in this society. All of us. Each one of us, a thread of the same fabric, interwoven. What hurts us hurts them and vice versa. Let this register for all of us. Again and again and again.
There are residents in their sixties who were born here and have lived here their entire lives; residents who do not want to go “home” because their “home” is here, in Kuwait, where they belong, with us. Kuwait is the land in which they want to be buried, in which their parents were buried. After all their years of service to our country, we are now showing them the door under the pretext of making rules we know people cannot implement, all so that residents can leave of their own accord.
But they will not leave of their own accord. Ever. They will leave because neither they nor their university-degree-holding families were able to pay such an outrageous sum; they will leave because they are tired of living in a country that does not want them here. So many have left already; others are waiting for the right moment to leave. Others are waiting anxiously to see whether things will get better (or get worse).
We cannot stay silent. We cannot. And the last thing residents need is sympathy; if we are to feel sorry for anyone, we should feel sorry for ourselves for who we have become. Instead of patronizing them with our sympathy, residents should be applauded for their resilience, their bravery, and their contribution. They should be rewarded; they should be given more benefits as time elapses, not less.
We have a lot to learn from them. Even while many are treated as second-class members of the community, they stay, they work, and they support their families. This rhetoric of residents profiting from us is immature and arrogant; we must remember they are doing us a favor, a huge one, by being here as well. We are in this together; and in a healthy community, that is how things work; we give and we take; we take and we give.
Some residents may still find a way to stay here, in their home. But with this new “fine,” there is no way they can save money or help their families. And how can we sleep at night knowing we are creating obstacles for residents to send money back home? How can we sleep at night knowing that there is no money to pay for a parent’s kidney transplant or a relative’s tumor removal or a child’s education because the money is being paid to an oil-rich country instead? What principles are we building our foundation on?
These are certainly not our principles. And as long as we hold on to these pseudo-principles, we will continue to create laws which protect us and ostracize others, laws which are far, far away from the values of our heritage, founded on hospitality and inclusivity. Aren’t we tired of this us vs them attitude? Do we really want a Kuwait for Kuwaitis? Is this our legacy? Can’t we remember who we are?
It’s done. All we can do now is lament and ensure we resurrect a new Kuwait based on the ideals of our welcoming forefathers who never flinched at demographics. All we can do now is remember that what goes around comes around. This is a law. It is not a doomsday prophecy, but a warning, an invitation to recalibrate, a chance, an opportunity, to restore the karmic balance.
This is our chance to wake up and ask ourselves: Is this our legacy? And we should ask ourselves this question every night. That way, we can rectify the situation before karma knocks on our door. Loudly and fiercely. Two thousand dinars. Let’s remember that number. For it may come back to haunt those of us who stayed silent, those of us who spoke out for justice only when it came to our rights and, often, at the expense of others.
Drafted by representatives of diverse legal and cultural backgrounds from all regions of the world, the Declaration sets out universal values and a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations. It establishes the equal dignity and worth of every person. Thanks to the Declaration, and States’ commitments to its principles, the dignity of millions has been uplifted and the foundation for a more just world has been laid. While its promise is yet to be fully realized, the very fact that it has stood the test of time is testament to the enduring universality of its perennial values of equality, justice and human dignity.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights empowers us all. The principles enshrined in the Declaration are as relevant today as they were in 1948. We need to stand up for our own rights and those of others. We can take action in our own daily lives, to uphold the rights that protect us all and thereby promote the kinship of all human beings.
Here is a story written by Christin Roby@robyreports and published by Devex on 28 August 2017 that is a good recollection of what is happening in the outer edges of the MENA region. In fact, it is in the Sahel region that borders the south of all the North African countries (see map below) from as it were the Atlantic coast to its Indian counterpart coast. The narrated events in this particular story happened to have all occurred in what is called Azawad since time immemorial by the North African Berber populations. These populations are known throughout North Africa as Blue Men or Tuaregs for their nomadic roaming notably in the south-eastern limits of the Sahara. Azawad is the country to be but never made it to go it alone beyond that April day of 2012. Read more in the republished here story of Christen Roby.
MOPTI, Mali — Two separate attacks on U.N. peacekeeping bases in Mali earlier this month have escalated security concerns for NGOs and international organizations in the country’s northern and central regions. The already-volatile area has seen a rise in incidents against NGOs in recent months, and analysts fear local extremist groups may be forming in the country’s central and southern regions in response to limited governance.
The insecurity is wreaking double havoc: It has increased humanitarian needs, as public services deteriorate and livelihoods are compromised. Meanwhile, aid organizations are struggling to operate and address those needs given the complex safety risks.
“In this insecurity and fighting, you have elements who simply don’t respect humanitarian organizations and, in fact, they openly target humanitarian organizations,” John Ging, director of operations for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, told Devex. “The influence we have and our ability to negotiate respect for and security for our operation in an environment in central and northern Mali has limitations,” he said.
The attacks on U.N. peacekeepers on August 14 took place in Timbuktu, in Mali’s north, and Douenza, in the central region. In the former case, armed assailants targeted the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali’s headquarters, leaving six dead. One peacekeepers and a Malian soldier died in the second incident.
For aid organizations, the primary threats include thefts, carjacking and kidnappings. In a reminder of the risks, militants released a video of hostages abducted as early as 2011 just ahead of a visit to Mali by French President Emmanuel Macron in early July. Though one of the hostages, South African Stephen McGown, was released a few weeks later, the incident rattled the aid community. Relief groups have developed personalized security protocols to cope with ever-present risks. Security experts also urge the development community to work with and through local partners at all stages of programming and implementation to mitigate risks and build trust.
A backdrop of insecurity
Mali has maintained a high-security risk profile since 2003, when Algeria’s militant Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat fled across into the country’s northern region. The country today is home to overlapping conflicts, including between roaming pastoralists and farmers, as well as jihadists groups.
Though Islamic militant groups have had no territorial control since the French operation, Vincent Rouget, West Africa analyst at the global risk consultancy firm Control Risks, said they have “proven very mobile, very agile and very capable of evading surveillance and conducting attacks increasingly outside of their stronghold in the desert north.”
The crumbling security situation in this landlocked country may pose a threat to neighbouring countries, experts told Devex. The countries making up the Sahel region — Mali, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad — launched the G5 Sahel Joint Force earlier this summer to combat Islamist militants. Even with large financial support from the European Union, from France and from each country making up the force, Rouget believes that the deployment of more forces will not necessarily be an effective solution to this problem. He said the approach, in some cases, could even exacerbate tensions and lead to more discontent with the presence of expatriates.
The deteriorating security situation is having a devastating impact on the local population, said Ging. “People are really exposed to very dangerous, volatile and difficult situations … and that feeds directly into the escalation in their need and dependency on humanitarian support because they are negatively impacted in their own capacity to cope,” he said.
During his visit to the Mopti region in April, Ging found that nearly 300 schools were closed, more than double the amount closed last year. Across the greater central and northern Mali, 507 schools were closed out of 2300 schools total.
Providing desperately needed humanitarian support has also proved a daunting task, often obstructed by the highly uncertain situation, Ging told Devex.
Security risks now extend across the central region of Mali, impacting even the traditionally stable towns of Sevare and Segou. The lack of government presence in these areas has provided fertile ground for Islamic militants and radical discourse to take hold, Rouget explained.
Militants in this area tend to be decentralized, he said. While operating under the Al Qaeda umbrella, they work independently from one another, making them more difficult to root out. Rouget described them as local cells fighting against the state.
Experts working in the Mopti region are divided over whether these groups have specific targets, or whether the insecurity is more generalized. A UNOCHA representative in Mali argued that attacks happen to all types of people, not just aid workers. Whereas, an office manager for an aid relief agency told Devex that the U.N. and NGOs are singled out.
Rouget sees militants targeting those they consider “crusaders,” or Western nationals and those working with them, including French soldiers, U.N. peacekeepers, Malian military and gendarmerie and NGOs. In order to gain local support, these groups usually attempt to avoid Muslim casualties, he said. Attacks are often highly targeted, avoiding large scale suicide bombings employed by other jihadist groups such as Boko Haram, for example.
According to the Mali chapter of the International NGO Safety Organisation, incidents against NGOs are on track to be double compared to last year. As of June 2017, the country saw 98 incidents compared to a total of 114 NGO incidents in 2016.
Tomas Musik, INSO section director responsible for operations in Mali, Afghanistan, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo, accounts this significant increase in overall security incidents to a rise in criminality.
“This rise is due in part to the political context which remains unabated between pro-government security forces and opposition groups, which you could qualify as the radical jihadi groups,” Musik said.
Carjackings are particularly common, usually impacting NGOs and aid workers, as they tend to be the ones using vehicles. “There is some targeting which is not related to an NGO mandate or lack of acceptance from the community, but which is rather due to lack of exposure and the fact that NGOs remain present very extensively in the field and compared to presence of government or private sector,” he said.
Keeping aid workers safe
To increase aid worker safety, experts recommend international organizations work more closely with local populations. No white expatriates currently work in Mali’s central region.
“Humanitarian organizations work very much at the basis of community acceptance, so a central part of how humanitarian organizations enhance their own security is direct engagement with community leaders: Seeking support and respect from them for the humanitarian activities whether it’s the staff, the locations, or the movement of supplies,” Ging told Devex.
Musik stressed the importance of delivering quality work and assistance to communities, involving the local populations to define needs and targeted response plans, and making sure that the community feels represented.
“Groups must have a really sound understanding of geography because the threat varies hugely across regions and across localities,” Rouget added. He said it is critical to understand if an imminent threat exists, or if an area only experiences sporadic attacks. For single visits, he said, it is important to consider details such as choice of hotels and restaurants, as well as where one spends time outside the office, since many large attacks in Mali have occurred during weekends.
“As an organization, what you can do is provide your staff who are deployed [in unstable zones] with training and get them properly equipped to face hostile environments, and also more broadly to try to instill a culture of security awareness, which is not necessarily easy to do with NGOs and humanitarian aid workers but really make staff aware of the threat level and make sure they don’t take unnecessary risks,” Rouget urged.
Christin Roby is a West Africa correspondent for Devex based in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire where she covers global development trends, health, technology and policy-related topics. Before relocating to West Africa, Christin spent several years working in local newsrooms, and earned an MSJ in videography and global affairs reporting from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. Her informed insight into the region stems from her diverse coverage of more than a dozen African nations.
Creating three million jobs would require a growth rate between 2017 and 2020 of a minimum of 7 to 8%. The results of the bodies responsible for employment of the ANDI, the ANSEJ as much as of the NACC, are mixed despite their many allowed benefits. This is the New Government vs. social and budgetary tensions dilemma that the country’s newly appointed Prime Minister has to face up to within the remaining time of the president’s mandate.
However, the growth rate is relatively low in reference to public spending of 3% on average between 2000 and 2016. According to the ONS, quoted by APS, in April 2017, the employed population was estimated at 10.769 million against 10.845 million people in September 2016, registering a negative balance of the 76,000 people where six unemployed on ten on average are long-term unemployed.
Utopias or real socio-economics of Algeria
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) report on the global economic outlook for Algeria shows that if in 2016, the growth of the real GDP was 4.2%, the situation could significantly deteriorate in 2017 and 2018. Indeed, the IMF expects growth of 1.4% of GDP in 2017 and 2018, the Algerian economy should know a stagnation, with a growth rate of its GDP of only 0.6%.
A direct result of this economic slowdown would be the unemployment rate that should substantially increase over the same period and is estimated at 13.2% in 2018 with an inflationary trend always according to the IMF that we are trying to compensate by creating jobs with very low added value. This is mainly due to the decline in spending in infrastructure, up to now key engine of growth and the business climate.
Similar countries with spending of a 1/3 of that of Algeria have more significant growth rates.
What will happen if the oil price stagnated at 50 – 55 Dollars a barrel or even less at between 40 – 45 dollars? Would the risk of social tensions in the case of dwindling financial resources, while posing no problems for three years be on the increase? But what are the $100 billion of foreign exchange reserves in July 2017, with an output of currency goods-services and capital transfers of $60 billion and inflows of foreign currency of only $29 billion or $32 – 35 billion dollars by end of 2017 if the price of a barrel is maintained between $50 – 55 despite all restrictions on import?
According to various statements of Mr. Ahmed OUYAHIA, prior to his appointment as Prime Minister saying : “If we don’t get over not standing on the economic plan, we risk ending up at the IMF” So what to do?
Contents of the Finance Act 2018?
Would we still hold on, in the Finance Act 2018 for budgetary calculation the $50 dollars a barrel like for 2017’s?
Would we above the regular 11% tax?
Can we have a VAT increase from 7% to 9% for the reduced rate, and 17% to 19% for the higher band even with the risk of inflation and unfair indirect taxes applied to all; direct tax being a sign of a greater citizenship?
Will we restrict all spending: where the capital budget that has been reduced to $22 billion by 2016 as a result of the latest budget cuts as much as the operating budget of about $41 billion that is incompressible unless of a deep public service redesign?
Will we establish a tax of wealth as based on accurate assessment of the distribution of income and the model of consumption by social strata and mastering of the importance of the informal sphere?
Will we to avoid external debt go towards a de-monopolisation program and further privatization with partial or total transfer of ownership of a number of public companies whose financial situation is deteriorating due to workload and management issues where Public Treasury has supported for more than $70 billion dollars in sanitation between 1974 and 2016 or with over 70% returned to the starting block?
Will we go for targeted subsidies where according to the Government about $18 billion was spent transfers in 2016, while revenues in foreign currency during the year fell by $37 billion,?
What will the socio-economic policy be?
Will it always use the Dinar (DZD) skidding to more than DZD127 a Euro as a means of adjustment of the deficit of the balance of payments?
Would the current industrial policy lead the country to debt therefore dependence and to correct it how would a dynamic industrial sector which represents less than 5% of the gross domestic product and 80 / 85% of raw materials of public and private sector coming from overseas and what would without proper analysis, the rush into car assembly plants with a low rate of integration bring?
Will we still keep to that out of date policy from the 1970 – 1980 years at the time of the fourth economic revolution looming between 2020 and 2030 as based on good governance, the economy of knowledge and environmental challenges?
What will a program that is dated, accurate and taking into account of the transformation of the new world of structural reforms to combat the prevailing central and local bureaucracy through to a real decentralization of the financial system onto a social and educational system as hub of the creation of value and the thorny problem of land?
Will we hang on to the same 2009 ownership share rule as applicable to all sectors instead being targeted and thus encouraging FDI in nonhydrocarbon sectors?
What will the proposed import licenses without any strategic vision nor taking into account that the Algerian economy is dominated by the service sector where small trade and services represent 83% of the economic area with dominance of the informal sphere?
How to apply one of the articles of the new Constitution and not differentiate the State sector from that of the private sector for all national and international creation of wealth enterprise by the lifting of all constraints of the business community?
And finally how do we go about organizing an economic and social dialogue so as to carry out reforms with economic and social credible intermediation?
Strategic vision within the new world
All political, social and economic actors are riveted to the presidential deadline of April 2019, but maintaining the status-quo until then could be suicidal. We must as of now envisage through the right strategic vision certain short-term economic policies and not appearances that might increase economic and social tensions and ultimately lead to a further deterioration in the purchasing power of the Algerians.
Any increase in the rate of inflation will involve primary banks interest rates rising, to avoid bankruptcy and discouraging investment. Without structural reforms related to good governance, there may not be genuine development in Algeria with the added risk of returning to the IMF in 2019 – 2020.
There are, for Algeria, opportunities to increase its growth rate because of its substantial potential that despite the crisis would assume a new strategic governance
The major challenge for Algeria would mean to implement operational instruments capable of identification, to anticipate changes in the behaviour of the economic, political and social actors at geostrategic level.
There is a dialectic link between development and security, and because without sustainable development there is necessarily increase of insecurity which has a growing cost. Strategic objective must reconcile modernity and authenticity, economic efficiency and a deep social justice if Algeria wants to avoid its marginalization from within the global societies. The passage of the status of ‘support against the rentier economy’ to that of the rule of law “based on work and intelligence” is a major political gamble since it simply involves a new social contract and a new political contract between the Nation and the State.
Originally posted on Where in the world is Riccardo?: A panoramic photograph of “Algiers the White” (Alger la Blanche) with the city’s glistening buildings rising from the sea, viewed from the overlook at Victory Park, home of the towering Martyr’s Memorial, a dominant landmark constructed in 1982 to mark the 20th anniversary of Algeria’s independence…
Originally posted on Walk Memory Lane: Couscous (North Africa) In the North African nations of Algeria, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia, people understand couscous better than most. The dish originated here, and in 2020, UNESCO recognized not only the dish itself, but also the knowledge associated with how couscous is produced. Couscous is a cereal, thus…
Originally posted on Bean's Books and Beyond: Apparently this was a top seller throughout Covid, but I didn’t read it then or in high school or college. Glad I finally got to it and glad Project Lit book club At SJHS chose it for its first book this year. Here’s my review on Insta:…
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