OPEC Subsidies Removal Increases Ga...

The Kingdom has raised its prices for unleaded gasoline by 24 per cent the following month as it becomes the first country to remove subsidies on tran...

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Libya’s plans to emerge from ...

After years of economic uncertainty, Libya seems poised to re-emerge into the global financial community. The plan is to engage in a process of taking...

After Eight Years, Tony Blair Resig...

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair had declared his resignation today as Britain’s Middle East Envoy Tony Blair’s position seeks a peace ...

Saudi Arabia Begins Military Campai...

Saudi Arabia announced that it would launch a military campaign against Yemen. A Saudi Official said that it was the first step to restore a Yemeni go...

OPEC Subsidies Removal Increases Gas Prices In UAE

The Kingdom has raised its prices for unleaded gasoline by 24 per cent the following month as it becomes the first country to remove subsidies on transport fuel.

Motorists are now to pay AED 2.14 per liter ($0.58) for 95- octane unleaded gasoline starting on August 1. The oil prices will continue to deregulate. This is a huge leap from its original price of AED 1.72 per litre according to the Ministry of Energy’s website.

Analysts say that it is one of the biggest reforms in oil-rich countries. UAE will also be the first country to perform the removal of subsidies from transport fuel.

Senior Emerging Markets Economist at Capital Economics Ltd. In London William Jackson said it is one of the most ambitious reforms within the Gulf countries given the strength of the UAE. He said the move may be to appease its investors that its fiscal position will not deteriorate badly soon.

However, it’s a bear market for oil this quarter as oil prices continue to fall. The energy ministry had set prices for 98-octane unleaded oil at AED2.25 per liter and 91-octane grade at AED2.07 per litre.

Brent crude oil’s price had fallen more than 50% in the last 12 months now at $52.98 a barrel in London.

Libya’s plans to emerge from the financial backwaters

After years of economic uncertainty, Libya seems poised to re-emerge into the global financial community. The plan is to engage in a process of taking back control of investments that have been frozen since 2011’s revolution that toppled Muammar Gaddafi. If successful, it will allow the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) to reinvest billions of dollars of assets that have been forced into dormancy during the last four years.

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In total, the Libyan Investment Authority is applying to regain control of $67 billion of Libya’s national wealth fund, through license applications in a number of different international jurisdictions. If successful, these will kick start a process that will allow a partial management of the funds at stake.

The LIA was set up under Gaddafi’s government to ensure financial stability for Libya’s heavily oil-dependent economy. With Libya’s finances in turmoil since the revolution, these license applications, as well as high-profile court cases, will allow it to make a significant step back towards mainstream international acceptance.

The plans were revealed in an interview given by Hassan Bouhadi to the Telegraph (Arabic). where he discussed plans to sue Goldman Sachs and Societe Generale in the London Courts for what the LIA sees as actions that “squandered” the LIA’s funds. Their claim is that the two banks invested the fund’s assets in high-risk derivative transactions that were wiped out in 2008. The LIA is claiming billions of dollars in compensation in a strongly contested lawsuit.

The LIA is most concerned at present with a 30 percent portion of its $67 billion assets that are in a number of foreign equities, bonds and similar holdings. These assets were frozen under international sanctions in 2011, a status that the new Libyan government wishes to remain in place. At the same time however, these investments need managing to maintain their value – for example where bonds have matured, or the portfolio has become overexposed to risk due to commodity fluctuations.

Following visits to Washington and EU authorities and ambassadors, Mr Bouhadi has been pressing for a method of permitting the preservation of these Libyan investments to prevent the Libyan people’s funds being devalued. The hope is that deals and licenses can be arranged to allow reinvestment of matured bonds in a ring-fenced manner that doesn’t allow them to be cashed in. For example, equity assets, such as the LIA’s 3.2 percent stake in Pearson (owner of the Financial Times), might be allowed to reinvest coupon payments and dividends rather than those funds sitting inactive.

The LIA’s actions are the first steps in a longer process of unfreezing the affected assets, but that outcome is not expected to happen until political stability has been achieved in Libya. The country is still torn by civil war and complex power struggles that have been fought since Gaddafi was overthrown. The internationally-recognised government has been forced out of the nation’s capital, Tripoli, by Islamist militias, and areas of the country are under the control of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Even the LIA has been caught up in these turbulent politics, with the Tripoli-backed former chairman, Abdulmagid Breish, currently attempting to replace Mr Bouhadi. Among the fights currently underway has been Mr Breish’s hiring of law firm Stephenson Harwood in London for an attempt to take control of the lawsuits against Goldman Sacs and Societe Generale.

After Eight Years, Tony Blair Resigns From Middle East Spot

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair had declared his resignation today as Britain’s Middle East Envoy

Tony Blair’s position seeks a peace agreement between Israel and Palestine. In eight years, however, he and a quartet of international representatives were unable to bring much progress.

Blair had written to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon about his resignation.

Meanwhile, the quartet is focusing on the implications of Blair’s resignation. The discussion revolves around his replacement. However, many said that Blair will not “leave the scene” and may act as advisor at crucial times.

After his Prime Minister tenure, Tony Blair immediately took his position as Britain’s Envoy to the Middle East with the aim of helping the Palestinian economy develop and improve its governance. The job, however, was no easy feat.

Much of Britain views the former prime minister quite negatively because of his part-responsibility for the 2003 Iraq invasion. He was also seen closer to Israelis than the Palestinians he was to help.

Blair had been said not to speak out his thoughts or even try to do anything to better the situation.

Saudi Arabia Begins Military Campaign Against Yemen On A “Defensive” Stance

Saudi Arabia announced that it would launch a military campaign against Yemen. A Saudi Official said that it was the first step to restore a Yemeni government that collapsed because of the Shia Houthi rebels. The official said the campaign was to bring Yemen back to its rightful rulers.

Analysts fear the involvement of Iran, whose Shia-heavy population could have a great influence over the Shia Houthi rebels.

Saudi Ambassador to the United States Adel al-Jubeir said the air campaign has begun. He said that Saudi Arabia will do everything in its power to protect the legitimate Yemeni Government.

As fighters and army units have joined the Houthi rebels in Aden in finding and capturing the escaped and ousted President Abdurabbuh Mansour Hadi. They have seized a military base and have launched an aerial assault on his home. Just by Wednesday morning, the rebels had captured the al-Anad air base, 35 miles away from Hadi’s Aden refuge.

Before the rebels can capture the President, Saudi chose to intervene.

Meanwhile, analysts said that the country was slipping slowly into a civil war. The presence of terrorist and militant groups al-Qaeda and ISIS may also play a huge role in the conflict’s evolution.

US Assembles 27-Member Delegation to Pay Respects to Saudi Arabia’s New King

After the death of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, the United States intends to strengthen its political ties with the new Saudi King King Salam as a 27-member delegation is assembled to pay respects to the passed Saudi King.

With growing concern over the Middle Eastern region’s stability as ISIS and the civil war in Syria continues, the United States needs its ally up to its feet and fighting in the same arena as the country does.

 

According to Central Intelligence Agency Director John Brennan, the 27-member committee includes Republican Hawk Senator John McCain and US Middle East Central Command Leader General Lloyd Austin.

 

It cannot be denied that the trip has been hastily organized according to observers.

 

Included in the delegation are Secretary of State John Kerry and Leading House Democrat Nancy Pelosi and John Crowley, US President Barack Obama’s traveling companions in Delhi, India. They will also accompany him to the unscheduled stop off the King’s Palace in Riyadh.

 

“Principally, I think this is to mark this transition in leadership and to pay respects to the family and to the people of Saudi Arabia but I’m sure that while we’re there they’ll touch on some of the leading issues where we cooperate very closely with Saudi Arabia,” deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters in Delhi.

 

“Clearly, that would include the continued counter-Islamic State campaign where the Saudis have been a partner and have joined us in military operations in Syria; of course, also the situation in Yemen, where we have coordinated very closely with Saudi Arabia.”

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The importance of understanding English and Arabic when doing business

Thanks to extensive natural resources and favourable trading conditions, certain countries and economies in the Middle East have enjoyed tremendous growth over the past couple of decades.

What’s more, the most prosperous Arab League States such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates have been developing ways of sustaining this success by looking at other sectors like tourism and telecommunications.

As commercial activity increases, job prospects and career opportunities also improve for those looking to relocate and experience a new way of life. In addition to earning tax-free salaries, expats can enjoy new housing developments, modern facilities and world-class infrastructure.

But in spite of a growing expat population, traditional customs and conventions remain incredibly important. So along with recognising and respecting local laws, dress codes and behaviours, having a solid grasp of Arabic is crucial.

1Doing business in the Arab world

Although moving to these thriving economies is an exciting prospect for many, it seems as though several businessmen and women will need to learn Arabic in the near future anyway. According to the British Council Languages for the Future report, it is the fourth most widely spoken language in the world and brings about greater export trade for numerous enterprises.

But when it actually comes to doing business in a country like Saudi Arabia, Qatar or the United Arab Emirates, knowing the language is invaluable. Translation services are obviously available, but you’ll earn much more respect from your associates for learning their native tongue. If they hold you in high esteem, your chances of securing a deal and doing business are bound to increase.

While learning Arabic, you’ll probably learn about other important traditions and business etiquette too. From understanding how to greet people to knowing what not to order from a menu, studying Arabic and the customs associated with it can be indispensable.

Living, working and studying in the Arab world

Deciding to move to the Middle East in search of a better way of life is all well and good, but finding and securing employment straight away might not be possible. Your chances will no doubt be improved by having a solid grasp of Arabic, but there are other steps you can take as well.

For example, several Arab League States have world-class universities and educational institutions, teaching everything from undergraduate programmes to master degrees in a variety of different subjects. Again, this will help you understand your new home while giving you the best chance of getting that dream job. The majority of schools and colleges are sure to have scores of international students too, meaning that most teaching will be in English. However, there will definitely be the opportunity to scrub up on your Arabic as well through additional tuition- eliminating the need for that Arabic-English translation service.

Even though the majority of managers, executives and tycoons located in the Middle East will speak English, there are numerous benefits to knowing Arabic. What’s more, the career prospects and education opportunities across the Arab League States make relocating to this part of the world an incredibly enticing prospect.

Air Strikes In Raqqa Kills Dozens

According to on-site activists with the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights based in London, at least 36 civilians were killed during the air strikes of the Syrian government against the Islamic State in Raqqa.

The opposition activist network said that around 36 to 80 people had died from two successive bombing runs. They also confirm that the bombings had killed a majority of civilians.

The Observatory said that the Syrian government air strikes had targeted a popular market in Raqqa and industrial areas where large explosions had caused great casualties.

According to Observatory Director Rami Abdel Rahman, “The first strike came, residents rushed to rescue the wounded, and then the second raid took place.”

A pro-Islamic State media group, Amaq, showed firemen dousing several burning cars with water and medics placing several bodies into the back of an ambulance. While the video cannot be verified, the bodies were believed to have been civilians.

“This is one of the ugliest regime massacres in Raqqa to date,” Abu Ibrahim al-Raqqawi, a Moscow-based activist who oversees the group Raqqa is Being Silently Slaughtered, said.

The US and Arabian allies had been conducting air strikes on IS positions in Raqqa and elsewhere in northern and eastern Syria since September. They have downed several IS targets with none to minimal civilian casualties.

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Saudi Arabia Reminds Women to “Stay Off The Cars”

Female drivers in Saudi Arabia will be “strictly” deal with, according to authorities on Thursday.

Meanwhile activists are planning a “right-to-drive” campaign against the government.

It is only in Saudi Arabia where women cannot drive. In early October, activists said they will step up their campaign against Saudi Arabia’s backwards policies.

Using social media, they will encourage women drivers to post pictures of themselves on Twitter and Facebook with the hashtag #IWillDriveMyself. Videos on YouTube and WhatsApp will also use the same hashtag for the campaign.

However, the Saudi Interior Ministry said they will strictly implement measures against anybody who “contributes in any manner or by any acts, towards providing violaters with the opportunity to undermine the social cohesion.”

The official Saudi Press had published the statement.

More than 2700 people have signed an online petition against the Saudi Arabian kingdom’s decision regarding women’s driving. Activists have also told the AFP that two or three women are sharing their driving posts daily on social media.

In Saudi Arabia, women are fined for using vehicles even with their husband’s consent. In Saudi Arabia, women also need a male guardian’s approval to work and marry. Single men have areas of their own in restaurants.

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FIFA MEMBER: “World Cup Will Not Take Place in Qatar”

It is the belief of German Fifa Member Theo Zwanziger that the 2022 World Cup will NOT take place at Qatar. This is mainly because of the extreme temperatures during the summer when the World Cup will be held, which ultimately, will put the world’s best players at serious risk of things like heat exhaustion and sun stroke.

It is also thought the threat of legal action by representatives of the players could be the straw that breaks the camels back, which will see FIFA move the World Cup away from Qatar to a new country.

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One compromise that has been talked about in recent months is moving the World Cup to the winter months in order to avoid the heat of the summer.

However, this idea has been met with outrage by many of the leading teams of England, Spain, Italy, and Germany as it would bring major disruption to the domestic season.

Theo Zwanziger said, “I just don’t see how it is possible to have the World Cup in Qatar in 2022.”

If the World Cup does get moved to another country, then it would be a major blow to the economy of Qatar as they would lose out on millions of dollars of investment.

Qatar, the largest importer of phytoceramides and other health supplements, are relying heavily on World Cup cash to build new football stadiums and other facilities. If the money falls through, then football in Qatar will take a massive nosedive, and it could even spell the end of the game, as well as millions of dollars in tourism.

“We must have the World Cup,” said a sports representative for Qatar. “Anything else would be a disaster.”

Reports are surfacing that high profile clubs such as Manchester United, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus, Bayern Munich, and Chelsea will be joining forces to launch legal action against Fifa Members, including the head honcho Sepp Blatter.

“Once Fifa feels the force of these European super powers and their legal teams it might have no other choice but to move the World Cup elsewhere in 2022,” commented a Premier League insider.

There is also an English investigation into reports of corruption and bribery within the FIFA ranks, of which the findings will soon be made available to the public.

If there is any hard evidence of illegal activities or foul play, then Fifa may be forced to take the World Cup away from Qatar and give it to England instead, who are more than equipped to host the finals in 2022.

Iran’s Nuclear Talks Resume Ahead of Deadline

New York is playing host to the latest round of negotiations aimed at limiting Iran’s controversial nuclear program, but getting agreement around the table is proving difficult with the current slew of world crises distracting the nations involved.

The last set of talks, based in Vienna in July, stalled and achieved only an agreement to try and reach a consensus on giving Iran relief from the sanctions currently levied against it, in return for strict limits designed to hinder any attempts to acquire a nuclear weapon.

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The high profile setting of these new talks, timed to take place when world leaders are gathered for the UN General Assembly meeting have raised expectations of a final resolution to talks. The non-stop procession of crisis events this summer however – from the Ukraine conflict and the Ebola outbreak in West Africa to the Islamic State violence in Syria and Iraq – threaten to weaken resolve to dedicate time to the discussions.

Commentators are wary of how Iran will feel emboldened by the current unrest, noting how historically the country has tended to see conflicts such as those in Iraq as an opportunity to increase their leverage in negotiations. There are fears that both sides will get bogged down in increased demands rather than seeking a solution that would then free them up to deal with bigger issues of national security.

The looming deadline of November 24th is unlikely to be extended, so this round of negotiations is going to essential if both sides are going to be able to find solutions to the current road blocks.