Hot off the Arab press 467251

What citizens of other countries are reading about the Middle East.

PRO-GOVERNMENT protesters chant slogans while holding the national flag during the fifth anniversary of the uprising that ended the 30-year reign of Hosni Mubarak, in Cairo in January (photo credit: AMR ABDALLAH DALSH / REUTERS)
PRO-GOVERNMENT protesters chant slogans while holding the national flag during the fifth anniversary of the uprising that ended the 30-year reign of Hosni Mubarak, in Cairo in January
Al-Masry al-Youm, Egypt, September 2
I opened the newspaper last week to find a glaring headline about the supposed retrieval of former president Hosni Mubarak’s stolen money. The article read that Switzerland’s Federal Supreme Court accepted an appeal on behalf of the Egyptian government to retrieve some of the funds and assets held abroad by Mubarak and his cronies. In the meantime, all of the assets in the country have been frozen.
I hate to break it to the millions of Egyptians who think they will now be handed cash by the government, but we are not likely to see any of this money anytime soon. Over five years have passed since these investigations started, and we are still yet to see a single dollar sent back to Cairo.
Egyptians should read the story of ousted Philippines president Ferdinand Marcos, whose foreign bank accounts have been subjected to ongoing investigations for over a quarter of a century, but with no avail. His wife and children still reside in the capital city of Manila, where they live a happy – and, predictably, lavish – life.
In other words, this Swiss decision is not something that calls for renewed hope. What should concern us is not the resumption of an investigation or the freezing of Mubarak’s assets. Rather, it is the need to determine how much money was stolen from the Egyptian people during the decades he rules, and where it is located. Then, it is about making the owner of the money – whoever he or she might be right now – liable for obtaining it illegally.
Only then would we even be able to go to trial and demand that the assets be returned to their rightful owners. But between that point of time and where we are right now there are years, if not decades. I would caution us not to get our hopes too high.
– Sliman Jawda
Al-Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, August 30
Saudi Arabia’s Central Bureau of Statistics published its periodic report on the economy, and revealed that roughly 650,000 Saudis – or 11.6% of the total population – are unemployed. The report also showed that there are twice as many unemployed women as there are men.
Unemployment is a problem in many places around the world, and countries deal with it in various ways. I am of the opinion that in Saudi Arabia, the issue with unemployment surrounds not lack of policy, but lack of will. What do I mean by that? There are many jobs available in the Saudi labor market – enough to provide each and every person with employment. The problem is that most Saudis aren’t willing to take them.
Many of these positions aren’t prestigious or respected enough in the eyes of the public. Thus, people choose to stay at home. The government, by definition, considers these individuals as unemployed.
What happened to the generation of people, like our parents, who were willing to make a living in whatever way possible? What happened to the day and age in which people were proud of working diligently, no matter what the job was, to provide for their family? To truly tackle unemployment we must put policy solutions aside, and begin addressing the way in which unemployment is conceptualized. The problem is with our standards, not with our policy.
– Rabet Muktassar
Al-Sharq al-Awsat, London, September 3
There are two countries that may play a crucial role in the Gulf’s near future: China and India.
This is because these two countries now represent the largest markets in the world. Further, they are continuously growing, even at a time when major markets elsewhere are shrinking or disappearing altogether.
It is clear that Riyadh – and Gulf leaders more generally – have recognized this shift. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman made several trips to China in recent years, working to promote his country’s economic interests in East Asia. Can Saudi Arabia adopt a strategy of eastward shifting following decades of reliance on the West? Fortunately, at least at this stage, the two alliances are not mutually exclusive. The Gulf’s orientation towards China and India is more economic than political. Therefore, Riyadh can maintain its close alliance with the West with relative ease, while still expanding into eastern markets. This shift will not be easy. It will require vast government investment to establish on-the-ground partnerships, identifying potential markets, and promoting Saudi exports.
The two potential partners are also not one and the same. In China, where the government controls most foreign transactions, Riyadh will have to handle new trade channels more systematically, on a diplomatic basis. In India, where the private sector manages most economic affairs, Riyadh will promote Saudi business partnerships with private actors.
At the end of the day, Gulf countries have much to offer both China and India. They hold the largest oil reservoirs in the region, the most skilled labor, lax trade regulations, and demonstrate political stability.
In the day and age of economic slowdowns and global terrorism, all of these factors go a long way in enticing new partners.
– Abd al-Rahman al-Rashed