Voices from the Arab Press: Designating Hamas a terror org. isn’t enough

A weekly selection of opinions and analyses from the Arab media around the world.

 Shopping at the Mall of Egypt in Giza, 2020 (photo credit: AMR ABDALLAH DALSH / REUTERS)
Shopping at the Mall of Egypt in Giza, 2020

Asharq Al-Awsat, London, December 3

Last week, the United Kingdom’s parliament approved the designation of Hamas as a terrorist organization, effectively outlawing the Palestinian group that rules the Gaza Strip. This is a misleading and perhaps even contradictory decision given the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood – the organization from which Hamas drew inspiration – still operates freely out of the heart of London. In fact, roughly 30% of the Brotherhood’s proceeds are generated and collected in Britain. The same is true of Hamas. Through 13 organizations and associations based in the UK, Hamas has been funneling money into its own hands, behind the authorities’ backs. Most of this has been done with the help of the Brotherhood and its robust presence throughout the UK. Indeed, Heshmat Khalifa, the head of the UK’s largest Muslim charity, used his Facebook page to describe Hamas as “the purest resistance movement in modern history.” He further suggested that classifying Hamas’s military wing as a terror organization is a “disgrace to all Muslims.” Keep in mind that this is the very same person who managed a fund totaling over £7 million targeted at various Muslim charities and causes. It has also been revealed that Brotherhood leaders helped funnel money to Hamas by wiring donations collected in the UK into several Egyptian companies which, in turn, transferred the money into the Gaza Strip. Therefore, it’s clear that the British decision against Hamas is devoid of any practicality and efficacy. The only way to truly cut off Hamas’s funding is to cut off funding for the international Muslim Brotherhood organization. The Brotherhood is a vital organ without which Hamas cannot exist. If we want to kill the snake, we mustn’t aim at the tail, but at the head.

– Meshary Al-Dhaidy

A New Reality of High Prices

Al-Ahram, Egypt, December 4

Perhaps the most spoken-about topic these days, other than the coronavirus, is inflation – that is, the rise in prices. The price shocks of 2020-2021 are some of the worst the world has experienced in decades. In the beginning of the pandemic, prices rose due to the slowdown in production and the closure of borders. After the global economy slightly recovered from the shock, prices rose again due to supply-chain issues. Now, with the discovery of the Omicron variant, we might be witnessing another wave of price increases. I am not an economist, but I do follow the statements and predictions of senior experts in the field. All of them, without fail, claim that what we’re witnessing are fundamental changes in economic thinking. For many years, economists have asserted that inflation is temporary: just like a wave, it goes up and then comes back down. But now that thinking has changed. Jerome Powell, chair of the US Federal Reserve, recently suggested that it’s time to stop using the word “temporary” to describe inflation. The idea that, ultimately, prices will decline, is no longer true. The irony is that Powell’s remarks came in response to criticism voiced by Egyptian-born economist Mohamed El-Erian, who urged the Federal Reserve to stop describing inflation as “transitory.” Speaking at a global conference in Abu Dhabi, El-Erian, the chief economic adviser at Allianz, suggested that the Federal Reserve is “losing its credibility” by ignoring the irreversible damage caused by rising prices. The American political pundit Ramesh Ponnuru explained that the rise in prices occurs either because people buy more, which leads to a shortage of goods, or because there is a shortage of goods due to production problems. During the past months, we began to read about a supply-chain crisis that has led to acute shortages in goods. What concerns me as an ordinary citizen is that my dream of making a stable income that will fulfill the needs of my family is no longer realistic. Inflation burns salaries to the ground. So much so is the case that many Americans, who are accustomed to price stability, are now complaining and asking for government support. And to make things worse, in addition to the obvious reasons driving prices upward, we in Egypt also have the problem of greedy gouging, wherein sellers raise their prices with the hope of making greater profit. Given this new reality, there’s no use in ruminating over the past. The world in which a carton of milk or a tray of eggs was only a few pennies is long gone. High prices are here to stay, and we must start accepting this reality.

– Abdullah Abd Al-Salam 

Victoria Tower Gardens, London (credit: JUSTINC/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)Victoria Tower Gardens, London (credit: JUSTINC/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

Fifty Years of incredible Accomplishments

Al-Ittihad, UAE, December 3

Fifty years is not long in the lives of countries, peoples and societies, but when they boast incredible development and lead to the emergence of a modern state, they can change the course of history. What the United Arab Emirates has achieved in 50 years of continuous construction, growth and progress is an inspiring miracle and an unprecedented feat in both global and regional terms. In just 50 years, the arid desert was replaced with bustling cities, skyscrapers boasting global companies, and miles and miles of beaches, trees and gardens. These 50 years also have seen the establishment of a network of universities, colleges, research centers and institutes, training and rehabilitation centers, factories and hospitals. In just 50 years, the UAE has become a fertile environment that attracts Arab and foreign investments. It has ably hosted international and regional exhibitions, and has become one of the safest, most stable, happy, tolerant and open countries. The UAE overcame all difficulties and transcended time at an astonishing speed in order to be where it is today. It is an open home to members of all nationalities, religions and sects, without any discrimination – making its passport one of the most sought after in the world. Famous entrepreneurs, businessmen and artists have chosen to make the UAE their home due to its attractive, comfortable and welcoming environment for both visitors and residents. Despite the hot climate of the Arabian Peninsula and its high humidity, the UAE overcame all obstacles and difficulties and provided all of the necessary conditions for its residents to live comfortable, healthy and safe lives. The country’s transparent laws and regulations guarantee freedom to everyone – from executive officers to the simple worker. As a testament to its openness, Emirati airports and hotels are crowded with visitors throughout the entire year. The decision to host Expo 2020 in the UAE this year sends a clear message to the entire world that the Emiratis are able to plan, prepare and host a huge global event at the highest caliber. Our country has pursued rapid development at astonishing excellence. Therefore, there is plenty of reason for us to celebrate this golden jubilee of our unification. While we take pride in our country each and every National Day, this 50th year since our country declared its independence is an extra special one. It is a day adorned with the most beautiful feelings of joy and pride for a country that defied everyone’s expectations and made great historical and civilizational achievements in just a few short decades of existence.

– Ali Al-Quhais 

It’s Time to Stop Repelling Foreign Investors

Al-Qabas, Kuwait, December 1

Public-private partnership laws have proven ineffective due to their inability to invite investors to enter into development projects for Kuwait. This is the dire reality. Kuwait repels investors, and laws do not encourage investment in Kuwait. The contracting procedures are very long, lasting from one year to two years. They are governed by committees and government bureaucrats that significantly contribute to the slow pace at which projects are implemented. One of the main reasons that led to the flight of investors away from Kuwait is Clause No. 19 of Law 116 (2014), which states that the Kuwaiti government can terminate any foreign agreement based on “public interest.” No foreign company will want to enter an agreement with a Kuwaiti contractor that can be easily terminated at the whim of a government official. If Kuwait is serious about attracting foreign investors it must first address its budget deficit, solve the problem of unemployment, provide job opportunities for recent college graduates, develop educational curricula and boost its energy sector. I call on the government and the Authority for Public-Private Partnership Projects to restructure the law mentioned above to make it easier and more welcoming for foreign companies to enter the Kuwaiti market. In addition, the law should include a clause obligating the investor to employ Kuwaiti workers at a rate of no less than 50% of the project. Only then will we be able to capture the gains of such investments while ensuring that the country remains an attractive destination for foreign companies to invest in.

– Fawaz Ahmad Al-Hamad 

Translated by Asaf Zilberfarb.