Dubai scraps 30% alcohol tax and fees for personal alcohol licences
Mon, 01/02/2023 - 10:33
The UAE emirate of Dubai has announced that it has scrapped the 30% tax on alcohol, and will no longer charge for personal alcohol licences.
Known as the Gulf's "party capital", where expatriates outnumber nationals by nine to one, Dubai has historically been more attractive to tourists and wealthy foreign workers than its neighbours, partially because of its tolerance of a more liberal lifestyle.
Despite this, the high alcohol tax had led to residents often driving to Umm al-Quwain and other emirates to buy alcohol in bulk.
The free market in foreign policy on display as Xi meets the Arabs
It appears that the principles of the free market now dominate the international system, not only in areas of trade, but also in defence, security and foreign policy, writes Dennis Sammut in today's Monday Commentary on commonspace.eu. Bigger countries are wooing smaller countries, unashamedly displaying their goods, and dismissing those of others. China’s president Xi was in Saudi Arabia last week, to seal China’s new partnership with the Arabs. This week, it will Joe Biden’s turn to host African leaders at the White House.
"For the moment small countries are making the most out of this new free market atmosphere in the international system. But they must also keep in mind that, as in the market, demand sometimes slumps abruptly. It is at this point countries will not need just customers, but also friends."
Mon, 12/12/2022 - 05:29
Xi in Saudi Arabia as China woos Gulf Arabs
China's president Xi Jinping on Wednesday (7 December) starts a three-day visit to Saudi Arabia where he will meet Saudi and other Arab leaders in a series of summits.
Three summits will take place during his trip: the Saudi-Chinese Summit, the Riyadh Gulf-China Summit for Cooperation and Development, and the Riyadh Arab-China Summit for Cooperation and Development. The participants will include more than 30 leaders and officials, highlighting the importance of the gatherings and their high regional and international profile, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
Xi’s visit reflects the desire of the leaderships of Saudi Arabia and China to strengthen the bilateral relationship, enhance their strategic partnership and realize the political and economic potential it offers to serve their common interests, the SPA added. Reporting the visit, the New York Times said the trip sends a message that Beijing’s clout in the region is growing at a time when U.S. officials say that they want to make the Middle East less of a priority, focusing diplomatic and military resources on Asia and Europe.
Wed, 12/07/2022 - 05:30
UAE marks its national day with a mission to the moon
On the eve of its National Day being marked on Friday (2 December), the United Arab Emirates will today become the first Arab country to send a mission to the moon.
The UAE Rashid Rover, the first Emirati mission to the Moon surface, on Tuesday was integrated into a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket for its historic launch on Wednesday. The four-wheel rover has undergone its final integration process with the launch vehicle - the Hakuto-R Mission 1 lander – which will launch from a spaceport at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida at 12:39 pm UAE time. The primary goal of the mission is to study the Moon’s plasma and to provide answers about Moon dust, the lunar surface, mobility on the Moon’s surface, and how different surfaces interact with lunar particles.
The Rashid rover - built by Emirati engineers from the UAE’s Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center (MBRSC) - is to be sent to regions of the Moon unexplored by humans.With this mission the UAE becomes only the fourth country to send a mission to the moon. This scientific achievement is being launched as the country prepares to mark the anniversary of its foundation on 2 December 1971.
Wed, 11/30/2022 - 03:55
Brussels hosts 6th EU-GCC Business forum
The EU and the GCC have underlined their commitment to expanding cooperation during the sixth joint business forum held at the Residence Palace in the European Quarter of Brussels on Thursday, 24 November.
"This meeting is both welcome and timely, given the very challenging global developments we have faced, and continue to face, in 2022," said European Commission Executive Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis in his keynote speech to the gathering.
Dombrovskis said that "in this challenging environment, the EU is fully committed to strengthening economic ties between our two regional blocs. By developing our areas of mutual interest, by working in a more collaborative way, we can achieve real benefits.
"The EU is guided in this important work by our Communication on a 'Strategic Partnership with the Gulf, published in May of this year. The strategic aim of this roadmap is clear: we want to broaden and deepen our cooperation with the GCC and its member countries. We view the Gulf as a dynamic neighboring region, and an important gateway between Europe, Asia and Africa."
Fri, 11/25/2022 - 07:14
Saudi Arabia declares holiday after amazing win against Argentina at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar
A win at a football match during the world cup is always a moment that every country savours. But when your team is not one of the favorites and yet is able to defeat one of the world's top football teams the sense of national elation is eccstatic.
Such was the mood in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday (22 November) after their team in its debut match in the tournament in Doha which opened on Sunday, managed to defeat one of the favorites, Argentina.
As Saudi media was quick to point out, this was the first time an Arab or Asian team have beaten the two-time world champions at this level, and will go down as one of the greatest upsets in the history of the competition.
Back home, the Saudi government decided it was time to party. At a regular meeting of the cabinet of Ministers, King Salman approved a suggestion made by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to celebrate the national team’s victory with a holiday. All public and private sector employees and students at all educational stages will be given a holiday, Saudi Press Agency reported.
For Saudi Arabia this is a moment to savour. The country has been in recent years slowly but surely emerging from a period of lethargy, and a new dynamism is appearing in all sectors of society. Many problems linger, and some new ones are emerging too. But today, Saudis will focus on celebrating a football victory which very well embodies the country's new sense of confidence.
Wed, 11/23/2022 - 07:27
Monday Commentary: Let sports unite us
The 2022 FIFA World Cup opened in Doha on Sunday (20 November) with a lavish half an hour opening ceremony full of music and colour. It will be followed by weeks of football extravaganza that millions are looking forward to watching.
It was a proud moment for the small Arab Gulf country which has put a lot of effort and resources towards making the event a success, writes Dennis Sammut in today's Monday Commentary on commonspace.eu. Ever since it was decided to hold the FIFA world cup in Qatar there have been those who questioned the decision. Some said the climate was too hot; others criticised the working conditions of the labour force that built the facilities; others questioned Qatar's human rights record, especially on gay rights. Some of the criticism was justified. The world cup helped put attention to such problems and that is how it should be. But frankly, a lot of the criticism of Qatar went over the top and reeked of racism. Qatar has its shortcomings, but the hundreds of thousands of people who flock there to work, and others who just visit, appreciate it for what it is: a young nation that is trying to play a positive role in the world and to offer opportunity for work and business to whoever wants to work with it. It is ofcourse easy to say that sports and politics do not mix. Since sports is an expression of human talent and human feelings politics cannot be excluded. It needs to be managed. People watching football do not need expressions of political opinions shoved down their throats. Many even find such expressions as an insult to their intelligence. But that does not mean that the occasion of a global sports event cannot be a way of transmitting a dignified message with political connotations.
One such example happened yesterday when the captain of the Iranian team sent a message to his compatriots back home.
Mon, 11/21/2022 - 05:46
Lavrov in Abu Dhabi as Russians continue charm offensive in Arab world
Fri, 11/04/2022 - 09:02
Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov is on a charm offensive trip to the Gulf region. On Thursday he was in Abu Dhabi, travelling there from Amman where he met King Abdallah of Jordan and other Jordanian officials.
In the UAE capital, Lavrov held meetings with Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation. The Emirati state news agency, WAM, said that the two discussed the strategic partnership between the UAE and Russia.
Key leaders skip Arab League summit in Algiers (Updated)
The summit of the League of Arab States opened in the Algerian capital, Algiers, on Tuesday evening (1 November).
In the opening address, Algerian president Abdelmadjid Tebboune called for a strong Arab economic block that protects the common interests of Arab countries.
“We must all build a solid Arab economic block that protects our common interests, while working to define priorities and areas of common action, with an immediate and perceptible positive impact on the Arab peoples,” said President Tebboune in his speech to the participants in the 31st Arab Summit.
“We still face complex crises with multiple challenges and risks, especially after the Covid-19 pandemic, which has led to instability, tug-of-war, and the exacerbation of the scourge of polarization. This situation has contributed to the proliferation of crises with effects on international peace and security and impact on several countries, particularly in terms of food security,” the Algerian president said.
A number of heavyweights are missing from the Algiers summit, including Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia and Mohammed bin Zayed of the United Arab Emirates. Other Gulf countries, except Qatar will not be represented by their head of state.
Another notable absentee is King Mohammed VI of Morrocco, who initially was thought would attend the summit.
AFP quoted Morocco’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Bourita, saying that Morocco’s monarch initially confirmed his willingness to attend the Algiers summit.
“The Moroccan delegation did not receive any confirmation from Algeria through its channels” after inquiring about information on the arrangements for the King’s reception, Bourita said.
On the instructions of the King, the Moroccan foreign minister is leading a delegation, representing Morocco during the summit meetings. Relations between Algeria and Morrocco have been strained for a long time because of differences on the future of the territory of Western Sahara.
Wed, 11/02/2022 - 08:41