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Qatar to increase Syrian investment 31, January 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Qatar, Syria.
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Ever reliable (…) MEMRI reports that Qatar’s Al Sharq suggests that Qatar-Syrian relations will be increasing significantly in the coming years and that Qatar will be investing some $12billion in Syria in the coming few years. Can this be attributed to the notion of Qatar contributing the Sunni half of the Gulf (read Saudi) seeking to ‘flip’ Syria away from the Iranian camp? Or is that too simplistic?

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On Yemen’s ‘lawless’ spaces 31, January 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Yemen.
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The Waq al Waq blog makes an excellent point about Yemen’s “ungovernable/lawless” spaces that policy makers and journalists refer to so frequently, namely that they do not really exist. Rather, these spaces adhere to a different set of laws.

“Most so-called “ungoverned” spaces are in fact alternatively governed, typically by entrenched tribal laws and customs regarding the use of violence, mediation of conflict, and dispensation of justice. Such regions may be “sovereignty free,” but they are rarely Hobbesian.”

I bring this linguistic distinction up because I believe it is incredibly dangerous for policymakers, journalists and analysts to operate on the assumption that these areas in Yemen are indeed “lawless.” That is not the case. But thinking that it is often leads to mistakes of policy and writing, which makes Yemen over into some sort of blank map on which the author’s fantasies and imaginings can be projected.

There are laws and customs here. Just because they are not known does not mean they are not important.

Cameron’s poster graffiti 29, January 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in UK.
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David Cameron the Conservative Party leader and next British Prime Minister recently launched a new advertising campaign with his face front and centre.

He was soon criticised for having his skin ‘touched up’ and airbrushed and for the general silliness of the poster. Better yet, there has since been a rash of graffitiing of his posters as well as people doing their own. A few are below, taken from this website.

Job advert for ‘reliable’ workers ruled discriminatory 29, January 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in UK.
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A recruitment company in England sought to advertise in the Job Center for a ‘reliable worker’. In their wisdom, the staff at the Job Center turned down their application to post such a job description as it would discriminate against unreliable workers. Whilst I am loathe to describe this as ‘political correctness gone mad’ ever since seeing Stewart Lee’s fantastic sketch on the topic [below], this is as close to a perfect example of it as it is possible to get.

It reminds me of Incompetence, a Red Dwarf book by Rob Grant that I read many years ago. The scene is the United States of Europe x hundred years into the future where discrimination even on the grounds of utter incompetence is no longer allowed. Cue ensuing hilarity. A satire it may be but with this horribly Daily Hate story, fact just crept a bit nearer to fiction.

HEC joins Education City, Doha 29, January 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Qatar, The Emirates.
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HEC Paris, one of the world’s top business schools, is joining various illustrious American institutions in Qatar’s Education City. It will offer MBAs as well as what The National describes as “coursework in executive education and research programmes.” The University is sensibly aiming at the part-time market so that business executives in Doha can study in the evenings. One of the problems of being based in Qatar is that professionals wanting professional development have to go back to Europe or America for such courses.

It can surely only be a matter of time before Masters level qualifications aimed at the oil and gas sector are inaugurated at one of Education City’s American institutions.

More generally, there are rumors afoot that some of the institutions in Education City are [choose your adjective] scared/terrified/concerned/worried about NYU in Abu Dhabi. Specifically, some are perturbed that this august institution with a truly bottomless budget and – crucially – no mandatory limit of the percentage of nationals to attend the University (i.e. a pure meritocracy), will poach staff and students from Education City. At the absolute least, it will provide the stiffest of competition.

Sorcerers arrested in Qatar 29, January 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Qatar.
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The Gulf Times reports that three men have been arrested in Qatar on charges of sorcery. They were found with books and charms in a hotel room in Doha. Unlike in neighboring Saudi Arabia, the chances of these men being executed for this absurd crime are exceedingly low.

Israel assassinate Hamas commander in Dubai 29, January 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, The Emirates.
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The Palestinian Group Hamas claimed that Mahmoud Al Mabhouh died in suspicious circumstances on the day he arrived in Dubai. Al Mabhouh was a founder of the Izz Al Din Qassam Brigades who are responsible for countless attacks and bombings aimed at Israeli troops and civilians. Al Mabhouh himself, the BBC reports, was living in Syria and suspected of abducting and subsequently killing two Israeli soliders in 1989. Hamas has vowed revenge.

Update:

The Dubai police have named seven suspects all with Western European passports as wanted for the murder of Al Mabhouh. Their pictures will be released soon. Mossad have been named by the Dubai police as behind the assassination. Al Mabhouh was electrocuted before being suffocated.

Victoria Beckham to design Dubai hotel? 28, January 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in The Emirates.
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There are rumors afoot that authorities in Dubai have invited Victoria Beckham to design a hotel for the city. If I were in a mean or uncharitable mood I’d say that this melange of two of the world’s greatest symbols for all that is brash, vacuous, talentless and gaudy would make the hideous, brash and gaudy Burj Al Arab hotel look like a paragon of taste and understatement.

These reports have been flatly denied by powers that be in Dubai but let’s be serious, the mix – now that it has been mentioned – is just too perfect.

The other side of the Dubai coin 28, January 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in The Emirates.
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Here’s a link to a fascinating post by Jim Krane, author of a recent book on Dubai winging its way to me as we speak. I post this to temper my mean-spirited digs at Dubai in recent weeks. Jim makes a good case for Dubai’s importance to the Middle East in the future as a kind of role-model. I don’t agree with some of it, but it’s always refreshing to read a piece going against the trend.

Jim is also quoted in an extended and unusually good article at Bloomberg on Dubai’s Iranian trade links.

Qatar: 16% growth in 2010, 1/3 LNG capacity growth and is to supply Dubai with LNG 26, January 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Qatar, The Emirates.
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For a small country, Qatar continues to put out outstanding figures [though I realise that these things are not related…]. As the title of the article suggests, their economy is predicted to grow by 16% in 2010. Their LNG production is expected to grow from 54 millions tonnes per year to 77 million tonnes by the end of the year. Also it has been announced that Qatar will supply Dubai with up to 37 billion tonnes of LNG per year starting soon. Why Dubai isn’t getting its gas from its sister state, Abu Dhabi, is a mystery…or not.