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Tax in GCC ‘by 2013’ 27, April 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Kuwait, The Gulf.
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The Arab Times reports that a ‘reliable source‘ in Kuwait’s Ministry of Finance stated that all GCC countries will introduce a range of individual and company taxes by 2013.

Whilst this is an obvious long-term necessity, getting GCC nationals to see things this way is another matter. Kuwait in particular with its über populist Parliament more used to pushing through £4 billion of debt relief for their already inordinately rich population than discussing tax will have severe issues, I expect, even broaching the topic. One senior Kuwaiti and high-profile businessman told me that the T word is just ignored as it will prove to be such an incendiary topic.

In short, I just cannot see, for example, a Kuwaiti paying personal income tax in the coming decade. Here’s hoping I’m wrong.

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3 months for reckless murder in Dubai 27, April 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in The Emirates.
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Two Emirati youths have been sentenced to jail for three months for killing a man in his car after losing control during a drag race. The two murderers were driving heavily and illegally modified cars at more than twice the speed limit in a residential area. Whilst the three-month jail sentence may well be viewed as a horrifically lenient and pathetic sentence, it is important to remember that they were also banned from driving for a year AND banned from renewing their licenses for a year as well.

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The UK’s nuclear deterrent 26, April 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in UK.
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One issue floating around at the moment and being taken up by the three Parties is that of Britain’s independent nuclear deterrent, Trident. It is a submarine based nuclear technology that, in a few years, is coming up for renewal. The Conservatives and the Labour Party want it to be extended whereas the Liberal Democrats whose voice actually matters for once, are against it.

I think that on balance the UK needs a nuclear deterrent. Yes, I realise that Osama [yawn] will not be deterred by it but as we cannot predict the future (and given Russian nuclear bombers frequent incursions to UK airspace) I think that it’s prudent to maintain such a deterrent. Who, for example, could have predicted that in 1980 we would be at war with the Argentinians within a couple of years?

Apparently renewing Trident will cost just a bit less than £100 billion. Or, by the time that it’s late and over budget, around £130 billion. Just to be clear that is £100,000,000,000. That is a lot of cash but is still an awful lot cheaper than the French get their nuclear bits and pieces for (they make it themselves where as we buy it from our buddies across the Pond). Nevertheless, whilst this seems (or rather, is…) a boat load of cash that we don’t really have right now, these costs count for the entire 30+ year life of the missiles and submarines. Also, to look at it another way, that’s a lot of investment in parts of the British (and American) defense industries. Swings and roundabouts…

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This blog is about…the Gulf 25, April 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Random, The Emirates.
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I just want to make a quick general point. When I take various Gulf governments to task about some silly policy or other, lambast idiotic Muslims for seeking to kill a cartoon writer or ridicule Iranian chauvinism, I do this because this is thegulfblog.com

Overall, I do not take Western Governments to task about some silly policy or other, lambast idiotic Christian groups for seeking to kill, say, abortion doctors or ridicule US Fox News or UK Daily Mail chauvinism, because this is thegulfblog.com

God knows that examples of these things abound, and I do cover them from time to time, but this half of the debate is not the primary focus on this blog. Frankly, I don’t have the time, the space or the inclination to offer a counter example from the West every time I criticise something from the Muslim world. Just because I concentrate on the Gulf does not mean that I am not aware an enormous multiplicity and diversity of similar problems back in the UK or wherever.

In much the same way for those commentators that take great exception to criticism of Dubai in UK or US newspapers, just read the rest of the paper which usually caustically eviscerates Western-based banks, institutions, boards of governors and governments. Given the horrific inadequacies of Dubai’s economic policies in recent years combined with their dedicated and passionate thirst/search for the limelight, people can not complain whatsoever when Dubai is covered heavily in the press. It is hardly a press conspiracy against Dubai or Emiratis or Gulfies or Arabs or Muslims. Have these people read the coverage of Lehman Brothers?

South Park & the Mohammed cartoon 25, April 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Islam.
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The creators of South Park the highly irreverent US cartoon have been forced to censor a cartoon from depicting the Prophet Mohammed. They did this after receiving threats to their lives and in the wake of the attacks on the Danish cartoonist who penned the now infamous Danish Mohammed cartoons.

This whole issue is fraught with contention and I have sympathies on both sides.

I see no reason as to why people in the West feel the need to prove their freedom of expression by purposefully going out of their way to insult other people in a way that they know perfectly well will cause offense and hurt. In these instances, I believe that the production of such cartoons has less to do with promoting and protecting the West’s freedom of expression and more to do with publicity, a desire to purposefully provoke a negative reaction and to try to make certain Muslims paint themselves and by association swathes of those following their religion as foolish barbarians.

Yet I find the idea whole idea of ‘I am insulted’ to be deeply annoying and unconvincing, as if people have a right not to be insulted. I am offended by countless things on a daily basis. I fervently hate the headlines on the Daily Mail, I am truly offended when the BNP try to speak for me as a white Briton and I deeply resent the fact that I was/am reticent about writing this. Some Muslims may say that it is different for them as I cannot possibly understand just how offensive it truly is to insult the Prophet Mohammed: how offensive! They don’t know the strength of my personal convictions. Yet I do not send death threats. I take the mature approach and moan a bit on my blog.

There is also, of course, the eternal question of just how many Muslims are offended by these cartoons. I’ll rephrase that, I am sure that all Muslims are offended by negative depictions of Mohammed, yet I wonder how many take my more philosophical approach as opposed to the militant bleating.

If you want to see the cartoon picture in question click here. (Mohammed’s the one in the middle…). If you want to see some more cartoons try here. If you’re likely to be offended by the cartoons, don’t click on the links.

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Foreign Office memo ridicules Pope’s visit 25, April 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in UK.
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A leaked memo from the UK’s Foreign Office has offered helpful ideas as to how the Pope’s upcoming visit to the UK could be made more popular. The ideas include suggesting that the Pope could:

  • Launch a range of Benedit-branded condoms
  • Visit an abortion clinic
  • Bless a gay marriage

Cue the tedious ‘this is just terrible’ apologies from all concerned. I, however, think that this is excellent. Good for whoever wrote this and will be out of a job by early next week. How people can possible think that the Pope can take offense to this is beyond me. At best he is guilty of turning a blind eye to confirmed pedophilia, at worst he is culpable for facilitating more pedophilia.

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Kuwaitis cancel Sri Lankan celebrations 25, April 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Kuwait.
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Kuwaiti Islamists marched onto the Jahra sports stadium field and cancelled Sri Lankan celebrations. The fact that men and women were in the stadium  enjoying themselves with – brace yourself – music, was just too much for them.

The 5000 Sri Lankans along with the Sri Lankan Ambassador to Kuwait were forced to leave. Curiously enough, the Kuwaiti police maintained that the Sri Lankans had the correct permits and did not break any laws.

This strikes me once again as the subsuming of the rule of law to ‘a Sheikh’ with a God complex, who doesn’t care for the rules but believes that what he says needs to go. This is similar to the Emirati who didn’t want alcohol in any food preparation in Dubai who was subsequently overruled and the Qatari who wanted to force reciprocity from the US, the EU and some Asian countries in issuing passports for citizens on arrival at national airports. Here again, this individual decision went against the grain and the backlash caused an embarrassing about-turn for the Qatari government.

With the Sri Lankan issue, however, there is no lobby to talk and agitate against this decision. As ever, these people who to all intents and purposes make the country work, are treated with utter disdain.

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Russian made rocket hits Jordan 25, April 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Middle East.
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Last week a Russian made Grad rocket hit a warehouse in Aqaba, Jordan. Reports seem to suggest that it was in fact aimed at the Israeli Port of Eliat, adjoining Aqaba, which would make more sense. No one really seems to know where it was fired from. Mideasti narrows down the suspects here.

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Largest dairy farm in world? In KSA, of course 23, April 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Saudi Arabia.
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The Centre for Strategic and International Studies’ monthly newsletter informs slightly incredulous readers that the largest dairy farm in the world is in Saudi Arabia. Indeed, it is over twice as large as the largest American equivalent. Stuck in the middle of the desert with 37,000 cows, the farm uses cooling water AC to keep the cows at a pleasant temperature.

In the height of last summer I went to a dairy farm in Kuwait that also used a similar system. Imagining the farm that I saw scaled up thousands of times beggars belief. The sheer amount of water needed to keep the farm working is staggering. The newsletter reports that it takes a whopping 2300 gallons of water to produce one gallon of milk, three times the US’ average.

In Saudi of all countries, who are in the midst of abandoning old water-hungry agricultural projects, it is near impossible to see this venture continuing. Though, ironically enough, perhaps its best hope for its future lies in the glacial pace that Saudi does – well – pretty  much everything.

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Cyprus requests Qatari mediation assistance 23, April 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Qatar.
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Whilst Qatar’s Emir was on a visit to Nicosia, the Cypriot President Demetris Christofias officially requested Qatar’s diplomatic assistance in finding a solution to the decades old Greece Cypriot-Turkish conflict. He hoped to use Qatar’s close relations with Turkey to broker a solution to the conflict.

Also on this visit the Qatari Emir announced a $150 million joint venture and investment in Cyprus in – as ever – a retail, leisure and hotel complex, also set to include offices and apartments.

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