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DUBAI: The UAE and Saudi Arabia show the most promise in terms of skills in technology, according to the Coursera’s Global Skills Index, an in-depth report on skill trends and performance across 60 countries in the Middle East and around the world.
“The UAE shows the most promise in Technology (#40) compared to Business (#52) and Data Science (#38). This may be a reflection of the UAE government betting big on AI and fostering a testing ground for robotics,” the report stated.
RIYADH: The Arab coalition supporting the internationally recognized Yemeni government is committed to protecting regional and global security, a spokesman said Monday.
Coalition spokesman Col. Turki Al-Maliki was asked at a press briefing about Houthi militias threatening to target the capitals of Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
“This is their way to disturb peace,” Al-Maliki replied. “Previously the Houthis targeted Riyadh with a ballistic missile, violating all international laws by attacking a city that has more than 8 million civilians. We take all precautions to protect civilians and vital areas. The coalition works to protect regional and international security.”
Al-Maliki said Houthis had targeted Saudi border towns several times, the most recent incident taking place in Abha last Friday.
But the Saudi Royal Air Defense Force had shot down a drone that was targeting civilians, he added.
He said four Saudi nationals and an Indian expatriate were injured in the attack because of falling debris.
The drone wreckage showed the characteristics and specifications of Iranian manufacturing, he said, which proved Iran was continuing to smuggle arms to the militias.
He warned the Houthis to refrain from targeting civilians because the coalition, in line with international humanitarian law, had every right to counter such threats.
He said the coalition was making efforts to neutralize ballistic missiles and dismantle their capabilities, as the coalition’s joint command would not allow the militia to possess weapons that threatened civilian lives and peace.
Al-Maliki reiterated that the Houthis were targeting Yemeni civilians and continued to violate international laws.
He also urged Yemenis to try their best to prevent children from being captured by Houthis, who were using them as human shields and child soldiers.
His comments came as the UN tried to salvage a peace deal that was seen as crucial for ending the country’s four-year war.
The Stockholm Agreement was signed by the Yemeni government and Houthi representatives last December.
The main points of the agreement were a prisoner exchange, steps toward a cease-fire in the city of Taiz, and a cease-fire agreement in the city of Hodeidah and its port, as well as ports in Salif and Ras Issa.
Militants triggered the conflict when they seized the capital Sanaa in 2014 and attempted to occupy large parts of the country. An Arab coalition intervened in support of the internationally recognized government in March 2015.
The World Health Organization estimates that nearly 10,000 people have been killed in Yemen since 2015.
Earlier this month US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that President Donald Trump’s administration opposed curbs on American assistance to the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.
“The way to alleviate the Yemeni people’s suffering isn’t to prolong the conflict by handicapping our partners in the fight, but by giving the Saudi-led coalition the support needed to defeat the Iranian-backed rebels and ensure a just peace,” Pompeo said at a news conference in Washington.
JEDDAH: Under the patronage of Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, the second Makkah Region Economic Forum (MREF) kicks off on Saturday at Jabal Omar Hotel.
The four-day event is organized by the Makkah governorate and the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, in collaboration with the Makkah and Taif chambers of commerce and industry.
Under the title “The Road to an Urban Future: Invest in Makkah,” this year’s edition will focus on four main topics: Urban development, public services and infrastructure, transport and logistics, and innovation in Hajj and Umrah.
The MREF will also shed light on unique new investment opportunities in the Makkah region.
Hisham Al-Falih, head of the forum’s executive committee, said the MREF aims to encourage local and international business investments in the region’s development projects.
“The main themes to be discussed at this year’s edition … are designed to integrate with the economic issues that were discussed during the meetings of the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, which was held in January,” he said.
Some of this year’s topics will be highlighted at next year’s G20 Summit hosted by Saudi Arabia, he added.
The main topics of the MREF’s panel discussions will include housing, hospitality, business development, and development of the Makkah region’s unplanned neighborhoods.
Last year’s edition offered investment opportunities worth more than SR280 million ($74.6 million) and attracted nearly 7,500 people, paving the way for major investment projects in the region.
The first MREF saw the participation in panel discussions of eight ministers, a group of economic leaders and VIPs from around the world.
UNITED NATIONS: The head of the UN agency that helps 5.3 million Palestinian refugees on Monday urged donors who filled a $446 million hole in its budget last year after the Trump administration drastically cut the US contribution to be equally generous this year.
“Last year we had an extraordinary crisis and an out of the ordinary response,” Pierre Krahenbuhl said in an interview with The Associated Press. “Our humble request to all the donors is: Please keep your funding levels at the same level as 2018.”
He said he has been thanking donors for their “exceptional” contributions that enabled the UN Relief and Works Agency to fund its entire 2018 budget of $1.2 billion.
Krahenbuhl said the agency, known as UNRWA, also adopted a $1.2 billion budget for 2019, and this year it is getting nothing from the United States. Last year, the Trump administration gave $60 million, a dramatic reduction from the $360 million it provided in 2017, when the United States was the agency’s largest donor.
US President Donald Trump said in January 2018 that the Palestinians must return to peace talks to receive US aid money — a comment that raised alarm from leaders of 21 international humanitarian groups, who protested that the administration’s link between aid and political objectives was “dangerous.”
Krahenbuhl said the campaign that UNRWA launched immediately after the US slashed its contribution succeeded as a result of “very important donations,” starting with the European Union, which became the agency’s biggest donor. He said 40 countries and institutions increased funding to UNRWA, including Germany, United Kingdom, Sweden, Japan, Canada and Australia. Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Kuwait each gave $50 million, he said.
“Countries that supported us last year I would say were extremely proud to contribute to the solution,” Krahenbuhl said.
Last year, he said, the number of multi-year funding agreements with donors rose to 19.
So UNRWA right now is in “a somewhat better position” than it was last year, with a shortfall of just over $200 million, Krahenbuhl said.
So far this year, the agency has received $245 million and is expecting $100 million more, he said, which means it should be financially OK until about May.
“But from then on we’ll start to ... reach some crisis points,” Krahenbuhl said.
He said UNRWA is thinking about holding some events in the next two or three months “to collectively mobilize the donor community.” In June, he said, there will be a pledging conference at which the UN and donors will take stock of the agency’s financial situation.
Krahenbuhl said he is committed to making up for the $60 million that UNRWA is losing from the United States this year through internal cost saving measures to reduce the agency’s expenditures.
“That’s going to hurt, but that’s where we feel our financial responsibility, so that we preserve the trust that was generated by the level of donors,” he said, noting that UNRWA last year saved $92 million.
Krahenbuhl said donors recognize the agency does important work. He pointed to the 280,000 boys and girls in UNRWA schools in Gaza and the food assistance the agency provides to 1 million people there every three months. “That’s half of Gaza’s population,” he said.
The UNRWA chief also said that continuing the agency’s services to Palestinian refugees in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Gaza and elsewhere in the Mideast “is in everybody’s interest” and important for stability in the region.
“If you take Gaza right now ... it’s continuously at the razor’s edge,” Krahenbuhl said, stressing that any shift in humanitarian assistance or conditions that people live in “can trigger the need for justification, or the excuse ... to go back to war.”
Noting his own experience in the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas, which controls Gaza, Krahenbuhl said, “this is absolutely devastating and needs to be avoided.”
DUBAI: Young Arabs are taking the region’s offline markets online, from fitness and recruitment to car repairs and chalet hire.
Nineteen start-ups have been chosen so far to take part in the Misk 500 MENA Accelerator Program.
Anwaar Alrefae, a 26-year-old Kuwaiti, is one of them, with her Project 5 Miles (P5M) health and fitness app.
Anwaar Alrefae of P5M
RIYADH: The Saudi health minister, Dr. Tawfiq bin Fawzan Al-Rabiah, has announced the creation of a new prize, the “Minister of Health Award for Excellence in Nursing,” to be presented annually to recognize achievement in the profession.