$100m fund launched to advance Arab education

Khalid Abdulla-Janahi at the World Economic Forum in Jordan.
Updated 20 May 2017
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$100m fund launched to advance Arab education

THE DEAD SEA, Jordan: A $100 million fund has been launched to change the Palestinian education system through a radically new approach to teaching and learning methods, in an initiative that could ultimately be expanded across the entire Arab world.
The Palestinian Education Trust (PET), a not-for-profit organization set up by philanthropist businessmen with the blessing of the authorities in the occupied parts of the territories, was unveiled at the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Middle East meeting in the Dead Sea resort in Jordan.
Sabri Saidam, the Palestinian education minister, said the aim was to “win the hearts and minds of Palestinians and focusing on liberating Palestinians through education. Our slogan is: Educate a child, liberate a country.”
Around $10 million has already been pledged for PET, which is the brainchild of two Arab businessmen — Samer Khoury and Khalid Abdulla-Janahi. Abdulla-Janahi also writes opinion articles for Arab News. The aim is to raise another $90 million through appeals to potential donors throughout the Arab world.
The scheme began a year ago at a meeting at a London airport, where Janahi and Khoury discussed the need for a new and radically different educational system in the Middle East.
“It is about changing how we do things in the region, not just in Palestine but in the whole of the Arab world. We want to change the way of thinking about education and the mindset of teachers. What I am getting at (is) the need for critical thinking,” Janahi said.
In an emotional appeal, Saidam said: “They said that in Palestine the elderly will die and the young will forget. That is not true. We are all connected to the past and all linked to the future.” He said that the ultimate aim was to create a new high school system in Palestine and other parts of the Arab world.
The scheme was also backed by Oliver McTernan, the director of Forward Thinking, an organization that helps resolve disputes through mediation. McTernan said: “There is a mismatch between the education system in the region and the economy and the job opportunities available. There are something like 250,000 young people out of work in Gaza and the West Bank, and it is a recipe for disaster. These people need an education that prepares them for the future.”
Khoury said: “We want to create an education system so that Palestinian people can excel anywhere they go in the world.”
An official document outlining the aims of the trust said: “Education is the foundation of Palestinian empowerment and the cornerstone of the advancement of the Palestinian cause. Yet young Palestinians find themselves unable to establish fruitful careers, they cannot gain their independence and they struggle to build family lives of their own. This fosters desperation and resentment within the occupied territories.
“The occupation is a fundamental factor at the core of the crisis, but there are significant steps that can be taken to alleviate the pressures young people face and help them build a better future,” it added.
While 98 percent of Palestinian people are literate, and there are high school enrollment figures, unemployment rates are as high as 42 percent in Gaza and 18 percent in the West Bank.


Shell, Exxon not to seek compensation for end of Dutch gas field production

Updated 25 June 2018
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Shell, Exxon not to seek compensation for end of Dutch gas field production

AMSTERDAM: Energy companies Royal Dutch Shell and Exxon Mobil will not submit a claim for missed revenue due to the Dutch government's decision to halt gas production at the Groningen field by 2030, the Dutch ministry of Economic Affairs said on Monday.
"A lot of gas will be left in the ground," Economy minister Eric Wiebes said at the presentation of his deal with the oil majors responsible for extracting Groningen gas.
"That gas is the property of the oil companies, but they will not submit a claim and the government is not required to compensate them."
The Dutch government in March said it would end gas production at the Groningen field by the end of the next decade, in an effort to stop a string of relatively small, but damaging earthquakes caused by gas extraction.
This will leave around 450 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas in the ground, Wiebes said, with an estimated value of approximately €70 billion ($81.5 billion).
The decision to halt Groningen production forced the government to broker a new deal with Shell and Exxon Mobil, whose 50-50 joint venture NAM is responsible for the field.
NAM will be required to pump as much gas as the government says is needed in the coming years. In return, it will see its share of the revenue from Groningen rise from 10 to 27 percent, Wiebes said, starting this year.
As part of the deal, NAM will also contribute a total of €500 million to strengthen the economy in the Groningen region.