55% of Brits support racial profiling of Muslims: Arab News/YouGov poll

Updated 25 September 2017

55% of Brits support racial profiling of Muslims: Arab News/YouGov poll

LONDON: The majority of Britons agree with racial profiling of Arabs and Muslims, and 69 percent think the UK should take in fewer refugees from Syria and Iraq, an Arab News/YouGov poll has found.
The wide-ranging poll of 2,142 adults found that UK residents have strong feelings about key Middle East issues — including the fight against Daesh and war in Iraq — but 81 percent admitted to knowing little or nothing about the Arab world.
The results of the “UK attitudes toward the Arab world” survey are published today in Arab News and are being unveiled at a media event held in London.
One of the main findings of the poll, which was conducted in conjunction with the Council for Arab-British Understanding (CAABU), was that 55 percent of Brits agree with racial profiling against Arabs and Muslims for security reasons.
The “UK attitudes toward the Arab world” poll, which was conducted in mid-August, illustrates a disparity in UK public opinion on the Arab world.
Seven in 10 believe the UK should take in fewer refugees from Syria and Iraq, rising to 91 percent among those who voted for the UK to leave the EU in the 2016 referendum. More than six in 10 of the respondents feel that Arabs who migrated to the UK and Europe have failed to integrate in Western societies.
But 72 percent also point to the problem of rising Islamophobia in the UK, with 70 percent saying anti-refugee statements from politicians and others risk sparking more hate crimes.
The poll found that 53 percent of respondents believe the UK should recognize Palestine as a state. Most Brits are dissatisfied with UK foreign policy on the Arab world, with 57 percent saying it has been largely ineffective in upholding human rights and promoting global security. More than half of those polled support Britain’s current military intervention against Daesh, while eight in 10 Brits believe going to war in Iraq in 2003 was wrong.
Despite holding strong views on these key topics, most Brits admit to knowing little or nothing about the Arab world, and 41 percent say they would never travel to the region.
“The poll results strongly suggest that the UK public is dissatisfied with British diplomatic intervention in the Arab world, but that Brits also lack knowledge about some of the complexities of the region,” said Faisal J. Abbas, the editor in chief of Arab News.
“The Arab world is home to some of the poorest countries in the world, yet nearly a third of Brits associate it with being wealthy. One may ask what impact such perceptions might have on aid decisions made by Western governments.”
Chris Doyle, director of CAABU, said the apparent lack of a broader awareness in the UK about the Arab world was cause for concern.
“Considering the enormous importance of the Arab world to Britain, it is alarming that 81 percent of the British population say they know little or nothing about this vital region. Whilst a third want to learn more, a massive 41 percent would not visit the region,” he said.
“At a time when mutual understanding is more needed than ever, this chasm must be addressed — something we at CAABU intend to do.”

• For full report and related articles please visit: How Brits view Arab world


Egypt’s creative solutions to the plastic menace

Updated 24 August 2019

Egypt’s creative solutions to the plastic menace

  • Egyptian social startups are taking alternative approaches to fostering awareness and reducing waste

CAIRO: Global plastics production reached 348 million tons in 2017, rising from 335 million tons in 2016, according to Plastics Europe. 

Critically, most plastic waste is not properly managed: Around 55 percent of it was landfilled or discarded in 2015. These numbers are extremely concerning because plastic products take anything from 450 to 1,000 years to decompose, and the effects on the environment, especially on marine and human life, are catastrophic.

While initiatives around the world are taking action to combat this problem, some Egyptian projects are doing it more creatively.

“We’re the first website in the Middle East and North Africa that trades waste,” said Alaa Afifi, founder and CEO of Bekia. “People can get rid of any waste at their disposal — plastic, paper and cooking oil — and exchange it for over 65 products on our website.”

Products for trading include rice, tea, pasta, cooking oil, subway tickets and school supplies.

Bekia was launched in Cairo in 2017. Initially, the business model did not prove successful.

“We used to rent a car and go to certain locations every 40 days to collect waste from people,” Afifi, 26, explained. “We then created a website and started encouraging people to use it.”

After the website was launched, people could wait at home for someone to collect the waste. “Instead of 40 days, we now could visit people within a week.”

To use Bekia’s services, people need to log onto the website and specify what they want to discard. They are assigned points based on the waste they are offering, and these points can be used in one of three ways: Donated to people in need, saved for later, or exchanged for products. As for the collected waste, it is given to specialized recycling companies for processing.

“We want to have 50,000 customers over the next two years who regularly use our service to get rid of their waste,” Afifi said.  

Trying to spread environmental awareness has not been easy. “We had a lot of trouble with initial investment at first, and we got through with an investment that was far from enough. The second problem we faced was spreading this culture among people — in the first couple of months, we received no orders,” Afifi said.

The team soldiered on and slowly built a client base, currently serving 7,000 customers. In terms of what lies ahead for Bekia, he said: “We’re expanding from 22 to 30 areas in Cairo this year. We’re launching an app very soon and a new website with better features.”

Go Clean, another Egyptian recycling startup dedicated to raising environmental awareness, works under the patronage of the Ministry of Environment. “We started in 2017 by recycling waste from factories, and then by February 2019 we started expanding,” said founder and CEO Mohammed Hamdy, 30.

The Cairo-based company collects recyclables from virtually all places, including households, schools, universities, restaurants, cafes, companies and embassies. The customers separate the items into categories and then fill out a registration form. Alternatively, they can make contact through WhatsApp or Facebook. A driver is then dispatched to collect the waste, carrying a scale to weigh it. 

“The client can be paid in cash for the weight of their recyclables, or they can make a donation to a special needs school in Cairo,” Hamdy explained. There is also the option of trading the waste for dishwashing soap, with more household products to be added in the future.

Trying to cover a country with 100 million people was never going to be easy, and Go Clean faced some logistical problems. It overcame them by hiring more drivers and getting more trucks. There was another challenge along the way: “We had to figure out a way to train the drivers, from showing them how to use GPS and deal with clients,” said Hamdy.

“We want to spread awareness about the environment everywhere. We go to schools, universities, companies and even factories to give sessions about the importance of recycling and how dangerous plastic is. We’re currently covering 20 locations across Cairo and all of Alexandria. We want to cover all of Egypt in the future,” he added.

With a new app on the way, Hamdy said things are looking positive for the social startup, and people are becoming invested in the initiative. “We started out with seven orders per day, and now we get over 100.”