Beirut ministry barriers removed after snarling traffic for years

A bulldozer works to remove cement barrier in front of the Interior Ministry in Beirut, Lebanon February 5, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 05 February 2019
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Beirut ministry barriers removed after snarling traffic for years

  • Cranes were brought in to lift the concrete panels, each painted with the Lebanese flag

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s Interior Ministry removed concrete security barriers in central Beirut on Tuesday that had for years choked a major road nearby, days after the long-delayed formation of a new government.
The office of the outgoing minister, Nohad Machnouk, said he had ordered the barriers removed “owing to the end of security reasons,” due in part to his five-year “fight against terrorism.”
But the office of the new minister, Raya Al-Hassan, told local TV that she had taken the decision in order to remove a daily encumbrance and improve transport.
Cranes were brought in to lift the concrete panels, each painted with the Lebanese flag.
Cab driver Ibrahim Sauli, 65, said he was no fan of Hassan’s politics but added: “I raise my hat to this minister. She’s not scared and she wants to work properly.”
Hassan is one of a record four women ministers in the new cabinet. Machnouk will pass the baton at a ceremony on Wednesday.
In recent years, Lebanon has suffered from a spillover of tension and sometimes violence from neighboring Syria, where the Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah movement has fought in support of President Bashar Assad.
The last deadly militant operation in Lebanon took place in 2016, when suicide attackers carried out a string of bombings in a village in the north.


Oman to replace scores of expat nurses as visa ban continues

Updated 20 min 55 sec ago
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Oman to replace scores of expat nurses as visa ban continues

  • Oman has been gradually increasing the level jobs closed to expats
  • Oman has seen a significant increase in the number of its citizens in employment since the visa ban was introduced

DUBAI: Scores of expat nurse are to be replaced by Omani nationals in the ongoing Omanization project aimed at getting more locals into work, Times of Oman reported.

There will be 200 nurses replaced across the country, Oman’s Ministry of Health, confirmed - applications will be open from March to 14.

Oman’s government introduced a six-month expat visa ban in January last year, which was later extended.  

The visa ban, implemented at the end of January last year, resulted in the hiring of 64,386 Omanis in private sector companies and establishments and 4,125 more in government agencies.

Gulf countries have been historically dependent on expatriate workers to power their economies; with a 2013 study indicating as much as 71 percent of Oman’s labor force are non-nationals. In Qatar, expatriate workforce was as high as 95 percent while in the UAE it was 94 percent; 83 percent in Kuwait; 64 percent in Bahrain and 49 percent in Saudi Arabia.

The Gulf states have since launched nationalization programs to absorb more of their citizens into the labor force, as well as address high levels of unemployment.

Between December 2018 and November last year, a total of 60,807 expatriate workers left Oman’s labor force or an equivalent 3.6 percent reduction in their numbers, which now stands at 1,734,882.