Rights groups criticize Qatar’s ‘very low’ $200 minimum wage

Rights groups criticize Qatar’s ‘very low’ $200 minimum wage
This file photo taken on May 4, 2015 shows foreign laborers working on the construction site of the al-Wakrah football stadium, one of the Qatar's 2022 World Cup stadiums, walking back to their accommodation at the Ezdan 40 compound after finishing work on May 4, 2015, in Doha's Al-Wakrah southern suburbs. (AFP)
Updated 18 November 2017

Rights groups criticize Qatar’s ‘very low’ $200 minimum wage

Rights groups criticize Qatar’s ‘very low’ $200 minimum wage

LONDON: Qatar’s new minimum wage of less than $200 a month is insufficient to meet the needs of migrant workers living in the Gulf state, rights groups say.
Qatari authorities on Thursday introduced a temporary monthly minimum wage, the latest in a series of reforms amid widespread criticism over labor rights.
“As an initial figure that does seem very low,” said Mustafa Qadri, an expert in Gulf labor rights and executive director of Equidem Research, a human-rights consultancy.
“There should be a living wage that allows workers to live and work in dignity in Qatar.”
Qatar has been subject to international scrutiny over alleged ill-treatment of migrant workers in the run-up to the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Rights groups are concerned that the temporary minimum wage falls short as a living wage, said Mariam Bhacker, project manager for Gulf construction and migrant workers at the Business and Human Rights Resource Center.
“Initial reactions from the human rights community is that the $200 amount seems low given the high cost of living in Qatar and the high interest on hefty recruitment fees that workers often pay to get to Qatar.
“Workers rely on their salaries to repay these loans.”
“The permanent rate will almost certainly need to be higher to constitute a living wage for most workers in Qatar.”
Qatari Labor Minister Issa Al-Nuaimi told AFP that a temporary minimum wage of 750 riyals ($197) a month will be introduced with immediate effect while officials work on setting a permanent rate. Migrant workers will also be entitled to accommodation, food and health care covered by their employers.
James Lynch, deputy program director at Amnesty International, told Arab News that the minimum wage was below that found in many expat workers’ countries of origin.
“We encourage the government to ensure that this review (into the permanent minimum wage), which should be carried out promptly in consultation with the ILO and other key stakeholders, takes account of the minimum salaries specified by migrant workers’ countries of origin — some of which are above 750 riyals — ensures that the minimum wage is sufficient to allow migrant workers to live in dignity,” he said. 


Yemeni teacher’s union slams Houthi curriculum takeover

Yemeni teacher’s union slams Houthi curriculum takeover
Yemeni children of all ages are exposed to violent imagery in Houthi educational materials. (Reuters/File)
Updated 24 min 26 sec ago

Yemeni teacher’s union slams Houthi curriculum takeover

Yemeni teacher’s union slams Houthi curriculum takeover
  • Teachers syndicate accuses Iran of ‘policy of cultural colonialism’ in Yemen via Houthi proxies
  • ‘Houthis far more interested in radicalizing than homogeneous education,’ expert tells Arab News

LONDON: Yemen’s union of teachers has denounced the Iran-backed Houthi militia’s takeover of the country’s schools and curriculum, and accused Tehran of using the education system to pursue a “policy of cultural colonialism.” 

Yahya Al-Yinai, head of media at the Yemeni Teachers Syndicate, told the Daily Telegraph that the Houthis have made hundreds of changes to the teaching curriculum since they seized power in a violent 2014 coup. He also said they have replaced nearly 90 percent of school principals with pro-Houthi allies.

Al-Yinai accused Iran of overseeing the changes, saying it is pursuing a “policy of cultural colonialism” by trying to introduce the “ideology of the Khomeinist revolution in Yemen through public education.”

With military and economic assistance from Iran, the Houthis control roughly two-thirds of the Yemeni population.

A report by education watchdog IMPACT-se found that they have been using this position of power to foster hostility to the US, Saudi Arabia and other adversaries of Iran.

Around 3 million young Yemenis currently receive their education in Houthi-controlled parts of the country.

IMPACT-se found that the materials used to educate them are “rife with violence and imagery of death, irrespective of the age of the target audience.”

These images, which include pictures of dead children, are used “to portray the Houthis’ enemies as monstrous and inhumane.”

The organization found that through their signature magazine Jihad, the Houthis aim to indoctrinate Yemen’s next generation toward violence and extremism.

“The Houthi materials grossly violate the ideal of peacemaking, entirely dismissing peace as an option in international conflict resolution, and condemning those who advocate for it as cowardly, foolish or traitorous,” IMPACT-se found. 

“Instead, violent jihad, sacrifice in battle, and supporting the war effort in any way possible is held up as an ideal and a central virtue.” 

Marcus Sheff, IMPACT-se’s CEO, told Arab News: “Despite lip service to Yemeni nationhood, the Houthis are far more interested in radicalizing than in homogeneous education.”

He said the violent and graphic Houthi education materials could have a lasting impact on children exposed to them.

“Any changes that radicalize — and traumatize — young children are significant,” he added. “These changes fly in the face of those in the region who are trying to moderate curricula, not to incite violence and hate, as are the Houthis.”

Arik Agrissi, chief operating officer at IMPACT-se, said: “Textbooks can act as either a barrier or blueprint to radicalization. In the Houthis’ case, it’s explicitly the latter.”


World powers round on Houthis over Yemen’s ‘time bomb’ oil tanker

World powers round on Houthis over Yemen’s ‘time bomb’ oil tanker
Updated 2 min 22 sec ago

World powers round on Houthis over Yemen’s ‘time bomb’ oil tanker

World powers round on Houthis over Yemen’s ‘time bomb’ oil tanker
  • The decaying FSO Safer tanker has been under the control of the Iran backed militia since 2015
  • The ship could spill more than a million barrels of oil into the Red Sea

NEW YORK: World powers at the UN warned the Houthis Thursday that they would be responsible for an environmental disaster if an oil tanker moored off Yemen’s coast breaks up.
The decaying FSO Safer tanker has been under the control of the Iran backed militia since 2015. The ship could spill more than a million barrels of oil into the Red Sea, yet the Houthis have repeatedly blocked the UN from sending a team of expert to the vessel.
“The Houthis have not yet agreed to facilitate a UN assessment mission,” the UK’s permanent representative to the UN Barbara Woodward told the Security Council. “The vessel is under Houthi control and the responsibility for this matter rests on Houthi shoulders.”
She said if the Houthis fail to act then the UK would discuss further steps at the Security Council.
Last month, one of the militia’s leaders Mohammed Ali Al-Houthi angered officials at the world body when he said the UN would be responsible if the tanker, which has been described as a ticking time bomb, broke apart.
The UN responded saying it was doing everything possible to get the Houthis to allow experts access to the tanker.
Woodward’s warning was echoed by France’s envoy to the UN Nicolas de Rivière who said the Houthis would be responsible for the imminent environmental, economic and humanitarian threat posed by the Safer if they don’t “immediately” allow access to the UN’s assessment team.
The US ambassador to the UN said the Houthis must allow the assessment of the tanker to proceed “without further delays.”
“The Houthis also continue their dereliction of duty with the Safer oil tanker delaying UN assessment and initial repair of the vessel. This needs to end,” Linda Thomas-Greenfield said. 
“For nearly two years the Houthis have continued to move the goalpost. And we call on them to allow the assessment to proceed without further delays and urge other nations to press the Houthis to allow the assessment immediately.”
Meanwhile, the UN Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths said he was alarmed at “multiple drone and ballistic missile attacks carried out by Ansar Allah (the Houthis) against Saudi territory during the past week, including against civilian facilities.”
“We know this must stop,” he added.
The Arab coalition announced on Thursday it had destroyed five ballistic missiles and four explosive-laden drones launched by the Houthis toward Saudi Arabia. 
The UK, France, US and the UN called on the Houthis to stop their offensive in Marib, the capital of an oil-rich region controlled by the government.
The militia has been trying to seize the city since February.
“Marib ... remains the major center of gravity in this conflict. The fighting in the area is showing dangerous signs of escalating once again. Internally displaced people, along with local communities, have been in the line of fire,” Griffiths said.

Saudi Arabia launched a wide-ranging initiative in March to bring peace to Yemen, deliver aid to its people and end the country’s six-year war.

The plan called for a nationwide cease-fire supervised by the UN, the reopening of Sanaa airport, and new talks to reach a political resolution to the conflict.


Egyptian architects win UNESCO competition to rebuild Mosul’s Al-Nouri Mosque

The winning design, which is called “Courtyards Dialogue,” is the work of a team of four partners, headed up by Salah El-Din Samir Hareedy. (Supplied/UNESCO/©Salah El Din Samir Hareedy and team)
The winning design, which is called “Courtyards Dialogue,” is the work of a team of four partners, headed up by Salah El-Din Samir Hareedy. (Supplied/UNESCO/©Salah El Din Samir Hareedy and team)
Updated 30 min 55 sec ago

Egyptian architects win UNESCO competition to rebuild Mosul’s Al-Nouri Mosque

The winning design, which is called “Courtyards Dialogue,” is the work of a team of four partners, headed up by Salah El-Din Samir Hareedy. (Supplied/UNESCO/©Salah El Din Samir Hareedy and team)

LONDON: UNESCO has announced the winner of an architectural design competition to rebuild a historic mosque destroyed by Daesh in Iraq.

Eight Egyptian architects beat out more than 120 other entries to win the international competition for the reconstruction of the Al-Nouri Mosque complex in Mosul.

The mosque was mostly destroyed by the extremist group in 2017 as Iraqi forces fought to recapture the city.

The reconstruction of the mosque is a central part of UNESCO’s “Revive the Spirit of Mosul” project, which aims to rehabilitate the ancient city, which was heavily affected by the recent conflict.

(Supplied/UNESCO/©Salah El Din Samir Hareedy and team)

The winning design, called “Courtyards Dialogue,” is the work of a team of four partners, headed up by Salah El-Din Samir Hareedy.

“The reconstruction of Al-Nouri Mosque complex, a historical site that is part of Mosul’s fabric and history, will be a landmark in the process of advancing the war-torn city’s reconciliation and social cohesion,” Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO director-general said. “Heritage sites and historical monuments are powerful catalysts for people’s sense of belonging, of community, and identity. They are key to reviving the spirit of Mosul and of Iraq as a whole.”

The UAE has been heavily involved with the reconstruction of the mosque and the “Revive the Spirit of Mosul” project overall, and the country's culture minister said the announement was a “significant milestone.”

“In 2018, the UAE took the lead and joined UNESCO on this historic endeavor, inspired by the history and legacy of Mosul and the resilience and strength of its people,” Noura bint Mohammed Al Kaabi said. 

“Reaching this important milestone has brought us closer to the realization of a shared commitment to restore social cohesion and a spirit of fraternity and tolerance in Mosul once again,” she added.

The mosque, like much of the city of Mosul, was mostly destroyed by the extremist group Daesh in 2017 as Iraqi forces fought to recapture the city. (AFP/File Photo)

The winning team issued a statement welcoming the results of the competition, saying: “Our team worked with high passion to submit a project that primarily addresses the need for social cohesion and revival of souls. We are looking forward to completing the design and to helping the revival of the Old City of Mosul.”

The group of architects have a proven track record in heritage rehabilitation, urban planning and climate-based architecture, and will now produce a more detailed design for the project, with a view to starting work in late autumn 2021.


Palestine slams UK opposition to ICC war crimes probe

Palestine slams UK opposition to ICC war crimes probe
Updated 15 April 2021

Palestine slams UK opposition to ICC war crimes probe

Palestine slams UK opposition to ICC war crimes probe
  • Rejection of investigation ‘marks low point’ in bilateral ties: Diplomatic mission
  • UK stance ‘farcical and hypocritical,’ Palestine Solidarity Campaign tells Arab News

LONDON: Palestine has said its relations with Britain have reached a “new low” after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his opposition to an International Criminal Court (ICC) investigation into alleged war crimes in the Israeli-occupied territories.

In a letter to the lobby group Conservative Friends of Israel, Johnson said his government had “respect (for) the independence” of the ICC but opposed the inquiry.

“This investigation gives the impression of being a partial and prejudicial attack on a friend and ally of the UK’s,” he wrote.

In a statement posted on its website, the Palestinian diplomatic mission in Britain said Johnson’s letter was “deeply regrettable” and “marks a low point in UK-Palestine relations and undermines the UK’s credibility on the international stage.”

The letter contradicts both international law and Britain’s own policy on Palestine, the mission said, stressing the need to respect international law for the good of all parties.

“We sincerely hope the UK will reconsider its position and that in the cold light of day understand that the best option for everyone, including Israel, is a firm commitment to international law and the basic principle of equality for all,” it added.

A panel of judges at the ICC ruled in February that the court has jurisdiction in the occupied Palestinian territories. 

The court is expected to look at possible war crimes committed by Israeli forces and Palestinian militants during and after the 2014 Gaza war, as well as Israel’s establishment of settlements in the occupied West Bank and annexed East Jerusalem. 

“Shamefully, Johnson has made clear that the government’s opposition to the ICC’s investigation is rooted in the fact that it’s being initiated against ‘a friend and ally of the UK’s’,” Ben Jamal, director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, told Arab News.

“It also renders farcical and hypocritical the prime minister’s simultaneous assertion that the UK is ‘a strong supporter’ of the court,” Jamal added.

“We call upon the UK government to adopt a more consistent position supporting the court but not exempting Israeli officials from proper investigation.”
A joint letter penned by several charities and aid groups accused Johnson of “political interference” in the ICC’s work.

The UK government “could be a bastion of international law and human rights — but instead it is undermining international criminal proceedings and standing in the way of justice,” said the signatories, which include Medical Aid for Palestinians and the Council for Arab-British Understanding.

The government “should respect the impartiality and independence of the court, and should support — rather than substantially undermine — international legal frameworks and judicial mechanisms,” they added.


Judge orders release of 6 detained over Lebanon port blast

Judge orders release of 6 detained over Lebanon port blast
Updated 15 April 2021

Judge orders release of 6 detained over Lebanon port blast

Judge orders release of 6 detained over Lebanon port blast
  • Investigating judge ordered the release of 6 men including an officer, who had warned top officials of dangers of material stored at port
  • The six will be banned from traveling outside Lebanon, according to a judicial official

BEIRUT: A Lebanese judge investigating 2020’s massive blast at Beirut’s port on Thursday ordered the release of six people, including security officers, who had been detained for months, state news agency reported.
It was not immediately clear what triggered the release of the men, who include an officer who had written a detailed warning to top officials prior to the explosion about the dangers of the material stored at the port.
Judge Tarek Bitar was named to lead the investigation in February after his predecessor was removed following legal challenges by two former Cabinet ministers he had accused of negligence.
State-run National News Agency said Bitar ordered the release of the six including Maj. Joseph Naddaf of the State Security department and Maj. Charbel Fawaz of the General Security Directorate. The four others are customs and port employees.
Nearly 3,000 tons of ammonium nitrates, a highly explosive material used in fertilizers that had been improperly stored in the port for years, exploded on Aug. 4, killing 211 people, wounding more than 6,000 and damaging nearby neighborhoods.
The six will be banned from traveling outside Lebanon, according to a judicial official, speaking on condition of anonymity to follow regulations. The official added that 19 people are still being held in the case. Among those who are still held are the head of the customs department and his predecessor as well as the port’s director general.
In a July 20 report, State Security warned that one of the doors of the warehouse where the material had been stored was separated from the wall enough to allow anyone to enter and steal the ammonium nitrate.
The report that was sent to President Michel Aoun and then-Prime Minister Hassan Diab warned that thieves could steal the material to make explosives. Or, it said, the mass of material could cause an explosion “that would practically destroy the port.”
Holding Naddaf for months had angered some in Lebanon especially that his report two weeks before the blast was a clear warning of the dangers.
The Beirut port explosion has been one of the most traumatic national experiences the Lebanese have faced and families of those killed are skeptical that any investigation into the explosion can be transparent and independent in a country where a culture of impunity has prevailed for decades.