Jordan, UAE sign deal on social development

Jordan, UAE sign deal on social development
The UAE’s Community Development Minister Hessa bint Essa Buhumaid and Jordan’s Social Development Minister Ayman Mufleh signing the agreement. (Petra)
Short Url
Updated 20 October 2022

Jordan, UAE sign deal on social development

Jordan, UAE sign deal on social development
  • Nations will share expertise on how best to empower people with disabilities
  • Agreement also seeks to tackle women’s issues, aid the elderly

AMMAN: Jordan and the UAE have signed a deal to share their expertise and best practices to help empower people with disabilities as well as tackling other important social development issues.
The two countries on Thursday signed a memorandum of understanding to work together in the field of social development and will seek to benefit from their respective laws, the Jordan News Agency reported.
Jordan’s Social Development Minister Ayman Mufleh and the UAE’s Community Development Minister Hessa bint Essa Buhumaid signed the agreement on the sidelines of the 77th session of the executive office of the Council of Arab Ministers of Social Affairs.
The deal covers seven areas within the framework of strengthening joint Arab social work and cooperative efforts to boost ties and better serve the two countries’ peoples.
It also deals with issues related to women, productive families and the elderly, the report said.


UAE appoints a vice president and a crown prince for Abu Dhabi

UAE appoints a vice president and a crown prince for Abu Dhabi
Updated 19 min 41 sec ago

UAE appoints a vice president and a crown prince for Abu Dhabi

UAE appoints a vice president and a crown prince for Abu Dhabi

DUBAI: The United Arab Emirates appointed a new vice president, two deputy rulers and a crown prince for Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.
Mansour Bin Zayed will serve as vice president alongside Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president, prime minister and ruler of Dubai, Emirates News Agency said. 
President of the UAE, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed has issued two Emiri decrees appointing Hazza bin Zayed as deputy ruler of Abu Dhabi, and Tahnoun bin Zayed as deputy ruler of Abu Dhabi. An Emiri decree appointed Khaled bin Mohamed bin Zayed as the crown prince of Abu Dhabi. 


Israel should be held accountable for Al-Aqsa incursions: Royal Committee for Jerusalem Affairs

Israel should be held accountable for Al-Aqsa incursions: Royal Committee for Jerusalem Affairs
Updated 29 March 2023

Israel should be held accountable for Al-Aqsa incursions: Royal Committee for Jerusalem Affairs

Israel should be held accountable for Al-Aqsa incursions: Royal Committee for Jerusalem Affairs
  • Israeli policy reveals ‘true face of its extreme right-wing government,’ says RCJA secretary-general
  • Committee calls for international intervention to protect Palestinian people, and their rights to worship, self-determination

AMMAN: Israel should be held accountable for its “criminal incursions” into Al-Aqsa Mosque, according to Royal Committee for Jerusalem Affairs Secretary-General Abdullah Kanaan.
In an interview with the Jordan News Agency on Wednesday, Kanaan said that daily incursions into the mosque are part of Israel’s growing attacks in Jerusalem and occupied Palestine.
Israeli policy reveals the “true face of its extreme right-wing government,” he said, adding that Tel Aviv’s leadership, programs and alliances are aimed at dividing Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Kanaan called for urgent international intervention to protect Palestinian people, and their rights to worship and self-determination.
“If Israel wants peace, it must urgently stop all its violations, abide by all international resolutions related to Palestine, and avoid tampering with Jerusalem’s existing historical situation,” he said.
The Jordan-run Islamic Endowments Department in Jerusalem is the only body with exclusive authority to manage Al-Aqsa Mosque affairs, Kanaan said.
Jordan will remain the historical custodian over Jerusalem’s Islamic and Christian sanctities, and will maintain its firm support and defense for Palestine and Jerusalem, he added.


Israel offers hope of airport link to 2m Gaza residents

Israel offers hope of airport link to 2m Gaza residents
Updated 29 March 2023

Israel offers hope of airport link to 2m Gaza residents

Israel offers hope of airport link to 2m Gaza residents
  • Israeli sources told Arab News that the US pressured Israel during the last Sharm El-Sheikh summit on March 19 to permit Palestinians to use the airport
  • If agreed, it will be a significant boon for Gazans who currently have to cross the Rafah land border and drive four hours through the Sinai desert to Cairo airport

RAMALLAH: Israel is considering allowing 2 million residents of the Gaza Strip to use Ramon Airport in the Negev desert, which is due to be officially opened to Palestinians from the West Bank from Saturday.

Israeli sources told Arab News that the US pressured Israel during the last Sharm El-Sheikh summit on March 19 to permit Palestinians to use the airport, located near the Red Sea resort city of Eilat.

Twice-weekly flights from the airport on Mondays and Thursdays will operate to destinations in Turkiye and will be limited to West Bank families. Men above 40 who hold a Palestinian passport will be allowed to pass through the airport.

If agreed, it will be a significant boon for Gazans who currently have to cross the Rafah land border and drive four hours through the Sinai desert to Cairo airport, their only connection with the outside world.

An official request has been submitted to Shin Bet to enable Gazans to pass through Ramon, and a senior Israeli source who asked not to be named told Arab News that the security agency is almost certain to agree.

Israel bombed and destroyed Gaza International Airport in December 2001.

A Palestinian politician from Gaza, who declined to be named, told Arab News that residents “need any solution” to the travel problem.

“According to the Oslo agreement, Palestinians should be able to travel through any Israeli airport and crossing they wish,” he said.

Jamal Zaqout, a political analyst from Gaza, told Arab News that “the time has come to lift the blockade completely on the Gaza Strip, and to establish a single authority that defends the interests of its residents in their movement through crossings and airports, their livelihood, and the rest of their lives.”

Israel opened Ramon Airport to Palestinian travelers from the West Bank in August last year, but backtracked following pressure from Jordan shortly before the Israeli elections three months later.

Officials described the two flights taking West Bank Palestinians to Istanbul and Antalya as “historic, unprecedented and a dream come true.”

Jordan opposed Ramon’s operation because it feared Palestinians from the West Bank would stop using Queen Alia International Airport, near Amman, resulting in a substantial financial loss.

According to Palestinian sources, Turkiye’s Pegasus Airlines suspended flights from Ramon after being told by Jordanian authorities that its fleet would not be welcome in Jordan if it continued to operate flights from the airport.

Other airlines are believed to have been invited to fill the vacuum left by Pegasus’ departure.

At the last Sharm El-Sheikh summit, the US called for travel facilities, including Ramon Airport and the Allenby bridge crossing spanning the Jordan River, to be made available to Palestinians from April.

Jordanian authorities collect up to $14 million annually from Palestinians entering the country and stand to lose a substantial portion of that money if large numbers begin to use Ramon Airport.

Jordan earlier said the airport’s establishment violated its airspace and international law. In 2019, Jordan submitted an official complaint to the International Civil Aviation Organization.

Israel opened the airport, which is 340 km from Jerusalem and the second largest in the country after Ben Gurion, in 2019 at a cost of $500 million.

With no airport in the West Bank, Queen Alia airport in Jordan remains the main gateway to the world for Palestinians, including President Mahmoud Abbas.

However, the Palestinian Authority has rejected the idea of ​​Palestinians traveling through Ramon Airport, saying it is a sovereign matter and that no consultations have taken place.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Israel allowed dozens of residents from the Gaza Strip to pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem during Ramadan — a first since 2016 when the program was suspended.

Worshippers traveled by bus via the Erez crossing to Jerusalem and returned to Gaza later in the day. 


Hundreds flee fighting in Yemen’s Marib province

Hundreds flee fighting in Yemen’s Marib province
Updated 29 March 2023

Hundreds flee fighting in Yemen’s Marib province

Hundreds flee fighting in Yemen’s Marib province
  • Fighting has raged between Yemeni forces and the Houthis over the last 10 days in the Harib district, south of Marib, and Merkhah Al-Ulya area, in the southern province of Shabwa
  • The government’s Shabwa Defense Forces said on Tuesday that they had repulsed a Houthi assault in Merkhah Al-Ulya and shot down a militia drone

AL-MUKALLA: Hundreds of Yemenis have been forced from their homes in the central province of Marib as the Houthis continued to attack government troops, according to the UN International Organization for Migration.

Fighting has raged between Yemeni forces and the Houthis over the last 10 days in the Harib district, south of Marib, and Merkhah Al-Ulya area, in the southern province of Shabwa, leaving scores of fighters dead or injured.

Between March 19 and 25, the IOM reported that 235 families (1,410 people) had been displaced in Marib, Hodeidah, and Taiz, while 2,030 families (12,180 people) had been relocated to different Yemeni provinces since January.

A UN-brokered truce that came into force in April last year resulted in a major decrease in hostilities in battlefields around the country, particularly in Marib, as well as a significant fall in internal displacements and civilian deaths.

But recent Houthi strikes against government troops in Harib, and for the first time in a year attacks on loyalists, in Merkhah Al-Ulya, have shattered hopes of a peace pact to end the conflict.

The government’s Shabwa Defense Forces said on Tuesday that they had repulsed a Houthi assault in Merkhah Al-Ulya and shot down a militia drone.

Meanwhile, Yemeni government officials and the Houthis have said that they would begin exchanging hundreds of captives on April 11 in a three-day operation that would be carried out by the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Both sides agreed during the last round of prisoner-swap talks, that ended on March 20 in Switzerland, to exchange 887 detainees during the holy month of Ramadan.

Under the deal, the Yemeni government would hand over 706 Houthi prisoners for 181 government ones, including a former defense minister and four journalists condemned to death by the Houthis, and 19 coalition prisoners.

Majed Fadhail, deputy minister of human rights and a member of the government’s delegation, told Arab News that on the first day, an ICRC aircraft would transport Yemeni government prisoners, including Defense Minister Mahmoud Al-Subaihi and the former president’s brother Nasser Mansour Hadi, from the Houthi-held Sanaa airport to Aden, before returning to Sanaa with Houthi prisoners.

On the second day, a plane would take captives of the Arab coalition from Sanaa to Saudi Arabia.

And on the final day, an aircraft would transport further government captives, including the four journalists, to Marib city before returning to Sanaa with Houthi inmates.

Abdulkader Al-Murtada, head of the Houthis’ prisoner exchange committee, said this week that they and the Yemeni government delegation had agreed to create committees that would visit prisons in Sanaa and Marib and that a fresh round of prisoner-swap talks would begin in May.

Al-Murtada added that the process would last three days, and that the ICRC would charter prisoners from Sanaa airport to airports in Aden, Riyadh, and Marib.

Separately, Yemeni officials and rights groups said the Houthis had increased their assault on inhabitants of the old city of Ibb who had participated in a rare anti-militia rally.

Activists on social media shared images of at least seven individuals recently kidnapped by the Houthis for attending the burial of a famous internet activist in Ibb and said that the Houthis were continuing to deploy military personnel and search properties in and around Ibb.

On Thursday, the burial of Hamdi Abdel-Razzaq, popularly known as Al-Mukahal, an influencer kidnapped by the Houthis in October for denouncing corruption, turned into a protest against Yemeni militia in Ibb.


Lebanon airport expansion sparks transparency concerns

Lebanon airport expansion sparks transparency concerns
Updated 29 March 2023

Lebanon airport expansion sparks transparency concerns

Lebanon airport expansion sparks transparency concerns
  • Public Works and Transportation Minister Ali Hamieh said the private sector would fund the $122 million project, which would "create around 2,500 jobs"
  • Civil society groups and some lawmakers have decried opacity in the tender process and a lack of involvement of the Public Procurement Authority

BEIRUT: Civil society organizations and lawmakers in crisis-hit Lebanon have raised concerns over the awarding of a multi-million dollar contract to build and operate a second terminal at Beirut’s international airport.
Cash-strapped Lebanon announced last week that private company Lebanese Air Transport and Irish firm daa International would partner for the revamp.
Public Works and Transportation Minister Ali Hamieh said the private sector would fund the $122 million project, which would “create around 2,500 jobs.”
The firms would operate the terminal for a 25-year period, he added.
But civil society groups and some lawmakers have decried opacity in the tender process and a lack of involvement of the Public Procurement Authority.
“Marginalizing or disregarding” the role of the authority undermines the effectiveness of Lebanon’s 2021 public procurement law, 10 civil society groups said in a statement Tuesday.
Last week the groups, including Transparency International Lebanon, warned in a statement of “serious abuses” in the procurement law’s application which “open the door to corruption and nepotism.”
Jean Ellieh, head of the authority, confirmed to AFP on Wednesday that “the contract did not pass through” the regulatory body as it should have according to the 2021 law.
Some have also questioned how a caretaker government with limited powers could announce such a major infrastructure project, in a country where entrenched political barons are accused of systemic corruption.
Lawmaker Mark Daou argued on Twitter that awarding the contract went beyond the caretaker government’s prerogatives. Other MPs have also raised concerns.
The Court of Audit is expected to rule on the contract’s legality following the outcry.
In late 2019, Lebanon plunged into an economic crisis that the World Bank has dubbed one of the planet’s worst in modern times.
Amid persistent political deadlock, the country has been without a president for almost five months, while the government has operated in a caretaker capacity since May last year.
The economic meltdown has pushed most of the population into poverty while the political elite, widely blamed for the country’s financial collapse, has failed to take action.
A visiting International Monetary Fund delegation said last week that Lebanon was “at a very dangerous moment,” criticizing slow progress on reforms needed to unlock billions in emergency loans.
In a statement, the IMF noted that Lebanon’s 2021 procurement law “should be implemented promptly.”
The new airport terminal, set to cater to low-cost carriers and charter flights, is expected to be able to receive around 3.5 million passengers a year, according to public works minister Hamieh.
Work is expected to start next year, with the terminal set to become operational by March 2027, according to daa International.