India seeks urgent start to rupee-dirham trade with UAE

India seeks urgent start to rupee-dirham trade with UAE
India’s ambassador to the UAE Sunjay Sudhir. (@sunjaysudhir)
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Updated 30 November 2022

India seeks urgent start to rupee-dirham trade with UAE

India seeks urgent start to rupee-dirham trade with UAE
  • Reduces forex risks, US dollar reliance, says envoy
  • “Landmark model” for other nations if successful

NEW DELHI: The UAE and India are preparing to introduce bilateral transactions using local currencies, New Delhi’s envoy to Abu Dhabi said on Wednesday, with the move expected to boost the free trade deal between the two countries.

The UAE is India’s third-largest trading partner after the US and China, with a bilateral trade volume of $43.3 billion in 2020-21. It is also home to more than 3 million Indian expats, who send billions of dollars in remittances to their families each year.

In February, India and the UAE signed the landmark Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement. The pact, which went into force in May, reduces tariffs on almost 80 percent of all goods and provides zero-duty access to 90 percent of Indian exports.

India’s ambassador to the UAE, Sunjay Sudhir, told Arab News that the issue of trade settlements in local currencies was discussed during the 14th India-UAE Joint Commission meeting in Abu Dhabi in September.

Last week, it was also one of the major points of discussion when UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan visited New Delhi.

“Since then there has been progress, a concept paper has been submitted by the Indian side to the UAE side, discussions are ongoing between the Reserve Bank of India and the UAE Central Bank,” Sudhir told Arab News, adding that modalities would be finalized “as soon as possible.”

Trading in local currencies — in the Indian-UAE context the rupee and dirham — not only reduces transaction costs but also frees trade from dependence on the US dollar.

“Trade between India and the UAE is mostly invoiced in dollars, which can be an expensive affair for businesses on both sides, due to foreign currency conversion fees and exchange rate risk,” Anupam Manur, economics professor from the Takshashila Institution in Bangalore, told Arab News.

He said for India it would also ease the pressure on the current account, halt the depreciation of the rupee and the depletion of forex reserves.

“This opens up the possibility of using a common payments system, such as UPI (Unified Payments Interface) to reduce the cost of remittances from Indians in (the) UAE and truly make capital flows easier,” Manur added.

“If the deal to trade in local currencies is successful then this would be a landmark deal and the model can be replicated with many other countries with which India has a strong trading relationship.”


Former UK medical student-turned-Daesh fighter wants to ‘face justice’ in Britain

Former UK medical student-turned-Daesh fighter wants to ‘face justice’ in Britain
Updated 08 February 2023

Former UK medical student-turned-Daesh fighter wants to ‘face justice’ in Britain

Former UK medical student-turned-Daesh fighter wants to ‘face justice’ in Britain
  • Ibrahim Ageed, 29, has been imprisoned in Syria for past 4 years
  • Brothers left final-year studies in Leicester to join terror group aged 21, 23

LONDON: An imprisoned former medical student from the UK who traveled to Syria to join Daesh has said that he hopes to return to Britain to “face justice,” the Daily Mail reported.
Ibrahim Ageed, 29, joined the terror group in 2015 aged 21, together with his brother, Mohammed, who was 23.
The pair left their final-year studies at the University of Medical Sciences and Technology in Leicester to travel to Turkiye and then Syria.
Ageed was captured and imprisoned after the collapse of Daesh in Syria and Iraq, and has spent the past four years in northeast Syria’s Al-Sina prison.
His story is similar to that of Shamima Begum, 23, who left London aged 15 with two school friends to join the terror group.
In an interview, Ageed claimed that it was his “right” to return to Britain, warning that Daesh “could make a comeback.”
He said: “I believe I’ll be subjected to the justice system, but I’m ready to face the music and I believe it’s my right, basically, to go back home.”
Ageed described being “completely isolated” while imprisoned, saying that people initially joined Daesh from around the world because they had “lost hope.”
He added: “Whether you can completely rid the world of these groups is a very difficult task.”


Swedish police blocks Qur'an burning protest

People hold copies of the holy Qur’an while taking part in a protest in Islamabad, Pakistan. (File/AFP)
People hold copies of the holy Qur’an while taking part in a protest in Islamabad, Pakistan. (File/AFP)
Updated 08 February 2023

Swedish police blocks Qur'an burning protest

People hold copies of the holy Qur’an while taking part in a protest in Islamabad, Pakistan. (File/AFP)
  • Police cited the risk that the protest could provoke terror attacks or attacks against Swedish interests
  • “Sweden has become a higher priority target for attacks,” a police decision said

STOCKHOLM: Swedish police on Wednesday denied permission for a protest involving the burning of a Qur'an, following a January demonstration that angered Turkiye, putting Sweden’s pending NATO application on hold.
Protests are rarely banned by Swedish police as they are considered as a right under freedom of assembly, but police cited the risk that the protest could provoke terror attacks or attacks against Swedish interests.
The demonstration permit request was made by a small, little-known Swedish association, Apallarkerna, and was aimed at protesting against NATO membership, and like the earlier protest staged far-right activist, Rasmus Paludan, would involve the burning of a Qur'an in front of Turkiye’s Stockholm embassy.
“The burning of the Qur'an outside Turkiye embassy in January 2023 can be determined to have increased threats against both the Swedish society at large, but also against Sweden, Swedish interests abroad and Swedes abroad,” the police decision, read by AFP, said.
“Sweden has become a higher priority target for attacks,” it continued.
At the end of January, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Sweden, which Ankara already accused of harboring Kurdish “terrorists,” could no longer expect Turkiye to ratify its NATO membership bid, as long as burnings of the Qur'an were allowed.
Turkiye and Hungary are the last holdouts to ratify Sweden’s NATO membership, after the Scandinavian country broke decades of military non-alignment and applied following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Qur'an burning, carried out by Paludan behind the protection of a police officers and in front of cameras, spurred anti-Swedish demonstrations in several Muslim countries.
Negotiations with Turkiye on NATO accession have been suspended since then.
On Wednesday, the Swedish security service, Sapo, warned of an increased terrorist threat to Sweden and Swedish interests.


Japan sends second rescue team to quake-hit Turkiye

Japan sends second rescue team to quake-hit Turkiye
Japan sent a second group of 55 people from the Japan International Emergency Rescue Team to Turkiye on Wednesday. (Twitter/@Jap
Updated 08 February 2023

Japan sends second rescue team to quake-hit Turkiye

Japan sends second rescue team to quake-hit Turkiye

TOKYO: Japan sent a second group of 55 people from the Japan International Emergency Rescue Team to Turkiye with four search dogs, the Japanese Embassy tweeted on Wednesday. 

The embassy in Turkiye said: “Team members show a firm determination to do their best to save victims while preventing collateral damage.”

On Monday night, Japan sent its first emergency rescue team to Turkiye, which was hit by a massive earthquake the same day.

There have been no reports of Japanese people killed or injured in the earthquake, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said Tuesday.

“While working to ensure the safety of Japanese expatriates, we will consider necessary support for areas affected by the quake,” he added.

On Tuesday, the Metropolitan Police Department of Tokyo sent its emergency rescue team comprising 14 personnel and four search dogs to help find people missing in the quake.

“I want you to cooperate closely and make all-out efforts to perform your mission,” MPD Superintendent General Hiroshi Kojima told the team.

The Tokyo Fire Department has also dispatched six workers to Turkiye.

The Embassy of Japan in Turkiye said on Twitter that the earthquake that occurred caused many casualties. “In response to the request of the Government of the Turkish Republic, the first group of 18 people of the Japan International Emergency Rescue Team (JDR) immediately set out for Turkiye.”

The Embassy of Japan in Syria took to Twitter to pay condolences to the lives lost due to the earthquake. 

The tweet said: “Embassy of Japan in Syria expresses its heartfelt condolences to the victims and their families, and its sympathy to the injured people in Syria, Türkiye and the other disaster affected countries.”

Japanese Prime Minister KISHIDA Fumio sent a message of condolence to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday after the major earthquake struck the country.

In the message, Kishida said that he was deeply saddened and expressed his heartfelt condolences for those who lost their lives in the quake and his sympathy for the affected people.

Kishida also said that Japan will always stand by Turkiye.

At around 4:17 a.m. local time on Monday, an earthquake of magnitude 7.8 occurred in the southeastern part of Turkiye. Other large quakes followed soon after.

*With JIJI Press

This article was first published in Arab News Japan


Bangladesh sending skilled workers to Saudi Arabia under new employment scheme

Bangladesh sending skilled workers to Saudi Arabia under new employment scheme
Updated 08 February 2023

Bangladesh sending skilled workers to Saudi Arabia under new employment scheme

Bangladesh sending skilled workers to Saudi Arabia under new employment scheme
  • Kingdom’s recruitment to guarantee higher salaries for Bangladeshis, Saudi envoy says
  • Initial phase targets plumbers, electricians, welders and AC technicians

DHAKA: Bangladesh is preparing to send skilled workers to Saudi Arabia for the first time under the newly launched Skill Verification Program, authorities said on Wednesday.
Under the Workers’ Recruitment and Skill Verification Program, which aims to improve the professional competence of employees in the Saudi labor market, the Kingdom will recruit skilled workers from the South Asian country.
In its initial phase, the program will focus on five professions: Plumbers, electricians, welders, automotive electricians and air conditioning technicians.
The SVP deal between Saudi and Bangladeshi authorities came into effect this week.
“Saudi authorities will hire the first batch of skilled workers as a pilot program. One thousand migrant workers will be hired ... the number will be increased gradually. We are going to begin this recruitment process very soon,” Mohammad Salah Uddin, training director at the Bangladeshi Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training, told Arab News.
“We are very well prepared. Initially, the Saudi authorities want to conduct the testing process of migrant workers in the capital. Later on, we will expand the testing process outside of Dhaka, in accordance with our capacity and demand.”
The bureau has 95 training centers and will soon launch another 15, Uddin said.
“We have sufficient infrastructure and capability to prepare skilled workers as per demand from the Saudi authorities.”
BRAC, the largest development organization based in Bangladesh, sees the employment of skilled workers as a new trend in the country’s work migration.
“I think the migration process in the coming days will follow this system. All the migrant-receiving countries will ask for skilled workers. All of our training centers run by the government and private organizations need to strengthen their efforts in this regard,” Shariful Hasan, head of BRAC’s migration program, told Arab News.
“Most of our migrant workers are currently unskilled, and they don’t have any kind of certificate to be considered skilled workers. They don’t receive training from any training center and get employed as unskilled workers. The new initiative opens a horizon of prospects,” Hasan told Arab News.
With about 2 million people joining the Bangladeshi workforce every year, having at least a fourth of that number trained should not be a problem for the South Asian nation.
“If the government takes the initiative to prepare at least half a million people as skilled workers, I don’t see any problems with it. We have technical training centers at the grassroots level also. There is no point in providing conventional university degrees to all the youth. Rather, if we equip many of them with technical knowledge, it will bring good results in the long run,” Hasan said.
“It’s an opportunity since the workers will get a higher salary as skilled workers and their migration costs will be reduced significantly.”
About 2.8 million Bangladeshi nationals live in Saudi Arabia, with most employed in low-profile jobs at construction sites or as household staff. They play a significant role in the Bangladeshi economy by sending large amounts of remittances home, contributing more than 5 percent to the country’s gross domestic product.
Riyadh’s Ambassador to Dhaka, Essa Al-Duhailan, told reporters in the Bangladeshi capital on Tuesday evening that the new employment program would guarantee higher salaries for Bangladeshis — at least double those of average workers.
“If he is an ordinary worker, he might get SR800 ($213) to 1,000, but a skilled worker will get SR1,500 to 1,800, or even more,” Al-Duhailan said.
“His remittance will be higher because the salary will be higher. It will contribute to strengthening the Bangladeshi economy.”


Philippines halts deployment of first-time workers to Kuwait after maid’s murder

Philippines halts deployment of first-time workers to Kuwait after maid’s murder
Updated 08 February 2023

Philippines halts deployment of first-time workers to Kuwait after maid’s murder

Philippines halts deployment of first-time workers to Kuwait after maid’s murder
  • Manila suspended accreditation of new recruitment agencies in Kuwait last week
  • Philippine officials are preparing for labor talks with Gulf nation’s authorities

MANILA: The Philippines halted on Wednesday the deployment of first-time workers to Kuwait following increasing reports of abuse, including murder, of Filipino migrant workers in the Gulf state.

More than 268,000 Filipinos live and work in Kuwait, where 35-year-old maid Jullebee Ranara was killed and her charred body found abandoned in a desert last month.

The killing had sent shockwaves across the Philippines, sparking calls for a deployment ban until a review of bilateral labor agreements. The Philippine government has so far suspended the accreditation of new recruitment agencies in the Gulf country and is now stopping first-time workers from seeking employment in Kuwait.

“The application of first-time migrant workers specifically for household services in Kuwait shall be deferred until after significant reforms have been made resulting from upcoming bilateral talks with the said country,” the Department of Migrant Workers said in a statement.

Migrant Workers Secretary Susan Ople said the department is not yet imposing a total deployment ban in consideration of other overseas Filipinos who had worked for years in Kuwait, and Philippine officials are preparing for talks with the Kuwaiti government.

Ople cited as an example the Philippines’ labor relations with Saudi Arabia, which since November have improved after the creation of a joint technical working group that holds virtual discussions weekly to flesh out various problems and concerns. With more than 700,000 Filipinos living in the Kingdom, it is the most popular destination for overseas Filipino workers.

“We have also been informed through diplomatic channels of the willingness of the Kuwait government to engage in bilateral labor talks. We are preparing well in advance for these talks, bringing with us an accumulation of abuse done over the years, hence the need for significant changes,” Ople said, as quoted in the statement.

Another abuse case emerged from Kuwait this week, after media reported that a Filipina worker was reportedly paralyzed after jumping from a window to escape her abusive employer.

There were more than 24,000 cases of violation and abuse of Filipino workers in Kuwait in 2022 according to Department of Migrant Workers data — a significant increase from 6,500 such cases in 2016.

But the latest policy to suspend the deployment of first-time workers is likely to affect Filipinos as well.

“The Department of Migrant Workers has issued a new advisory that would affect the deployment of 5,000 mobilized HSWs (household service workers) for Kuwait,” migrant work expert Emmanuel Geslani told Arab News. He based his estimates on the current number of workers deployed to Kuwait weekly, which is around 500.

Filipino lawmaker Ron Salo said in a statement that new workers headed for Kuwait should receive cultural training prior to their departure.

“We need to ensure that those who will be deployed in Kuwait … have the requisite experience and knowledge on the culture of Kuwait,” he said.