Biased reporting: Indian media flayed

Updated 03 August 2016

Biased reporting: Indian media flayed

RIYADH: The Indian community in the Kingdom on Tuesday slammed irresponsible reporting by the Indian media on labor issues between an ailing private firm and its Indian employees.
They said these are some isolated cases. About three million Indians are working and living happily in Saudi Arabia, they pointed out.
They expressed sincere thanks to the Saudi government for hosting such a huge number of non-resident Indians (NRIs), which not only constitute the largest expatriate group in the Kingdom but also the largest number of Indian passport holders living anywhere in the world.
They thanked the Kingdom for ensuring the safety and welfare of the Indian community.
Akhtar-ul-Islam Siddiqui, a long-time Indian resident and a businessman, told Arab News that a few construction companies in the Kingdom have gone out of business due to financial constraints and it resulted in layoffs for workers of different nationalities, not only just Indians. “I do not know why there is hue and cry in the Indian media over this.”
He said: “Private firms in India like Kingfisher, Sahara and many others went bankrupt and their workers lost jobs. Has the Indian government given them jobs? Forget about helping the workers, Kingfisher owner Vijay Mallya ran away from the country to evade loans repayment and the government failed to catch him.”
Abdulhaq Bastavi, an Indian IT expert, said there is no point reporting that Indians are starving or stranded here as they can solve the issue with the employer and go home. “In labor disputes, workers have the option of approaching the courts.”
Mojib Siddiqui, who is working with a media group here for years, said: “There are serious issues of atrocities against poor Muslims and Dalits, which need to be reported extensively to curb growing intolerance. Instead, the Indian media is planting stories on labor issues here in a deliberate attempt to shift the focus from the government, which is under fire for not stopping violence against these communities. It’s a ploy to appease the principal minority that they are concerned about Indian Muslims working in Saudi Arabia.”
He added: “If the situation had been alarming for Indian workers, how come remittances sent by NRIs from the Kingdom is highest?”
If the government is really concerned about Indian Muslims and Dalits, it must put the act together to stop anti-social elements going on rampage in the name of cow protection, said Saquib Hamza, a Dammam resident working at a recruitment firm.
Mohammad Akram, a marketing head at the Saffat Aviation said the Indian media exaggerating the number to blow it out of proportion.
“Laying off workers by an ailing firm is nothing new,” he said adding there are dozens of Indian firms firing their staff for financial reasons.


No smoke without fire in vaping debate as GCC countries see slow burn on regulations

Updated 21 min 31 sec ago

No smoke without fire in vaping debate as GCC countries see slow burn on regulations

  • Of all the GCC countries, only Saudi Arabia and the UAE have proper laws in place for reduced risk products

RIYADH: Throughout the course of history, nicotine has always been one of humanity’s greatest vices.

A more socially acceptable drug than most, and a religious and moral grey area, people have smoked it, chewed it, applied it to their skin in patches and now they are vaping it.

Vapes fall under the category of reduced risk products (RRPs), items with the potential to cut the dangers associated with smoking. Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, fall into this category, as do vape mods such as Juul devices, Logic vapes, and more.

Vaping is a $14 billion (SR52.5 billion) global industry, and has seen a 46 percent category value growth, according to statistics from Japan Tobacco International (JTI).

But vaping is not necessarily as new as many people might think. The first recorded use of the words “electronic cigarette” appeared in 1930, yet modern vaping as we know it only emerged in the early 2000s. Opinion, however, is still deeply divided about its health merits.

Modhi Al-Ajlan, a cigarette smoker since her early 20s, will be 39 this year. Although she has wanted to quit cigarettes for some time, she is reluctant to try vaping due to the stigma attached to it.

“It’s too new, I don’t think there’s enough long-term research to prove that vaping is healthier than smoking cigarettes. I’ll take my chances with a known enemy rather than leave myself open to the mercy of an unknown one,” she said.

Others, such as Farhan Alalem, disagree. He told Arab News that vaping was much better for him than cigarettes ever were. “I tried quitting cold turkey four or five times. Since I started vaping, I’ve hardly had any cigarettes at all. I don’t ever want to go back, it’s the only thing that’s worked for me.”

The issue remains divisive, even among experts. Concerns over at least seven deaths and 500 hospitalizations in the US, seemingly linked to vaping, have led to a series of bans across America. Several states have already stopped the sale of e-cigarettes and vaping products, and President Donald Trump even commented on the issue, calling for an outright ban of vape products.

FASTFACTS

• With a $14 billion global industry, vaping has seen a 46 percent category value growth.

• Vapes fall under the category of reduced risk products (RRPs), items with the potential to cut the dangers associated with smoking.

• The UK has much stricter laws about advertising cigarettes and other tobacco products.

However, at the 2019 E-Cigarette Summit, held in London last month, multiple speakers reported that the problems the US was facing were due to poor regulations in the country, as well as the illicit manufacturing of vape juice.

Improper regulation is said to contribute to the spread of vape liquids containing unconventional ingredients such as THC, the key psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, or vitamin E acetate, which is harmless if consumed but could be dangerous if inhaled.

However, in the UK and other parts of the world where vaping is much more strictly regulated, no serious side effects have yet been recorded, causing the pro-vaping lobby to hail Britain as an example of how to lead on the issue.

The UK has much stricter laws about advertising cigarettes and other tobacco products, as well as firmer regulations against selling to minors and harsher punishments for those who ignore the rules.

Conversely to the US, where youth smoking has been on a rapid rise, the London Smoking Toolkit Study reported that 5 percent of 16-17-year-olds smoked, compared to 23 percent in 2007.

John Newton, director of health improvement at Public Health England, said: “In England, smoking among adults and children has fallen to record lows. Vaping is not renormalizing smoking, regular e-cigarette use among children remains rare and confined largely to young smokers and ex-smokers, and most e-cigarette users have stopped smoking completely.”

In the Middle East, the whole subject of vaping is a grey area. In Saudi Arabia, for example, vaping is allowed, but vape mods, e-juice, vape liquid, and any other RRPs are not available for sale in official shopping outlets.

According to information sourced from JTI, of all the Gulf states only Saudi Arabia and the UAE currently have proper regulations in place for RRPs. In Bahrain and Kuwait, they are permitted only under the name of “e-shisha,” and in Oman and Qatar they are not regulated at all.

Hadi Sleiman, JTI’s director of corporate affairs and communications in the Middle East, believes that Gulf-state governments should open the door to conversation in order to make the products more accessible to those who would use them, while also keeping them safe.

“Policy-makers need information. If you don’t have an open dialogue, how can you make the best decision for the country?” he said.

However, health experts have at least agreed for the time being that, while they do not recommend smoking of any kind, vaping is a healthier alternative than traditional tobacco smoking.