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News that you need to know! Selected news stories from Qatar, India, Middle East and around the world, with focus on news that matters to Indians in Qatar.

Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia lifts ban on internet calling applications

Saudi Arabia will lift its ban on internet calling applications on Wednesday, authorities said, easing restrictions online as the conservative kingdom faces new criticism over censorship. Voice and video calling apps such as WhatsApp and Skype will be ‘widely available to users’, a government statement said on Tuesday, in a move aimed at improving business confidence as the kingdom transitions into a post-oil era. “Access to VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) will reduce operational costs and spur digital entrepreneurship,” the statement said, citing a directive from the communications and technology ministry. “Digital transformation is one of the key kick-starters for the Saudi economy, as it will incentivise the growth of internet-based businesses, especially in the media and entertainment industries.” Alongside the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain, Saudi Arabia imposed a blockade on Qatar in June, in the worst diplomatic crisis to roil the Gulf in years. “The recent cooperation…

Qatar
Gulf crisis will be resolved quickly, says Trump

US President Donald Trump said yesterday he thought the dispute between Qatar and some of its Arab neighbours would be resolved quickly. “We are right now in a situation where we’re trying to solve a problem in the Middle East. And I think we’ll get it solved, I have a very strong feeling that it will be solved pretty quickly,” Trump said in New York as he met Qatar Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani. The Emir met Trump on the sidelines of the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly. The Emir said relationship with the US is very strong. Welcoming Sheikh Tamim, the US leader said it was his great honour to be with the Emir of Qatar. “And we’ve been friends a long time; people don’t realise that. We know each other for a long time.” Besides the Gulf crisis, “we’re talking, also, trade and many other…

India
India to supply over half of Asia’s workforce: Report

India, with over 65 per cent of population below the age of 35, will supply more than half of potential workforce over the coming decade in Asia, which is grappling with ageing population, according to a report. India will however have to first equip its workforce with necessary skills to contribute to the national economy in order for the country to reap dividends of its demographic potential, said the report by Deloitte — ‘Demographics fuelling Asia’s shifting balance of power’ “India is among a handful of South Asian countries that sits on a demographic gold mine,” the report said, adding that the country has a median population age of 27.3 years compared to 35 years for China and around 47 years for Japan. Deloitte India Lead Economist Anis Chakravarty said: “India will account for more than half of the increase in Asia’s workforce in the coming decade, but this isn’t…

UAE
September 21 to be holiday for UAE public, private sectors

The Hijri New Year holiday in UAE will be observed on Thursday, September 21, the Federal Authority For Government Human Resources announced on Tuesday. The decision was taken as per the guidance of the council of ministers. Earlier this week, the UAE government announced that Muharram 1, 1439, will be observed as a holiday for both public and private sectors. The one-day official holiday on Thursday given to private-sector workers will enable them to observe the Hijri new Islamic year with their families, said Saqr Ghobash, Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation. As per the directives of the UAE Cabinet, normal duty for the public sector will resume on Sunday, said the authority. Saqr bin Ghobash Saeed Ghobash, Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation, extended his sincerest greetings and blessings to the President, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan; His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President…

UAE
Atlas Jewellery debt resolution plan hits stumbling block

Three banks are blocking a deal aimed at resolving the close to 500 million dirhams ($136.1 million) debt troubles of Dubai-based Atlas Jewellery, banking sources said. Atlas, which once had more than 50 retail branches across the Gulf and India, defaulted on loans in 2015 and its owner, M. M. Ramachandran, was sentenced to a three-year jail term for writing cheques without sufficient funds for them to clear. Since then banks have struggled to secure repayment, leading to the United Arab Emirates central bank trying to broker a deal that would put on hold legal action against Ramachandran so he could be released from jail to facilitate asset sales to repay banks while restructuring the company’s remaining debt, the sources said. The majority of the 22 or so creditor banks have signed up to the agreement, but Union National Bank, Mashreq and Qatar’s Doha Bank have declined, the sources said.…

India
NRIs who harass, abandon their wives may get their passports cancelled

Non-resident Indians (NRIs) who harass their wives or desert them could face impoundment or cancellation of their passport if Cental government accepts the recommendations of a high-level panel, Hindustan Times have reported citing an undisclosed source. Once the passport is impounded, the NRI husband — if present in India — won’t be able to leave the country until the case is settled. If abroad, he will have to be deported to India, the report added. Following several complaints lodged by women deserted by their NRI husbands, the ministry of external affairs (MEA) constituted the committee in May to look into various legal and regulatory challenges and suggest measures to address them. The panel has also recommended that cases of domestic violence be included in the scope of extradition treaties that India inks with other countries. Officials in the Union women and child development (WCD) ministry, which is coordinating with the…

India
Indian PM inaugurates Sardar Sarovar Dam, one of the biggest in the world

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday inaugurated the Sardar Sarovar Dam on the Narmada river, saying no other project in the world has faced so many hurdles as this “engineering miracle” which many people had “conspired to stop”. He also said that the dam, conceptualised nearly six decades ago, would become a symbol of the country’s growing prowess and boost growth in the region. “No other project in the world has faced such hurdles as the Sardar Sarovar Dam on the Narmada river. But we were determined to complete the project,” Modi said at a rally some 55 kms from the dam site in Dabhoi town of Vadodara district. The prime minister, who had earlier dedicated the dam to the nation on his 67th birthday, said “Sardar Sarovar will become a symbol of India’s new and emerging power and propel growth in the region…the project is an engineering miracle.”…

India
India likely to be third largest economy by 2028: HSBC report

India is likely to overtake Japan and Germany to become the third largest economy in the next 10 years but needs to be consistent in reforms and focus more on the social sector, British brokerage HSBC has said. Social capital is “insufficient” in the country and spending on aspects like health and education “is not just desirable for its [India’s] own sake, but is also central to economic growth and political stability,” it said. India also needs a lot of focus on ease of doing business and related aspects like contract enforcements. “In over the next ten years, India will likely surpass Germany and Japan to become the world’s third largest economy in nominal USD and the transition will happen even more quickly on a PPP [purchasing power parity] basis,” its economists said in a note. Key strengths Demographics and macro stability were pointed out as key strengths for the…

UAE
Dubai to operate world’s largest solar power project

Dubai will implement the world’s largest Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) project valued at 14.2 billion dirhams ($3.87 billion), UAE daily Gulfnews reported on Saturday. The CSP project will be implemented by Dubai Water and Electricity Authority (Dewa). And the largest single-site project will generate 700 megawatts (MW) of power when it is completed in the last quarter of 2020, parallel to the World Expo 2020 in Dubai, Xinhua reported. The project will include the world’s tallest solar tower, standing 260 metres tall, the report said. The project comes as part of implementing the fourth stage of the Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park and to support the end goals of Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050, said the report. Gulfnews quoted the UAE Vice President as saying “We are steadily moving towards achieving Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050 goals, which we have launched to turn Dubai into a global hub…

UAE
World’s first smart police service centre opened in Dubai

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, on Saturday opened the world’s first smart police service centre at City Walk. The smart centre will operate without human intervention and be open 24/7 to offer 27 key services, including reporting of crimes and traffic incidents and community services. It will also provide 33 fully automated sub-services. Shaikh Mohammad issued directives to replicate the experience in all residential and commercial areas in the future and provide the finest smart police services to facilitate access to police for the public and save their time and effort. Shaikh Mohammad expressed his delight at the accelerated development Dubai is witnessing at all levels and the leadership’s keenness on providing all necessary services and facilities to the public in all fields. Lt-General Dahi Khalfan Tamim, Deputy Chairman of Police and Public Security, and Major-General…

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