Arabian Peninsula

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"McArabia" Not Easily Swallowed

The March 5 Arab News reported that the McDonald's corporation has launched a new sandwich aimed at boosting flagging sales in the Middle East-"McArabia." The decision was made after McDonald's-a major target of the Arab public's boycott of U.S. franchises-announced last year its first quarterly net loss in history. McDonald's lists the new sandwich's ingredients as "Arab bread, grilled chicken, lettuce, tomatoes and Arab sauce"-never mind that the "Arab bread" is being imported from Britain, the chicken from Malaysia.

While the corporation is working hard to cater to a market seeking alternatives to U.S. products, the numbers do not bode well: last year not only saw a 25 percent drop in U.S. food and consumer product sales in the Middle East, but also the laying off of many McDonald's employees in the Middle East-especially Saudis.

Dubai Establishes Executive Council

On Feb. 25, Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid, Dubai's ruler and UAE prime minister, issued a decree establishing the Dubai Executive Council, according to the Feb. 26 Gulf News Online. The council consists of a chairman, deputy chairman, and various directors of Dubai's government departments as circumstances require, and will perform several duties designed, said Bin Rashid, "to help [the government of Dubai] perform our duties and manage our local affairs." These duties include approving draft laws and decrees, preparing a draft annual budget, closing agreements with oil companies, and supervising the coordination of work among government departments. Bin Rashid cited Dubai's constitution as inspiration for the law, along with a "belief in shared responsibility between the leadership and the people to build a stable and prosperous society."

Art Teacher Becomes Oman's First Woman Minister

The March 5 Arab News reported that Aisha Al-Siyabi, a young art teacher from a small rural town in Oman, has been appointed the country's first woman minister-the first time, in fact, a woman has held such a position in any of the six Gulf Cooperation Council states. …