Arabian Peninsula

By Wattad, Nizar | Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, March 2003 | Go to article overview

Arabian Peninsula


Wattad, Nizar, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs


ISSUES IN THE NEWS

Foreign Workers Outnumber Native Kuwaitis

According to the Dec. 18 Saudi Gazette, the number of foreign men in Kuwait outnumbers the entire population of native citizens. Planning Ministry statistics reveal that 41.8 percent of the country's total population consists of foreign males, on whom Kuwaiti society is completely dependent. The foreigners are not strictly employed in physical labor, but actually account for 58 percent of Kuwait's lawyers, doctors and engineers, In fact, only 28.4 percent of the country's total workforce is made up of Kuwaitis.

These figures have alarmed government officials, who view the trend as a destabilizing factor in Kuwaiti society, prompting the deportation of some 11,000 expatriates from September to December 2002. An unexpected benefit since the start of the deportation, according to security official Musaed Al-Ghuwainem, has been that the crime rate has fallen 80 percent. Kuwait has a population of 2.2 million, of which some 870,000 are citizens.

English-Language Al-jazeera Coming Soon

According to the Dec. 26 Christian Science Monitor, the Qatar-based Arabic-language news network Al-Jazeera will begin distributing English-language news programs via satellite and cable later this year. The network, known for its often critical stances toward Arab governments, is respected by U.S. diplomats to the extent that both Secretary of State Colin Powell and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld have granted the channel exclusive interviews since Sept. 11, 2001. While Al-Jazeera's criticisms of Arab governments have led to bureau closures and outright bans, the network is equally critical of the U.S. government and its unflinching support for Israel.

Managing Director Mohamed al-Ali said the Arabic-language Al-Jazeera has 135,000 subscribers in the U.S. already, and hopes many more Americans will tune in once the English-language programs are up and running. To that effect, Al-Jazeera's reporters are preparing for extensive coverage of a possible war on Iraq. "We will try to be different than the others," Ali said, by providing a context and history to the stories being aired. Ali cited the results of an opinion poll showing that 60 percent of Britons are unaware that Palestinian territories are under Israeli occupation, an indication that "the historical context is missing" in Western news reports. "We need to communicate frankly," Ali added. "We need to start confessing that we committed mistakes with each other."

New Insect Discovered in Qatar

Scientists have discovered a new winged insect in Qatar, the first time such a discovery has been made in the desert state, reported the Nov. 27 Arab News. The four-year-old Qatar Insect Atlas project, overseen jointly by French scientists and Qatar's Center for Environment Friends (CEF), led to the discovery of a tiny parasite belonging to the psyllidae family. "It is a huge honor for Qatar to have discovered a creature for the first time and have it added to the entomological records of the world," said CEF chairman Dr. Saif Al-Hajri. The insect, which has not yet been named, makes its home in trees known locally as "shnan. …

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