Arabian Peninsula

By Al-Arian, Laila | Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, May 2004 | Go to article overview

Arabian Peninsula


Al-Arian, Laila, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs


Gulf Nations May Teach Human Rights in Schools

The six-member Arab Gulf Cooperation Council and Yemen are looking into the possibility of incorporating classes on human rights in schools, the Khaleej Times reported Feb. 17. The idea had been discussed the previous day at an education workshop in Doha, Qatar, as part of a four-day workshop where education officials responsible for forming academic policies and curricula exchanged ideas with members of human rights NGOs. In her inaugural speech at the workshop, Qatari Minister of Education Shaikha Ahmed Al Mahmoud "underlined the need for a common approach to teaching human rights in schools," according to the Times. She announced that, in association with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Qatar will implement a project to educate schoolchildren on human rights. Meanwhile, chairman of the National Committee on Human Rights in Qatar, Khalid bin Mohammed Al Atiyya, emphasized the importance of introducing human rights as a subject in the curricula of AGCC member states.

Arab Countries Urged to Join WTO

Agence France Presse (AFP) reported Feb. 22 that former World Trade Organization director-general Mike Moore is urging Arab nations that have not already done so to join the WTO as soon as possible. "Many Arab nations are not members of the WTO," he noted, "although we did navigate Oman into the WTO and already have strong and vocal members from the Islamic world, such as Pakistan, Egypt and others." Moore made his remarks at a two-day conference on the economies of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). "Open regionalism can be a good base to project onwards to the wider WTO and help integrate economies into the wider world economy," Moore explained. GCC members Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) joined the WTO between 1995 and 2000. However, according to AFP, the GCC's other member state, Saudi Arabia, "has been negotiating membership terms for the past eight years." Saudi officials said in December that the Kingdom is looking to enact legislation bringing Saudi Arabia in line with WTO regulations and standards, the report stated. Only half of the 22-member Arab League states belong to the WTO.

Hajj Tragedy Was "Avoidable"

Saudi Arabian Interior Minister Prince Naif said Feb. 4 that the stampede that took place three days earlier during the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca or Hajj "could have been avoided if pilgrims had behaved calmly," reported the Feb. 5 Arab News. Prince Naif, who is chairman of the Supreme Hajj Committee, called upon Hajj officials in Muslim countries to instruct their pilgrims in what is necessary in order to prevent future stampedes like this year's, in which 251 pilgrims were crushed to death and nearly 240 injured. However he added, the stampede, while tragic, was not any different from what might occur in crowded places elsewhere in the world and should be kept in perspective. …

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