Weekly Business Roundup: Donald Trump in Saudi Arabia, Facebook Abuse in Ramadan and 5 Stories You Probably Missed

Published May 18th, 2017 - 04:45 GMT
A new research has revealed that users in the MENA region spend an extra 57.6 million hours on Facebook during Ramadan. (Shutterstock)
A new research has revealed that users in the MENA region spend an extra 57.6 million hours on Facebook during Ramadan. (Shutterstock)

It’s that time of the week again for your dose of the Middle East's top business news on Al Bawaba. (Here's last week's business roundup if you missed it.)

In the past few days, much has been written about Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia; a research has shown that Arabs spend too much time on Facebook during Ramadan; we have seen that Qatar wants more Qatari technicians and less managers; and that Saudi Arabia is hopeless to make Saudis work

Here they are, the top business stories of the past six days:

1. Donald Trump Leaves for Saudi Arabia With a Full Agenda

During his visit to Riyadh, Trump will attend a Saudi-US summit, a GCC-US summit, an Arab Islamic-US summit, a Saudi-US CEO forum where the US and Saudi Arabia are expected to sign 10 oil deals. Trump will inaugurate the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology (GCEII) and complete a multi-billion dollar arms deal. Known for his penchant for Twitter, Trump will also participate in – behold – a Twitter forum with young people on Sunday. Will it be another public display of his contradictory views and twisted sense of humor? Let’s wait and see.   

2. Emirates Records 82 Percent Drop in Annual Profit

The Emirates Group said its annual profit for the financial year 2016-17 dropped by 70 percent from last year's profit. As for the airline itself, it announced that it managed to maintain a profit margin of 1.5 percent, with Dh1.3 billion ($340 million), despite a decrease of 82 percent over last year's results.

Last month, Emirates chairman and CEO said that Trump's policies, Brexit and the currency fallout that followed — especially the stronger dollar — have made it a tough time for Emirates and the airline was now looking at more viable options (smaller aircrafts and a closer alliance with its low-cost sister, FlyDubai). Is the giant terminally ill or will it find ways to regain its past glory? Stay tuned for more updates.

3. Saudi Arabia Announces It Will Fire All Expats From Government Jobs By 2020

Saudi ministries were given three years to fire all their expatriate workers, local media reported last Wednesday, in the latest clampdown against foreign labor in the kingdom.

There was no clarification about whether this includes workers in public schools and hospitals, or in government-owned oil giant Aramco. However, the government believes the job cuts will reduce capital outflows and create new positions for the 700,000 Saudis looking for work. Riyadh also announced that Saudi Arabia would not hire any foreign dentists to make way for Saudis.

4. Qatar to Launch Country’s First Air-Conditioned Jogging Track

On a lighter note, Qatar announced it would launch the country’s first residential project having a roof top air-conditioned jogging track, giving its residents a chance to enjoy a panoramic view of the city while jogging. That came just a few days after the country had announced it was providing outdoor workers with shaded trolleys. So air-conditioned jogging tracks for the rich and shaded trolleys for the poor, Qatar? Go figure.

5. Users in MENA Region Spend More Time on Facebook During Ramadan

A new research has revealed that users in the MENA spend an extra 57.6 million hours on Facebook during Ramadan. The research shows that usage peaks around 3AM in Ramadan among the 152 million monthly active users from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. 

Are MENA users playing Candy Crush during work hours or sharing Duaa and Iftar selfies with their friends? One can only guess.

6. Saudi Arabia to Introduce Flexible Work Options for Saudis

If there’s one country in the world that really, REALLY wants its people to work, then it is Saudi Arabia. I mean, seriously, it has expelled millions of expat workers since 2013; it has blocked foreigners from working in malls; it has prevented hospitals and clinics from hiring any foreign dentists; and more recently, it has even offered a reward for reporting illegal foreigners. In its latest attempt to accelerate Saudization and get Saudis to work, the Saudi Ministry of Labor said it was planning to introduce a more flexible system of employment where Saudis in the private sector can be paid by the hour and weekly. What will Saudi Arabia’s next step be? Let us work on your behalf?

7. 'Qatarization Will Never Thrive If Qataris Refuse to Work as Technicians': Energy Minister

Qatar’s Energy Minister was reported as saying that “it is crucial that [Qatar] raises awareness and places greater emphasis on making [non-managerial] positions more attractive and equally rewarding for Qataris.” The man is right. Qatar doesn’t need more managers or CEOs; it needs more technicians, operators and vocally-trained staff. This makes even more sense when you think of the country’s goals for Qatarization. Qatar says it has achieved a Qatarization of just 29 percent of its goal of a 50 percent Qatari workforce. Who will perform all the smaller jobs when foreigners are gone? That’s a question to ponder for a country keen on making its own way. 

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Reem Boudraa


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