x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

A precedent for Gulf women

The UAE's decision to grant legal protections to the children of Emirati women and non-Emirati fathers is a precedent other Arab states should follow, one Arabic language editorialist writes. Other topics in today's roundup: Israel's nukes and Nasrallah's speech.

Gulf states must emulate the UAE's decision on citizen rights for the children of Emirati women

The UAE President, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed , issued a decision last week granting Emirati women who are married to non-Emiratis the right to pass their nationality on to their children, making the UAE the first member state of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to take such a measure.

Decreed just two days ahead of the country's celebration of its 40th National Day, the decision came as "a most welcome present to Emirati mothers on a day of general merriment", observed Abdulhamid Al Ansari, a Qatari writer, in the opinion pages of the Emirati newspaper Al Ittihad.

Indeed, the other GCC member states must follow suit, he proposed.

The Saudi, Bahraini, Kuwait, Qatari and Omani nationalities are still passed on through the father only, whereas now the children of Emirati women married to non-Emiratis are entitled to apply for UAE citizenship as soon as they turn 18. Plus, the decision also granted them access to all the privileges of their Emirati peers even before they reach that age.

"This decision makes the UAE the fifth Arab country - after Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and Iraq - to recognise this right," the writer said.

"Gulf women are actively involved in development plans; they are competent partners and have legitimate demands. One of their major demands is equality with men in the right to pass on citizenship to their children … a right that is, in fact, constitutionally guaranteed in GCC countries but is hampered by immigration laws."

One must bear in mind that it is women who feed their children, literally and figuratively, with the allegiance and the sense of belonging for their homeland, the writer went on.

But there is a "deeper strategic dimension" to this for GCC states: the demographic aspect, which is a major concern for GCC countries.

"GCC nationals are a minority in a dense demographic environment that is so diverse with its customs, cultures, languages, identities and interests. How do you deal with that imbalance, or at least curb it? Isn't granting GCC nationalities to the children of GCC women who are married to foreigners the safest and most correct way to do that?"

These children have been born and raised in the Gulf, and as such are "the most precious channels" through which Gulf identity can be bolstered and demographics balanced.

The argument that "Gulf identity" would be somehow undermined if the children of foreign fathers become nationals of the GCC is "baseless", the writer said.

"These groundless fears stem from an inherited chauvinism that has no place in a world where boundaries between people have been lowered."

Israel is the key to nuclear proliferation

The former head of Saudi intelligence's statement that his country is seeking to possess nuclear weapons came as no surprise, opined the columnist Mazen Hammad in an article for the Qatari Al Watan daily.

"Since international efforts failed to persuade Israel to disarm and since they still fail to ascertain whether Iran is in fact on its way to possess the bomb, the door is now open for a terrifying nuclear armament race in the region," he said.

Prince Turki bin Faisal expressed Saudi Arabia's position when he said: "It is our duty towards our countries and our peoples to look into all possible options including the possession of these [nuclear] weapons."

"In all frankness, as long as the US continues to defend Israel's right to own nuclear weapons, it would be solely responsible for the new proliferation of nuclear weapons in the Middle East and the Gulf," the writer argued.

In this respect, it is Iran's right to seek a nuclear weapon as long as Israel has hundreds of nuclear warheads at its disposal. It is only when Washington lifts the cover off Israel's nuclear projects that Iran will let go of its nuclear armament ideas. Then, Arabs too would cease threats to produce such weapons.

If world development projects are to have any chance at succeeding, world powers must reduce the number of nuclear warheads and pressure Israel to do the same.

Hizbollah is caught in a vice by Syrian ties

During a popular commemoration of Ashoura, Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hizbollah, made a personal appearance on the podium to address the crowds.

The London-based Al Quds Al Arabi newspaper wrote in its editorial: "This implies one of two things: either the man is brimming with confidence and composure or he has entered a self-sacrificing state and has opted to challenge his enemies, domestic and foreign."

Both possibilities are likely and interrelated. Most observers believe that the allies of Iran and Syria are in a difficult situation with the ongoing uprising in Syria coupled with the increasing pressure from the Arab League and the West.

Sheikh Nasrallah's public appearance contained a double message: one to his followers reassuring them that his party is still strong and defiant, and another to his opponents expressing his readiness for confrontation. All the while, he reiterated his support for his Syrian allies against the wave of change threatening to bring them down.

Sheikh Nasrallah was blamed for failing to support the Syrian uprising, but many recognise that he had no other choice.

His choices could soon turn out to be the match that lights the fire in a highly inflammable region.

* Digest compiled by the Translation Desk