x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

More must be done to find jobs for Emiratis

The jobless crisis is so severe that some Emiratis must defer marriage, More progress is essential, an Arabic-language writer says. Other topics today: Europe's empty talk, and what Robert Bales deserves

Emirati jobless rate has become truly serious and yet some companies still ignore the law

"Just how many Emiratis are unemployed in the United Arab Emirates? Figures circulating on the web may not reflect the reality, so let's presume that the figure declared by the ministry of economy, which is 43,000 Emiratis, is the correct one," wrote Mohammed Salman Al Aboodi, of UAE University, in yesterday's edition of the Dubai-based newspaper Al Bayan.

"Does it stand to reason that such a huge number of Emiratis do not have a job?" he asked. "Are we aware of how serious this situation is? Or has this whole matter become all too commonplace?"

The truth is that the issue of unemployment among Emiratis has become so serious that it might cause "a regression in economic, social and cultural development in the country, not to mention the security aspect of it," the writer said.

"We can't consider economic growth that is dependent on a dense foreign workforce to be real," he noted.

"For that growth is of the fake kind; it might stop at any moment, given that all the savings of foreign workers go to their native countries."

And that is just one "devastating consequence" of the high rate of unemployment among Emiratis, the writer added.

"Another devastating consequence in the long term has to do with demographic growth. Our young, who account for a large segment of the unemployed, are reluctant to take the risk of starting a family" because of job uncertainty.

Many young Emiratis now prefer to postpone marriage until they land a job. "I'm not sure if the ministries of labour and social affairs have the exact numbers of those who miss out on marriage just because of unemployment," the writer went on.

"As a result, the disaster known as the 'demographic imbalance' in the UAE keeps snowballing into a more complicated issue, while foreign recruitment trends remain on a steady upwards curve. In fact, the low Emirati share in the work force has become an embarrassment."

The UAE does not impose exorbitant taxes on foreign businesses; all it does is require that a small percentage of the workforce in those institutions be Emirati, in order to alleviate the strain on the public sector. But that policy cannot have any effective when foreign businesses intentionally fail to comply with these directives, and go unpunished.

Making matters worse, a significant number of government jobs are still taken by expatriates.

"Yet there are unemployed Emiratis who are more than eligible for those jobs," the writer said.

"Do we ever take the time to think about what an unemployed Emirati might feel when he sees an expatriate worker showing off a luxury car … dining at the best hotels and living in one of the most splendid villas on the Palm Islands?" the writer asked.

Empty European talk about Palestinian state

The recent statement about the need to establish a Palestinian state, made by Catherine Ashton, the European Union's foreign affairs commissioner, is old news, said an editorial in the West Bank newspaper Al Quds yesterday.

Talk about "the responsibility of both parties to achieve that goal" has become the standard diplomatic phrase, repeated by all European officials whenever the Palestinian question is raised, the newspaper said.

This verbal endorsement of the Palestinian people's right to an independent state "will have no significant effect as long as it is not coupled with concrete progress on the ground". In broad daylight, Israel is continuing its settlement expansion into the West Bank and Eastern Jerusalem - territories that are supposed to become part of the prospective Palestinian state.

"The inability of the international community … to rein in Israeli settlement expansion makes all talk about a Palestinian state irrelevant."

There are currently more than half a million Israeli settlers living inside the West Bank. The presence and growth of these settlements makes it impossible to conceive of a geographically connected and liveable Palestine.

Meanwhile, it remains a complete wonder why modern western nations, supposed champions of peoples' right to self-determination, still fail to confront Israel with the wrong it has been doing for decades.

US soldier 'deserves the death sentence'

Robert Bales, the US staff sergeant who killed 16 Afghan villagers last week, may have been under stress, temporarily insane or carried away by racial anger, but it doesn't matter: the gravity of his crime must alone determine the punishment, columnist Mazen Hammad wrote in yesterday's edition of the Qatari newspaper Al Watan.

Sgt Bales's lawyers are already trying out various justifications for their client's heinous crime, the columnist said. But what exactly are they trying to defend? Not only did he murder 16 innocent Afghan civilians in the dead of night, but he "took the time to slaughter nine children among them".

"In light of this, there is no room to eschew the fitting judicial punishment against Bales … which is the death sentence."

Some reports said Sgt Bales had been drinking; other reports suggested he had seen the leg of one of his comrades amputated.

Whatever the case, grieving Afghan families in Kandahar and the Afghan people at large want to see justice done.

The best chance for Sgt Bales's lawyers is to claim their client was mentally unstable due to war stress. But no one will buy that, the columnist said. If there is anyone who must be suffering from post-traumatic stress, it is the Afghan people.

* Digest compiled by Achraf El Bahi