x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

A scorned people, a ticking-bomb

The Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak has been watching his country on fire and saw the wrath in the eyes of the young protesters over the past several days, yet his response was slow and inadequate.

"It's hard to understand why Arab leaders insist on spending the rest of their lives in exile carrying around the title of 'ousted president', instead of settling for the status of the 'former president' who lives long and well in his country amid his own people," commented Abdelbari Atwan, the editor-in-chief of the pan-Arab daily Al Quds al Arabi, in his front-page column.

The Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak has been watching his country on fire and saw the wrath in the eyes of the young protesters over the past several days, yet his response was slow and inadequate.

It appears that Mr Mubarak, like other Arab leaders, has not learned the lesson from the Tunisian revolution. Evidence of this "political illiteracy" is made clear by the blocking of social networking websites and cutting off mobile phone coverage.

Mr Mubarak's three-decade regime has committed irreparable mistakes, the gravest of which was holding the Egyptian people in contempt, considering them a sclerotic and impotent bunch who wouldn't budge however painful the scourge of repression.

The other big mistake was disenfranchising political parties and rigging elections in the crudest of ways. Would it really have been that bad if the opposition had a fair representation in parliament?

Now Egypt is on the cusp of a new status, a new role, a new day.

A history of the world's best online revolutions

The Filipinos have arguably been the first to make intensive use of Internet tools for protest coordination purposes, according to Saad Mehio, a columnist with the Emirati newspaper Al Khaleej.

In January 17, 2001, two hours after the Filipino parliament acquitted the then-president Joseph Estrada of corruption charges, Filipino citizens exchanged around seven million emails calling for street protests. The result: one million protesters flooded the streets of Manila pushing Mr Estrada out of office.

Then, there was Spain in 2004. Protests coordinated by mass email exchanges brought down Jose Maria Aznar's government.

Then, only last year, the Catholic Church faced the toughest image crisis in its history when people around the world started posting pictures and accounts of sexual molestation committed by church priests against children and women.

"This said, the use of modern social media does not always guarantee victory for the people in revolt. Remember the 2006 protests in Russia, the insurrection of the Green Movement in Iran in 2009, and the uprising of the Red Shirts in Thailand in 2010, among others," the columnist wrote.

All in all, even if some revolutions fail, people will have this incisive technological weapon, which makes up for the growing futility of party politics.

 

Developments in Egypt demand more caution

"Egyptians have the right to demand whatever they want from their government, even if those demands have a bearing on the government or the president," wrote Tariq al Homayed, the editor-in-chief of the London-based newspaper Asharq al Awsat. That said, so much is happening so fast in Egypt, and caution must be observed.

Here's the "knife-and-fork" activist coming back, without shame, to lead Egypt through a so-called transitional period. And here are the Muslim Brotherhood joining the fray, wanting to capitalise on the struggle.

Obviously the chaos is huge domestically, but it is internationally as well. "We are witness to an unheard of level hypocrisy - with Americans topping the list," the editor said. "Washington came out with about 10 conflicting statements in 24 hours, now declaring neutrality, then calling for reforms, as if reforms happen in one day."

Britain has its share of hypocrisy too. As it issues advisory statements, Britain should be reminded of its heavy-handed containment of the recent student protests in London. In fact, police are still persecuting those who tossed eggs at Prince Charles' car.

The point is, the Egyptian people's demands are perfectly legitimate; they deserve a corruption-free government and decent living standards. "But we mustn't torch our nations … it only takes us backwards," the editor warned.

Effective Emiratisation key strategic goal

Emiratisation is a strategic development goal for the UAE; that is why the state allocates the necessary funds to help its institutions lay the legal grounds for the attainment of Emiratisation objectives, according to an article published by the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR) in the opinion section of the Abu Dhabi-based newspaper Al Ittihad.

The main goal of Emiratisation is to counter the issue of unemployment among Emiratis and remedy the inherent imbalance in the local labour market. "At a time when the labour market is fraught with a wide range of job opportunities that attract candidates from all nationalities, the rate of unemployment among Emiratis stands at about 13 per cent, according to estimates from the National Human Resource Development and Employment Authority," the ECSSR said.

This figure is a function of a number of factors, but it points to a growing laxity in the application of Emiratisation guidelines.

To counter this trend, the ministry of labour has declared its intention to impose financial and administrative sanctions on private institutions that do not observe Emiratisation policy. For Emiratisation to succeed, the aspirations of private companies and Emirati candidates must overlap.

* Digest compiled by Achraf A El Bahi

AElBahi@thenational.ae