x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Aid to Yemen should go to development

It is in the interest of the people that foreign assistance should directly finance programmes in public health, education and job training.

"Yemen is cracking down in more than one direction: the Houthis' rebellion, the al Qa'eda rising, the separatist movement, drug and weapon smuggling, and many more ills. The latest conference in London tried to broach these issues," wrote Hamad al Majed in a comment piece for the London-based newspaper Al Sharq al Awsat. It is known that the West has grown interested in helping Yemen mainly because of al Qa'eda, which has found in this country all the elements of survival and empowerment: a favourable physical geography and social environment. For al Qa'eda, Yemen is a strategic haven at the centre of one of the world's great hotspot regions.

The other challenge facing Yemen is a dwindling nationalist sense of belonging among the majority of Yemenis, especially its youth. The intellectual and political elites are no better. They are involved in an endless fight for more influence and immediate gains. This is seen in the chaotic way the government has managed the fight with the Houthis.  Arab countries need to understand that financial aid geared towards the political or tribal leadership is less likely to better the living conditions of most Yemenis. With a weak government, it is in the interest of the people that foreign assistance should directly finance development programmes in public health, education and job training. 

Three points haunt observers of debates among various Darfur movements: legitimacy, the negotiations agenda with the Sudanese government, and the identification of real political rivals, Ahmad Amrabi wrote in an opinion piece for the Qatari newspaper Al Watan. However, prime among these concerns relates to the legitimacy of the Darfur political forces to represent the province's population. The Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), for example, claims the privilege to be the unique defender of the rights of Darfur's people and considers its rival forces as marginal and with no popular base. JEM argues that it s the only movement with an effective military presence. Therefore, it has the right to engage unilaterally in talks with the central government. In this process, other Darfur factions should remain subordinate.

To test the validity of JEM's claim, it is worth referring to its tribal origin. The movement belongs to the Al Zaghawa tribe, one of 80 that make up the Darfur population. It is neither the largest in size, nor exclusive to Darfur: two thirds of its members actually live in neighbouring Chad. Relying on tribal affiliation, coupled with JEM's attitude excluding other major components of Darfur population, prompts an open question: who is likely to represent the population of Darfur as a whole? 

Those who firmly believe in teaching in the medium of the English language and maintain that it should be a requirement before gaining a job are totally wrong, Abdul Aziz al Samari wrote in an opinion piece for the Saudi newspaper Al Jazira. "Requiring proficiency in a foreign language as a condition to obtain a job in this country is against the most basic principles of nationalism, although it is acceptable to impose it in some very specialised occupational contexts."

It is certainly unacceptable to enforce this requirement in a general working environment for companies, factories, banks, airlines and government departments. Moreover, it is scientifically proven that no adult learner can reach a native speaker's fluency in the target foreign language, no matter what. Foreign language requirements thwart many Saudi job seekers from winning jobs in the public and private sectors, and it turns out to be an excuse to bring in more expatriate workers. Thus, employees are evaluated more on the basis of their proficiency in the English language, which nurtures a feeling of inferiority among those who can solely master their mother tongue in an occupational setting. In other words, the competence of the employee is summed up in one skill area: communicating in a foreign language

"The Federal Human Resources Authority announced it would issue an new organisational structure detailing federal job titles with the aim of creating a unified structure of federal institutions," wrote Maysa Rashed al Ghadeer in an opinion piece for the UAE newspaper Al Bayan. "This step will imply, among other things, an evaluation of staff performance."

This decision came after the federal law concerning human resources was approved, which is a very welcome move that needs to be enforced immediately. This is because many federal institutions still have a very archaic system of human resources management, which barely reflects what the UAE has achieved in many areas. It is no exaggeration to say that many federal departments are still following a system that is unreliable as a tool for enhancing the competence of their personnel or for evaluating their performance.

"What is important here is not to cry over the past but to look forward to the future and see the Government moving successfully through all obstacles and correcting all the irregularities that have affected the federal and local organisational structure. This way, development and evaluation of federal human resources will be undertaken more systematically, which will benefit all parties concerned."

* Digest compiled by Mostapha Elmouloudi @Email:melmouloudi@thenational.ae