Evacuation of Syrian Homs rebels delayed: governor

25/03/2017 (Daily Star – Lebanon): BEIRUT: The second phase of an evacuation of Syrian rebels in Homs as part of a deal to surrender the city’s last insurgent pocket of al-Waer to the government has been delayed until Monday, a senior official and a war monitor said Saturday. Homs Province governor Talal Barazi was cited by city officials in a message to Reuters as saying the operation would continue Monday after having earlier said it would go ahead as planned Saturday. The war monitor said the evacuation was being postponed because of the fighting that began Tuesday in Hama province between rebels and the army…



Ancient sarcophagus to be returned to Turkey nearly 60 years after it was stolen

Ancient sarcophagus to be returned to Turkey nearly 60 years after it was stolen25/03/2017 (Sabah – Turkey): An ancient sarcophagus smuggled out of Turkey in the 1960s could soon be on its way home after a decision from Swiss prosecutors on Friday. Speaking at a press conference in the capital Ankara, Turkish Tourism Minister Nabi Avcı said final legal objections to the ancient artefact’s repatriation had been overcome. The sarcophagus, which depicts the Twelve Labors of Hercules and was smuggled out of southern Turkey’s ancient Anatolian city of Perge in the 1960s, is expected to be back in the country shortly. The item had been confiscated by Swiss authorities in 2010. However, Geneva prosecutors decided on Friday the sarcophagus should be returned. Speaking at a news conference, Avcı said a comprehensive joint study had been carried out by legal experts in Switzerland and Turkey over the issue…



Dubai Holding launches Youth Council to empower youth and develop future leaders

25/03/2017 (Emirates 24/7 – UAE): Dubai Holding, the global investment holding company, today announced the launch of its dedicated Youth Council, which has been formed to empower young people across the organisation while seeking to capture their unique talents and voices. Open to Dubai Holding staff aged 21 through 30 years, the Dubai Holding Youth Council has been designed to create a bridge between younger employees and the Group’s executive management, while empowering them to lead corporate social responsibility initiatives in line with the goals of the Government of Dubai. The Council was inaugurated by Her Excellency Shamma bint Sohail Al Mazrui, the UAE’s Minster of State for Youth Affairs…



Tunisia drafting bill to spur investment

25/03/2017 (Arab News – KSA): TUNIS: Tunisia is drafting an “economic emergency” bill that will allow the government to bypass bureaucratic hurdles and speed up large-scale projects as it seeks to boost growth and create jobs, a senior official said. Administrative delays and bureaucracy are one of the biggest obstacles for local and foreign investors in Tunisia, which has struggled economically since its 2011 uprising. Last June, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) released the first tranche of a loan worth $320 million. The move comes amid increasing pressure from international lenders to reform the state sector and cut a bloated public sector wage bill. “In two or three weeks the Parliament will start debates on a new ‘economic emergency’ bill aimed at reducing the obstacles on major projects,” Ridha Saidi, an economic adviser to Prime Minister Youssef Chahed, told Reuters…



EU leaders celebrate 60th anniversary of Treaty of Rome

EU leaders celebrate 60th anniversary of Treaty of Rome25/03/2017 (Anadolu Agency – Turkey): The leaders of 27 EU countries have gathered in Rome Saturday to mark the 60th anniversary of the founding Treaty of Rome Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni hosts the summit, which takes place at the Renaissance-era palace on the Capitoline Hill, where the founding six European members signed the Treaty of Rome. The EU leaders of the attending countries are expected to adopt a declaration of intent for the upcoming decade. Britain, whıch is to leave the EU, will not attend the summit. On March 25, 1957, representatives of Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands signed the Treaties of Rome which laid the foundations for the EU…



The five scenarios on the future of Europe

25/03/2017 (Al Arabiya news – UAE by Ibrahim Al-Othaimin*): The presentation of a white paper on the future of Europe by the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, in the European Parliament on March 1 provoked a heated debate in Brussels. The paper represents a constitutional reform blueprint aiming at EU unity after Britain leaves. The 32-page-long proposal includes five scenarios laid out before the EU leaders for discussion during the upcoming EU summit to be held in Rome on March 25 (Saturday). The summit coincides with the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, signed in 1975, which led to the creation of the EU. The first of the five scenarios suggests that the EU should “carry on” its course with minor changes. Such changes include deepening the EU’s single market, pooling certain military capabilities, and speaking with one voice regarding foreign affairs. Most other issues, including border control, remain at the discretion of each individual member state.


*Ibrahim Al-Othaimin is a Middle East affairs specialist and security analyst based in Riyadh.


China, Saudi Arabia sign landmark $65 billion deal to boost economic ties

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (2-R) meets with Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud (2-L) at Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, March 17, 2017. (EPA Photo)18/03/2017 (Sabah – Turkey): Saudi Arabia’s King Salman met with China’s premier on Friday, a day after the two nations signed a memorandum of understanding on investment cooperation valued at $65 billion. The landmark agreement aims to boost joint efforts in fields including energy, investment, finance, culture and aerospace, part of Saudi Arabia’s drive to develop a growth strategy less dependent on oil. Beijing meanwhile is rolling out a massive trade and investment initiative across Central Asia and the Middle East called “One Belt, One Road” that sees the desert kingdom as a regional linchpin. Despite the eye-catching sum noted in the memo, the actual value of such commitments is usually much smaller once projects begin…



Thousands of artworks on display in Ankara

18/03/2017 (Hurriyet – Turkey):The third international ArtAnkara Contemporary Art Fair is set to be held between March 16 and 19 at the ATO Congresium Congress and Exhibition Hall in Turkey’s capital Ankara, featuring artworks by 600 artists from around the world. The fair, covering an area of 10,000 square meters, will showcase the newest works of Turkish and international contemporary art to visitors.  The number of international guests attending the fair has been increasing every year, as it becomes a platform for art curators to exchange ideas. This year, the fair will host artists from countries including Germany, Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, South Korea, France, Switzerland, Italy, the U.K., Iran, Georgia, Russia, Philippines, Lichtenstein, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine and Greece…



Sheikh Mohammed visits GESS Exhibition at Dubai World Trade Centre

18/03/2017 (Emirates 24/7 – UAE): Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, visited the Global Education Supplies and Solutions Exhibition (GESS), organised by the Ministry of Education, at the Dubai World Trade Centre on Thursday morning. His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid visited more than 500 public and private sector pavilions of 30 countries including the UAE. He was accompanied by H.H. Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Dubai Civil Aviation Authority President and Chief Executive of the Emirates Airline Group; Mohammad bin Abdullah Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs and The Future; Hussain bin Ibrahim Al Hammadi, Minister of Education; Jameela bint Salem Al Muhairi, Minister of State for Public Education; and Khalifa Saeed Sulaiman, Director-General of Dubai’s Protocol Department…