Iraq says no coordination yet with Coalition over Kurdish forces deployment on Syria borders

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Baghdad ( The Iraqi Defense Ministry has said that no coordination with the U.S.-led Coalition was made over the new Kurdish forces that will be deployed on borders with Syria.

Speaking to the Russian Sputnik agency, the Defense Ministry’s head of media office Maj. Gen. Tahseen al-Khafaji, “so far, there is no coordination between the Coalition and the ministry over this issue.

The ministry, according to Khafaji, “deals with the coalition not with the countries, adding that the coalition “offered Iraq training and aid to eradicate the terrorist groups.” Thus, “the cooperation is with the coalition directly and not with any other force.”

Regarding further aid from NATO, Khafaji said that Iraq is in need for training to boost its capabilities. “The aid from NATO is mulled. Part of the aid is offered by the coalition, which is part of the NATO. We have coordination with both the coalition and the NATO as well as any other country that is part of NATO.

Earlier this week, the coalition said it works on forming a force of 30,000 personnel to protect regions that are under control of the Syrian Democratic Forces, northeast of Syria. The troops will deployed along the borders with Turkey in the north, Iraq in the east as well as along Euphrates River, which separates between SDF and the Syrian army.


Source :  Iraqi News

Soldier killed, two others injured in shootout in Basra

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 Iraqi soldiers carry weapons during an operation against Islamic State militants in the neighbourhood of Intisar, eastern Mosul, Iraq, December 5, 2016. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani

Basra ( A soldier was killed, while two others were wounded in a shootout as military troops carried out a security operation, north of Basra, a security source said on Wednesday.

“Military force launched an operation in a region in al-Qurna town,” the source told AlSumaria News adding that “confrontations left a soldier killed and two others injured.

“Other troops cordoned off the region in the wake of the incidents and imposed security operations,” the source, who asked to remain anonymous, added.

According to the monthly release by the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), a total of 69 civilians, excluding police personnel, were killed, while 142 others were wounded in December due to acts of terrorism, violence and armed conflict across the country.

The worst affected province was Baghdad with 122 civilian casualties (24 killed, 98 injured). Salahuddin ranked the second place, with 7 killed and 25 injured, then Kirkuk came third with 15 killed and 6 injured.
The figures saw a significant decline from November’s which reached a total of 117 Iraqi civilians killed and another 264 injured.
3298 civilians were killed and 4781 others were wounded in 2017, excluding Anbar civilian casualty figures for November and December, which are not available, the report added.

Source :  Iraqi News

Women in UAE may not work after 10 pm, except when…

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Ashish Mehta /Dubai
Filed on January 17, 2018 | Last updated on January 17, 2018 at 07.15 am

Here are the norms for women working on night shift

I work for a free zone company and have completed a year out of a 2-year unlimited contract. At this point, the employer is trying to force us to sign a paper on which we agree to work on night shifts. This request was not included in our contract or offer letter.

My question is, can the company change the terms of contract midway? And, does the labour law apply here where it is stated that women cannot work after 10pm?


You have not stated in which free zone you are located in. Certain free zones have their own regulations pertaining to employees and others follow the Federal Law No. 8 of 1980 of UAE (the “Employment Law). It is assumed that you fall within the authority of the Employment Law.

Article 27 and Article 28 of the Employment Law deals with employment of women and night shifts, which reads as:

“Women may not be required to work at night. The term ‘night’ means a period of not less than 11 consecutive hours from 10pm to 7am.”

However, Article 28 provides for an exception to the forgoing

“The following cases shall be excepted from the clause prohibiting women to work at night.

a)    In the event where the work in the establishment is stopped due to force majeure.

b)    Work in responsible managerial and technical jobs.

c)    Work in medical and other services as may be decided by the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs if the working woman does not normally carry out a manual job.”

On perusal of the forgoing, it can be stated that unless you fall within the aforementioned exception or in the event that you sign the amendment to your labour contract you may not work in the night shift. It is recommended that, if you are being forced/coerced into signing an amended terms employment contract you should contact the relevant authority at the free zone for the purposes of a resolution between you and the employer.

Visa renewal and criminal case

A criminal case has been filed against me, a case in which my boss is also involved. As of now my passport is in police custody in Dubai, and my residence visa is expiring next month. What should I do now? What are the options open to me?

It appears that you are released on bail by the public prosecution which has, in turn, retained your passport. Your passport will be in custody of the public prosecution at least until investigations are complete and you are found not guilty of a crime. In that case, the public prosecution will acquit you from the said complaint and will release your passport through the police station concerned. However, if your passport continues to be held, you could file an application with the public prosecution to arrange for presentation of your passport at the office of the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs, for renewal of your visa.


Ashish Mehta is the founder and Managing Partner of Ashish Mehta & Associates. He is qualified to practise law in Dubai, the United Kingdom, Singapore and India. Full details of his firm on: Readers may e-mail their questions to: or send them to Legal View, Khaleej Times, PO Box 11243, Dubai.


Source :  The Khaleej Times

Four Dubai expats face trial for offering bribe to get bank loans

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Marie Nammour/Dubai
Filed on January 18, 2018 | Last updated on January 18, 2018 at 12.30 am
The case dates back to February 10, 2017.- Alamy Image

They also allegedly submitted forged papers, including a salary certificate.

Four men, who allegedly offered a bribe to a bank employee for getting them approval on loans from his administration, have been charged in a Dubai court.

Public prosecution records show the four men, two Pakistanis and two Indians, aged between 28 and 45, offered the bank employee 10 per cent of the bank facilities and loans he would help get approved by his administration. They also allegedly submitted forged papers, including a salary certificate falsely stating that one of them – a Pakistani – was working as a sales executive and earning Dh22,500 as monthly salary.

They also allegedly forged and used other documents that included a forged copy of a bank statement, a forged copy of an Emirates resident ID and a passport with a forged residence visa copy. They were all charged in the Court of First Instance with offering a bribe to a public employee in exchange for unlawful favours, forgery and use of forged documents.

The case dates back to February 10, 2017, and the attempted fraud was reported to Al Muraqqabat police station on March 1, 2017.

The first Pakistani defendant admitted to investigators to the attempted fraud and forgery charges. He confessed he contacted a friend (a runaway accomplice), telling him he had been facing financial troubles after he lost his job. The latter then told him he knew some people in banks and could obtain bank loans with forged papers. He then introduced him to the other accused.

That friend then applied for a loan and managed to get a loan of Dh40,000, out of which the main defendant got Dh30,000. They applied for other loans for three more times and obtained them by submitting forged papers to banks and split the money. The trial has been adjourned to February 7.

 Source :  The Khaleej Times

Epic petrol-free road trip starts January 18

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Angel Tesorero /Dubai/Abu Dhabi
Filed on January 17, 2018 | Last updated on January 18, 2018 at 12.12 am

The electric vehicle road trip aims to showcase the region’s efforts to promote sustainability

Ten electric vehicles (EV) will go on an epic 1,217km, nine-day road trip across the UAE and Oman – without using a single drop of petrol – beginning today until January 26 – to push for the acceleration of EV adoption in the country and the region.

Traversing stunning desert landscapes, twisting mountain roads and picturesque coastal drives, this is the second time that Electric Vehicle Road Trip (EVRT) will take place.

The kick off will be at the ongoing World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi where EV ‘road trippers’ will set off for a 270km drive to Oman, passing through Al Ain before arriving in Sohar after approximately three hours on the road, on a full battery charge. From Oman, the convoy will also pass through Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, Umm Al Quwain, Ajman and Sharjah before reaching its final destination at the Sustainable City in Dubai on January 26.

Organisers said the objective of the EVRT is to showcase the region’s efforts to promote sustainability and offer the public the chance to test the EVs for themselves during pit stops.

Ben Pullen, co-founder and managing director of Global EVRT, told Khaleej Times: “There are a number of reasons why the EVRT Middle East is important, but we can drill them down to two – first is the bigger picture, and something the UAE government has been working tirelessly to promote and adopt, which is to transition our mobility options to lower carbon and polluting options – something the whole world should be thinking about.

“The second is a real need to raise awareness and educate the market on these options and the technology behind these solutions, which are making huge leaps and are applicable to real world, real life scenarios.

“We’re now at a point where almost all of us can use an electric vehicle in everyday use and this is something that we’ll hopefully soon see spilling over into public transport,” he added.

Pullen said: “we aim to expand and accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles even further through our events, aligning with the inspiring sustainability initiatives of the UAE government.”

Debunking the myths over EVs, Pullen said: “We recommend the public to definitely try out the EVs. Experiencing the technology is the perfect way to fully appreciate its capabilities and how it is shaping the future of transport.”

He said there are public testing days in Abu Dhabi, Fujairah, Ras al Khaimah and Dubai.

“The journey promises to be nine days of fun, educational and inspiring moments and activities that will not only clear up any misunderstanding amongst consumers about what these EVs are capable of, but also to showcase the natural beauty of this region,” he added.

“Driving an electric vehicle is the ideal way to discover the technology that is shaping the transport needs of tomorrow. By establishing a network of charging stations across the 1,217km route, the EVRT Middle East will demonstrate just how capable these vehicles are and how they are a real, practical, and fun option for car buyers today,” Pullen added.


Source :  The Khaleej Times

Call for answers as ATO reveals it was hit by 22 IT outages in two years

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JANUARY 18 2018 – 12:00AM

Doug Dingwall

More than 20 outages have hit the Tax Office’s IT systems in two years, prompting calls for the Coalition to stop further tech failures at the agency.

The Australian Taxation Office has told senators six incidents downed parts of its IT in 2016 before a massive outage that barred tax professionals from all of its systems for multiple days in December that year.

While the agency had previously revealed it was plagued by 10 outages in 2017, including another major, two-day tech failure in February, the ATO said in a response to a Senate estimates question on notice a further five outages troubled its systems that year.

Four of its 22 outages since 2016 stopped tax professionals reaching all of its systems, including one lasting 3.5 hours and another ending after two hours in July 2017, while other IT failures lasted from 30 minutes to eight hours.

The ATO detailed its tech problems after releasing a PricewaterhouseCoopers report last month that found the agency was unprepared for the failures hitting its systems in December 2016.

 A spokeswoman said the report only related to its largest two outages, and that the Tax Office was following the recommendations it made.

Other outages had different causes, including hardware or operational problems, which had been addressed, she said.

Brisbane to Sunshine Coast in 45 minutes under new rail proposal

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By Jorge Branco

Forty-five minute train trips between Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast are being touted in a proposal pushing for billions of dollars in federal government rail funding.

The North Coast Connect project would see the long-awaited duplication of the line between Beerburrum and Nambour and add a new rail spur connecting the region’s main coastal hubs to Brisbane for the first time.

The proposal would need to run significantly faster trains.

The proposal would need to run significantly faster trains. Photo: Rob Homer

It has been put together by a 26-member LNP political bloc dubbed Team Queensland, to be delivered by a consortium including development giants Stockland, Smec, Urbis and KPMG, according to Sunshine Coast MP Ted O’Brien.

The Member for Fairfax said the project was one of 11 shortlisted for a share in $20 million of federal funding to develop a business case, with three winners to be chosen within a month.

“I don’t think there is any greater game changer for the regions of Moreton Bay and the Sunshine Coast than fast rail,” he said, calling on Labor MPs, state and local governments to form a “unity ticket” behind the proposal.

A state government spokesman welcomed the proposal but called for more detail.

“What the LNP need to understand is that none of these proposed new rail lines will work without Cross River Rail to open up the network,” he said.

“The only way extra capacity on the Sunshine Coast can work is if there are no bottlenecks further down the line.”

The Turnbull government made $10 billion available for National Rail Program funding last year, prompting a pledge from “Team Queensland” to secure as much of it as possible for the Sunshine state.

Mr O’Brien was hesitant to name a total cost for North Coast Connect at such an early stage but suggested it could be in the ballpark of $5 billion, “give or take one or two billion”.

The proposal was the only Queensland project to remain in the running for the business case funding, which the MPs hoped to use to press their case for NRP funds.

To achieve a 45-minute trip between Nambour and Brisbane, or 30 minutes from Beerwah, trains would need to be able to travel between 150km/h and 200kmh/h, far in excess of current average speeds, Mr O’Brien said.

That would mean the rail line from Brisbane to Beerburrum would need upgrading, along with significant changes to rail alignments in the Beerburrum to Nambour Rail Upgrade Project.

The new 40-kilometre rail spur would connect the Sunshine Coast Airport, Mooloolaba, Maroochydore’s new town centre, Kawana, Caloundra and the Aura mega development at Caloundra south, Mr O’Brien said.

“Duplication of the Beerburrum to Nambour rail line has been a high priority and the need to improve commuter travel to Brisbane is a no-brainer.  Well, right now we have the opportunity to pursue an even better solution,” he said.

Minister for Urban Infrastructure Paul Fletcher, who is expected to announce funding next week, said the business cases should demonstrate faster rail travel times through new or upgraded rail infrastructure.

“In addition, business cases must outline initiatives that will increase housing choices by opening up regional areas, encourage job and career opportunities, and improve access to specialist services for people in regional areas, as well as major events,” he said.

Mr O’Brien said the proposal could revitalise Sunshine Coast hinterland rail towns but admitted the fast trips would only be possible on express services.

“I’m fairly confident but, I’ve been involved in so many commercial transactions over the years that it’s silly to be overly confident,” he said of next month’s funding announcement.

“There’s some way to go yet.

“There’s always a risk, coming out making very clear of your intent before you’ve got any deal signed and sealed but I think it’s necessary to test the pulse of the community.”


Source :  The Brisbane Times

Most don’t care when Australia Day is held , polls find

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 Adam Gartrell

A majority of voters would not mind if Australia Day was shifted to a different date and most don’t know why it’s currently held on January 26.

New polling also reveals that only about a third of Australians – 37 per cent – realise the date is offensive to many Indigenous people because it represents the beginning of the dispossession and violence of British colonisation.

As the political and community debate about the “change the date” movement continues to intensify, the Research Now survey of 1417 people suggests nearly all Australians – 84 per cent – think it is important the country has a national day of celebration.

But 56 per cent say they don’t mind when the day occurs, challenging the notion that Australians see January 26 as sacred or untouchable.

The polling also reveals 77 per cent of people believe – incorrectly – that the celebration has always occurred on January 26, the date the First Fleet planted the flag in NSW in 1788.

The date was in fact not adopted by all states until 1935, and has only been celebrated in its current form since 1994.

The polling commissioned by the progressive Australia Institute think tank was conducted among a nationally representative sample in December.

“This polling shows that while Australia Day is important to most Australians, most people are laid back about the date we celebrate on,” said deputy director Ebony Bennett.

Given 11 multiple choice options, 38 per cent correctly identified the event January 26 marks. And just under half knew it had anything to do with the First Fleet at all.

Others believed it marked the day Captain Cook first sighted Australia, the day the constitution was signed or the day Australia became independent.

Four per cent of people linked the date to events that have not actually happened, including becoming a republic or signing a treaty with Aboriginal Australia.

Asked to nominate what date would be the best to celebrate Australia Day, 70 per cent preferred a date not associated with the First Fleet. And fewer than a quarter (23 per cent) selected the landing in Sydney Cove as the best of a range of options.

Only 37 per cent of people agreed the current date was offensive to Indigenous people, even though many Indigenous leaders have long been calling for change. Nearly half of people – 46 per cent – disagreed the date was problematic.

Asked if Australia Day should not be on a day that is hurtful to Aboriginal people, 49 per cent agreed and 36 per cent disagreed.

The polling came as Indigenous Labor MP Linda Burney said January 26 was “extremely painful” for many first Australians and represented “an attack on sovereignty” – although Labor does not support a change to the date.

Ms Burney wants a renewed focus on constitutional recognition and is advocating for a national public holiday to recognise first Australians.

She also criticised the increasing “jingoism” creeping into Australia Day.

“I don’t think it makes you any more Australian if you wrap a flag around you and tattoo the Southern Cross on your neck,” she told ABC radio.

But Ms Burney – a shadow minister and the first Indigenous woman elected to Federal Parliament’s lower house – also criticised the Greens, saying its new campaign to change the date “could end up being more divisive than helpful”.

This year’s Australia Day debate kicked off in earnest earlier this week after Greens leader Richard Di Natale announced a new campaign for change, signalling it would be one of his party’s top priorities in 2018.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the Greens had become “a parody of themselves”.

“Australia Day is a day on which the overwhelming majority of Australians – all but a handful – are proud of Australia and its achievements,” he told 2GB radio.


Source :  WA Today

Saudi tender invites private firms to build 60 schools

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Saudi elementary students sitting for an exam in Jeddah. — Reuters file photo

Riyadh — Saudi Arabia’s Education Ministry announced on Wednesday a tender for private companies to build and maintain 60 schools, as part of economic reforms designed to ease pressure on the state’s finances.

Tatweer Buildings Co (TBC), a state-owned corporation that manages projects, said the winning bidder would be awarded a long-term concession to design, build, finance and maintain facilities for 60 schools in Jeddah and Makkah, from kindergartens to secondary schools.

The upcoming tender, the first in a series, is for a public-private partnership (PPP) in which a private firm or consortium would be paid to build and then operate facilities over a period, before they were eventually transferred to the state.

Potential bidders are requested to express interest by Feb. 7, TBC said, adding that it would soon hold a conference in Riyadh for property developers, investors and financial institutions, as well as legal and technical professionals.

Under reforms announced in 2016, Saudi Arabia plans to use PPPs to give responsibility for building and operating much of its infrastructure, including school and hospital buildings and airports, to local and foreign companies, creating tens of billions of dollars of business opportunities.

As one of the very first Saudi PPPs, the TBC project could help to determine this strategy’s success or failure in coming years, and the level of foreign investor interest.

Officials have said they will permit foreign investors to take 100 percent ownership of companies and facilities in the health and education sectors, with ministries becoming pure regulators rather than service providers. — Reuters

Source :  Saudi Gazette

Yemeni currency soars 15% against dollar after Saudi $2 billion deposit

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SANA’A –The price of the Yemeni currency rial jumped about 15 percent against the US dollar on Wednesday after the announcement by the Kingdom $2 billion will be deposited in the central bank of Yemen.

Meanwhile, the Central Bank of Yemen said that it received confirmation that the Saudi government had deposited $2 billion in its foreign accounts, hours after the directives by King Salman.

Monasser Al-Quaiti, governor of the bank, said the central bank will move towards strengthening the commercial banks to manage their domestic and foreign banking operations from their headquarters in Aden in addition to regulate and control the foreign exchange market.


Source :  Saudi Gazette