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Middle East Edition
11th June 2021
Kuwait prohibits employment of foreigners in government jobs
Kuwait is blocking the hiring of foreigners for government jobs as the country seeks to create employment opportunities for its own citizens. Al Qabas newspaper has reported that the country's Civil Service Commission has rebuffed requests from some government agencies to hire non-Kuwaitis, and has also nominated Kuwaiti candidates for the roles being offered in those agencies. “Non-Kuwaitis' appointments are confined to medical workers and teachers in specialties where there are no citizens to fill,” a source said. Gulf News notes growing calls in recent months for curbing foreigners' employment amid claims that migrant workers have put pressure on local infrastructure facilities.
20k Saudi female employees register for Wusool program in seven months
As many as 20,000 female employees in Saudi Arabia have registered with the Wusool transportation program for working women in the seven months to May this year, following amendments to the mechanism and requirements of the program. The program, which is affiliated with the Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF), seeks to reduce commuting costs for Saudi female workers in the private sector.
Turkey's unemployment rate increases to 13.9% in April
The rate of joblessness in Turkey reached 13.9% in April, up 0.9 percentage points from the previous month, according to data released by the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat). A seasonally adjusted measure of labour underutilisation rose to 27.4% from 25.7% a month earlier. The number of unemployed people aged 15 and over increased 275,000 month-on-month to 4.5 million in April, the data showed.
Saudi Arabia reiterates warnings over insider trading
Authorities in Saudi Arabia have reiterated a warning against insider trading. The Saudi Public Prosecution said the rules are designed to encourage transparency in the trading of securities, and a breach is a criminal matter. Saudi-based legal consultant Rabih Joudi observed: “This will raise penal responsibility for those who intentionally or negligently disclose confidential information on a company, even if they do not work in the company and are not bound by contract with the company, but they got such information from a relative or friend who works in the company or is bound by obligation of confidentiality toward the company.”
New law allows Saudi women to live alone
A new legislative amendment in Saudi Arabia allows unmarried, divorced or widowed women to reside in their own homes without the consent of their fathers or other male guardians. Paragraph B of article 169 of the ‘Law of Procedure before Sharia Courts,’ which specifies that an adult unmarried, divorced, or widowed woman must be given over to her male guardian, has been struck down by judicial authorities and replaced with a stipulation that “An adult woman has the right to choose where to live. A woman’s guardian can report her only if he has evidence proving she committed a crime.”
Deloitte sued by Hin Leong Trading
Hin Leong Trading, a failed oil trader in Singapore that owes creditors more than $3.5bn, is suing Deloitte alleging the firm failed to detect “serious irregularities” in its financial statements for more than a decade. “The material misstatements in the plaintiff's audited financial statements led to various banks and financial institutions being grossly misled as to the financial health and state of affairs,” Hin Leong claimed in the suit. “Deloitte knew or ought to have known that these banks and financial institutions were intended users of the plaintiff's audited financial statements and would have relied on the same to extend financing.”
US banks outpace Europeans in return to the office
European banks including Barclays, Deutsche Bank and HSBC are taking a more relaxed approach than American peers such as JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs when it comes to a return to the office, reports Reuters, which surmises that Wall Street bankers who are back behind their desks might win more facetime with clients, and an even greater share of deals. US bank staff “may now find themselves at an advantage as their offices fill up: colleagues can quickly share ideas or deal gossip; more frequent face-to-face meetings with clients help to build trust.”
Sweden's billionaire boom encourages talk of wealth tax
Five of Sweden’s top billionaires added a combined $18bn to their total wealth over the past year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. And while a post-pandemic property boom is helping create new millionaires, Sweden's services sector has shed jobs and the country’s immigrant population has had difficulty finding work. But Lionel Laurent, writing for Bloomberg, says a mooted wealth tax is not a remedy for inequality. He says a one-off Covid solidarity tax as launched in Argentina might be more effective. Around $2.4bn has been collected by levying as much as 5.25% of assets' value from the wealthiest people living in the  South American country. Sweden’s lack of an inheritance tax also deserves a rethink, writes the author, noting that “Without one, accumulated asset wealth will be easily passed on” to family scions.
Luxembourg's high salaries are offset by living costs
Workers earn more in Luxembourg than anywhere else in Europe, but the generous local salaries are offset by high living costs, according to the Grand Duchy’s national statistics agency Statec. The average gross annual salary in Luxembourg is €64,932, almost double the European average and eight times that in Bulgaria, but the value of the average gross annual salary in France, which is normally 58% of the total in Luxembourg, rises to 67% compared to its smaller neighbour when the cost of living and purchasing power are taken into consideration. In Belgium, the value of salaries increases from 71% of the Luxembourg total to 80% when adjusted for the cost of living, and increases to 84% in Germany, where it is normally 69% when a direct comparison is made. "The Grand Duchy has the highest legal minimum wage in the European Union. However, the differences between countries are reduced considerably if we adjust minimum wages for the purchasing power," the Statec report notes.
US to remain world’s ultra-rich hot spot
The US will remain the global hot spot for the world’s super-rich in the near future even as the fortunes of the wealthy in Asian countries such as China and India continue to grow, according to research from Boston Consulting Group. The firm’s 2021 Global Wealth Report says the number of US ultra-high-net-worth individuals will increase 36% to about 28,000 in 2025 compared with last year. China and India are expected to lead percentage growth of fortunes worth $100m or more for the same period by almost doubling their number of ultra-wealthy individuals to 13,600 and 1,400, respectively, according to the report. There are currently 60,000 ultra-high-net-worth individuals worldwide with a combined wealth of  $22 trillion.

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