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Middle East Edition
23rd June 2022
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The case for turning off your Zoom camera
Workplace experts say turning off video call cameras could improve worker wellbeing and make meetings more efficient. "At the beginning of the pandemic, it made a lot of sense that people wanted to be on camera, because we were living under the premise that this was going to be a two-week pause of our lives – and so we were like, 'We want to see everybody, we want to connect'," says Allison Gabriel, professor of management and organisations at the University of Arizona, who has studied the effects of Zoom fatigue. But most workers now well know that leaving cameras on for everything can exacerbate Zoom fatigue: a tiredness linked to factors including fixating on your own on-camera appearance and the cognitive strain of trying to identify non-verbal cues that are much easier to interpret in person.  These distractions may also reduce productivity, if workers are "focusing on themselves and how they might be being perceived,” rather than the meeting itself, says Winny Shen, associate professor of organisation studies at York University, Canada.
How to Build the Best Employee Development Programme

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Saudi working women embrace short hair
A hairstyle known locally as a ‘boy’ cut is increasingly popular among working women in Saudi Arabia. As more women join the Saudi workforce in an attempt to boost the conservative country’s economy, the cut is seen as a practical alternative to longer styles. At one salon in central Riyadh, seven or eight customers out of 30 request the ‘boy’ cut on any given day, says Lamis, a hairdresser. "This look has become very popular now," she says. "The demand for it has increased, especially after women entered the labour market. The fact that many women do not wear the hijab has highlighted its spread." Women are no longer required to wear hijab headscarves under social reforms announced by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler.
Jeddah Season creates 74,000 jobs for youth
Nawaf Qumosani, the Director-General of Jeddah Season 2022, says the season has increased job opportunities for young people, and has enhanced the positive image of Saudi society by creating an effective economic and cultural movement, while also attracting investments, and achieving economic returns, in addition to building global partnerships. He observed that 80% of the jobs during the season were run by Saudi youths, and that the season contributed to promoting the localization of more than 14 professions to increase opportunities for Saudi men and women to join the labour market, in accordance with the Kingdom's vision 2030.
BSPTI to create employment opportunities for 20,000 Bahrainis
The Bahrain Society of the Private Training Institutes (BSPTI) is aiming to create employment opportunities for 20,000 Bahrainis and train 10,000 Bahrainis annually until 2024 as part of the Economic Recovery Plan. The chairman of BSPTI, Nawaf Al Jishi, said private training institutes are keen on developing their programmes to achieve Ministry of Labour directives to develop the skills of job seekers and enhance their capabilities to meet the needs of the jobs available in the private sector. “The training sector has proven its ability to adapt and meet the changing needs of economic growth in Bahrain and meet future requirements according to world-class quality standards by offering accredited national training programmes within the National Qualifications Framework,” said Al Jishi.
Lebanese lenders claim IMF plan to seize assets breaks the law
A letter sent on behalf of the Association of Banks in Lebanon warns the IMF that a proposal to seize lenders’ assets from the central bank as part of a $3bn rescue plan was both unlawful and unconstitutional. However, later statements from several banks said they do not oppose the deal, adding that the agreement was one of the main ways to exit Lebanon's financial crisis.
Ford chooses Valencia for new electric car plant
Ford has chosen a plant in Valencia in Spain to build its next generation electric vehicles in Europe. The US automaker selected the site over a rival facility in Germany. The company plans to only sell electric cars in Europe by 2030, ahead of a planned EU ban from 2035 on the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles. There will be "significant" job losses as part of its changing strategy, a Ford spokesperson told Reuters. Facilities that do not secure production orders for electric vehicles, such as the overlooked Saarlouis facility in Germany, which employs 4,600 workers, face the threat of closure once the EU ban comes into force. Ford has warned there will still be staffing cuts even for plants that are selected for electric vehicle assembly - including the Valencia plant, which employs 6,000 workers. Jim Farley, Ford's president and chief executive, said the automaker’s pivot to electric vehicles in Europe would require tough decisions. "The European auto industry is extremely competitive, and to thrive and grow we can never settle for less than unbelievably great products... [and] ultra-lean operations," he said.
US ban on imports from China's Xinjiang region takes effect
New US regulations on the import of goods from the Xinjiang region of China have come into effect, with firms now having to prove that goods from the region are not produced using forced labour. US officials have said members of the minority Uyghur community in the region, who are predominantly Muslim, have been detained and made to work. China has repeatedly rejected accusations that it is holding Uyghurs in internment camps in Xinjiang. The restrictions will be extended to all imports under the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA), which took effect on Tuesday. The Biden administration has slammed forced labour as “modern-day slavery” and asserted that Chinese companies are profiting from abuses by attempting to sell cheaply made goods to consumers in the United States and other countries.
India's garment exporters face major losses
India's garment exporters are facing a potential loss of Rs 1,200 crore due to the new conditions imposed in the Rebate of State and Central Taxes and Levies (RoSCTL) scheme. The government offers tradable rebates against the taxes and levies already paid by exporters on the inputs. Exporters can sell the scrips to importers, who in turn can use the instrument as an alternative to cash to pay import duty. However, the scrips are currently trading at a 20% discount, increasing pressure on garment exporters' margins at a time when they are facing challenges on account of rising cotton prices. Textile industry insiders say the rebate scheme as it currently exists will see it lose its global competitiveness to countries such as Bangladesh and Vietnam, where labour costs are extremely low.
Beyonce’s paean to the Great Resignation
Many media commentators are saying Beyonce’s new single, “Break My Soul,” sounds like an anthem for the millions of Americans who have quit their jobs over the past year and are seeking better opportunities with unemployment at a record low. The song’s first verse explains: “Now I just fell in love / And I just quit my job / I’m gonna find new drive / Damn they work me so damn hard / Work by nine / Then off past five / And they work my nerves / That’s why I cannot sleep at night.” Nick Bunker, an economist at job site Indeed, said Beyonce’s track “is one instance of a broader public awareness or discussion about people quitting their jobs, which is reflective of what’s happening in the labour market and society.”  The track, which debuted Monday, is part of Beyonce’s new album, “Renaissance: Act 1,” that’s due to be released on July 29th.
Tesla’s hiring in Germany faces wages hurdle
Germany’s leading automotive labour union says electric-car maker Tesla may have to raise local wages if it wants to achieve its target of hiring thousands of additional workers for its plant near Berlin. IG Metall said it is hearing from Tesla staff at the Gruenheide site who are complaining about inadequate or unequal wages. Skilled workers are getting around 20% less at the facility than at rival manufacturers with IG Metall wage agreements, the union added, citing its own analysis. Recruitment “isn’t progressing at the planned speed,” said Birgit Dietze, a regional IG Metall chief, adding “Many people would be interested in switching to Tesla, but ultimately decide against it, also because they sometimes earn considerably more in their current positions at other automotive companies.”
Employers host crafting events for stressed-out workers
Corporations are hosting crafting events as a new form of wellness for employees. The Los Angeles Times reports that L.A. based crafting workshop company CraftJam hosted a watercolour painting session for current and potential clients — “namely human resource managers” — in April. CraftJam founder and chief executive Nora Abousteit notes the sensory satisfaction that stems from making something or even just touching materials. “It’s physical . . . There’s this connection between your hands and your brain,” she says, adding “When you craft, you’re fully in control . . . You don’t have endless emails, a never-ending Twitter feed or whatever distracts you.”

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