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Middle East Edition
8th February 2023
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Dubai's crypto regulator plans to boost headcount
The Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA), Dubai's crypto regulator, plans to quadruple its headcount over the coming months to process hundreds of license applications as new rules attract industry players to the Middle Eastern financial hub. VARA chief executive officer Henson Orser said the regulator expects to handle around 300 new applications this year and will begin issuing final permits in June for companies that have already obtained authorization under Dubai's minimum viable product licensing regime. “It's been a mad sprint,” Orser said, adding that it's a case of “be careful what you wish for. We've created a lot of work for ourselves in terms of supervision and enforcement.”
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Saudi employers face talent retention and attraction challenges
New data from Gallup's 2022 workplace study indicates that Saudi companies may be facing significant talent retention and attraction challenges. Gallup’s Abdullah Bader notes that the number of workers in Saudi Arabia looking for a new job has doubled since 2019, and Saudi companies will struggle to retain talent unless they value workers. A focus on engagement and purpose can fortify Saudi retention strategies, Bader advises.
Kenya labour court rules that Facebook can be sued
A labour court in Kenya has ruled that Meta, Facebook's parent company, can be sued after a former employee filed a lawsuit citing poor working conditions. Meta sought to have the case thrown out, arguing that courts in the East African country do not have jurisdiction over Facebook's operations. But Judge Jacob Gakeri said: "Since the petition has raised certain actual issues that are yet to be determined, it would be inopportune for the country to strike out the two respondents from the matter." Daniel Motaung has said that while working as a moderator for Meta in Kenya he was exposed to content including rape, torture and beheadings. He said this put his and his colleagues' mental health at risk, and Meta did not offer any support to employees. Motaung, who was employed in Facebook's African hub in Nairobi, which is operated by Samasource Ltd., also said he and colleagues were allegedly required to work unreasonably long shifts, and offered minimal pay. Amnesty International Kenya Executive Director Irungu Houghton termed the ruling as “historic,” adding “This is a significant step that ensures the authority of Kenyan courts to protect and enforce fundamental human rights . . . The social media platforms have serious impacts on people’s lives and societies. They must be more accountable.” 
First Saudi smart platform for business automation is launched
A smart Saudi platform that carries out external duties in the platforms of the service providers from the public and private sectors, using digital employees through the Robotic automation process, has been launched. Saudi Basserah Information Technology Company CEO Eng. Abdulaziz Al-Maliki said the “Anjiz Li” (“Achieve for me”) platform uses the “digital employee concept, [and] provides smart and creative solutions . . . to improve productivity and boost the satisfaction of employees and give them the time to focus on business development.”
AI-powered big data analytics is benefiting the Middle East
Writing for Gulf News, Thomas Pramotedham, the chief executive officer of, takes a look at how the Middle East region is benefiting from big data analytics, powered by artificial intelligence. It’s driving innovation and improving efficiencies by unlocking insights and opportunities, he writes.
Professional Certificates can help get a job after graduation, survey says
New data from Coursera indicates that 97% of students in the UAE agree that earning a Professional Certificate from companies such as Google and Meta would help them stand out to employers and get a job when graduating, while 88% say a Professional Certificate will help them succeed at their job. Hadi Moussa, Managing Director for Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) at Coursera, said: “Despite the global economic downturn, the UAE’s job market continues to thrive on the back of the country’s aggressive growth and diversification plans. However, as sectors such as technology and startups flourish at a rapid pace, employers are seeking talent ready with in-demand digital skills, further necessitating universities to incorporate more skills-based training and job-relevant content into their curriculum to prepare students for jobs of the future. Academic institutions need to collaborate with governments and industries to align with the demands of the job market and unlock career opportunities for current and future talent in the region.”
Boeing to axe 2,000 finance and HR jobs
Boeing plans to cut about 2,000 jobs in finance and human resources this year, as it focuses on engineering and manufacturing. The move comes as the company puts more of its resources into "products, services and technology development." It will outsource some of the roles to Tata Consulting Services, a unit of one of India's largest conglomerates.  "We have and will continue to communicate transparently with our teams that we expect lower staffing within some corporate support functions," the company told the BBC. "As always, we will support affected teammates and provide assistance and resources to support their transition," it added.
Zoom cuts 1,300 jobs as demand slows
Video conferencing company Zoom is laying off 1,300 staff as the pandemic-driven boom in online meetings slows. The layoffs will hit nearly 15% of its workforce. CEO Eric Yuan said: "We worked tirelessly . . . but we also made mistakes. We didn't take as much time as we should have to thoroughly analyse our teams or assess if we were growing sustainably, toward the highest priorities.” Mr Yuan said he would also reduce his salary in the coming fiscal year by 98% and forego his bonus. Other members of the executive leadership team will see their base salaries fall by 20% and lose bonuses, he added.
McDonald's pledges to better protect workers in the UK
McDonald's has signed a legally binding agreement with the UK's Equalities and Human Rights Commission which requires the company to deal with what is thought to be more than 1,000 complaints from staff about workplace behaviour. The UK’s Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU)  has previously raised the alarm over a “toxic culture” in McDonald’s restaurants. Ian Hodson, national president of the BFAWU, said: “It’s shameful that one of the richest corporations on the planet doesn’t take sexual harassment seriously until we raise it . . . I pay tribute to all our members who have spoken out on this issue and encourage McDonald’s to work with us in ending sexual harassment.” The agreement commits the group to a number of measures to better protect workers in the UK, including communicating a “zero tolerance” approach to sexual harassment, providing anti-harassment training for employees, and improving policies to better respond to complaints.
Third wave of French pension protests
Trade unions in France on Tuesday led a third wave of nationwide strikes against President Emmanuel Macron's plans to make French people work longer before retirement. The multi-sector walkouts in public transport, schools and refinery supplies came a day after pension reform legislation began its passage through parliament. The government says people must work two years longer in order to keep the budget of France’s pension system in the black. Philippe Martinez of the hardleft CGT union said: "This reform will upend the lives of several generations. If the government stubbornly forges ahead, we will step up our protest with longer and harder actions." Laurent Berger of the moderate CFDT union said: "These concessions are just patches. Increasing the legal retirement to 64 is the core of this reform and it is deeply unfair. It is a democratic folly for the government to turn a deaf ear to the protest."

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