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Middle East Edition
26th May 2023
Recruiters embrace non-traditional candidates
Recruiters are broadening their search to include non-traditional candidates and different skill sets, reports the BBC's Worklife. Companies are moving away from choosing prospective hires based on technical abilities alone and are prioritising soft skills. The pandemic has changed the hiring pool, as many workers had reduced opportunities for professional development during the public health crisis, and de-emphasizing hard skills on job ads is opening up options for those job seekers who might not have had the opportunity to attend or complete a four-year degree. Some job ads are even indicating that job-listing requirements themselves are a formality by adding notes encouraging candidates that don't meet all the stated criteria to apply regardless. Ultimately, the definition of an ‘ideal' candidate is broader than it's ever been. “I really don't care about a candidate's schooling or past companies. I care if they have the right skills that the company needs, and the right mentality, meaning the right fit for the company culture,” says Jan Tegze, a tech recruiter.
Qatar joins Arab Labour Organisation's Board of Directors
Qatar has been appointed to the Board of Directors of the Arab Labour Organisation during the Arab Labour Conference. The appointment is part of the governmental group, which also includes Egypt, Morocco, and Palestine. Algeria and Djibouti were elected as full members, while Saudi Arabia was chosen as a reserve member in the group representing workers. The United Arab Emirates and Algeria were elected as full members, and Jordan as a reserve member in the group of employers. Qatar participates in various committees within the main committees of the Arab Labour Conference, including the Committee on the Implementation of Conventions and Recommendations, the Technical Committee on the issuance of a normative tool on “new patterns of work”, the amendment of Convention No. 9 of 1977 regarding guidance and vocational training, and the Technical Committee on Education Policies Technical and vocational training in light of the digital transformation.
Dubai nationals sentenced for fraud in UK
Two Dubai nationals have been sentenced to a combined total of 31 years in jail in the UK after masterminding a £150m ($180m) fraud. Sock manufacturer Arif Patel was sentenced in his absence to 20 years behind bars, while co-accused Mohamed Jaffar Ali was also sentenced in his absence to 11 years in jail. A joint probe by HM Revenue & Customs and Lancashire Police found Arif Patel, formerly of Preston, and his criminal gang tried to steal £97m through VAT repayment claims on false exports of textiles and mobile phones. They also imported and sold counterfeit clothes that would have been worth at least £50m, had they been genuine.
Project promotes documentary photography in Saudi Arabia
The Goethe Institute, the French Embassy, and the Alliance Francaise in Saudi Arabia, in collaboration with Gharem Studio, organised a project called "Lens for Equality" in October 2022. The project aimed to promote the art of documentary photography and explore the theme of gender equality through the lens of professional photojournalists and reporters. The project was led by three mentors, Scarlett Coten from France, Susanne Kriemann from Germany, and Tasneem Al-Sultan from Saudi Arabia. Students' photographs were exhibited in December 2022 at the Ahlam Gallery in the Al-Moussa Mall in Riyadh.
Workers get ahead by embracing AI
Emerging data shows that workers are more optimistic about AI in the workplace than headlines suggest. Microsoft's Work Trend Index reveals that 70% of workers would delegate as much work as possible to AI to lessen their workloads. AI tools are already being used to improve productivity and efficiency, freeing up mental bandwidth for more creative tasks. Experts believe that as workers reclaim time previously spent on meetings and emails, they will have more time for the complex, creative, and human parts of their jobs. AI is seen as a collaborator, not a replacement, and workers are eager for relief from digital overload. “Employees are more eager for AI to help with this burden of digital debt than they are afraid of job loss,” said Colette Stallbaumer, Microsoft's general manager for Future of Work.
Dubai regulator warns of crypto rule gaps
Dubai's financial regulator has warned that global watchdogs need to step up talks with each other to avoid “bad actors” exploiting gaps in crypto rules. The Dubai Financial Services Authority plans an update to rules on crypto tokens, in force since November for the city's business hub, that may come out later this year. Elisabeth Wallace, an associate director at the regulator, stated that Dubai and Hong Kong are seeking to attract digital asset firms. "We need to make sure that we are all aware of what each other is doing," she said.
Bahrain to impose corporate tax
Bahrain will impose corporate tax once an international agreement is reached on the framework, according to Finance and National Economy Minister Shaikh Salman bin Khalifa Al Khalifa.
PwC Australia leak staff told to step aside
PwC has agreed to remove staff with links to the leak and use of confidential Australian tax plans from government work until a review is completed. The Australian Treasury referred the matter to police for a criminal investigation on Wednesday. The scandal originated with PwC's former head of international tax, Peter Collins, who shared confidential information about Australia’s tax plans with other staff at the firm. Other PwC staff then used the leaked intelligence to advise 14 clients on how to sidestep new multinational tax avoidance laws in 2016. The scandal has elicited anger within the professional services community in Australia, with KPMG expressing concern about the reputational damage inflicted on the industry. KPMG CEO Andrew Yates and chair Alison Kitchen have urged their firm's workforce to act ethically and in the public interest, admitting the company had not always met expectations in the past.
Samsung faces first strike as union calls for higher wages
An influential Samsung Electronics workers’ union has warned that its members could walk out over a wage dispute in what could be the South Korean technology giant’s first-ever strike. The National Samsung Electronics Union (NSEU) claims that Samsung management has cut the union out of wage negotiations. CNBC notes that tension with workers comes at a sensitive time for the world’s biggest smartphone and memory chip maker, after its operating profit in the first quarter plunged to its lowest level since 2009. NSEU representative Lee Hyun-kuk said the union would go on strike after a consultation with its members but said it depends on the willingness of Samsung chair Lee Jae-yong to negotiate.  “It depends on the attitude of chairman Lee Jae-yong. We sincerely ask him to come to the table for talks,” the NSEU’s Lee said.  A Samsung spokesperson said “the company has diligently followed all relevant and related procedures, and will continue to hold discussions with the union.’”
European Court rules against Romania on same-sex couples' rights
The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Romania has failed to recognize the rights of same-sex couples, breaching the European convention on human rights. The ruling comes after 21 Romanian same-sex couples filed challenges with the court in 2019-2020. Romania decriminalized homosexuality in 2001 but still bars marriage and civil partnerships for same-sex couples. The couples argued that Romania's failure to recognize them as families discriminated against them in various instances including healthcare decisions, joint medical insurance, property, and employment rights only afforded to married couples. The Romanian government has three months to decide whether it wants to ask the European court to refer the case to its top chamber. "The ruling comes with an enforcement mechanism . . . so that the Romanian state must account for what it is doing to recognize and adopt a form of legal protection for same-sex families," said human rights lawyer Iustina Ionescu.
China's youth unemployment crisis
China's economy has rebounded after the Covid-19 pandemic, but youth unemployment has soared, reaching a new high in April at nearly four times the national level. The unemployment rate for 16- to 24-year-olds in China's urban areas spiked at 20.4% - or roughly 6 million young people out of work. Almost 12 million college graduates will hit the job market this year, likely taking the youth unemployment rate to above 25%, according to Citigroup. This is a worrying development for the Communist Party, which Bloomberg says is obsessed with social stability, and for the economy's longer-term prospects. While Beijing is trying to encourage public and private hiring, underlying trends could keep youth unemployment relatively high for some time.
India's unemployment rate rises to 8.11% in April
India's unemployment rate rose to 8.11% in April, marking the fourth consecutive month of increase, according to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy. The IT sector in India lost nearly 60,000 outsourced contract workers in the year ending in March, with jobs for flexi workers hired through contractors by companies shrinking 7.7% from a year earlier. "The drop in new employment generation within the IT flexi staffing sector mirrored the global slowdown in IT hiring," said Lohit Bhatia, president of the Indian Staffing Federation. However, the hiring in the manufacturing, logistics, and retail sectors remained strong, helped by domestic consumer demand. The hiring of flexi workers in the IT sector shrank 6% quarter-on-quarter in the March quarter, and hiring of contract workers through a third-party may remain weak for the next few quarters in the software industry. A report by J.P. Morgan analysts warned that soaring inflation, supply chain issues, and the hit from the Ukraine war will bring an end to the growth boom that India's IT services enjoyed during the pandemic.
Saudi Arabia and Canada restore diplomatic ties after five-year break
Saudi Arabia and Canada have agreed to restore full diplomatic relations and appoint new ambassadors, ending a five-year break in ties. The relationship broke down after the Canadian foreign ministry criticised the kingdom's arrest of human rights activists. The move comes amid a diplomatic spree by the Saudi crown prince, who has been seeking to improve the kingdom's image abroad.

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