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Middle East Edition
20th November 2023
Employees in UAE are willing to make sacrifices to stay, survey shows
Employees in the UAE are willing to make sacrifices to stay in the country, according to a survey by recruitment agency Robert Half. The survey revealed that the appetite to live in the UAE is at an all-time high, with many residents prepared to sacrifice their preferences for flexibility. The UAE's successful handling of the Covid-19 pandemic has increased its appeal as a top destination for professionals, investors, and high net-worth individuals, the survey says.  New residency schemes, such as the Golden Visa, retirement visa, and freelance visa, have also become popular among employees. Dubai and Abu Dhabi have been ranked among the top five destinations for digital nomads, and the survey also highlighted the adjustment of perks and benefits by employers to cut costs, with a shift from percentage-based allowances to fixed lump sums. The survey concludes that working practices are returning to normal after the pandemic, but businesses are putting pressure on employee allowances.
Getting ready for the inaugural Global Labour Market Conference in Riyadh
The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development (MHRSD) has announced that the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the World Bank will serve as 'Knowledge Partners' for the inaugural Global Labour Market Conference (GLMC) in Riyadh. The GLMC aims to benefit from the expertise and knowledge exchange with the ILO and World Bank regarding best practices in the labour market. Gilbert F. Hongbo, secretary-general of the ILO, will join GLMC as a keynote speaker, sharing his vision for global labour markets and addressing the anticipated challenges. Dr. Sukti Dasgupta, who directs the ILO's 'Conditions of Work and Equality' Department, will also participate. Both the ILO and World Bank operate within the United Nations ecosystem, with the ILO focusing on establishing global labour standards and common frameworks for labor rights across its 187 member nations. The World Bank finances projects and programs in the developing world, aiming to alleviate poverty and foster opportunities for growth. The GLMC will bring together 150 speakers and 2,000 participants from over 40 countries, providing insights into the current conditions of labour markets and the challenges they are likely to encounter in the future.
Saudi Arabia arrests thousands for residency and border violations
Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Interior has reported that 17,556 individuals have been arrested for violating residency, labour laws, and border security regulations. The arrests occurred during a week-long series of joint field campaigns conducted by security forces. The breakdown of these arrests includes 11,219 for residency system violations, 3,782 for border security rule violations, and 2,555 for breaches of labour laws. Additionally, 756 individuals were apprehended while attempting to illegally enter the Kingdom. Currently, 51,089 individuals are facing legal procedures for violations, comprising 44,145 men and 6,944 women. The Ministry of Interior has warned that anyone facilitating the entry of infiltrators into the Kingdom will face severe consequences, including penalties of up to 15 years in prison and a maximum fine of SR1 million.
Taurus expands operations with new Dubai office
Taurus, a Swiss digital asset infrastructure provider, is expanding its operations with a new office in Dubai. The move aims to strengthen the company's technology leadership in the Middle East and Turkey. The Dubai office will be led by Bashir Kazour, who brings over 20 years of experience in retail, capital markets, and technology. Taurus is known for its unique custody and tokenization capabilities, which align with the needs of the region. The company has already established partnerships with Deutsche Bank and CACEIS and closed a $65m funding round. The UAE has been clarifying its regulatory framework for digital assets, making it an ideal location for Taurus' expansion. Taurus is the preferred digital asset infrastructure provider in Switzerland and holds a significant market share in Europe. The company offers enterprise-grade solutions for issuing, custodying, and trading digital assets.
Citigroup to announce major lay-offs and job assignments in restructuring
Citigroup is set to announce a major round of lay-offs and job assignments as part of a sweeping restructuring plan. The restructuring is expected to result in significant changes within the company. The details of the lay-offs and job assignments will be revealed on Monday. "We are committed to streamlining our operations and improving efficiency," said a spokesperson for Citigroup. The restructuring plan is aimed at positioning the company for future growth and profitability.
Discussions underway for recruitment of Kenyan workers in Kuwait
Some 1,500 Kenyan citizens have been selected to join skilled positions in Kuwait after passing recruitment tests. Discussions are underway to sign a memorandum of understanding for the recruitment of domestic workers from Kenya. The agreement is expected to be finalised and signed shortly. The delay in signing is attributed to changes in Nairobi's Council of Ministers. One of the key agreements being discussed is the recruitment of domestic workers and the establishment of a direct flight line between the two countries. The positive consensus and cooperation between Kuwait and Kenya on these matters highlight the potential for strengthened bilateral relations and mutual benefits. Ambassador Halima Mahmoud expressed optimism about the progress and the potential for a positive outcome. "The agreement would be finalised and signed shortly," she said.
Dubai crypto regulator CEO to depart amid imminent fines
Henson Orser, CEO of Dubai's Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA), is set to depart as fines are about to be imposed on non-compliant crypto firms in the emirate. Matthew White, a partner at PwC, will replace Orser. The leadership change coincides with the Dubai regulator's plan to levy fines on several crypto companies that have failed to comply with guidelines. Orser guided VARA through the adoption of a new regulatory regime for crypto in Dubai. The regulator has granted five Virtual Asset Service Provider permits so far. Dubai aims to get off the Financial Action Task Force's "gray list" next year.
The Dubai Financial Services Authority adopts principles for climate-related financial risks
The Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) has joined other financial regulators in the UAE in adopting the Principles for the effective management of climate-related financial risks. This initiative, the first of its kind in the Middle East, sets joint expectations for the safe and prudent governance and risk management of climate-related financial risks by financial sector entities operating in the country. The Principles align with the UAE's Economic Principles and the Dubai Economic Agenda, both aimed at driving economic growth and promoting sustainable businesses. The DFSA will write to its regulated firms with supervisory guidelines on climate-related financial risks. Ian Johnston, Chief Executive of the DFSA, expressed confidence in firms' commitment to addressing climate concerns.
US auto workers union agrees to two weeks of paid parental leave
The United Auto Workers (UAW) union has reached a tentative agreement with Detroit's three automakers to introduce a new benefit of two weeks of paid parental leave for full-time employees. This is a significant step for the union, as the US does not have nationally mandated paid time off for new parents. While two weeks may seem paltry compared to other countries, it is a significant improvement for American workers. The inclusion of parental leave in the agreement signals a focus on work-life balance and the needs of a new generation of union members. The leave is part of a range of wins for workers, including pay raises and improved retirement benefits. Experts say that while the two-week policy falls short of the months needed for important health benefits, it will provide some relief for working parents. However, many workers still face financial challenges in starting a family, and improvements in retirement arrangements and wages are desired. 
Euro zone banks are losing millions due to tech contractors, warns ECB
Euro zone banks are losing millions of euros due to tech contractors letting them down, the European Central Bank (ECB) has warned. The ECB conducted a survey and carried out inspections to test banks' preparedness for cyber risks, including hacks and contractor failures. In 2022, banks lost €148m ($160.59m) due to the unavailability or poor quality of outsourced services. The ECB highlighted the need for proper risk management when relying on service providers at a time when the use of outsourcing, particularly for cloud-based services, has increased among banks. The ECB also found fundamental shortcomings in banks' cybersecurity approaches, including inadequate risk identification and response systems. The ECB expects banks to align their IT and cybersecurity risk management with supervisory expectations. Specific recommendations have been given to banks targeted by inspections.
Beijing law firm to open office in sanctions-strapped North Korea
A Beijing-based law firm, Jingsh Law Firm, plans to become the first Chinese firm to open an office in North Korea. The firm aims to attract Chinese investors interested in the opening up of the reclusive country. Jingsh Law Firm will also expand into Japan and South Korea, with all three offices expected to be open by the first half of next year. The firm intends to provide legal advice to Chinese investors for foreign direct investment, greenfield investment, and mergers and acquisitions. It will collaborate with a local partner in Pyongyang and hopes to have 10 to 20 staff there. Jingsh Law Firm's expansion plans align with North Korea's desire to promote an opening up. China was one of the first countries to reopen transport links with North Korea after the pandemic. However, strict controls on private businesses and international sanctions limit investment and trade with North Korea.
Ikea ends sale of engineered stone
Ikea Australia chief executive Mirja Viinanen said the firm is to stop selling engineered stone, a material which has been linked to silicosis, an incurable and potentially fatal disease caused by inhaling tiny particles of silica dust. Up to 600,000 Australian workers are potentially being exposed to silica dust each year. “IKEA Australia will begin the process of phasing out engineered stone products from our local range, ahead of government action", Ms Viinanen said. “We strongly support a nationally aligned approach from governments to provide clarity and ensure coordinated action across the country". Bunnings had already withdrawn its range of engineered stone benchtops. Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union national secretary Zach Smith, who has been campaigning for a blanket national ban, said there was now “unstoppable momentum” in support of prohibiting the product. “Bunnings and Ikea have beaten our federal, state and territory governments to the punch”, he said. “We need an immediate announcement from all work health and safety ministers locking in a ban".

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