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Middle East Edition
15th September 2021
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Afghan women should not work alongside men, senior Taliban figure says
A senior figure in the Taliban has said Afghan women should not be allowed to work alongside men. Waheedullah Hashimi said that the Taliban would fully implement its version of sharia, or Islamic law, despite international pressure  to allow women the right to work where they want. Reuters notes that such a stance, if formally implemented, would effectively prohibit employment for women in government offices, banks, media companies and elsewhere. Hashimi said in an interview: "Sharia ... does not allow men and women to get together or sit together under one roof,” adding "Men and women cannot work together. That is clear. They are not allowed to come to our offices and work in our ministries." Reuters says that the issue of women in the workplace is of major importance to the international community and could affect the amount of aid and other assistance that is delivered to help the battered Afghan economy.
UAE's new employment support programme will not impact expats
UAE’s new programme to support the employment of Emiratis in the private sector, which will be managed by the newly created Emirati Talent Competitiveness Council, will not come at the expense of expat jobs, Muna Mohamed, business manager – Emiratisation, Hays, has told Arabian Business. She said: “Already, we are seeing a growing number of private employers establishing learning and development programmes dedicated to Emirati hires and anticipate many more to follow suit. For expats, we expect job opportunities to remain much the same as today, if not increase. UAE nationals account for only a very small proportion of the country's overall population and, thanks to the added foreign direct investment being attracted to the UAE, job opportunities will increase for nationals and expats alike.” The UAE announced on Sunday that it will spend AED24 billion ($6.5bn) on a package of benefits and subsidies designed to drive new private sector opportunities for Emiratis, and help close the gap between the public and private sectors as the government aims to absorb 75,000 citizens into private sector employment over the next five years.

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Former U.S. intel operatives admit hacking American networks for UAE
Three former U.S. intelligence operatives who helped the United Arab Emirates spy on its opponents have admitted to violating U.S. hacking laws and exporting sensitive military technology without gaining the necessary permission of the U.S. government. Marc Baier, Ryan Adams and Daniel Gericke struck a deal in U.S. federal court in Washington, D.C.,  to avoid prosecution. The trio were part of a clandestine unit named Project Raven that hacked into the accounts of human rights activists, journalists and rival governments. “Hackers-for-hire and those who otherwise support such activities in violation of U.S. law should fully expect to be prosecuted for their criminal conduct,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Mark J. Lesko for the Justice Department’s National Security Division said. “This is a clear message to anybody, including former U.S. government employees, who had considered using cyberspace to leverage export-controlled information for the benefit of a foreign government or a foreign commercial company,” Assistant Director Bryan Vorndran of the FBI’s Cyber Division observed, adding “There is risk, and there will be consequences.”
Amazon hires Twitter executive to lead on diversity
Amazon has appointed Twitter executive Candi Castleberry Singleton as vice president of global diversity, equity and inclusion. In the role, she will be charged with helping Amazon meet diversity goals it laid out in April, with the firm looking to double the number of Black leaders at the company and increase the number of women in senior tech roles by 30%. Amazon has faced at least six lawsuits this year claiming racial bias, gender bias or both filed by women who worked in corporate or warehouse management roles. Castleberry Singleton said in a company memo: "If we get this right, together we can create a greater sense of inclusion not only within Amazon, but for Amazon customers around the world."
Retaining talent in a post-pandemic landscape
Writing for Arabian Business, Mark Ackerman, area VP, Middle East and Africa, at ServiceNow, advises on how companies can attract the top talent they need to compete in the post-pandemic world, observing that employers “must accept that the days of ‘clocking-in' ― at least in the classic sense ― are all but gone.” He details three high-level pillars that can help focus organisations as they build the ideal environment for the modern employee.
Monstarlab to acquire UAE home-grown ecap to drive rapid talent expansion globally
Japan-headquartered technology company Monstarlab is to acquire ecap, a UAE executive search and human capital advisory business. Monstarlab Group CEO Hiroki Inagawa said: “The acquisition will help us achieve our joint ambition of driving digital transformation for the organisations we work with. By combining the right talent and world-leading technology, we are able to provide customers with the platform they need for success through digitalisation.” Chris Abreu, founding Partner at ecap, said: “Monstarlab has grown to understand the challenges within the executive search and talent acquisition industry and is well placed to support ecap on the development of world class technology solutions to provide our clients with unrivalled delivery and access to the best possible talent community globally.”
United will place on leave unvaccinated staff who are granted religious or medical waivers
United Airlines says employees granted a religious or medical waiver from an expedited September 27th vaccination deadline will be placed on temporary leave beginning October 2nd. Staff who are unsuccessful in their requests for a vaccination exemption will have five weeks to get the shots or have their employment terminated by the airline. An undisclosed number of United employees who submitted a request for a “reasonable accommodation” exempting them from the vaccine requirement, based on “sincerely held” religious beliefs or a medical condition, have received an email from the carrier, which says employees will be notified if their application is approved or denied within two weeks. “In determining the appropriate accommodations, we will take many factors into account including an employee's work requirements and the metrics that illustrate the state of the pandemic in the U.S.,” the airline said in a memo. For customer-facing roles including pilots, flight attendants and gate agents, employees granted an exemption will be placed on unpaid personal leave beginning October 2nd, and would be able to return to work only after the pandemic “meaningfully recedes,” the airline said.
London's financial workers flood back to the office
Attempts by London's financial sector to encourage employees back to the office, with some companies even offering free food and social events, seem to be working.  London's transport operator has this week recorded its busiest day since the pandemic hit in March 2020, as workers flocked back into the capital's twin financial districts of the City and Canary Wharf. Goldman Sachs, for example, said around 3,000 workers came in to its Plumtree Court offices in London's City district this week. That was roughly 50% capacity, and up six times from the peak of pandemic lockdowns. The investment bank’s UK CEO Ian Stuart said: "We are trying to communicate very effectively that the offices are safe, the first hurdle is getting people to come in and try it and more and more are doing that." There’s no such thing as a free lunch at Goldman Sachs however, and there’ll be no meal incentives in recognition of the fact that some 10,000 branch staff have come in to work every day throughout the pandemic without such enticements.
Tax Court sought to steer Jewish judge from cases involving Muslims
The Globe and Mail reports that while the Canadian Judicial Council was probing several complaints against Tax Court Justice David Spiro late last year, the court revealed it was screening counsel and litigants to prevent members of the Islamic faith from being involved in cases before him. Justice Spiro would recuse himself immediately, even late in a case – “from any file at any time” – if anyone involved appeared to be of the Muslim faith, Tax Court Chief Justice Eugene Rossiter said in a letter to the judicial council. The policy was for “perception purposes,” the chief justice's letter said. Scholars such as Peter Russell, an emeritus professor in the University of Toronto's political science department, said such screening for religious affiliation is unprecedented.
Unvaccinated French healthcare workers face suspension from work
Healthcare workers in France could be suspended from work if they have not had the Covid vaccine by today. Covid vaccines are compulsory for healthcare and emergency workers, and the deadline to have had at least the first dose is today. From tomorrow, health workers who have not had at least one vaccine dose cannot work and will not be paid, although the French Constitutional Court has ruled that they cannot be fired. Recent data indicate that around 88% of health  workers are vaccinated. One of France's biggest public sector unions, the CGT, has warned of a "health catastrophe" if the government suspends large numbers of health workers. "We will not back down," Prime Minister Jean Castex warned last month.

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