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A British Airways Boeing 787-800

Passengers flying from several cities in the Middle East to the UK have also been prohibited from carrying most electronic devices onboard, officials have announced.

The move follows in the footsteps of a new rule issued by the US today that requires passengers coming from eight countries (including Qatar) to pack any device larger than a cell phone into their checked luggage.

However, the UK ban affects fewer nations.

Mobile Internet Device

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Photo for illustrative purposes only

In a statement, the Department of Transport said “Phones, laptops and tablets larger than 16.0cm x 9.3cm x 1.5cm not allowed in the cabin on flights to the UK from Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Tunisia.”

This means passengers flying through Qatar and the UAE have escaped the new requirements if they’re heading to London or other UK cities.

According to Sky News, some UK airlines will also be affected by the ban:

Safety concerns

US officials cited the possibility of a terrorist attack as a reason for instituting its indefinite electronics ban.

The UK transport department said that it understood the new measures would cause “frustration,” but it was also concerned about safety.

“The House will recognize that we face a constantly evolving threat from terrorism and must respond accordingly to ensure the protection of the public against those who would do us harm,” it said.

However, officials added, “we remain open for business. People should continue to fly and comply with security procedures.”

Thoughts?

Careerealism.com

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It is against the law to lay off employees who are out of the country on vacation, Qatar’s labor ministry has said.

In separate posts on Facebook this week, the ministry reminded managers about two clauses regarding leave in Qatar’s labor law.

Article 85 states that an employer may not terminate the service contract or notify a worker of termination while he is on leave.

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However, the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labor and Social Affairs added that Article 84 of the labor law prohibits employees from working for somebody else while on leave.

“If it has been proved to the employer that the worker has contravened this provision, the employer may deprive him from his wage for the period of the leave and recover what he has already paid of that wage,” the law states.

Reporting cases

If an employee is fired while on leave, he or she does have some recourse.

For example, the labor ministry has set up several electronic kiosks across its branches to accept grievances in 11 languages.

Complaint kiosk.

ADLSA

Complaint kiosk

But pursuing a court case against an employer could be costly and timely. This can be discouraging particularly for those with little money and no access to transportation, according to rights groups.

Last year, the International Labour Organization (ILO) said that several workers they spoke to during their visit to Qatar were not aware of the kiosks.

The delegation said it also met expats who faced retaliation after reporting issues. And some said their court hearings were continuously delayed because their employer refused to attend the proceedings.

Thoughts?

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Qatar is likely to remain one of region’s most stable economies in the coming years due to its strong economy, top-heavy governance and politically inactive population, a new report has found.

According to BMI Research, the government’s ability “to provide its citizens with generous subsidies and economic opportunities” is a main reason for the stability.

However, Qatar has implemented some austerity measures in recent years due to lower oil prices and budget deficits.

Reem Saad / Doha News

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But when asked about actions such as rising utility and gas prices, BMI told Doha News that these were “unlikely” to have a negative effect on stability.

Andrine Skjelland, MENA Country Risk Analyst at BMI, said:

“The scope of fiscal consolidation remains limited, and the overall impact on Qatari citizens’ living standards will be minimal.

In any case, we believe the government would be quick to scale back measures at first signs of significant popular discontent, preventing unrest from spreading.”

However, BMI’s report noted that political involvement from Qatari citizens is expected to remain “minimal.” Additionally, it forecast that foreign workers will continue to be subject to “heavy restrictions.”

It added that national policies will continue to be shaped by “a small group of elite decision makers” who face few constraints, “in turn ensuring broad policy continuity.”

Trump effect

BMI was also optimistic in terms of the big picture. For example, it asserted that Qatar’s diplomatic ties with the US will remain strong.

This is despite Donald Trump’s presidency and his views on radical Islam and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Donald J. Trump/Facebook

US President Donald Trump

The report concluded that the continued US military presence at the Al Udeid air base and deep economic ties between the two countries will outweigh other US foreign policy concerns.

BMI’s experts added that a softer focus on human rights by the US would likely work in Qatar’s favor.

“Compared with the previous administration, we expect the US government under Trump to focus less on human rights issues and the spread of democracy in its foreign policy – a trend that will likely be welcomed in Doha, as it limits the potential for external pressure on it to implement political and social reforms.”

Muslim Brotherhood links

Trump’s team is also currently debating whether to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization.

This move could strain diplomatic relations between the US and Qatar, whose support of the group in Egypt has caused past conflict with its neighbors.

European External Action Service

Deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi

However, BMI asserted that Qatar’s ability to act as a peace-broker in the region, coupled with financial and military concerns, guarantee that the two countries won’t fall out over the issue.

“Doha’s ties to a broad range of state and non-state actors mean it is still considered a facilitator of MENA negotiations in Washington,” the report stated.

“The two countries also have deep trade links, particularly in the energy sector, and Doha has announced plans to invest $45bn in the US over the next five years.”

BMI added that Qatar would likely yield to US pressure over its Muslim Brotherhood ties if required to do so.

This is because relations with the US and other GCC countries are becoming increasingly important amid regional instability, according to the report’s authors.

Thoughts?