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Commentaries


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Author: Fahad L. Alghalib Alsharif
In recent decades, the Gulf states’ kafala sponsorship system (henceforth “kafala”) has been systematically scrutinized due to widespread violations of international labor and human rights conventions and norms. While some Gulf states have previously attempted to reform their kafala, Saudi Arabia has boldly announced comprehensive labor reforms in October 2020 by rigorously imposing strict and clear Islamic rules, which are principally rooted in fair and just treatment of migrant labor. These kafala reforms are in line with Saudi Arabia’s economic and political interests, as well as complementary to its Islamic religiou
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Author: Faisal Abualhassan
Recent debate about Islam in France and the discourses of French President Emmanuel Macron, following his October 2020 speech on the “fight against separatism” and his government’s calls for strengthened security laws to control French mosques following the beheading of the high-school teacher Samuel Paty in the same month, have seen the French president and his supporters rally around the need for “republican values” in French Islam, namely respect for laïcité, a word that is too often accepted in France as synonymous with secularism. This commentary seeks to clarify the concept of laïcité, both in French history in
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Author: Joshua Yaphe
With a transition in Washington, discussions in Western capitals will inevitably turn to the issues of how to deal with Iran, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the wars in Yemen and Libya, and so forth. Alongside those issues, almost underpinning some of them in a sense, is the matter of reassessing the security architecture in the Gulf and in the region more broadly. Policy planners in Western capitals will have their own ideas for desired outcomes in the region, but as they weigh their options they should consider how the format and structure of a security architecture can inadvertently shape and limit its effectiveness. The design and process of con
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Author: Mohamed Al-Sbitli
This publication is available in Arabic only.
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Author: Joseph A. Kéchichian
This Commentary asks whether Turkish and Iranian officials’ aspirations to lead the Muslim world are realistic. The author states that Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Turkey, claiming to represent Sunnis, challenges Egypt and Saudi Arabia in the Arab world while ‘Ali Khamenei’s Iran seeks revenge on the Arab successors to the ‘Umayyad Empire, to avenge the “martyred” family of the Caliph ‘Ali, especially his son Hussein. The Commentary argues that such goals are unrealistic to implement.
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Author: Mark C. Thompson and Hanaa Almoaibed
Multiple estimates suggest that Saudi Arabia may have one of the highest rates of wasted food globally. Key contributors to waste include culture, food valuation, policy, and industry factors, as well as societal awareness and concern. However, the Saudi National Transformation Program aims to transform healthcare and avoid health risks, a goal that involves improved food preparation and better food consumption practices. Hence, this commentary highlights key issues related to food and sustainability in the Kingdom. Considering Saudi Arabia’s limited arable land and scarce water resources, the commentary discusses the local dimensions of environmental and socioeconomic imp
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Author: Rasheed Al-Khayoun
Statements were recently issued by Iranian jurists of the Qom Seminary repudiating Grand Ayatollah Kamal al-Haydari. Born and raised in Iraq to a “fervent and pious” Arab family, al-Haydari studied in Karbala, Najaf, and then in Qom, according to his official website. He rose to prominence through his lectures, which were broadcast on the Iranian public television channel Al-Kawthar TV. The channel stopped broadcasting his lectures, however, due to concerns over dubious research and messaging that was inconsistent with widely held public and private legal knowledge, including legal precedents that serve as a foundation for many major issues of law. Reinterpretin
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Author: Maha Fallatah
While tourism has been one of the economic sectors hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic, this period of patience provides ample opportunities for the sector to enhance its competitiveness and prepare itself for receiving large numbers of international visitors again. The Saudi tourism sector can convert this crisis into a chance by upgrading itself with the goal to harness human capital and form a key part of the Kingdom’s knowledge-based economy. There are multiple pathways to establishing what we may call knowledge-based tourism. One way – on which this Commentary focuses – is to enhance the knowledge of the tourism sector’s workforces about their local
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Author: By Makio Yamada
The first five years of the Saudi Vision 2030 period will be over soon. As of the first quarter of 2020, the Saudization rate of the private sector had improved to 20%. Saudi Arabia’s endeavor to create jobs for its young citizens will now continue over the second five-year period. There are two methods of job creation in the Saudi labor market: one is by localizing the existing jobs which are currently occupied by expat workers; the other is by creating new job opportunities. Given that the second method is currently not highly available due to the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic, the first one is likely to be central to the country’s job creation policy for
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The military coup in Mali has provoked strong international and regional reactions. At home, however, he received a great public welcome.  This comment takes into account local, regional and international implications, stated [declared] positions, insults and parties involved in the process of change.
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