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UAE holds talks on setting up retirement funds for expats

The planned new system will include an enhanced gratuity scheme and a private sector savings programme. A plan to set up investment funds for the retirement benefits of UAE expats has been set in motion, as the Federal Authority for Government Human Resources (FAHR) recently held a meeting with major firms regarding the system. The…

UAE holds talks on setting up retirement funds for expats

The planned new system will include an enhanced gratuity scheme and a private sector savings programme.

A plan to set up investment funds for the retirement benefits of UAE expats has been set in motion, as the Federal Authority for Government Human Resources (FAHR) recently held a meeting with major firms regarding the system.

The planned new system will include an enhanced gratuity scheme and a private sector savings programme that will help retain talent in the country, according to authorities.

The FAHR said the meeting, held with leading local and international expert firms, looked into the best practices in the management of retirement funds and analysed which strategies would work best for the expatriate population of the country.

The meeting followed the Workers Incentives and End-of-Service Benefits Conference that took place in Dubai in February this year, in which officials had proposed that a savings scheme be created for expats.

“With accelerated technological advancements and the increased retirement age and years of service, there is an urgent need in the region to establish investment funds to manage retirement and end-of-service benefits, which will provide a saving opportunity to all employees in the UAE and the regional labour markets,” Dr Abdul Rahman Abdul Manan Al Awar, director-general of the FAHR, said at the Dubai conference.

At the recent meeting, Al Awar said authorities have conducted a study that will help improve the end-of-service benefits system in the country. “The retirement funds will help employees plan properly by taking advantage of end-of-service benefits, enabling them to make use of their financial resources and creating jobs for new generations,” he said.

“I believe the idea of creating a savings system for end-of-service benefits in all sectors is an important strategic step as it will be the first of its kind in the region.”

Al Awar added that the roundtable meeting with major firms and experts involved an in-depth discussion of some of the key points mentioned in the study. Actual experiences, based on best international practices, were also tackled.

While conducting the study, several meetings were held with local governments, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Economy, pension funds, the Securities and Commodities Authority, and Departments of Economic Development and Executive Councils in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
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Iran detains leader of US-based dissident group

Jamshid Sharmahd of the Kingdom Assembly of Iran is accused of plotting several attacks inside the country Iran on Saturday said it had detained a leader of a little-known California-based opposition group for allegedly planning a 2008 attack on a mosque that killed 14 people and wounded over 200 others. Iran’s Intelligence Ministry also alleged…

Iran detains leader of US-based dissident group

Jamshid Sharmahd of the Kingdom Assembly of Iran is accused of plotting several attacks inside the country

Iran on Saturday said it had detained a leader of a little-known California-based opposition group for allegedly planning a 2008 attack on a mosque that killed 14 people and wounded over 200 others.
Iran’s Intelligence Ministry also alleged Jamshid Sharmahd of the Kingdom Assembly of Iran planned other attacks around the Islamic Republic amid heightened tensions between Tehran and the US over its collapsing 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.
It remains unclear how Sharmahd, whom Iran acused of running the opposition group’s Tondar militant wing, ended up detained by intelligence officials. Requests for comment sent by email to the Glendora-based Kingdom Assembly of Iran were not immediately answered and a telephone number for the group no longer worked.
Iranian state television broadcast a report on Sharmahd’s arrest, linking him to the 2008 bombing of the Hosseynieh Seyed Al Shohada Mosque in Shiraz. It also said his group was behind a 2010 bombing at Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s mausoleum in Tehran that wounded several people.
The report also alleged without providing evidence that Tondar, or “Thunder” in Farsi, also plotted attacks on a dam and planned to use cyanide bombs at Tehran’s annual book fair.
The Kingdom Assembly of Iran, known in Farsi as Anjoman-e Padeshahi-e Iran, and Tondar seek to restore Iran’s monarchy, which ended when the fatally ill Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi fled the country in 1979 just before its Islamic Revolution. The group’s founder disappeared in the mid-2000s.
Authorities did not elaborate on how they apprehended Sharmahd, though Iranian intelligence operatives in the past have used family members and other tricks to lure targets back to Iran or friendly countries to be captured. An alleged Iranian government operative who allegedly tried to hire a hitman to kill Sharmahd disappeared in 2010 before facing trial in California, likely having returned to Iran.
While overshadowed by other exiled opposition groups, Iran reportedly brought up the Kingdom Assembly multiple times while negotiating the terms of the 2015 deal, which saw Tehran limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.
A statement attributed to Tondar claimed the assassination of an Iranian nuclear scientist in 2010 by a remote-control bomb, though it later said it wasn’t responsible. Suspicion long has fallen on Israel for a string of assassinations targeting scientists amid concerns about Iran’s nuclear programme, which the West fears could be used to develop a nuclear bomb. Iran long has maintained its program is for peaceful purposes.
Sharmahd’s reported arrest comes as tensions remain inflamed by President Donald Trump’s 2018 decision to unilaterally withdraw America from the nuclear deal. A series of incidents last year were capped by a US drone strike in January killing a top Iranian general in Baghdad. Iran responded by launching a ballistic missile attack on U.S. soldiers in Iraq that injured dozens. 
 

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Combating coronavirus: GEMS schools in UAE get ready for students’ return

All staff involved in cleaning and sanitisation have undergone training and are required to wear full personal protective equipment. All GEMS schools across the country have been meticulously preparing for the return of their students and staff, implementing a host of safety measures. They are working with a globally accredited health and safety service providers,…

Combating coronavirus: GEMS schools in UAE get ready for students’ return

All staff involved in cleaning and sanitisation have undergone training and are required to wear full personal protective equipment.

All GEMS schools across the country have been meticulously preparing for the return of their students and staff, implementing a host of safety measures.
They are working with a globally accredited health and safety service providers, covering everything from food handling and deep cleaning, to school transportation and staff accommodation.
All staff involved in cleaning and sanitisation have undergone training and are required to wear full personal protective equipment.
Paul Slater, vice-president for operations and health, safety and environment at GEMS Education, said: “The safety of our students, parents, teachers and staff is of utmost importance and remains our top priority. Our preparations for reopening schools are already well under way.
“We have been reviewing practices across Europe and Asia to ensure we apply only the best global standards. We have a team of dedicated health and safety professionals who are working tirelessly to ensure we continue to follow the best, most up to date health and safety standards.
In the run-up to school reopening, all GEMS Education schools are undergoing regular deep cleaning and disinfection using hospital-grade anti-viral disinfectants that are commonly used in healthcare facilities.
Additional measures include repeated fumigation of all air conditioning vents, and GEMS Education’s Health and Safety Team is currently reviewing additional measures to enhance the safety of people coming into school, including the potential use of sanitisation tunnels at main entrances as well as IP thermal cameras for enhanced temperature checking.
In addition, professionals have been reviewing policies and procedures to ensure that social distancing and safety guidelines are implemented and followed.
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US announces $225 million in emergency aid to Yemen

RABAT: Morocco has rapidly expanded its fleet of drones as it battles the coronavirus pandemic, deploying them for aerial surveillance, public service announcements and sanitization.“This is a real craze. In just weeks, demand has tripled in Morocco and other countries in the region,” said Yassine Qamous, chief of Droneway Maroc, African distributor for leading Chinese…

RABAT: Morocco has rapidly expanded its fleet of drones as it battles the coronavirus pandemic, deploying them for aerial surveillance, public service announcements and sanitization.“This is a real craze. In just weeks, demand has tripled in Morocco and other countries in the region,” said Yassine Qamous, chief of Droneway Maroc, African distributor for leading Chinese drone company DJI.Moroccan firms have been using drones for years and Qamous says it “is among the most advanced countries in Africa” for unmanned flight, with a dedicated industrial base, researchers and qualified pilots.But restrictive regulations have long limited civilian drones to specific applications such as filming, agriculture, monitoring solar panels and mapping.That changed rapidly as the novel coronavirus swept across the world.In recent weeks, authorities have employed drones to issue warnings, identify suspicious movement in the streets and disperse illegal rooftop and balcony gatherings.A strict lockdown imposed in March has not been uniformly respected, with local media reporting on nighttime gatherings of neighbors and collective prayers on roofs, beyond the view of street patrols.Last week local authorities in Temara, a town near the capital Rabat, launched a high-precision aerial surveillance system developed by local company Beti3D, which previously specialized in aerial mapping.Other countries in Europe, Asia and the Middle East have also adopted technology deployed in China since the start of the pandemic, whether for tracking the movements of citizens, disinfecting public spaces or facilitating deliveries.“Drones have quickly emerged as a vital technology for public safety agencies during this crisis as they can safely monitor public spaces,” according to the website of DJI, by far the world’s top drone maker.Like most countries, Morocco primarily uses imported Chinese drones. But the emergence of new applications linked to the pandemic is also driving local production of specialized aerial vehicles.“There is real demand,” said Abderrahmane Krioual, the head of Farasha, a startup that has raised funds to produce drones for thermal surveillance and aerial disinfectant spraying.The aeronautics department of the International University of Rabat (UIR) offered its facilities, expertise and prototypes to authorities in March, deploying drones with loudspeakers or infrared cameras able to detect movement at night or spot individuals with high temperatures.Several projects are underway across the country ahead of the widespread deployment of various models of drones, said Mohsine Bouya, the university’s director of technology development and transfer.Teams are also developing tracking applications, but “we’ll have to wait for a change to the law” before launching them, he said.Moroccan authorities declined to comment on the use of drones or the numbers deployed since the start of the public health emergency in mid-March.Unlike in some countries, the use of surveillance drones has not sparked public debate in Morocco, where the kingdom’s authoritarian response to the pandemic is widely supported.Morocco closed its borders early and tasked law enforcement with imposing strict confinement measures on the population.They include movement restrictions and the compulsory wearing of masks, with a nighttime curfew since the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan — enforced by a heavy police presence.Those found guilty of violating lockdown measures face one to three months in prison, a fine equivalent to $125, or both.Officials say 59,000 people have been prosecuted for breaching lockdown measures.Authorities say the measures have limited transmission of the virus, with 5,382 COVID-19 cases reported including 182 deaths since the state of emergency was announced.But the kingdom’s high number of arrests — some 85,000 people by April 30 — has drawn criticism from Georgette Gagnon, director of field operations at the United Nations’ Human Rights Office.Last week she listed Morocco among countries where repressive coronavirus measures have created a “toxic lockdown culture.”Morocco disputed this, saying its measures were “in line with legal frameworks respecting human rights.”

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