Here are some editorials I wrote for The Gulf Today. (Posted for my records)-->
A vote for liberal
voice in Canada
Monday's decisive win by Justin Trudeau, the 43-year-old son of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, has ended nearly a decade of Stephen Harper's Conservative rule in Canada.
The unswerving message from the verdict is that it’s good-bye time for hardline politics. Jubilation is especially visible on the social media where several people have hailed the vote for change towards a liberal political course.
Trudeau swept to victory with 39.5 per cent of the popular vote by promising forward-thinking and positive changes that will make every Canadian proud.
And with the election victory, the challenge for him to convert words into deeds has begun instantly.
Trudeau's policies differ dramatically from his predecessor. The first major shift came on Tuesday itself when Trudeau announced he had spoken with President Barack Obama and told him he would remove Canada's six fighter jets from the US-led bombing campaign against the Daesh group in Iraq and Syria.
There are other major issues where Trudeau differs from Harper: climate change, immigration and whether relations with the US should hinge on the future of the Keystone XL oil pipeline.
The new leader posted on Facebook: “It’s time for Canada to once again work constructively with its allies. A new Liberal government will do just that.”
To those who worry that Canada has lost its compassionate and constructive voice in the world over the past 10 years, the prime minister-elect promised, “On behalf of 35 million Canadians, we're back."
The elections turned out to be a sort of referendum on Harper's autocratic style.
The reasons are obvious. Harper drastically altered Canada’s foreign policy, transforming it from an impartial arbiter to an assertive power with its own agenda, including vociferous support for Israel and refocusing aid from Africa to South America.
It’s not just that. Under Harper, the country lost a bid for a rotating UN Security Council seat and failed to get US approval for a pan-continental oil pipeline proposed in 2008. Canada, under him, pulled out of the Kyoto Protocol, the emissions reduction programme for rich countries, leaving environmentalists aghast.
In contrast, Trudeau has displayed a humane face vowing to significantly boost Canada’s intake of Syrian refugees, more than doubling it to 25,000 by year end.
The new leader has struck a chord with Canadians weary of years of hardline rule. Though the task on hand is too huge for the new charismatic leader, there is valid reason for optimism and cheer among Canadians.
Israel a barrier to
Ahmed Abdul Rehman Al Jarman, Assistant Foreign Minister of the UAE for Political Affairs, has hit the nail on the head by stating at the Council of the Arab League's consultative meeting of permanent representatives that an enduring solution to the Palestinian issue is the only way to preserve stability in the region.
The UAE’s proposal to the Arab League Council to hold an emergency meeting at the foreign ministers' level is totally justified considering the present volatile situation created by Israeli forces.
There is a definite need to put an end to the provocative acts committed by Israel in the occupied territories and hold Israel accountable for continuous violations.
Also, the need to take advantage of the current momentum of international support to benefit the just Palestinian cause and move towards putting an end to Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories should never ever be underestimated.
With Israeli atrocities continuing to fuel anger worldwide, inflammatory rhetoric from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s team never ceases.
Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely has the audacity to declare that it is her "dream to see the Israeli flag flying" over Al Aqsa mosque compound.
An increase in Jewish visitors to the site, some of whom secretly pray there despite it being forbidden, and inflammatory statements by politicians, have added to the tensions.
It should be noted that Israeli attacks have claimed the lives of 56 Palestinians this month alone.
What Israel forgets is that the world is watching. Hundreds of British academics who have declared that they will boycott contact with Israeli universities over the state's intolerable human rights violations deserve commendation, as they are standing up for a just cause.
The 343 academics from 72 institutions have promised that they would not accept invitations to visit Israeli academic institutions, participate in conferences funded, organised or sponsored by them.
They would maintain this position until the state of Israel complies with international law and respects universal principles of human rights.
As Al Jarman aptly noted, the continued Israeli occupation and lack of settlement for the Palestinian cause through the creation of an independent Palestinian state within the pre-June 1967 borders with Eastern Jerusalem as its capital, in line with international legitimacy resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative, are the main factors of regional instability.
The implication is that without finding a permanent and just solution to the Palestinian issue, the region will undoubtedly continue to suffer chaos, violence and instability.
End of one-child policy
in China a sensible step
The announcement by China to end its one-child policy is a huge step forward, especially because of its mostly brutal enforcement, including forced abortions and sterilisations.
In fact, the retrograde policy has left the country with an ageing population and shrinking workforce, heightening the challenges of slowing growth.
The policy is said to have prevented an estimated 400 million births in the world's most populous country, where 1.37 billion people live today.
Nevertheless, it is not that Chinese citizens are gleefully cheering the announcement or jumping in joy.
The situation has reached such a stage that many young Chinese see more costs than benefits in having a second child.
Career aspirations and rising urbanisation in an increasingly wealthy society are among the factors that have shaped the new line of thinking of Chinese citizens.
Interestingly, a survey on Chinese media site Sina with over 160,000 respondents found that less than 29 per cent would have a second child, and social media users seemed to meet Thursday's announcement with a collective shrug.
By Friday evening, the subject is said to have dropped out of the top 10 topics on popular micro-blog site Sina Weibo.
The one-child policy, officially the family planning policy, was a population control measure of China in effect from 1979 to 2015. The term "one-child" is in a way inaccurate as the policy allowed many exceptions and ethnic minorities in China were exempt.
Violators who could afford to pay the fines were able to have a second child, or even more. Renowned film director Zhang Yimou paid a $1.2 million fine for having three extra children.
Until the 1960s, the government encouraged families to have as many children as possible because the Mao Zedong leadership believed that population growth empowered the country.
The population grew from around 540 million in 1949 to 940 million in 1976.
There are still fears that the new policy will not end the principle of government control over reproduction and that forced sterilisations and abortions may continue so long as there remain caps on family size.
Such worries need to be addressed.
State news agency Xinhua has indicated that the historic change is intended to balance population development and address the challenge of an ageing population.
Whatsoever, Beijing’s decision is surely a major liberalisation of the country's family planning restrictions, a step that moves towards empowering citizens and improving their rights.
It came a little late, but it’s better late than never.
UAE, perfect place
The UAE is known to be a global leader in attracting talent and another major survey has reconfirmed this fact.
According to the Global Shapers Annual Survey 2015 conducted by World Economic Forum, more than 1,000 young people aged between 20 and 30 from around the globe ranked the UAE as the number one emerging market destination for professional fulfillment.
Interestingly, the respondents chose the Emirates as the number one emerging market destination over China, Brazil, South Africa and India, despite the massive scale of the powerhouse BRICS economies.
A cursory look at the country’s economic achievements will make every citizen and resident proud.
Earlier surveys had indicated that the UAE topped globally in quality of the roads and the absence of organised crime and also ranked first globally for having the lowest rate of inflation.
In August, the country was rated as the most popular work destination in the Middle East by jobs portal www.naukrigulf.com
As Yemi Babington-Ashaye, Head of the Global Shapers Community, lucidly explained, "The Global Shapers Annual Survey 2015 provides insights into how millennials see the world. In addition to the diversity that we observe, the survey also reminds us of those things that millennials value everywhere, such as social and economic equality.”
By choosing the UAE as the top emerging-markets destination, millennials are selecting a country that is very serious about professional advancement.
It may be recalled that just two months ago, LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network on the Internet, named the UAE as the most attractive destination for professionals for a second consecutive year.
By analysing every new position that was added to member profiles between Jan.1, 2014, and Dec.31, 2014, LinkedIn determined that the UAE attracted the most talent, gaining 1.89 per cent as a percentage of its total workforce.
Talent flows naturally to countries that create a conducive and pleasant environment for economic growth. The UAE well recognises this fact and the results are showing.
There can be little doubt that innovation and progressive approach are what have elevated the country among the world’s best nations. A stable economy and vibrant opportunities that come along with business-friendly practices also make it a perfect place for professionals.
The credit for the stupendous performance goes to the visionary leadership that has implemented impressive and successful policies. It is also due to the people’s high degree of trust in the government and safety and security in the UAE.