Posts Tagged ‘ middle east ’

New Middle East virus spread in hospitals (Saudi Arabia)


With the umra and the upcoming Hajj coming up. One thing that is coming up that should scare us. the new Mers virus. With the millions of pilgrims coming to Saudi the virus has a chance of spreading far and wide.

The new MERS virus, which has infected 64 people and killed 38 of them, is mostly spread in hospitals and it will take special care to prevent bigger outbreaks,

 

New website tracks graft in Tunisia


This is also what Algeria needs and Morocco.

Tunisia’s “I Watch” organisation on Saturday (April 13th) launched a new online “crowd-map” for reporting cases of corruption.

The name chosen for the site is “Billkamcha”, a slang term for a person “caught in the act”. Just 48 hours after the site went live, it already collected 7,000 supporters.

“This interactive website is designed to enable the victims of corruption to immediately report what happened to them whether this corruption is financial, administrative or in the form of favouritism,” I-Watch Tunisia President Achraf Aouadi explained at the event launch.

  • [Billkamcha.com] Any Tunisian can log on to Billkamcha.com to report incidents of corruption.[Billkamcha.com] Any Tunisian can log on to Billkamcha.com to report incidents of corruption.

According to Aouadi, the site allows whistleblowers to remain anonymous while helping them to seek justice. “If they refuse this option, we offer to apply pressure on the media in order to uncover corruption and corrupt individuals,” he said.

“Control of corruption in Tunisia requires the efforts of everyone and the role of civil society is necessary and inevitable,” Taoufik Chammari, president of the National Anti-corruption Network, told Magharebia.

“We have to go to the people and reinforce the concept of anti-corruption in them and show them all methods and techniques used by corrupt people,” he added.

Imed Ben Khemisa, a former member of the national commission investigating corruption and embezzlement, also praised the project.

“Personally I find the idea really good, fruitful and meaningful for our country,” he told Magharebia.

He explained that his committee’s work after the revolution “resulted in the transfer of more than four hundred cases to the public prosecutor after review of more than five thousand”.

For her part, Salma ben Jemii, a bank executive said, “Such a site will encourage hesitant people and those who fear administrative prosecution on charges of disclosing trade secrets to reveal what is going on around them in terms of tampering with public money, especially with regard to public banks.”

Tunisia’s rating in the annual Corruption Perceptions Index of Transparency International fell from 59th in 2010 to 75th in 2012.

During the World Social Forum hosted by Tunisia last month, Farid Farid, media co-ordinator for the Middle East at Transparency International, said that the most important factors that led to the worsening corruption were “acceptance by society of bribery and toleration of it, as well as the failure of regulatory institutions, the non-activation of laws and the lack of transparency and good governance in institutions”.

The latest opinion poll carried out by the Tunisian Centre for Corporate Governance published in September 2011 indicated a level of corruption in the police sector reaching 72 per cent, 70 per cent within political parties, 57 per cent in customs and 57 per cent in the transitional government, 40 per cent of lawyers and 39 per cent of judges.

I Watch was created in March 2011 as a local non-profit watchdog with two main objectives: transparency and fighting corruption.

“It is the duty of citizens to exercise caution and avoid selfishness when seeking help without falling victim to corrupt individuals,” commented Hatem Omri, a human rights activist. “We have to condemn the briber and the bribed. It is then that we can talk about beginning to eliminate corruption.”

In February of last year, Abderrahmen Ladgham, the minister for governance and combatting corruption, said that a third of Tunisians were involved in cases of corruption at least once in their lives.

“According to statistics available to us, 90 per cent of Tunisians consider corruption a crime yet we find that one person out of three either accepted a bribe or paid it,” he said.

I Watch will co-ordinate with a number of lawyers to process the files that it has begun to receive. The site has a team of six active members in charge of receiving complaints and reports relating to corruption. It will also depend on ten bloggers whose mission is to expose and detect cases of corruption received by the site.

China invested $1.5bn in Algeria in a decade


Beijing has invested more than $1.5 billion (1.1 billion euros) over the past decade in Algeria, where 50 top Chinese companies and 30,000 workers are based, media reported on Sunday.

By the end of 2012, China’s total investments in the North African country over the past decade reached $1.5 billion, Beijing’s ambassador to Algiers Liu Yuhe told the daily Liberte.

“More than 30,000 Chinese people work in Algeria in sectors including railway and road construction. They are also helping to develop the water sector,” he said.

Algeria has granted 50 Chinese companies building contracts worth a total of $20 billion, including giving the $1.5-billion contract for a huge mosque in Algiers to the China State Construction Engineering Corporation.

The project is due to be completed in 2015.

Such deals have made Algeria the most important African market for Chinese businesses, and one of the most important in the world, the African Development Bank said.

China has rapidly expanded its economic interests in Africa in recent years, and more than one million Chinese workers are based on the continent, according to Beijing figures.

Trade between China and Africa was $200 billion in 2012 — almost double that of the United States with the continent.

Algeria sends 40 tons of humanitarian aid to Syria


The Algerian government announced on Monday that it sent 40 tons of humanitarian aid to Syria.

Algeria decided to send the humanitarian aid via Beirut Airport, Lebanon, through Algerian Red Crescent directly to Syrian Red Crescent, Ammar Balani, spokesman for Algerian ministry of foreign affairs, said in a statement. Balani affirmed the aid – food, medicine and blankets – would be shipped on board cargo aircraft, of Air Algerie, over three flights.

He said the first batch, containing 14 tons, was sent today as the other two remaining batches would be sent within the next few days, indicating that sending this humanitarian aid was in solidarity with the Syrian people living in difficult circumstances.

Algeria’s GDP has more than tripled in 10 years


ALGIERS – The value of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in Algeria has more than tripled in 10 years, from 4123.5 billion dinars (54.8 billion dollars) in 2000 to 14,481,000,000 in 2011 AD (198, 8 billion dollars) thanks to public investment by the government to boost economic growth, says the Office for National Statistics (ONS). growth GDP grew at an average annual 4.2% during this period it has evolved sawtooth from 3.8% in 2000 with a peak of 7.2% in 2003 before falling to 3.6% in 2010 and 2.6% in 2011, according to a publication of accounts economic, published for the first time by the NSO. The non-oil GDP has experienced the same trend during the reference period, also moving from 3.8% in 2000 to 7% in 2007 to a peak of 9.6% in 2009 and 5.7% in 2011.nonagricultural GDP reached 1.9% in 2011 against 3.5% in 2010, according to the ONS found that growth of non-oil GDP and non-farm was respectively 5% against 6.5%. Per capita, GDP increased from 4,496.4 in 2010 to 5,413.8 dollars per year in 2011 dollars, says the same source.Economic growth in Algeria during these ten years was made ​​possible thanks to investment demand supported by public investment program, stressed the APS Zidouni Hamid, Deputy Director General of the NSO. Besides public investment program, this economic growth was supported by “the improving the performance of certain sectors such as BTPH, “he said, as relavant Household final consumption has certainly played a positive role in the dynamics of aggregate demand.Household consumption has displayed 2011 growth of 6.1%, against 5.9% in 2010. Improving household demand has been the source of this “good performance”, which was consolidated mainly by salary increases and various schemes for compensation. growth, however, “is to some extent vulnerable to certain exogenous factors such as oil prices and weather conditions, “he noted. contribution to this growth sector was both “mixed and differentiated.” This is particularly agriculture which contributed 8.6%, hydrocarbons (38.3%), industry (4.9%), the BTPH (9.8%) , merchant services (hotels, cafes, restaurants) with 21.1% and non-market services (administrations, hospitals …) with 17.3%. aps

Algeria’s military goes on an arms spree


But the question is. Is Algeria only buying quantity or is it buying in quality. When can Algeria make its own military industry,its own weapons.

Algeria’s powerful armed forces, which operate Africa’s largest defense budget, are seeking a 14 percent hike in defense spending as they awaits delivery of two German A200 frigates and 19 Russian T-90 tanks.

The Defense Ministry has requested a $10.3 billion budget for 2013 that reflects the country’s military modernization drive and the widening security challenges it faces.

Despite the increased dangers for Algeria’s oil and natural gas industry, its economic backbone, “thanks to oil and gas revenues, the Algerian state has gone from an international financial basket case in the 1990s, to one of the richest in the world, with as much as $200 billion in reserves,” the Financial Times observed.

Algeria has North Africa’s second largest military. Jane’s information group says Algeria was arguably the biggest military spender in Africa in 2009 and is the ninth largest arms importer in the world.

 

Tunisia looks to tourism to heal economy hit by Arab Spring


Tourists take pictures as they tour the medina, the old city of Tunis. Tunisia, the cradle of the Arab Spring, wants to revive its battered tourism industry more than two years after the revolution. Zoubeir Souissi / Reuters

But the real question is Can Tunisia build an economy with innovation and free from coruption.

Tunisia  wants to revive its battered tourism industry more than two years after the uprising and in the face of the euro-zone crisis that has affected the incomes of many Europeans.

While nearly 6 million visitors came to the country last year, up from 4.5 million a year earlier, the number was still 60 per cent less than in 2010, Khaled Fourati, the chief executive of the Continental Hotel in the capital city of Tunis and vice president of Groupe Interprofessionnel du Tourisme, said last month.

After last year’s start of a fragile tourism recovery in the North African country, hotel bookings nosedived again after the assassination of the opposition leader Chokri Belaid on February 6.

“That event has led to a new round of political challenges, and thus the [general economic] recovery will depend heavily on how quickly the government can get back to work,” said Ann Wyman, a senior officer at AfricInvest, a Tunis-based pan-African private equity fund.

Before the killing, “growth predictions for 2013 centred around 3 per cent, with a recovery expected in many sectors”, she said.

Libyans represented two thirds of visitors last year, with Tunisia also depending heavily on guests from France, Germany, England, Spain and Italy.

Package holidays booked from France  by one major tour operator fell by 90 per cent in the week following the killing of Belaid, said Mehdi Allani, who runs Le Sultan, a hotel in Hammamet, 60 kilometres south of Tunis on the Mediterranean.

“These clients are not waiting for change but choosing other destinations,” Mr Allani said.

Tunisia is bidding to transform its tourism industry from being a winter sun destination to attracting more culture seekers, business travellers and those coming for medical treatment as it aims to attract 10 million tourists by 2016. The Tunisian ministry of tourism is organising a national conference on March 28 and has put together a set of targets for the next few years.

Negotiations with the IMF for US$1.78 billion (Dh6.53bn) in funding, which is at an advanced stage, could boost confidence, Ms Wyman said.

“Almost 80 per cent of the tourists come for the sea and the beach in Tunisia, and we are trying to change this for six, seven years, since before the revolution,” says Mr Fourati, whose family has been in the hotel business since 1948 and manages four other hotels along with the Continental across Tunisia.

Despite waning demand, many hotels have resisted cutting their prices because of the rising cost of living.

“Inflation is going up, wages are going up, and we can’t afford to cut prices,” Mr Fourati said.

Thomas Cook, the travel agency, reported its west European business was severely affected by poor performance of the French market because of “lower demand for holidays to the important French-speaking North African destinations”.

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