Unlike Khaleej Times, local stories dominate the front pages of both Gulf News and The National.
Gulf News reported that a deadline has been set by the Ministry of Environment and Water to stop the use of non bio-degradable plastic bags. The paper added that 48 per cent of private sector companies in the UAE have already switched to ‘green’ bags that are environmentally friendly.
Late Emirati footballer was given a moving tribute by football fans in the UAE. The National said hundreds of spectators gathered last night in Al-Nahyan Stadium, Abu Dhabi, holding posters of Theyab Awana and commemorative banners celebrating the life of popular footballer.
In a separate story, a conference over the growing trend of suicides among the country’s youth was reported by The National. The experts attributed low self-esteem due to greater exposure to international media, eating disorders, learning disabilities, study pressure, and depression as main factors that lead to suicide.
Meanwhile, Gulf News said Dubai Health Authority is mulling over some groundbreaking reforms that will pave the way to affordable and efficient access to health care services to both UAE nationals and expatriates in the next two years.
The National’s foreign correspondent from Damascus reported that Hamas’ refusal to support Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad’s crackdown on opposition protestors has put a strain on the relationship between the sides. An unknown high-ranking Baath party official told The National that Hamas is secretly funding anti-Assad groups hoping they could topple the 48-year-old nationalist regime.
Khaleej Times reported heavy fighting in Gaddafi stronghold of Sirte with National Transitional Council troops laying siege of the town and shelling pro-Gaddafi positions. NTC forces have dismissed reports of a civilian catastrophe in the city and insisted that they’ve kept a road open for civilians who want to leave the coastal city.
Both The National and Khaleej Times said US Congress is weighing on imposing new sanctions on the Palestinian Authority as a punishment for seeking statehood recognition from the United Nations.
The National reported Israeli Financial Minister Yuval Steinitz has repeatedly threatened in recent weeks that his government will stop transferring tax collections worth $1.3 billion (AED4.8bn) to the Palestinian Authority. Tel Aviv collects taxes on behalf of the Palestinian Authority in Occupied West Bank.
Khaleej Times disclosed that members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee of the US Congress have frozen the funding to the Palestinian Authority “until the Palestinian Statehood issue is sorted out”.
Syria remains the main theme of UAE newspapers’ editorials.
Khaleej Times highlighted the important meeting of Syrian opposition groups that took place in Istanbul where plans to form a bigger alliance to topple the Baathist regime were discussed. The editorial says Al-Assad regime is facing massive challenges in face of mutiny among the Syrian army and massive street protests taking place across the country. A foreign military intervention is out of question at the moment, the editor suggested, given Damascus’ regime’s alliance with Iran and Hezbollah. “The Syrian opposition groups should make efforts to engage with the regime through intermediaries in order to reach a political solution,” the editor advised while insisting that “compromises are inevitable and this is something he (Bashar Al-Assad) needs to understand sooner rather than later.”
The National focused on Hamas’ relationship with Bashar Al-Assad in its editorial noting that the Palestinian resistance group is distancing itself from his deeply unpopular regime. While pointing out the paradox that Damascus provides shelter to Hamas, a Muslim Brotherhood affiliated group, while banning the Islamic movement on its soil, the editor insisted Hamas, to some extent, should be given credit for taking an independent line on the Syrian uprising. The article revealed that Hamas is considering a move to Amman and defended their choice given that ‘no amount of Syrian support is worth an alliance with the Assads at this point.’
Gulf News urged the Libyan National Transitional Council to focus on nation building in order to ensure the country’s unity and bringing all the tribes in Libya under the banner of the state. While underlining the heavy civilian losses in Sirte and Bani Walid when anti-Gaddafi forces tried to capture the coastal Libyan towns, the editorial reminded NTC that it needs to build up on the international support and recognition and create a formal all-inclusive government. “Bringing down a regime is one thing. But building a nation is a completely different kind of exercise,” the Gulf News editorial concluded.
By Moign Khawaja ~ Editor – Arabian Gazette