"The Guy They've Been Waiting For"


In a big new feature story in the New Yorker, Dexter Filkins looks at the swift, disorienting, and brutal rise of Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince and de facto ruler of the kingdom. Filkins' story charts MBS's domestic moves (a purge of potential rivals, a "modernization" drive that will supposedly wean the country off of oil and give women enhanced rights) and foreign affairs (a horrific war in Yemen, a blockade of Qatar, pressure on Lebanon's government--all of them indirectly about countering Iran). All the while, Filkins details how MBS has developed a tight relationship with Jared Kushner and the White House. And he simultaneously examines the machinations--from Washington to the Middle East--of MBS's most important regional ally, Mohammed bin Zayed (MBZ), the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and the most important player in the United Arab Emirates. I recently spoke by phone with Filkins, a Pulitzer Prize–winning New Yorker staff writer, and the author of The Forever War.

Include artificial intelligence in school curricula, say experts


Technology experts have stressed the need for schools to prepare students for tomorrow's jobs by increasingly teaching them artificial intelligence (AI) skills to an adequate level. Necip Ozyucel, Cloud and Enterprise Business Group Lead, Microsoft Gulf, said the latest World Economic Forum's'Future of Jobs' report, released in January this year showed that two in three children starting school this year are destined for professional roles yet to be created. "There is an urgent need to recognise that many of the jobs referred to by the World Economic Forum, are supported by artificial intelligence," Ozyucel told Khaleej Times in an exclusive interview. A recent survey by McKinsey & Company on specialist education practice - where 2,000 students, 2,000 teachers and 70 thought leaders across the Americas, Europe and Asia including the Gulf region were interviewed - found that students would be better prepared for'future jobs' if they shored up their soft skills, particularly the social and emotional. And only 42 per cent of employers consider today's graduates as having developed those attributes to an adequate level, according to Ozyucel, "When trying to determine the best approaches to bridge these soft-skills gaps, there is evidence in both studies that students and teachers alike favour collaborative learning scenarios.

Oman Sultan Qaboos, Arab world's longest-reigning leader, dies at 79

The Japan Times

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – Oman's Sultan Qaboos bin Said, the Mideast's longest-ruling monarch who seized power in a 1970 palace coup and pulled his Arabian sultanate into modernity while carefully balancing diplomatic ties between adversaries Iran and the U.S., has died. The state-run Oman News Agency announced his death late Friday on its official Twitter account. The sultan was believed to have been in poor health and traveled to Belgium for what the court described as a medical checkup last month. The royal court declared three days of mourning. The news agency mourned the death of the Sultan and praised the "towering renaissance" he had presided over.

New Omani Sultan Haitham bin Tariq al-Said vows to uphold late ruler's peaceful policy

The Japan Times

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – Oman's new ruler, Sultan Haitham bin Tariq al-Said, vowed Saturday to uphold his predecessor Sultan Qaboos bin Said's foreign policy approach, which steered the Arab country through choppy Persian Gulf waters by balancing close relations with both the United States and Iran. The new ruler, who was Oman's culture minister, spoke after being named successor to Sultan Qaboos, the Middle East's longest-ruling monarch whose death was announced Saturday. He died at the age of 79 after years of an undisclosed illness. Sultan Haitham's message to Omanis and the world was clear: Oman would continue down the path laid by Qaboos as a facilitator of peace. "We will follow the same line as the late sultan, and the principles that he asserted for the foreign policy of our country, of peaceful coexistence among nations and people, and good neighborly behavior of non-interference in the affairs of others," he said in his first public remarks as sultan.

Mike Pompeo talks tough on Iran while visiting the Emirates after Tehran's oil supply threat

The Japan Times

ABU DHABI – U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday that America and its Gulf Arab allies want to show Iran that its actions have "a real high cost," stepping up his warnings after Tehran threatened to disrupt Mideast oil supplies. Pompeo's comments came during a short trip to the United Arab Emirates, a staunch U.S. ally that hosts some 5,000 American service members at a crucial air base and the U.S. Navy's busiest foreign port of call. He stopped short of offering any specifics during an interview with Sky News Arabia, an Arab satellite news channel half owned by Abu Dhabi ruling family member Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, a UAE deputy prime minister. However, his message undoubtedly reached receptive ears. The UAE long has been suspicious of Iran and its nuclear deal with world powers, from which President Donald Trump recently pulled out.