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Arabic press review: US ambassador to Qatar praises country over World Cup

Meanwhile, a dollar crisis continues in Egypt and Algeria locks up another former minister
Sergej Milinkovic-Savic celebrates scoring his team's second goal during the World Cup Group G match between Cameroon and Serbia at the Al-Janoub Stadium on 28 November 2022 (AFP)

US ambassador praises Qatar over World Cup

US Ambassador to Qatar Timmy Davis has praised Doha's staging of the 2022 World Cup, saying it could "not be done by others".

"No one in the world can build what the Qataris have built," said Davis in an exclusive interview with the Qatari beIN Sports channel.

"This is my message, the World Cup here is exceptional, and everyone who came here lived an experience that they will never experience again in their life. This will not happen again with this amount, with this fascination and beauty.

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"To all the fans of this region, I say take a moment, take a breath, and really enjoy, because it is something extraordinary you will not see again," Davis added.

Qatar is hosting the FIFA World Cup, which started on 20 November and will last until 18 December, in the first World Cup tournament to be held in the Middle East and the Arab world.

The event has faced criticism, however, as a result of Qatar's treatment of the migrant workers who built the stadiums and laws against LGBTQ people.

Dollar crisis continues in Egypt

A shortage of US dollars and its rising exchange rate continues in Egypt, despite the recent agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), leading to an increase in the cost of imported goods and putting more pressure on traders, according to a report published by Al-Araby Al-Jadeed newspaper in London.

The Egyptian foreign exchange market is witnessing a state of uncertainty, despite the third floatation of the Egyptian pound last month, and despite Cairo agreeing later to obtain a new loan from the IMF.

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The dollar crisis in Egypt is related to two main factors, which are the instability or shortage of US dollars, and the significant increase in the value of the outstanding liabilities to repay loans and interest on loans.

Hard currency flows into the country are almost balanced against outgoing dollar obligations, excluding loans: dollar revenues include remittances of workers abroad, which amounted to $31.9bn in the 2021-2022 fiscal year, as well as exports, which amounted to about $27.5bn during the first nine months of this year, and tourism, whose revenues reached $10.7bns in the last fiscal year, which is less than the year 2010, when it amounted to $12.5bn.

The fourth source of US dollars in Egypt is the revenues of the Suez Canal, which amounted to $7bn in 2021-2022.

Thus, the total foreign exchange revenues without loans amount to $85bn. However, Egypt needs these dollars to cover the value of imports from abroad and to pay installments and interest on outstanding loans.

According to official figures, the value of non-oil imports amounted to $79.2bn in 2021, while oil and electricity imports reached $10bn, with total imports of $89.2bn.

Regarding foreign loans, the value of the installments and accrued interest amounted to $43.6bn within a year.

Former Algerian minister jailed

An Algerian court has issued a sentence of four years imprisonment against the former Algerian minister of solidarity, Djamel Ould Abbes, on corruption charges, according to the Algerian Echorouk newspaper.

The court also imposed a fine against the former minister of four million dinars ($29,000).

The court convicted Ould Abbes with this penalty after his defence team had appealed the previous judgement issued against him, a penalty of three years in prison and a million dinars fine.

He was convicted on charges of embezzlement of the funds of terrorism victims, embezzlement and waste of public funds, and exploiting his position.

His imprisonment is the latest in a series of jailings of former ministers, former prime ministers and senior officers of the Algerian army, who were arrested in the context of major anti-corruption investigations launched after the resignation of former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika under the pressure of an unprecedented protest movement in 2019.

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