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Arabic press review: Kuwait in the grip of a medicine crisis

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia releases detained US citizen, UAE-Egypt deportation on cards and Syria paralysed by fuel crisis
A Kuwaiti boy receives a Covid-19 vaccine. The country is in the midst of a medicine crisis (AFP)

Kuwait’s medicine crisis

Kuwait is in the midst of a medicine crisis, with dozens of treatments unavailable and other shortages expected to cause a political crisis in the next few days, according to the Kuwaiti Al Qabas newspaper.

The Gulf state’s parliament, the National Assembly, has scheduled a session next Tuesday to discuss the shortage crisis, said Al Qabas. 

Kuwaiti MP Jenan Boushehri, who is a doctor, sent a message to parliament in which she confirmed that "despite the assurances by officials in the Ministry of Health that there are sufficient medicines stocks for the community, many types of medicines are not available for dispensing, which puts the public health situation on the brink of collapse".

In a previous statement, MP Hassan Jawhar confirmed that more than 2,000 types of vital medicines are not available.

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Al Qabas quoted health sector sources as saying: "The shortage of medicines has expanded to include many vital medicines, which are prescribed to a wide category of patients on a daily basis." 

The sources confirmed that the shortage of medicines requires increasing the current budget from $651m to $814m to permanently solve the crisis.

Saudi Arabia releases US citizen

The Saudi Arabian authorities have released a US detainee of Yemeni origin, who was arrested over a month ago in Mecca while performing Umrah.

Mohammed Salem, a 63-year-old Michigan resident, was released following pressure from the US State Department,  Al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper reported

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"The family was losing hope with each passing day," said Abdullah Mughni, an attorney from Dearborn, Michigan.

"We had no way of knowing the charges brought against my client, and what is the evidence against him; all we heard was that my client made alleged comments to a security member in Saudi Arabia," Mughni is reported as saying. 

Mughni resorted to the US government and Michigan congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, who said that the real problem was the lack of transparency. 

Tlaib added that she had asked the State Department to communicate with Salem, who is diabetic, according to his lawyers. 

US urged to prevent UAE-Egypt deportation 

Radha Stirling, founder of the Detained in Dubai organisation, has called for urgent US intervention to prevent the deportation back to Egypt of American citizen and former Egyptian Air Force officer Sherif Othman, who is currently detained in the UAE.

"Our latest information confirms that Othman is still detained in the UAE, while officials are completing the necessary handing over documents, which means that they already intend to hand him over to Egypt, where we fear his life may be in imminent danger," Stirling told Arabi21.

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The British human rights activist noted that the organisation "is in contact with the US embassy in Abu Dhabi, consular staff, as well as senators and Sherif Othman's representatives in Congress, and we hope that diplomatic efforts will succeed in releasing him”.

Othman, a fierce critic of the government of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, was arrested in Dubai two days after arriving there from the US. He was banned from travelling without justification.  

Two men in civilian clothes spoke to him before asking him to get into a car without a number plate, according to his fiancee, who was with him at the time.

Syria paralysed by fuel crisis

The fuel crisis affecting areas controlled by the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad has paralysed the work of its institutions, while bakeries and shops have closed, according to a report in Al-Araby al-Jadeed. 

On Thursday, the Damascus governorate announced the suspension of works in the main citizens' service centre building for the remaining Saturdays in December. 

The education ministry has stopped work in all open education programmes at several Syrian universities on Fridays and Saturdays for the next four weeks.

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Similar suspensions are taking place in the football and basketball federations and overtime work is being cancelled as the fuel crisis affects transportation.

The Syrian government has also decided to move to a four-day week, with Friday now the beginning of a three-day holiday. 

Media activist Abu Youssef Jablawi confirmed that since the beginning of this week, the streets of Latakia governorate have witnessed a serious absence of transport due to the fuel crisis. 

The supply of electricity has also been reduced sharply on the Syrian coast, to just an hour or an hour and a half a day, with Jablawi saying that the “regime areas are drowning in complete darkness”.

The Syrian government says the reason for the recent crisis is "the economic blockade imposed by the West and the shortage of oil supplies from Iran”.

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