Al Jazeera con­firms that 500 jobs will go

7 Days in Dubai - - BUSINESS -

The pro­posed pay-by-the-minute car rental scheme in Dubai has been put on hold. “We would like to in­form you that at the time be­ing, U Drive can of­fer car-rental ser­vice on a daily ba­sis only, the pre­vi­ously of­fered ser­vice per-minute car rental scheme is cur­rently put on hold un­til cer­tain lo­gis­ti­cal, reg­u­la­tory, and ad­min­is­tra­tive is­sues are re­solved,” read a state­ment on U Drive’s web­site. “We are work­ing very closely with the Road and Trans­port Au­thor­ity [RTA] to of­fer this ser­vice in a way that is com­pat­i­ble with the rules and reg­u­la­tions gov­ern­ing car rental ac­tiv­ity in Dubai.” The scheme, which was launched to great pub­lic­ity ear­lier this month, would have seen cus­tomers pay­ing 50 fils per minute to use one of the U Drive rental cars which they could lo­cate via an app on their smart­phone. The pro­posed scheme would have seen the cars com­ing with petrol in­cluded in the price and a re­place­ment car be­ing pro­vided in the event of a break­down. Al Jazeera, the Qatar-based broad­caster, has con­firmed that 500 jobs are be­ing axed. The broad­caster said the cuts will come into ef­fect within the next two months, re­ported news agency The As­so­ci­ated Press (AP). The net­work de­scribed the cuts as part of a “work­force op­ti­mi­sa­tion ini­tia­tive tied to an evolv­ing me­dia land­scape”. Di­rec­tor General Mostefa Souag said this will en­able Al Jazeera to “main­tain a lead­ing po­si­tion and con­tinue our recog­nised com­mit­ment to high­qual­ity, in­de­pen­dent and hard-hit­ting jour­nal­ism around the world.” No Al Jazeera of­fi­cials were avail­able for com­ment, said AP, who added that the net­work cur­rently em­ploys a work­force in the re­gion of 4,500 peo­ple and that most of those los­ing their jobs are based in Qatar. This fol­lows an an­nounce­ment in Jan­uary that Al Jazeera was shut­ting down its Amer­i­can ca­ble news net­work, launched in Oc­to­ber 2013, af­ter strug­gling to at­tract view­ers and satel­lite com­pa­nies to carry it. The cut­backs come as Qatar, the 2022 World Cup host, re­fo­cuses its spend­ing pri­or­i­ties amid a steep drop in prices for oil and gas. Al Jazeera be­gan life as an Ara­bic-lan­guage news chan­nel in 1996 with back­ing from Qatar’s then­e­mir, Ha­mad bin Khal­ifa Al Thani. It now has bureaus posted all over the world.

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