French President Emmanuel Macron kicks the ball as he visits the recreational centre for children in Moisson, France, August 3, 2017.   REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer
French president Emmanuel Macron is finding it difficult to enact the reforms he believes the country's moribund political and economic systems need

100 days in, Macron finds France hard to kick into gear



Patrons of French beaches can look forward to an additional tract of holiday reading this August as volunteers from Emmanuel Macron’s En Marche party are deployed to distribute a pamphlet from the new president.

The special edition Summer Workbook has quizzes, a pull-out colouring-in section and an explanation of the vital importance of fighting climate change. Granted a glimpse of the booklet at the Macron headquarters on the Parisian Left Bank, The National was told the purpose of the programme was to maintain engagement between the president and the voters. “We have to keep explaining our work. We want to keep hold of the optimistic belief in reform,” explained one party official. “There are some supporters already asking how can we make a difference. Some are beginning to doubt.

“I believe it can be done and we are already seeing the beginning of the changes that Emmanuel Macron will bring. That’s we must keep on explaining what it is we need to do and why it makes sense for France.”

The 39-year old stormed to the French presidency in May beating Marine Le Pen, the far-right leader. Four weeks later, En Marche, a party that did not even exist a year before, pulled off part two of the Macron miracle by taking a working majority in the National Assembly.

Since then the new order has experienced salutary lessons in politics. Much of Mr Macron’s troubles have been in the parliament his forces nominally control. Legislation to abolish conflicts of interest and introduce a new moral code for public servants was bogged down by bitter opposition from the far-left.

Perhaps the biggest setback was a row over security. Budget cuts to the military despite the state of emergency to combat terrorism shocked many of Macron’s centrist allies. Pierre de Villiers, the respected head of the army, quit after losing a showdown with the president for more money. Two years of tensions with 30,000 troops on alert at any time had pushed the military close to breaking point, de Villiers warned. In one scathing aside during a discussion on the impact of budget cuts, which Macron had played down as a one-off adjustment, de Villiers drew a distinction with his commander-in-chief. “I am not a six-week-old rabbit,” he pointedly declared.

Macron entered office declaring he would adopt a Jupiterian approach to leadership. Like the Roman god he hoped to send down thunderbolts to shake up the system. By the time MPs and cabinet ministers broke up for the holidays, Mr Macron was already appealing over the heads of the Parisian elite.

_____________________________________________________

Read more:

_____________________________________________________

Olivier Bricq, a retired businessman, is one of the French voters doubting Mr Macron’s ability to deliver on his principal promise to shake up the French economy. The president, he believes, has been exposed by a tumultuous first 100 days in office.

“I did believe that there was something about Emmanuel Macron that would be great but now I think he floated to office on air,” he said. “There was a moment that all the media were for him and it seemed he was fighting off the old system.

“Now that I’ve seen him in power I see he is one of them. He is part of the system and change won’t come from there.”

Bricq, 55, is an example of the type of French citizen that would dearly like the dirigiste economic system, dominated by regulations and closed-shop workplaces, to be transformed.

The small trading business he ran for 20 years has closed and now he is reluctant to start again. “It is too difficult to draw in money in this environment and everywhere there are costs. So I shut it because there was no reward for hard work.

“It is not Macron’s fault that he is too young to succeed but I think that is the case. The people are certainly ready for a new approach but I doubt they will get it.”

To the Macron loyalists his presidency is an idée fixe. The former banker is a symbol that France is at last on the move - as his party's name promises.

A close look at pedestrians walking down a street that runs next to the ministry of economy and finance reveals an intriguing example of this strain of support for Macron.

Retired couples in fleece jackets and sensible shoes make their way to Station F, a refurbished railway siding that has set out its stall as a centre for technology and innovation in Europe’s most hidebound economy.

Not fully complete, Station F is an embodiment of the type of dynamic France that Mr Macron aims to create. With Paris in August deserted as the French flee to the coast, Station F stands out as a hive of activity. The trickle of couples in their leisure years is a testament to Mr Macron’s inspirational power.

Jean Dubarry is a retired official who worked for the European Commission in Brussels. Dubarry, not his real name which he withheld as he retains a civil service position, has come to Station F with his wife, Edith, to photograph its long atrium from outside the security barrier - and also to take away lessons to pass on to his two sons.

“These facilities are a new way of doing business for us. I can see in the offices and on the corridors and floors that the culture inside is all about exchanges with each other and making it easy to interact and swap ideas,” he told The National. “I have one son already in business - he designs colourful socks.

“I would like my second son to avoid the kind of life behind a desk that I have had. He is interested in the digital sphere and in enterprise. He wants to create something in this realm.”

The new president is a figure that can help French innovators to find their way, Dubarry believes. “I am convinced that this president is a strong figure with a global vision of France that he can bring to this place and beyond. He can remove the obstacles that face the young.”

Backed by the businessman Xavier Niel, part-owner of Le Monde newspaper, Station F selects start-up businesses to be nurtured alongside established technology firms. The tenants have had a role in developing the space.

“We interviewed hundreds of startups in order to design every aspect of Station F - from space design to the types of events they like,” explained Roxanne Varza, a director of the project. “Many of them told us that prior to 15 employees or three years of existence they like being surrounded by other entrepreneurs. This is how they build their contacts and they also heavily rely on other entrepreneurs to help them - they believe that talking to entrepreneurs who may have encountered similar difficulties to theirs is even more useful.”

Hopes for far-reaching reform therefore endure despite Mr Macron’s ratings slump - in July his support dropped to a little over 30%. The new president has been warned not to launch too many battles at once. A hectic presidency is not always effective, as the experience of Nicolas Sarkozy, his predecessor but one has demonstrated. “The devil is in the details,” said Dominique Mosi, a director at Institut Montaigne, a pro-Macron think tank.

The real test is to come in September and October when a showdown with the unions over labour law reforms and deregulation is expected.

During a pre-holiday pep-talk to the cabinet to school his lieutenants on the rentrée he expects at the end of August, Macron called for a greater sense of purpose. "It is our time of recoil," he said. "Virtually all our reforms have begun."

ROUTE TO TITLE

Round 1: Beat Leolia Jeanjean 6-1, 6-2
Round 2: Beat Naomi Osaka 7-6, 1-6, 7-5
Round 3: Beat Marie Bouzkova 6-4, 6-2
Round 4: Beat Anastasia Potapova 6-0, 6-0
Quarter-final: Beat Marketa Vondrousova 6-0, 6-2
Semi-final: Beat Coco Gauff 6-2, 6-4
Final: Beat Jasmine Paolini 6-2, 6-2

Our legal consultant

Name: Dr Hassan Mohsen Elhais

Position: legal consultant with Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultants.

SPECS

Engine: Two-litre four-cylinder turbo
Power: 235hp
Torque: 350Nm
Transmission: Nine-speed automatic
Price: From Dh167,500 ($45,000)
On sale: Now

Specs: 2024 McLaren Artura Spider

Engine: 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 and electric motor
Max power: 700hp at 7,500rpm
Max torque: 720Nm at 2,250rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed dual-clutch auto
0-100km/h: 3.0sec
Top speed: 330kph
Price: From Dh1.14 million ($311,000)
On sale: Now

Company profile

Company name: Ogram
Started: 2017
Founders: Karim Kouatly and Shafiq Khartabil
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: On-demand staffing
Number of employees: 50
Funding: More than $4 million
Funding round: Series A
Investors: Global Ventures, Aditum and Oraseya Capital

HOW TO ACTIVATE THE GEMINI SHORTCUT ON CHROME CANARY

1. Go to chrome://flags

2. Find and enable Expansion pack for the Site Search starter pack

3. Restart Chrome Canary

4. Go to chrome://settings/searchEngines in the address bar and find the Chat with Gemini shortcut under Site Search

5. Open a new tab and type @ to see the Chat with Gemini shortcut along with other Omnibox shortcuts to search tabs, history and bookmarks

Company Profile

Name: HyveGeo
Started: 2023
Founders: Abdulaziz bin Redha, Dr Samsurin Welch, Eva Morales and Dr Harjit Singh
Based: Cambridge and Dubai
Number of employees: 8
Industry: Sustainability & Environment
Funding: $200,000 plus undisclosed grant
Investors: Venture capital and government

COMPANY PROFILE

Company: Eco Way
Started: December 2023
Founder: Ivan Kroshnyi
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: Electric vehicles
Investors: Bootstrapped with undisclosed funding. Looking to raise funds from outside

Structural weaknesses facing Israel economy

1. Labour productivity is lower than the average of the developed economies, particularly in the non-tradable industries.
2. The low level of basic skills among workers and the high level of inequality between those with various skills.
3. Low employment rates, particularly among Arab women and Ultra-Othodox Jewish men.
4. A lack of basic knowledge required for integration into the labour force, due to the lack of core curriculum studies in schools for Ultra-Othodox Jews.
5. A need to upgrade and expand physical infrastructure, particularly mass transit infrastructure.
6. The poverty rate at more than double the OECD average.
7. Population growth of about 2 per cent per year, compared to 0.6 per cent OECD average posing challenge for fiscal policy and underpinning pressure on education, health care, welfare housing and physical infrastructure, which will increase in the coming years.

Pros and cons of BNPL

Pros

  • Easy to use and require less rigorous credit checks than traditional credit options
  • Offers the ability to spread the cost of purchases over time, often interest-free
  • Convenient and can be integrated directly into the checkout process, useful for online shopping
  • Helps facilitate cash flow planning when used wisely

Cons

  • The ease of making purchases can lead to overspending and accumulation of debt
  • Missing payments can result in hefty fees and, in some cases, high interest rates after an initial interest-free period
  • Failure to make payments can impact credit score negatively
  • Refunds can be complicated and delayed

Courtesy: Carol Glynn

Married Malala

Malala Yousafzai is enjoying married life, her father said.

The 24-year-old married Pakistan cricket executive Asser Malik last year in a small ceremony in the UK.

Ziauddin Yousafzai told The National his daughter was ‘very happy’ with her husband.

 

 

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Haltia.ai
Started: 2023
Co-founders: Arto Bendiken and Talal Thabet
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: AI
Number of employees: 41
Funding: About $1.7 million
Investors: Self, family and friends

MATCH INFO

Uefa Champions League semi-final, first leg

Tottenham 0-1 Ajax, Tuesday

Second leg

Ajax v Tottenham, Wednesday, May 8, 11pm

Game is on BeIN Sports

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom

Director: James Wan

Starring: Jason Mamoa, Patrick Wilson, Amber Heard, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II 

Rating: 2/5

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: 3S Money
Started: 2018
Based: London
Founders: Ivan Zhiznevsky, Eugene Dugaev and Andrei Dikouchine
Sector: FinTech
Investment stage: $5.6 million raised in total

Company profile

Name: Yodawy
Based: Egypt
Founders: Karim Khashaba, Sherief El-Feky and Yasser AbdelGawad
Sector:
HealthTech
Total funding: $24.5 million
Investors: Algebra Ventures, Global Ventures, MEVP and Delivery Hero Ventures, among others
Number of employees:
500

The studios taking part (so far)
  1. Punch
  2. Vogue Fitness 
  3. Sweat
  4. Bodytree Studio
  5. The Hot House
  6. The Room
  7. Inspire Sports (Ladies Only)
  8. Cryo
Tightening the screw on rogue recruiters

The UAE overhauled the procedure to recruit housemaids and domestic workers with a law in 2017 to protect low-income labour from being exploited.

 Only recruitment companies authorised by the government are permitted as part of Tadbeer, a network of labour ministry-regulated centres.

A contract must be drawn up for domestic workers, the wages and job offer clearly stating the nature of work.

The contract stating the wages, work entailed and accommodation must be sent to the employee in their home country before they depart for the UAE.

The contract will be signed by the employer and employee when the domestic worker arrives in the UAE.

Only recruitment agencies registered with the ministry can undertake recruitment and employment applications for domestic workers.

Penalties for illegal recruitment in the UAE include fines of up to Dh100,000 and imprisonment

But agents not authorised by the government sidestep the law by illegally getting women into the country on visit visas.

The specs

Engine: Single front-axle electric motor
Power: 218hp
Torque: 330Nm
Transmission: Single-speed automatic
Max touring range: 402km (claimed)
Price: From Dh215,000 (estimate)
On sale: September

CABINET OF CURIOSITIES EPISODE 1: LOT 36

Director: Guillermo del Toro
Stars: Tim Blake Nelson, Sebastian Roche, Elpidia Carrillo
Rating: 4/5

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Dresos

Started: September 2020

Founders: Vladimir Radojevic and Aleksandar Jankovic

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Fashion

Funding: $285,000; $500,000 currently being raised

Investors: Crowdfunding, family, friends and self-funding

SPEC SHEET: SAMSUNG GALAXY Z FOLD5

Main display: 7.6" QXGA+ Dynamic Amoled 2X, Infinity Flex, 2176 x 1812, 21.6:18, 374ppi, HDR10+, up to 120Hz

Cover display: 6.2" HD+ Dynamic Amoled 2X, 2316 x 904, 23.1:9, 402ppi, up to 120Hz

Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, 4nm, octa-core; Adreno 740 GPU

Memory: 12GB

Capacity: 256/512GB / 1TB (online exclusive)

Platform: Android 13, One UI 5.1.1

Main camera: Triple 12MP ultra-wide (f/2.2) + 50MP wide (f/1.8) + 10MP telephoto (f/2.4), dual OIS, 3x optical zoom, 30x Space Zoom, portrait, super slo-mo

Video: 8K@24fps, 4K@60fps, full-HD@60/240fps, HD@960fps; slo-mo@60/240/960fps; HDR10+

Cover camera: 10MP (f/2.2)

Inner front camera: Under-display 4MP (f/1.8)

Battery: 4400mAh, 25W fast charging, 15W wireless, 4.5W reverse wireless

Connectivity: 5G; Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.3, NFC (Samsung Pay)

I/O: USB-C

Cards: Nano-SIM + eSIM; dual nano-SIMs + eSIM

Colours: Cream, icy blue, phantom black; online exclusives – blue, grey

In the box: Fold5, USB-C-to-USB-C cable

Price: Dh6,799 / Dh7,249 / Dh8,149

THE SPECS

Aston Martin Rapide AMR

Engine: 6.0-litre V12

Transmission: Touchtronic III eight-speed automatic

Power: 595bhp

Torque: 630Nm

Price: Dh999,563

Heather, the Totality
Matthew Weiner,
Canongate 

THE SPECS – Honda CR-V Touring AWD

Engine: 2.4-litre 4-cylinder

Power: 184hp at 6,400rpm

Torque: 244Nm at 3,900rpm

Transmission: Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT)

0-100kmh in 9.4 seconds

Top speed: 202kmh

Fuel consumption: 6.8L/100km

Price: From Dh122,900

Six tips to secure your smart home

Most smart home devices are controlled via the owner's smartphone. Therefore, if you are using public wi-fi on your phone, always use a VPN (virtual private network) that offers strong security features and anonymises your internet connection.

Keep your smart home devices’ software up-to-date. Device makers often send regular updates - follow them without fail as they could provide protection from a new security risk.

Use two-factor authentication so that in addition to a password, your identity is authenticated by a second sign-in step like a code sent to your mobile number.

Set up a separate guest network for acquaintances and visitors to ensure the privacy of your IoT devices’ network.

Change the default privacy and security settings of your IoT devices to take extra steps to secure yourself and your home.

Always give your router a unique name, replacing the one generated by the manufacturer, to ensure a hacker cannot ascertain its make or model number.

Past winners of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

2016 Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes-GP)

2015 Nico Rosberg (Mercedes-GP)

2014 Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes-GP)

2013 Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing)

2012 Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus)

2011 Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)

2010 Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing)

2009 Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing)

 

Company Profile

Company name: Namara
Started: June 2022
Founder: Mohammed Alnamara
Based: Dubai
Sector: Microfinance
Current number of staff: 16
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Family offices

Genesis G80 2020 5.0-litre Royal Specs

Engine: 5-litre V8

Gearbox: eight-speed automatic

Power: 420hp

Torque: 505Nm

Fuel economy, combined: 12.4L/100km

Price: Dh260,500

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: CarbonSifr
Started: 2022
Based: Dubai
Founders: Onur Elgun, Mustafa Bosca and Muhammed Yildirim
Sector: Climate tech
Investment stage: $1 million raised in seed funding

TWISTERS

Director:+Lee+Isaac+Chung

Starring:+Glen+Powell,+Daisy+Edgar-Jones,+Anthony+Ramos

Rating:+2.5/5

WHAT IS THE LICENSING PROCESS FOR VARA?

Vara will cater to three categories of companies in Dubai (except the DIFC):

Category A: Minimum viable product (MVP) applicants that are currently in the process of securing an MVP licence: This is a three-stage process starting with [1] a provisional permit, graduating to [2] preparatory licence and concluding with [3] operational licence. Applicants that are already in the MVP process will be advised by Vara to either continue within the MVP framework or be transitioned to the full market product licensing process.

Category B: Existing legacy virtual asset service providers prior to February 7, 2023, which are required to come under Vara supervision. All operating service proviers in Dubai (excluding the DIFC) fall under Vara’s supervision.

Category C: New applicants seeking a Vara licence or existing applicants adding new activities. All applicants that do not fall under Category A or B can begin the application process through their current or prospective commercial licensor — the DET or Free Zone Authority — or directly through Vara in the instance that they have yet to determine the commercial operating zone in Dubai. 


View from London

Your weekly update from the UK and Europe

      By signing up, I agree to The National's privacy policy
      View from London