AOB – 2013

 

31 December 2013

A6-EMM is apparently haunted. Just so you know.

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It really is not the protests that are dangerous in Thailand – it is the road where the statistics are 266 killed and 2,502 injured in 2,355 road accidents during the first 5 days of the holiday.

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Happy New Year – and a peaceful, kind 2014 to you all. Thank you for still reading me!

And thank you to Tai for always being there.

29 December 2013

Out of sorts. No explanation. Cold in the evenings. Back to  exercising which is a good thing. And heard from Alex and his mother (no news from them over Xmas) – sounds like they are having a memorable trip around the South Antarctic.

27 December 2013

“Must you always sound like a trumpeter on the peak of the high ground” – “Downton Abbey.”

One of the better lines in a dreadful Christmas script.

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Shezanne Cassim is an American citizen who was working for Price Waterhouse in Dubai. He was sentenced to 1 year in prison for posting a parody video onto youtube – Ultimate Combat System – The Deadly Satwa Gs. Six other defendants received jail sentences and/or fines.

The video in question reportedly violated the UAE’s 2012 cybercrime laws. Yet the. But the mock-documentary style video was prefaced by a statement saying that, “The following events are fictional and no offense was intended to the people of Satwa and U.A.E.”

Cassim is a graduate of the University of Minnesota; the local StarTribune said this in its editorial:

“Rather this is about a nation that does not seem to understand that along with its bid for global importance comes some measure of freedom of expression as well as freedom from fear of heavy-handed tactics often seen from the region’s repressive regimes.”

“Given its global aspirations, the U.A.E. should realize that it will only do more damage to its international image if it continues to punish Cassim for doing nothing more than making a silly video.”

Sensible editorial. Dubai seeks the attention of the world and will learn to accept that not every commentary, editorial or video is fawning in its praise. Indeed some of the commentary may be valuable even if it is not flattering.

26 December 2013

Emirates will launch A380 service to London Gatwick, once a day, from 30 March 204

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Christmas Dinner last night with Kay, Marko, Jake, Nina, Brendan, Greta, Colin, Oil and of course Tai. Very enjoyable.

But our kitchen was not designed to cater for 10!

Pictures are on facebook. It was a nice evening.

23 December 2013

Nok Air of Thailand and Singapore based long-haul LCC Scoot have signed an agreement establishing NokScoot a Bangkok Don Mueang-based LCC that will operate in the long-haul low-fare sector.

According to the Bangkok Post, Nok Air will own 51% of the LCC – as required by Thai law – while Scoot will hold the remaining 49%.

NokScoot plans to launch in the second half of 2014 using “two or three” B777-200(ER)s sourced from Scoot. The aircraft will be repainted into Nok Air’s livery but operate under the NokScoot brand name.

Initial services will include East Asia, Japan, South Korea and northern China. Nok Air envisions NokScoot complementing its current network, which covers only Thailand and Myanmar.

This will go head to head with Thai AirAsia X also based out of DMK.

But a 777 painted in Nok colours will be interesting!

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Etihad Airways could inject EUR300million (USD413million) into Alitalia (AZ, Rome Fiumicino), Bloomberg has reported. Citing unnamed sources close to the development, the newswire says the deal would make Etihad Alitalia’s biggest shareholder, ahead of Air France-KLM, which rejected participating in the airline’s latest cash call. Following Etihad’s recent inspection of Alitalia’s books, talks between the two airlines are reportedly at an advanced stage with a deal possible by week’s end.

Of course these are not really Etihad investments but investments by the Abu Dhabi government on behalf of its 100% controlled airline. It is a very different strategy from Emirates.

And for the most part I do not like it. Air Berlin is still not profitable for instance. So this is cash being poured into loss-making businesses and active operational participation is a huge management distraction for Etihad.

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The anti democracy anti government protestors in Bangkok simply cannot help but lie – Thailand’s anti-election PDRC claims 6 million people in Bangkok took the streets to protest yesterday. Al Jazeera wrote 150,000.

And with their lies goes any faint lingering credibility.

21 December 2013

So Abhisit and the Democrats have decided that they will boycott the 2 February general election in Thailand – just as they did in 2006 precipitating the coup that removed Thaksin and which in time led to the default government by the Democrats from 2009 to 2011.

Abhisit’s reasoning: Abhisit: “The Thai people have lost their faith in the democratic system.”

Actually, no. In 2011 the turnout rate was 75.03%

13 December 2013

So here is a headline that you will not see everyday: Hong Kong star denies he was washing the Thai ladyboy out of his mouth

12 December 2013

The 4 stages in life:
1)You believe in Father Xmas.
2)You don’t believe in Father Xmas.
3)You are Father Xmas.
4)You look like Father Xmas.

Worrying when you are in stage 4 !

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Suthep’s proposed people’s council -400 members:
Thai people can choose 0
Professionals can choose 300 among themselves
Suthep can choose 100

Idiot. On People’s Council selection, Suthep said there’d be “no negotiation”; those disagreeing with it could just shut up and not get in the way.

So dictatorship then. With a small group of like minds telling the nation what they should do.

This will never happen.

9 December 2013

Thai Lion Air (SL, Bangkok Don Mueang) operated its maiden flight from Bangkok Don Mueang to the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai on Wednesday, December 4. The route was operated using on of the airline’s two B737-900(ER)s. Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, Thai Lion CEO Darsito Hendroseputro said: “We have two B737-900(ER)s in the fleet and we plan to add two more in February.

www.lionairthaicom

Thailand’s troubles:

For people with short memories:

Sept 2006: Army overthrows government of Thaksin Shinawatra, rewrites constitution.

Dec 2007: Pro-Thaksin People Power Party wins most votes in election.

Aug 2008: Mr Thaksin flees into self-imposed exile before end of corruption trial.

Dec 2008: Mass yellow-shirt protests paralyse Bangkok; Constitutional Court bans People Power Party; Abhisit Vejjajiva comes to power.

Mar-May 2010: Thousands of pro-Thaksin red shirts occupy parts of Bangkok; eventually cleared by army; dozens killed.

July 2011: Yingluck Shinawatra leads Pheu Thai party to general election win.

Nov 2013: Anti-government protesters begin street demonstrations.

Dec 2013: Opposition MPs resign; Ms Yingluck promises elections.

4 December 2013

From @bkkbase on twitter:

The real reason protesters are trying to break into the Royal Thai Police HQ:

30 November 2013

On Facebook tonight:

The sad truth is Thai people are permanently divided now. At least for this generation. Doesn’t matter who does what, who wins, who loses, we all lose”

Very sad.

27 November 2013

Heading for Bangkok this afternoon – such a basket case of a country – and flying into another political crisis.

So here’s the gameplan for next 48 hours — NACC files charges against 312 Pheu Thai MPs, making them ineligible to vote in no-confidence debate, which the Democrat Party will then win by default

When the Democrats win the debate, the PM has to resign and dissolve parliament.

Then what – the electoral commission should call a new election. That will not happen.

The Senate will declare that Parliament is unable to govern and will appoint an unelected PM and a new cabinet arguing that it is a government for national unity and reconciliation.

Control of parliament is necessary to manage the succession. That’s the whole point.

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From Reuters : “Many anti-government protesters draw a distinction between themselves and the poor who are fiercely loyal to Thaksin.

“We are rich and our children are educated in Bangkok,” said Nonthapan Suwananon, an anti-government protestor who manages an office. “They are poor, uneducated and have been bought out by Thaksin and his lot.”

This is classic yellow shirt – it is this awful sense of superiority and entitlement.

 

25 November 2013

Phil Tufnell – “The Australian’s haven’t beaten us for so long, they’ve forgotten how to do it with class.”

Indeed.

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Andrew Marshall writes about Thailand like no-one else. He does not live there. He cannot. But there is no questioning his fundamental love of the country and the thoroughness of his research.

Inevitably his conclusions are not to the liking of all Thais or to the farang who populate ThaiVisa – but he wrote this 25 days ago and it is depressingly accurate:

“Another terribly damaging crisis is looming. The Yellow bloc will do its best to once again incite mayhem in Bangkok in coming days and weeks. The Democrat Party has totally abdicated its duty to be a responsible parliamentary opposition that holds the government to account via constitutional methods. Instead, they intend to continue to sabotage parliament’s ability to function, and then claim democracy in Thailand is no longer working… They will attempt to mount more mass rallies in Bangkok to paralyse the city. And when they have ramped up chaos and tension to fever pitch, they intend to remove the government via a judicial coup by partisan judges. They will then seek to freeze democracy for years and instal a government probably headed by Prawit Wongsuwan with no democratic mandate.”

Andrew concludes that “The only thing that is different from my forecast is that the government may be toppled by a NACC ruling rather than a judicial coup by judges. But the strategy is the same — cause chaos to give the impression the government has lost legitimacy, then use a judicial/institutional intervention to topple the government.”

Read Andrew’s full research here : www.zenjournalist.com

24 November 2013

Just a sense that the nuclear deal with Iran has to be a good deal if it has upset the Israelis and the Arab nations….

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The Deng-Blair story is all over the conservative English press today – Speculation of an affair between Blair and Deng first emerged in June after a tweet from BBC journalist Robert Peston who said: “Am told that undisclosed reasons for Murdoch divorcing Deng are jaw-dropping and hate myself for wanting to know what they are.”

The fact that the story is in the Mail, Telegraph and Sun today suggests that Murdoch has decided it is time for the story to be public.

Wendy Deng was Rupert Murdoch’s third wife – their divorce is expected to be finalised in court next Wednesday.

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England were truly thumped by the Aussies in the first test in Brisbane.

But cricket could do without classy moments like this from Michael Clarke – the Aussie captain who has a responsibility for setting the tone:

In an angry exchange with Jimmy Anderson the Australia captain could be heard through Channel Nine’s stump microphone appearing to tell England’s No11 to “get ready for a fucking broken arm”.

Classy.

23 November 2013

British Airways have a new billboard on London’s Piccadilly Circus that dynamically reacts to planes that fly overhead, showing the flight number, destination and so on. A bit like the FlightRadar24 app for your phone/pc, but on a billboard.

See this.

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Next Wednesday promises another double A380 delivery for Emirates: MSN133 A6-EEL and MSN135 A6-EEN.

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How bad was Jonathon Trott today? Shocking:

Guardian OBO: “That should be the end of Jonathan Trott in this side for a while if there’s any justice. A shot as brain-dead as Ian Bell’s in the UAE last year against Pakistan. Two men in the deep, back of a length from Johnson and Trott shuffles across and shovels it straight to Lyon. It’s the same way he’s been getting out all year and Andy Flower will be contemplating pugilism.”

22 November 2013

50 years ago today President John F Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas.

There is a page on his life on this website.

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From TV.com’s review of Person of Interest:

“Person of Interest was always a little different and wily from the rest of network television, but now It’s entirely unpredictable. And because we gobble up shows like french fries we think we’re accustomed to the way television works. It’s mold-breaking episodes like “The Crossing” that keep me excited about television and the new style of storytelling that several shows are adopting. But events like this are usually reserved for cable. Killing a major character in the middle of the season just doesn’t happen on network television, and this never happens on CBS without it being part of an actor’s contract dispute or an actor ready to move on to bigger and better things. This is why we all watch Person of Interest.”

Wonderful episode. Great TV.

21 November 2013

The Dubai Airshow final day has been cancelled due to the weather this morning. Rain and wind. Fair enough that they could not continue with the flying display but the exhibition and even the static park should have been available to visitors who have paid good money to attend the show.

The problem was the exhibition hall was badly damaged by the weather. Flight Global posted a picture of the morning flooding inside the hall – with waterfalls of water pouring from the roof.

So the building was not ready. If damage was caused to some of the exhibits who is liable?

And what does this tell you about the UAE’s ability to deliver the 2020 Expo?

Flight Global’s video had 3.8m views in less than one day, on you-tube, showing video of the situation. By nigh-time the video had been removed. Embarrassment on certain faces is probably why

19 November 2013

Letter in 7 Days today:

“Living in Dubai, I continue to be impressed by the levels of ingenuity when it comes to new buildings.

We have tall ones, twisty ones – everything. Yet somehow, my new flat and all the others in Executive Towers, Business Bay don’t have a front door… Well, they do, but you have to wander through a maze of a car park to find them, making it impossible for anyone to have visitors.

Getting out is even tougher – you need a pass to open the barrier to leave the place, meaning rush hour is just ridiculous with one car sitting there for ages as the driver tries to click a button on his key fob to open the barrier before it swiftly comes down before another person has to sit aimlessly clicking and waving a key fob in the air.
I understand the need for a pass card to access the car park, but to get out?

It’s just another ridiculous hindrance to an already stressful day.”

Exactly.

18 November 2013

The Guardian newspaper managed today to publish a story that combined football, vagina and Qatar in the same story. That is a first.

The story was based upon the apparent resemblance between this planned stadium and said part of the female anatomy.

Said the Guardian– “The design for Qatar’s new Al-Wakrah sports stadium has quickly gone viral: with its shiny, pinkish tinge, its labia-like side appendages and its large opening in the middle, the supposedly innocent building (“based upon the design of a traditional Qatari dhow boat”) was just asking for trouble”

16 November 2013

Very messy front nine from Thongchai Jaidee in the DP World Championship today – 3 puts on each of 1.3 and 9. And a ball in the water on the 3rd for a double bogey 5.

3 birdies on the back 9 meant it was not a disaster but 74 was the second worst round of the day.

As we left an angry Thongchai was with his coach on the putting green.

15 November 2013

There was a wonderful turnout at the Philippines consul in Dubai yesterday as volunteers collected donations to be sent to their home country after the awful devastation of typhoon Haiyan.

These people do not have a lot to start with – but they have huge hearts and the numbers of volunteers and people donating were remarkable.

There is more on the typhoon in this Economist commentary.

14 November 2013

A few aviation updates:

Vanilla Air has set December 20 as its official launch date when the carrier previously known as AirAsia Japan will resume operations under a new brand.

Now fully owned by ANA, it will resume scheduled services in December under its new brand and with new aircraft.

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Etihad Airways is reportedly in discussions to buy a minority stake in Swiss regional carrier Darwin Airline. Etihad is interested in positioning Darwin as a feeder carrier for its own flights and its European “equity alliance” partners. Darwin currently operates ten Saab 2000s and wet-leases two ATR72-200s from other carriers.

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From 7 January 2014 Thai AirAsia will operate Chiang Mai – Hong Kong service, with daily operation on board Airbus A320 aircraft.

FD2305 CNX0600 – 0945HKG 320 D
FD2306 HKG1035 – 1205CNX 320 D

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Qatar Airways will begin flights to Hangzhou, China beginning December 20, 2013. The non-stop service from Doha to Hangzhou, the capital city of Zhejiang Province, will fly four-times-weekly.

An Airbus A330 will be operate on the Doha-Hangzhou route.

Qatar Airways began operations to China in 2003 with the launch non-stop flights to Shanghai, with the airline further expanding its China flights the addition of Beijing, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Chongqing and Chengdu.

11 November 2013

The ICJ has ruled on the ownership of Preah Vihear – and no one will be happy – which probably means that it is a good rulling – while there was no question the Preah Vihear temple itself belongs to Cambodia, the 4.6 sqkm area around it claimed by Thailand was the point of contention. In the ICJ ruling today, the promontory (a high point of land with a cliff that directly leads into water), belongs to Cambodia, while the rest of the disputed area is still unresolved and should be subject for talks between both countries, as Thailand has to pull out all its troops from the area.

Both sides will claim a win…..but the yellow shirts will claim that the PT government has sold out Thailand….just another excuse for anger.

5 November 2013

So on 1 November we flew from Dubai to Seattle about 14 hours over the North Pole.

It was pitch dark over the pole…even in the middle of the day.

And with just two engines you have to wonder what happens if something does go wrong.

Yes we can fly ETOPS. But when the nearest airfields are probably in Mumansk Russia and Fairbanks Alaska – and both can have weather problems….then just how safe is this flight…

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Seattle is a comfortable feeling town with hugely variable weather and more than its share of rain.

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The trouble with jetlag is that you feel tired and lethargic all the time….and sleep too early if at all….and wake in the middle of the night.

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Delta Airlines. Dire.

The flight down from Seattle to LAX was on a small CRJ. OK. Less than two hours so manageable.

The onward connection from LAX to Maui was on an ageing 757. This plane had not been re-equipped with winglets or seatback IFE. IFE was on overhead monitors.

The service comprised of two runs of soft drinks. Small packets of pretzels or nuts were offered on the first run only.

There is a menu card that offers some sandwiches or snacks for sale – though these were not offered by the cabin crew so may or may not have been available.

What a grim way to fly.

 

31 October 2013

Emirates A380 A6-EEO was delivered Finkenwerder – Dubai on 29 October as EK7380. This brings the A380 fleet up to 38 aircraft.

Not all are flying as some are undergoing the program of wing repairs.

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EK will announce its half years results in the next couple of weeks – almost certainly before the Dubai Air Show.

Anyone want to guess the number – the trend is not exactly your friend. There is no trend.

The 2012 half year net profit was Dhs1.7 billion ($464 million) up 104 per cent from Dhs836 million ($228 million) for the 30 September 2011 half year.

For the six months to 30 September 2012 the airline’s revenue, including other operating income, of Dhs35.4 billion ($9.7 billion) was higher by 17 per cent compared with Dhs30.2 billion ($8.2 billion) in 2011.

We will not see profit back at 2010 levels of AED3.4 billion, though there will be an increase in revenues simply due to more aircraft flying more routes.

Assume a 15% increase in revenue to AED40.7billion. As for net profit – my guess – about the same as last year – say AED 1.6billion – a fall in the net profit margin from 4.8% to 3.9%.

Just guessing.

28 October 2013

Al Maktoum International opened to passengers yesterday with more of a Wizz than a bang – with WizzAir being the first passenger airline to operate from teh new airport.

The RTA has announced two new bus routes to the facility.

A day route between Ibn Battuta Metro Station and the Airport runs every hour. Once an hour is a problem is you miss the bus you will miss your flight!

At night, the service will start from the Satwa Bus terminal via Ibn Battuta.

The RTA said that studies are currently underway to see how feasible a route would be between Dubai International and Al Maktoum International. Something they have had years to consider already!

27 October 2013

EK big bird news:

EK374/375 to BKK changes from a 77W to a 388 on 1st May 2014.

That will be 3 x A380s daily to BKK as well as three 777s (one of each a transit stop on the way to HKG and Sydney).

The third daily Paris flight, is also being upgraded to A388 from August 1st 2014. That makes for an all A380 CDG operation.

Furthermore the second daily MUC rotation will permanently upgrade to A388 from 30 March 2014.

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Condor Airways – a German charter subsidiary of Lufthansa will start charter operations to Dubai Al Maktoum airport from 21 November 2013, becoming the second European carrier to operate service to DWC. Planned schedule as follow.

Dusseldorf – Dubai Al Maktoum
DE4342 DUS2010 – 0555+1DWC 757 4
DE4343 DWC0755 – 1210DUS 757 5

Frankfurt – Dubai Al Maktoum
DE4338 FRA2050 – 0610+1DWC 757 4
DE4339 DWC0900 – 1310FRA 757 4

These flights can only be booked via tour operators.

25 October 2013

“People won’t listen to you or take you seriously unless you’re an old white man, and since I’m an old white man I’m going to use that to help the people who need it” — Patrick Stewart

24 October 2013

Russell Brand vs. Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight 2013 – fascinating

23 October 2013

Nobel Peace Prize laureates are calling on world leaders to negotiate the “universal, legal and verifiable elimination of nuclear weapons.”

The statement, which came Wednesday at the end of an annual gathering of the peace prize winners, also called for negotiations to end armed conflicts in Syria and elsewhere.

They really needed a conference in order to say that?

The winners met in Warsaw this year to mark 30 years since Lech Walesa won the prize for leading the Solidarity movement, which helped topple communism in Poland.

A special guest was actress Sharon Stone, who was honored for her work to fight HIV and AIDS.

The meetings were initiated by former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 2000.

Gorbachev did not attend this year due to medical treatment, but notable attendees included laureates Shirin Ebadi of Iran and the Dalai Lama.

20 October 2013

Twenty years since its was released in 1993 “Schindler’s List” remains a powerful, important and deeply affecting film.

Credit to OSN Movies for showing the film unedited. MBC in Saudi Arabia still deletes the words “jew” or “jewish” from any broadcast….

19 October 2013

Couple of EK notes:

A fourth daily flight to HKG starts on 27 October – this is the third non-stop flight – EK376 is an A330 leaving Dubai at 6.30pm for a 5.25am arrival in HKG; the return leaves HKG at 07.05 for a 12.15pm arrival into Dubai.

Meanwhile Bangkok will get its sixth daily non stop from Dubai with a 772 flying as EK370 at 15.20 for a 00.20 arrival into Bangkok and returning as EK371 at 01.55 arriving Dubai at 05.45.

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Qatar Airways will announce Doha-Miami service starting 1 June. 4x weekly with 777-200LR.

Source – the Miami Herald.

Wonder what Emirates is planning?

17 October 2013

Norwegian Airlines will start flying long haul from London Gatwick to three USA destinations in the summer of 2014.

Very interesting to see a non UK based LCC taking on low cost long haul out of the UK…..the flights will all be flown by 787 aircraft and will be popular.

The airline plans to fly twice weekly from Gatwick to Los Angeles starting on July 2, three times per week to New York JFK from July 3, and twice per week to Fort Lauderdale in Florida

16 October 2013

Happy 5th Anniversary hon.

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From PPRUNE today:

“Bit of a whoopsie from an EK A380 last night operating as EK435 BNE-DXB.

Was cleared to taxi to the A1 holding point for RWY19 via B, but somehow ended up missing the right turn onto B1 & continued straight onto taxiway D which is a different width & weight classification than taxiway B.

I hear she ended up taking out some taxiway edge lighting and tore up the pavement a bit. Took a bit of an effort to push it back onto B!

Funny how this one kept hush hush.”

The Brisbane Refueller

EK’s crew got unlucky here – due to the poor design of this particular taxiway in Brisbane an international width taxiway turns into a GA width taxiway.  Miss the turn and it gets untidy and EK is not the first airline to have done this – though probably the first to do it with an A380.

14 October 2013

In the least surprising news of the year Rory McIlroy has split up with Caroline Wozniacki, according to reports in the Irish press. The two had started dating after meeting at a boxing match in Germany in 2011.

Wozniacki, 23, is said to be “absolutely devastated” by the break-up although the relationship had appeared to be foundering for some time.

13 October 2013

Reuters quoted informed sources in the global aircraft industry as saying that the Emirates airline plans to order buy 150 Boeing 777 wide-body X.

If the order is placed at November’s Dubai air show this will be big news….

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Sorry I have been quiet – was in Bangkok for six days and to be honest felt like having a few days off from updating my web site.

What happened in Bangkok I hear you ask:

I had a brain MRI at BNH hospital – apparently I have an unremarkable brain.

I have been depressed ever since hearing that.

Tai went shopping.

I went shopping for Tai.

We ate at Scarletts at the PullmanG. But the nice people who do not smoke have to sit inside while the fools who do smoke get to sit outside and get the best views. That cannot be right.

Mr Pork at Silom and Convent is on a week’s holiday in Surin. Someone is looking after his late night grilled pork store but it is not the same – the replacement is “skinny-pork-man.”

We went to Siam to meet Tai’s mother, younger sister and two nieces. Good dim sum for lunch at Crystal Garden. But do they really need to charge for the pickles that we did not eat or order or the towels – that should just be part of good hygiene.

I got dumped while Tai did more shopping with Ann.

Met up with Dennis on soi dead artists – which is now more like dead everything.

Have an excellent dinner with Pat and Dennis to celebrate Pat’s birthday which Pat had to cook for us which somehow should not be right but was a very nice evening.

Went to T21 where the Fab Four were playing Beatles covers on a Saturday morning.

We tried a new French restaurant on soi 11. Chez Pape. The food was decent. The ambience dreadful. It should be pleasant but the lights are bright and the music some strange combination of house and trance when Edith Piaf was needed.

The service. Dire. Five staff chatting behind the bar and almost no one in the restaurant. And we still had to ask when we needed something.

I cannot complain too much as I broke one of their glasses. Maybe in frustration as this should have been much better than it was.

5 October 2013

There goes the late night money making layover – Emirates Increases Dubai – Luanda service from 3 weekly to daily from 1 December 2013.

3 October 2013

The Al Ain Airshow people just messaged “We’re back, celebrating the 10th aerobatic show anniversary. 2013 also ties in with the 42nd #UAENationalDay. Don’t miss out Nov 30 – Dec 3”

After last year’s farcical cancellation some scepticism is required.

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“If it turns out that President Barack Obama can made a deal with the most intransigent, hardline, unreasonable, totalitarian Mullahs in the world, but not with Republicans, maybe he’s not the problem” – Jon Stewart

2 October 2013

Note to EK crew trying to fly on TG: As of 13 October 2013, TG ZED standby tickets, listings and refunds will be unavailable via myIDTravel. Post 13th October, standby ZED tickets will be issued as Interline ET via TRIPS. Please refer to OAL agreements in Group world for details.

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Hilarious – like this will make a difference: The Real Estate Regulatory Agency (Rera) of the Dubai Land Department yesterday issued an official letter to all of the city’s registered real estate brokers, reminding them that direct telemarketing violates its rules.

Better ask the brokers how they all got our phone numbers in the first place – oh yes – from the developers; RERA’s best friends.

1 October 2013

Kuwait’s Jazeera Airways will become the third commercial airline to operate passenger services at Dubai’s new Al Maktoum International Airport at Dubai World Central (DWC).

The airline will launch two new weekly flights between Kuwait City and Dubai from the facility, located near Jebel Ali, while all of its existing services will continue to operate at Dubai International Airport, it announced on Tuesday.

The change will take place from October 31. In a statement, Jazeera Airways said it chose to launch flights to DWC because of its close proximity to the resort area of Jumeirah Beach Residence.

The new services will operate on Thursdays and Saturdays.

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The Daily Mail regularly reaches new lows – but in recent times it has not sunk lower than its Saturday attack on Labour leader Ed Miliband through accusing his deceased father, Ralph, of hating Britain….the headline was ‘The Man Who Hated Britain’.

The attack was unpleasant – and the Mail has followed up today surrounding a response from Miliband with more vitriolic hate.

Ralph Miliband came to Britain as a Jewish refugee from Nazi persecution. Within years of his arrival in Britain he was serving in the Royal Navy.

While Ralph Miliband fought the fascists the Daily Mail was writing editorials praising fascists written by the great-grandfather of the paper’s current owner. Not to mention making friends with Hitler. The hypocrisy is beyond contempt.

But let’s be realistic – As far as The Daily (Hate)Mail is concerned you cannot be left-wing and love Britain. It’s not possible. That’s just scientific fact.

Mr Miliband said that fierce debate about politics did not justify “character assassination” of his father. His spokesman said: “It will be for people to judge whether this newspaper’s treatment of a World War Two veteran, Jewish refugee from the Nazis and distinguished academic reflects the values and decency we should all expect in our political debate.”

Maybe this is in keeping with other positions taken by the Daily Mail:

The Daily Mail columnist Paul Johnson said of the regime of General Pinochet: “I regard the demonisation of General Pinochet as the most successful, mendacious propaganda exercise ever carried out in the 20th century.”

Or in 1939 the 1st Viscount Rothermere (owner of the Mail) wrote: “My Dear Führer, I have watched with understanding and interest the progress of your great and superhuman work in regenerating your country.”

30 September 2013

There has to be something more to this story – if not then the sentence is laughable….one month in jail for driving under the inflluence of alcohol and  killing someone :

Arabian Business: “A Dubai motorist who fatally injured former Arab triathlon champion Roy Nasr while driving under the influence of alcohol has been sentenced to one month in prison and ordered to pay AED200,000 ($54,451) in blood money to the victim’s family.

The accident occurred on the morning of September 6 when the 24-year old Philippines national swerved into a group of three cyclists, including Nasr, near Dubai’s Safa Park. Fifty-year old Nasr died, while his fellow cyclists sustained serious injuries.

The motorist, who also had his driving licence seized for three months by the Dubai Traffic Misdemeanour Court, was charged with drinking alcohol and driving under the influence when the incident occurred.”

You can get a three month sentence for kissing in public; a six month sentence for raising a finger – and in this case you get one month for manslaughter.

Cannot be right – there has to be more to this story. Did someone take the rap for someone else?

29 September 2013

Enjoyed the golf from St Andrews on TV today with David Howell winning the Dunhill in a play-off from the very impressive young American golfer Peter Uilein.

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The bad news is that I woke up yesterday morning with only partial sight in my right eye; no idea why. Anyway off to the eye doctor on Monday morning and hopefully it is not anything serious – but it is a concern.

25 September 2013

Gentle morning entertainment from Reuters on twitter:

ReutersAerospaceNews@ReutersAero 1 hr
Seat not eat! #embarrassingtypos
via Mobile Web (M2)
Retweeted by 8 users

ReutersAerospaceNews@ReutersAero 1 hr
Airbus confirms launch of A330 regional version, day, says it will eat 400 passengers and offer cost savings of 15 percent
via Mobile Web (M2)

24 September 2013

Coming soon from Jake Needham – The King of Macau – the fourth of the Jack Shepherd books.

21 September 2013

Sad news from Nairobi today – and news which will do huge damage to Kenya’s tourism industry

“At least 22 people have been killed in a suspected terrorist attack in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, after gunmen opened fire and threw grenades in the Westgate shopping centre – popular with expatriates and tourists.

Witnesses said the men, brandishing AK-47s, told Muslims to leave and shot those they believed were non-Muslims.”

15 September 2013

Just worth noting, in passing, that In Dubai the local population is about 150,000 compared to 2.4 million guests/foreigners.

Other than maybe Doha there can be no other city state where the ratio of citizens to foreigners is so low.

Which maybe what makes Dubai a compelling interesting story – it is a massive social experiment.

12 September 2013

Low cost carrier flydubai on Wednesday said it plans to start flights to Chisinau in Moldova from November 20.

The airline will offer the first direct air link between Dubai and the Moldovan capital, flydubai said in a statement.

Chisinau is Moldova’s most developed and economically prosperous city and has become the country’s key service and industrial centre.

The city will become the 66th destination on flydubai’s network, the carrier added.

Flights between Chisinau and Dubai will operate on Wednesdays and Sundays.

It will be along turnaround for the crew.

10 September 2013

Ukraine 0 – England 0 – and it was painful to watch. England cannot hold the ball and passed like strangers – Joey Barton tweeted – “problem with British football is the coaching. Look at home nation coaches? Hodgson. Coleman. Strachan. O’Neil. Serouisly?” (sic).

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Two games of golf at Al Hamra in the last week – and it has been fun to go back there. The course is in great condition (though the greens are too slow) and very quiet on weekdays.

Yes it is still hot but there is some breeze off the ocean and on Sunday I actually flet I was beginning to play decent golf again – which felt good. Yes, there are still plenty of mistakes but I did have the ball under reasonable control.

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Well done Sir Patrick Stewart, actor and all round good guy – married a couple of days ago….

When asked if he took long time girlfriend Sunny Ozell as his wife he presumably said “make it so”…..

PS: He is 73 and she is 35. That makes me feel better…

7 September 2013

Where it all began for Emirates – just 28 years ago – EK first flight to Karachi October 1985

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A mummified body covered in chocolate and nuts has been discovered in Egypt.

Archaeologists believe it may be Pharaoh Rocher.

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Maths magic: 13837 x Your age x 73 = ?

Just try, you will get an interesting result.

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Sometimes it is the late night commentators hit the mark and hit it hard:

“One failed attempt at a shoe bomb and we all take off our shoes at the airport. Thirty-one school shootings since Columbine and no change in our regulation of guns.” -John Oliver for the Late Show.

6 September 2013

Favourite David Frost anecdote, and I really hope this is true, is that he was checking in at an airport and was asked ‘And did your pack this bag yourself, sir?’, to which he replied: ‘Do I look like a man who packs his own bags?'”

3 September 2013

In TV news True Blood will end its run after the series’ seventh season next summer. HBO announced today that all the drama will end for Sookie Stackhouse, Bill Compton and the rest of the show’s characters in 2014.

2 September 2013

As someone wisely said about Syria – outrage is not a strategy.

1 September 2013

Something to think about “there are few things more bizarre than watching people advocate that another country be bombed even while acknowledging that it will achieve no good outcomes other than safeguarding the “credibility” of those doing the bombing. Relatedly, it’s hard to imagine a more potent sign of a weak, declining empire than having one’s national “credibility” depend upon periodically bombing other countries.” Glenn Greenwald in the Guardian.

29 August 2013

Rolf Harris is the latest BBC pensioner to be charged with sex offences from the 1970s….shocking what the BBC tolerated.

“Two little boys had two little toys”….indeed.

Golf in Hua Hin for the last three days – Sawang, Sea Pine and Majestic Creek.

21 August 2013

“This is how I always look at golf. I’m not going to die if I hit a bad shot. So I just hit it, find it and hit it again.”

17 year old Charley Hull – from Europe’s victorious Solheim Cup team. Genius.

20  August 2013

ANA is replacing its Air Asia Japan joint venture with a new LCC with the awful name of Vanilla Air.

Since it is Japan based you would have thought they would go for Green Tea or Macha.

18 August 2013

Dubai v Singapore in the race for Hub airport of the 2020s – Singapore’s PM Lee announced today that the city state is planning for a Terminal 5, completion in 2020s, which will double capacity of Changi Airport.

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It is the first weekend of the 2013/2014 \Premier League – and time for this year’s predictions: League winner – Manchester City from Chelsea and Manchester United in second and third.

Relegated – Hull, Stoke and Crystal Palace.

Managers who will not survive the season:

Arsene Wenger at Arsenal
Alan Pardew at Newcastle
Mark Hughes at Stoke City
Paulo di Canio at Sunderland

As for Arsenal – an opening day defeat to Aston Villa suggests a very long dismal season – and worth noting that I have spent more money this summer than Arsene Wenger.

15 August 2013

Thai Airways suffers net loss of Bt8.43 billion in 2nd quarter due to baht appreciation, rising costs, global slowdown.

Ouch.

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The Jimmy Savile fall-out continues – Dave Lee Travis has been charged with 11 counts of indecent assault and one of sexual assault against alleged victims aged between 15 and 29.

The former Radio 1 DJ was charged with offences spanning three decades, from 1977 to 2007, and relating to nine alleged victims.

The 68-year-old, who is to be prosecuted under his real name David Patrick Griffin, was arrested last November under the Operation Yewtree investigation into sexual offences by Jimmy Savile and others.

Travis is one of 14 men arrested under Operation Yewtree since it launched in the aftermath of the Savile scandal last October.

He is the third to be charged with offences under the investigation, after charges were brought against the celebrity publicist Max Clifford and the former chauffeur David Smith.

Travis denies all the allegations.

14 August 2013

Hemel Hempstead has been named Britain’s ugliest town after a surge in votes saw its town centre nominated worse than front runner Luton.

According to a poll, run by the team behind the Crap Towns publications, the Hertfordshire town also beat Slough, Bracknell and Birmingham.

One of the authors behind the survey, Sam Jordison, told The Telegraph: “I know exactly why Hemel did so well in the poll. I’ve been there once. And once was more than enough.”

The first edition of Crap Towns, published in 2003, sold more than 100,000 copies and provoked outrage from residents located in towns ridiculed.

13 August 2013

Very positive use of twitter from the ruler of Dubai today – this really is a great example of how to stay engaged:

HH Sheikh Mohammed@HHShkMohd

“My twitter page followers reached 2 millions today, thanks to your continuous support,

To all our followers, you’ve been the core value by suggesting ideas, responding to initiatives and participating in many discussions

And You were behind the success of many social and humanitarian campaigns we launched on twitter”

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Apologies for the lack of updates. We have been in Thailand for almost a week – and busy!

7 August 2013

I hope Etihad has deep pockets.

Virgin Australia, which Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways owns a 10.5 percent stake, has forecast it will make a loss of up to AUD$110m (US$98m) for the full year 2013, the airline has reported.

Add this to losses at Air Berlin, Air Seychelles and Jat (air Serbia) and you do wonder at the wisdom of their investment strategy.

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Yesterday we took the long way to BKK yesterday as flights from Dubai to Bangkok are so busy.

Up at 3.30am; at DXB by 4.30am for our 6.00am departure on Kenya Airways from Dubai to Hong Kong connecting to the Emirates daily flight from HKG to Bangkok.

The comparison between the airlines is night and day – and if Kenya Airways is as they claim “the Pride of Africa” then they are setting their standards very low indeed.

Arriving 100 minutes before the flight at Terminal 1 area B in Dubai was awful. There is a pre-check in security  check. But only one line of three available was working. All check in and carry on bags have to go through the bag check machine. And arriving in front of us were large numbers of passengers heading to Kigali all with a mass of bags and boxes. The queue snaked back through the pre departure area.

Dubai Airports could fix this so easily. It is unclear why they cannot and why they only opened one security check.

Meanwhile check in area C was closed for access but had people sitting there and Tai was able to beg them to check our bags and let us through so we could get to the Kenya Airways check in at area B.

It did not matter that much – though the departure screens showed an on-time departure the DNATA handing agent said there was a one hour delay which in fact was a two hour delay.

The airliner is an old Boeing 767-200 – and it is in pretty poor condition inside. Old seats; mainscreen front of cabin IFE only which is useless as the sound on my headset and in the next seat does not work; overhead lights do not work; cabin is too cold. But the crew were smiling and the food surprisingly decent – a penang chicken curry was a surprise.

A lady first officer was a surprise as well.

The crew need to do safety briefings for customers at the over wing exits. Three of the four exits had chinese passengers sitting there who spoke no English and probably had no idea that they were at an exit. Alarming

The Emirates A380 is such a different airplane by comparison. Though the crew needed happy bills. They really were the most stressed, angry and at times quite rude crew that I have seen on any emirates flight.

So here is the answer – an Emirates plane but with the Kenyan air crew.

It was a long, long day.

5 August 2013

Only 5 August and England retain the Ashes after today’s play is washed out at Old Trafford.

Tough on Australia who outplayed England in this game.

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From the Guardian OBO while we wait to see if there is any play on the 5th day – if there is England are likely to struggle.

“Haven’t figured out how I’ll judge it yet. I might see if I can get some venerable ex-international to decide for us.

Here’s a very fine T side from Rob Scott. “Trescothick (cpt), Tavare, Trott, Thorpe, Tyldesley (for the Old Trafford faithful), Taylor (wkt), Titmus, Tate, Trueman, Tyson, Tufnell.””

4 August 2013

Spain vs England in a new fight over Gibralter.

It is not a great surprise. How would the British feel if the Spanish had sovereignty over the Isle of Wight.

Gibralter has been British for 309 years.

Of course a bit of nationalist sabre rattling is always a good distraction from economic crises.

3 August 2013

A building under construction in Business Bay caught fire this morning.

Smoke was seen billowing from the building, which is located near the Dubai Mall Metro Station along Shaikh Zayed Road and very close to Executive Towers.

Firefighting trucks were seen trying to navigate through Downtown and Business Bay to access the building.

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There is more trouble ahead in Thailand and maybe soon – after all it normally starts when I am in the country and Tai and I will be back there from 8 August – the alarm signs include mounting political protests, the upcoming amnesty bill, the tightened security around parliament and recent riot control drills, the imposition of the Internal Security Act, the mass deployment of police this weekend and the King and Queen moving to Hua Hin.

This cannot all be coincidence.

2 August 2013

Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways said on Thursday it signed an agreement with Serbia to acquire 49 percent of its loss-making JatAirways, which will be rebranded as Air Serbia.

Etihad (or I assume the Abu Dhabi government) and the government of Serbia have agreed “both to inject $40 million” into the Serbian national carrier, a statement said.

The two parties will also “each provide up to $60 million further funding,” the statement added.

Etihad has also been awarded a five-year contract to manage the carrier.

“We will have tough decisions to make,” said Etihad’s chief James Hogan. He has far too many distractions and far too many marginal airlines under their semi control.

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In addition Etihad and Air Canada will begin reciprocal codeshare operations from 6 August 2013. Very strange.

A new agreement between Canada and the UAE cannot be far away. But It may favour Etihad over Emirates.

1 August 2013

Emirates Airline said on Wednesday it will serve Amsterdam with a second daily non-stop flight from December 4.

The Dubai airline said in a statement that a Boeing 777-200LR aircraft will add capacity of more than 3,700 seats a week in both directions.

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I have been back home in Hong Kong for three days – it is hot, humid, chaotic and great fun.

 

27 July 2013

This week’s Dubai stories make me increasingly uncertain about staying here….

For the most part foreigners in Dubai have virtually nothing to do with the UAE citizens, a situation that seems to widely suit both sides and allows foreigners to avoid having to deal with some of the rather “interesting” local perceptions and laws.

But still people do get into trouble with the law here; some are naive, some foolish and some just plain unlucky.

Whatever the reasons, it pays to be discreet.

And it is probably good to know when enough is enough.

It also underscores the contradictory and potentially baffling messages sent by places such as Dubai.

Dubai’s tolerance permits (even encourages) indulgences such as unlimited-booze brunches, WAG holidays and Ibiza style night clubs. Bling is marketed as a virtue. so is excess.

Less effort is spent reminding foreigners that Dubai’s laws are influenced by Islamic tenets that prohibit sex out of wedlock or even getting too amorous with your partner in public.

Enforcement is laissez-faire in Dubai — but it takes one person to be offended and then the law has to act.

There is a wide contrast between what happens on the street, what is written in the law, and how much authorities warn visitors and foreign residents of the legal boundaries.

The blows to Dubai’s image from the Dalelv case are cautionary tales for Gulf states trying to project a Western-friendly aura.

Even so there are no suggestions of changes to the laws; perhaps behind the scenes there maybe greater thought on how the laws are implemented and the message that is send to Dubai’s majority foreign residents and the growing number of visitors.

24 July 2013

Finally, a Luther series with almost a happy ending. Admittedly not much of one – there was a shoot-out, an abduction, a murder, three more attempted murders, and John Luther (Idris Elba) finished the episode dumped, wounded, coatless, possibly unemployed and standing hand-in-hand with the universe’s campest serial killer – but you have to take what you can get.

Alice may have become a but too camp and not enough psycho – but she is still a great character.

And she and Luther do fit together.

 

23 July 2013

There is a dreadful article in The National today written in an attempt to undertake damage limitation after the outcry over the sentencing of Marte Dalelv.

The National headline tells the reader that it has are the facts behind the case. It then argues that the case was not about rape at all but about consensual intercourse and perjury.

It must have been a shocking and confusing situation for any woman to be in. She was convinced enough that she had been violated to report a rape. Brave. Given that she lived in Doha she must have already known that reporting the alleged rape would be difficult.

There would have been many police. All men. All speaking Arabic. There are tests. Her employer is called. She insist that her employer suggested that she should say it was consensual and the case would then not be pursued. This may well have been after discussions with the police. Her employer comes out of this with no credit despite some late damage control.

Her friends and the Norwegian authorities ran a very active campaign for her release. #boycottdubai has been very active on twitter.

She initially reported a rape; she changed her claim to consensual expecting the case would close. It did not and she was sentenced.

I accept we will never fully know what happened between the two individuals or what happened at the Bur Dubai police station. I do know that it is an intimidating place to be.

But no does mean no. And the fact that a woman has had a drink does not make her prey.

A couple of twitter reactions:

@JamesPiotr
Horrific @TheNationalUAE piece on rape case in Dubai. Slimy facts dressed up as guilt. Subtext: drunk, asked for it

‏@JamesPiotr
I don’t know who James Langton, the co author of that atrocious Dubai rape case article but he should hang his head in shame.

‏@cjpurcell
Wow, @TheNationalUAE really is a rag.
http://www.thenational.ae/news/uae-news/pardoned-norwegian-woman-in-dubai-rape-claim-case-overwhelmed-by-freedom …

The trouble is that the law and its application will not change. Maybe the police processes will be more understanding; maybe the courts will apply greater discretion. But as Ramadan ends, fall arrives and the MICE and holiday seasons kick into gear, the best advice to visitors is to know the laws of the country, to keep a low profile and to behave with extreme caution. Despite the image that Dubai sells overseas this is not Ibiza; it is not Berlin; it is not Bangkok. This is a town where you are one drink or one indiscreet moment away from a serious problem.

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The man who filmed the Emirati official hitting an Indian driver in a road rage incident a week ago is still in police custody and has been refused bail.

Again we can only hope that common sense will prevail.

A legal specialist, Dr Ali Al Jarman, told The National that “people are not allowed to film any incident, even if they see a crime being committed. The act of recording the incident is illegal in itself,” he said. “Even if you take it to the police and don’t publish it, you are still in violation of the law.”

The National added that when it comes to defamation cases, the law gives victims of alleged defamation the right to win cases by simply proving the harm on their reputation, even if the statement about them was proven to be true.

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It is very hard to escape royal baby news.

He is as yet unnamed. Austin is now a favorite – Austin Cambridge. Geddit.

It must be hard being born knowing that a) you will be bald in your thirties and b) you have no career choice.

With three kings coming in a row after QEII dies there is one job title that you will not hear for at may decade’s – the title of Queen’s gynaecologist will rapidly become obsolete.

22 July 2013

In case you are on Mars and have not heard the news:

Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, has given birth to a baby boy. The unnamed son is third in line to the throne. Both mother and child are doing well, Kensington Palace said in a short statement. They will both remain in hospital overnight.

The son of Prince William and Middleton weighed 8lbs 6oz (3.6kg). He was delivered at 4.24pm in the maternity wing of St Mary’s hospital by natural birth. The Duke of Cambridge was at the bedside.

“We could not be happier,” William said in a statement. A Buckingham palace spokesman said the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh are “delighted at the news”. The prime minister, David Cameron, predicted William and Kate will “make wonderful parents”.

Hundreds gathered outside the hospital to celebrate the news. The crowd sang: “Happy birthday dear royal baby,” in absence of a name. Later several hundred people were outside Buckingham Palace, where an ornate easel announced the birth.

The birth of the royal baby had been followed around the world. In America rolling news channels devoted their coverage to the birth, while Australia prime minister Kevin Rudd sent his country’s “warmest regards” to the new family.

Barring some sort of tragedy or illness, realistically the bay will not be King until around 2065; Charles is the next King then his son William, who is still only 31, follows. Baby Cambridge – he has no name yet – has a long life in waiting.

I will not be around to see his head on British stamps….I wonder if there will even be stamps in 50 years!

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Royal baby alert – A woman entirely financially dependent on the State has chosen to have a baby. The Daily Mail should be furious.

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R&A cancelled traditional post-Open press conference. Can’t imagine why? #sexism #slowplaypenalties #overpricedtickets #lowattendance

21 July 2013

Tony Fernandes – CEO and founder of Air Asia: “I don’t admire too many premium carriers, but Emirates is fantastic. They’ve built an airline out of sand. That airline has created a country. They fly everywhere. Emirates is on everything—from football jerseys to everything. They are a great brand, and are doing so well. Other airlines are jealous of them. They say they get free oil, but that’s nonsense.

Everyone says Singapore Airlines did well. But that’s because all the others were idiots. Now Singapore Airlines is struggling. They are like confused puppies. They are doing low-cost and full fare. They were the kings. Now, when others wake up, they don’t know what to do. The LCC has routes that don’t work for them. Unless they are a truly independent brand, they can’t do much.”

From Forbes India on “AirAsia: The Tony and Mittu Show”

18 July 2013

FIFA will decide In October (3rd or 4th apparently) whether to move 2022 Qatar World Cup to winter.

Apparently the summers have become warm since they won vote to host.

Bizarre really.

The bid was for a summer world cup. The FIFA delegates approved a summer world cup in Qatar. Idiots. What were they thinking?

And now Blatter wants a winter world cup! He is shameless.

17 July 2013

Passenger numbers to Istanbul are down dramatically…one daily flight instead of two on EK and light loads – the protests have done damage to the tourism industry – shame – it is a fascinating city.

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Episode 3 of series 3 and Luther was back to its best – not perfect – but awfully good.

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Ray Wilkins was found guilty today of drink-driving. He was three times over the limit. He abused the police. He had te audacity to plead not guilty requiring a court trial and the judge, less him or her, threw the book at him.

Considering Sky’s stance on Keys & Gray, surely they won’t keep someone who endangered lives?

Also it would be appropriate that we do not be see him on Al Jazeera Sports.

16 July 2013

Al Jazeera Sport has bought exclusive media rights to English Premier League soccer in the Middle East and North Africa for three years starting from next month, it said in a statement on Monday.

Qatar-based Al Jazeera reached agreement with TV sports rights firm MP & Silva for access to all 380 Premier League matches across media platforms and devices in 23 countries from Iran to Morocco, taking in the United Arab Emirates and Egypt.

Former Sky Sports presenters Richard Keys and Andy Gray will front the English language programmes.

It will therefore be a mix of football and discovery channel with two dinosaurs presenting the football coverage.

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Twitter announced a new arrival at DXB today: @HHShkMohd inspects Emirates Airlines new Airbus A319, dedicated for officials, VIPs and families #Dubai

Not sure why that is Emirates and not the Royal fleet?

15 July 2103

Emirates has announced it will commence a daily A380 service to Barcelona from 1st February 2014. This will replace one of the two daily 777-300 flights.

14 July 2013

Thai VietJetAir  has officially been launched after Hanoi based namesake VietJetAir recently signed a joint venture agreement with Kan Air of Chiang Mai that will see the new Thai LCC based out of Bangkok Suvarnabhumi.

Expected to commence operations in early 2014, the new carrier will initially operate a fleet of two or three Airbus A320 aircraft on domestic and international routes; services to Cambodia and Myanmar are already under consideration.

Now the question is how does Thai VietJetAir get access to Suvarnabhumi while Thai AirAsia languishes out at Don Muang?

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Back in Dubai. Hot.

12 July 2013

Sadly this review in the Independent is spot-on – Luther is good- but season 3 is just too much cliche and not enough brooding detective…..Luther deserves a better nemesis than a clichéd bogeyman hiding under beds and in wardrobes

11 July 2013

Lots of driving the last few days – SW England to Manchester, Durham and Edinburgh. Too much. Would be nice to stop and have a look around.

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Great day of test cricket at Trent Bridge today…why test cricket is the best possible form of the game.

7 July 2013

Hoping for the best for Thailand’s Sirithip Sinhakarn, one of Asiana flight attendants from the SFO crash landing. She is severely injured from the crash. She is undergoing surgery at Stanford Hospital

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Proof – not that it was really needed – that Tony Blair is an irrelevant, self-serving dork: Egyptian army had no choice over move to topple Morsi, says Tony Blair

6 July 2013

It is 15 years today since the closure of Kai Tak airport in Hong Kong.

Hard to believe it has been that long.

Much has happened since. Good and less than good.

I (or more accurately Alex) still have (has) our certificates from taking the first flights out of Chep Lap Kok on 7 July to head back to Singapore.

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Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia have offered asylum to Edward Snowden.

Tough call – maybe Bolivia. It always looks such a beautiful country.

And a round of applause for all three nations.

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Singapore based Tiger Airways is now Tigerair – just so you know…..

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Sadly I fear this is true: “Congrats to Mohammed el Baradei on being appointed new spokesman to the international press for the Egyptian Army!”

4 July 2013

Quiz: are you smart enough to pass the US citizenship exam?

I scored 7 out of 10…..Alex 6. Can you do better?

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Classic Dubai: Arabian Business publishes an article: ‘Parents can’t moan about school fees – GEMS chief’ – the comments from readers are far from flattering about GEMS and Sunny Varkey. The comments are then deleted on Arabian Business and comments are disabled on the article.

Simple really – if you dont have the courage to read and publish readers’ comments then dont publish the article.

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Note to the idiot driving too fast out of Imperial College yesterday and thinking he was clever in front of his mates trying to run over pedestrians walking up Exhibition Road – you are a moron. 

2 July 2013

Next time I threaten to book an Easyjet flight please check my sanity….what a nasty patronising way to fly.

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Alex and I were on the train from Schiphol to Delft to visit the Delft University of Technology. We were about 5 minutes past Schiphol and the train brakes hard to a stop.

A passenger had committed suicide jumping off a platform under our express train.

We were stuck for about 90 minutes while emergency services did their work.

One guy in our carriage was heading to the University for a 2pm exam; he would not get their on time. Felt sorry for him.

And you worry about the driver; it must be shocking to see someone throw their body under your train. I hope the driver is well looked after and counseled by the rail company.

The University by the way was excellent. And we were very well looked after by the people at the faculty or Aeronautical Engineering who arranged a tour for us. Very impressive.

28 June 2013

This was never likely to get constructed – and now confirmation that it is on hold – or more likely wont ever happen:

Development of a $1bn Real Madrid Resort Island planned for Ras Al Khaimah has been put on hold indefinitely due to a lack of funding, sources have said.

The project, which is a joint venture between Spanish football team Real Madrid, the government of Ras Al Khaimah and Luxembourg-based RAK Marjan Island Football Investment Fund, was announced in March 2012.

Plans for the 50-hectare resort included a theme park, a stadium and a museum dedicated to the Spanish club, sports facilities and residential units and a luxury hotel. Construction has still not started and sources said the original January 2015 opening date had now been scrapped.

Typical: announce with great fanfare – and then retreat as discreetly as possible.

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In Geneva – well Divonee-les-Bains to be precise – and it is cold !

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Sometime denials get issued too quickly – this would have been worthy of a full investigation before saying that it does not happen: Emirates denies using headphones made by abused inmates.

24 June 2013

I had lunch yesterday with Tai’s first room mate/flat mate here in Dubai and the maid of honour at our wedding; Bam.

Bam leaves Dubai on 5 July to start a new life; she will be married on 16 July.

Sadly I will not be there to take pictures.

I don’t think Bam ever fully realised the strong and positive effect that she had on people she met. She will be missed and it does feel a little the beginning of the end of an important phase of our lives. The friends that we have made here are starting to move on with their lives. To seek out new frontiers. Bammie has been a great friend to us and she also taught Tai to cook for which I will be forever grateful.

Her friends (and this blog!) wish her every happiness and success.

23 June 2013

Enjoyed watching the first series of “Person of Interest” on Emirates last night – interesting how topical the program suddenly is with the recent NSA revelatios – here is the introductory voiceover from the mysterious Mr. Finch:

“You are being watched. The government has a secret system: a machine that spies on you every hour of every day. I know because I built it. I designed the machine to detect acts of terror, but it sees everything. Violent crimes involving ordinary people, people like you. Crimes the government considered irrelevant. They wouldn’t act, so I decided I would. But I needed a partner, someone with the skills to intervene. Hunted by the authorities, we work in secret. You’ll never find us, but victim or perpetrator, if your number’s up… we’ll find you”.

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As for Bangkok – it was nice to be somewhere green and colourful for a few days.

16 June 2013

Emirates A380s to the USA – JFK was first; LAX already announced and after that IAH on 01-FEB-14 and SFO upgrade will be on 01-MAR-14.

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A special treat for a few lucky crew – on 12 June Emirates B777-200LR A6-EWC operated a Doha – Brasilia Charter

The flight positioned Dubai – Doha as EK8843 in the early hours of the morning in order to operate a Doha – Brasilia charter as EK2263. The aircraft then positioned Brasilia – Dubai as EK8264.

14 June 2013

The Airbus A350xwb made its maiden flight from Toulouse this morning. Entry into service is expected in late 2014.

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Advice from Citibank: when you travel, some foreign merchants might give you the option to pay in AED, rather than the local currency of the country you’re in. While this might seem like a better choice – especially because you can see the total price in your currency – you’ll actually be paying more.

Paying in AED outside U.A.E. with your credit card subjects you to an additional fee, which means you could be paying up to 4.2% per transaction.

Sensible.

13 June 2013

Robert Peston of the BBC on twitter – “Am also told that undisclosed reasons for Murdoch divorcing Deng are jaw-dropping – & hate myself for wanting to know what they are”…..

Now we all want to know….

Though now that he has announced his divorce I do hope the press respect the privacy of Rupert Murdoch. I’m sure he would in similar circumstances.

Somehow I feel the divorce has to be connected with this fishing expedition in last weekend’s Mail on Sunday – No.10 rocked by secret love affair: ‘Stunned’ PM holds crisis talks over fears tryst will ‘blow political agenda out of the water’

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Cebu Pacific of the Philippines today took delivery of its first Airbus A330-300. The airline has four on order, and this is their first widebody. Cebu plans to open up routes to Middle East and “wherever there is a Filippino community”. What’s unusual about their A330’s is the configuration, in 436 all-economy. Yes, 436 ! Most operators fly with around 300 seats, usually in two classes. The current highest density is 396 offered by AirAsia X and Thomas Cook (Scandinavia).

Not far behind Cebu’s offering is Philippine Airlines, who plan to fly their soon-to-be-delivered A330-300’s in a 414 all-economy layout.

That is one very very cramped A330.

12 June 2013

This can only help promote Dubai into the Chinese market: ‘Switch’ – a Chinese ‘James Bond’ style action film and the biggest budget Chinese film produced to date has opened today in Hong Kong and China.

The action/spy movie involves Special agent Xiao Jinhan (Andy Lau – he must be getting too old for this) and insurance company employee Lin Yuyan (Zhang Jingchu), on a mission to protect the world-famous drawing “Fu Chun Shan Ju Tu”, which is the target of a Japanese gangster (Tong Dawei).

For the first time, Filmworks managed to get Burj Al Arab, Burj Khalifa, Atlantis AND Emirates Towers all into the same film!

Andy Lau gets to do a car stunt at the Atlantis, run down the private beach of the Burj Al Arab, cruise in a high-speed boat off Dubai Marina and take a plunge from the 828-metre-high Burj Khalifa.

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Austerity seems to have no limit in Greece where the government has shut down the tv and radio stations of the state broadcaster – the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation (ERT) – leaving many thousands of people unemployed and the national broadcaster off the air.

A hundred million euros a year will be saved.

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The organisers of the proposed Thai Grand Prix are focusing on relocating the race to Phuket after plans to host it in Bangkok were dashed by a new law.

A month after a layout was approved by the Sports Authority of Thailand, the Thai government introduced a law in May banning racing in the cultural quarter of Bangkok. Having initially feared that the race could be cancelled as a result, Tourism and Sports Minister Somsak Pureesrisak says there is still time for a new venue to be found, with Phuket top of the list at present.

“I can confirm that we cannot hold a Grand Prix on Ratchadamnoen Avenue,” Somsak is quoted as telling the Bangkok Post. “The law, which took effect last month, prohibits a car racing event in inner Bangkok.

“Phuket should be an ideal venue which meets our target to promote tourism. We still have time to prepare for the race.”

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India’s Oberoi Group announced yesterday that it has opened The Oberoi, Dubai, its first property in the UAE.

The luxury hotel group said the Oberoi Dubai, which overlooks the iconic Burj Khalifa, has a total of 252 rooms and suites.

Overlooks the Burj Khalifa – from a kilometre away !!

Restaurants at The Oberoi, Dubai include UMAI, a contemporary Pan Asian restaurant, NINE7ONE, an all day dining restaurant, and ANANTA, an Indian specialty restaurant.

Maybe there is some life coming to Business Bay. Slowly.

11 June 2013

Good news from Japan. And maybe this is a result of Tai’s spending during our vacation a couple of weeks ago.

NHK reports that Japan’s government will relax visa rules to attract more tourists from fast-growing Southeast Asia.

An action plan to draw more foreign tourists was adopted at a meeting of relevant ministers on Tuesday.

The visa issuance rules could be eased as early as July.

Plans include waiving visa requirements for Thai and Malaysian tourists for certain lengths of stay.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the plan should be implemented quickly. He said Japan should soon meet its target of attracting 10 million foreign visitors per year, and then aim for the 20 million mark.

Now maybe the UK, Canada, the UAE and the Schengen countries could do the same thing.

Visa rules are antiquated ad basically racist.

10 Japan 2013

Slowly I realise one of my biggest flaws – I really do not like being on my own for an extended period of time.

When Tai was away on a long flight and I was working it was OK – but 5 days home alone is unhealthy.

I should use the time to do useful things. To exercise. To learn something new. But it is some of my most unproductive time.

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“The Sandy Hook shooter used 30-round magazines. He fired 154 bullets in four minutes, murdering 20 children and six adults.”

And nothing has changed.

Obama has failed. I hate that. He could have done so much. He promised so much. The killings continue.

It makes me so angry. It makes me so sad.

If you read nothing else today – read this.

After Newtown shooting, mourning parents enter into the lonely quiet

8 June 2013

Gerald Donovan’s Dubai panorama from the very tip of the Burj Khalifa really is outstanding – if you have never seen it – follow the link – give it time to load – zoom in and explore.

7 June 2013

Here is why I sometimes worry about Emirates: there was an engine problem on a flight to Milan a few days ago. Rightly the crew diverted to the nearest available airport. This is standard operating procedure.

The details are that Boeing 777-300, registration A6-EMR performing flight EK-51 from Dubai (United Arab Emirates) to Munich (Germany) with 360 passengers and 17 crew, was enroute at FL340 about 200nm southeast of Trabzon (Turkey) when the crew reported an engine (Trent 895) had been shut down and diverted to Trabzon for a safe landing.

But what follows on avherald.com is interesting – a passenger on that flight notes:

“I was on that plane. The captain did a good job in landing the plane. The communication before and after the landing was very disturbing. The crew members acted very nervously and I had the impression they had not be trained sufficiently enough for handling a situation like this. It took a very long time to receive information from the cockpit about just what was happening. After the landing I detected smoke near the right wing, as I wanted to alert the stewardess she just yelled at me to sit down. I still insisted her to come to my seat and see the smoke for herself. A flight officer came and said not to worry since it was only the overheated brakes that smoked. After that we had to wait a long time and were finally transferred to a terminal.”

The concern is that Emirates has many young, inexperienced crew especially flying in large numbers in economy. They have been trained in safety procedures. But they are not experienced flyers and are not experienced team workers.

Compare the young Emirates crew members with the much more experienced crews that you see on US and most European airlines.

In August 2005 an Air France A340 (flight 358) overshot the runway at Toronto; ending in a ditch 300 yards after the runway. Fire broke out. But the crew evacuated all 297 passengers safely including 12 who were seriously injured within 90 seconds despite four exits being unusable due to fire or damage.

Having completely f***ed up the landing, in weather where they should have diverted or aborted,  some 3 years after the accident, Air France filed a lawsuit against the Greater Toronto Airports Authority, NAV Canada, and the Canadian Federal Government for $180 million. In the statement of claim filed with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, Air France alleged that the “GTAA failed to provide a safe environment for the conduct of civil air operations.” The statement also claims that “The overrun and the consequent injuries to persons and damage to property were caused solely by the negligence of the defendants”.

Dear Air France that is a bit embarrassing really.

1 June 2013

Tim Robinson has posted an interesting interview with Tim Clark, President of Emirates, from the Royal Aeronautical Societys annual dinner a couple of weeks ago.

The interview is here. It is interesting and Tim Clark is always articulate about both his company and the industry.

Observations:

TC insists that his airline operates completely independently of the Dubai government. Then he says that his order for the 777X requires ultimate approval of the Ruler of Dubai. That was a surprise. Not so independent then.

He underplays the problems with capacity at DXB. The very nature of the hub operation means there are peak hours for landings and departures – and those peak hours are already over crowded with arriving planes burning fuel over the holds west and east of Dubai. The two existing runways are too close to allow simultaneous landings or take-offs.

There is stll no master plan or timetable for DXB and Maktoum International and it remains unclear whether Dubai will operate in the future with both airports or whether DXB will close and Emirates move all its operations to Al Maktoum (that is at least 10 years away).

Runway repairs at DXB in Summer 2014 will mean that Dubai operates as a single runway airfield for 3 months. That may give Maktoum International some traction.

TC is misleading about the airline’s use of social media. It is not engaged. It is active as a one way broadcast that is basically limited to facebook and google+. Emirates does not use social media for customer service or support. The interviewer was very gentle with TC here. Ask if Emirates is active on twitter. It is not.

Expect both Emirates and Dubai Airports to make a big deal out of the 2013 Dubai AirShow – the first to be held at Maktoum International (four years later than originally planned). Expect new orders of maybe 30 77Ws to fill the developing minibus/classic T7 void; also a big launch order for the new 77X. Some of the current 350 orders may be converted into additional HGW A380s.

31 May 2013

Eurozone unemployment rate ticks up to 12.2%. If this isn’t a crises level I don’t know what is. Lowest rate is in Austria (4.9) and the highest is in Greece (27)

Worse. The youth unemployment rate in the Euro Zone is 24.4%. Spain’s rate is a shameful 56.4%! You have to worry about a lost generation.

I know all the arguments about structural reform and cutting deficits. But soon the biggest worry will be how to prevent unrest.

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Arrived back in Dubai at 4.30am this morning – almost 11 hours and 20 minutes from Tokyo – and the strangest southerly routing – via the Taiwanese east coast and over HKG and BKK and onto Dubai.

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It is a Friday and EMAAR have had an auger hammering away on Emaar Boulevard since 7am this morning. This is meant to be the day of rest for everyone.

Will be upset if they have a 24hr building license. How to upset the nearby residents.

29 May 2013

See what happens when I go on holiday – nothing gets written!

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Bed Supper Club in Bangkok will close on 31 August this year. Only a cynic would suggest that a condo development will be constructed there in very short order.

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Notes from Japan:

Most things are small!

Something that is described as New was new once; it is not now!

Hokkaido looks like a mix of Devon and Scotland – some small farming communities; mountains and fishing villages.

The aging Japanese population is very noticeable as soon as you leave the cities.

And domestic tourism is predominantly for retirees.

Chinese tourists are coming in large numbers and if they ever had any manners they left them behind – loud and rude.

I like Sapporo. It feels like a North American – Great Lakes city centre but Japanese.

You can over-dose on Japanese food.

They drive small cars very slowly.

Roadworks are hugely overstaffed with people waving signs!

The DoTo expressway is everything but. Two lanes. No passing for extended kms. Stuck behind a slow truck and it is a misery.

No one in Japan appears to read newspapers anymore. On the subways I saw just one newspaper reader. Everyone else is playing on their mobile.

16 May 2013

Emirates crew already hit by no profit share will be underwhelmed at their 2013 pay review.

In an email to crew Emirates said “those who were employed during the financial crisis in 2008, will remember that pay increases are not guaranteed. The decision to increase salaries during difficult times is a clear demonstration of appreciation by the company for your hard work over the last 12 months.”

So much for the Dubai has bounced back stories – the biggest company in Dubai has compared the financial situation to the crisis of 2008!

The pay review for cabin and cockpit crew is 0.5%.

Emirates does appear to be doing all it can to demotivate as many crew as possible!

15 May 2013

Back in Dubai after a very hot and humid few days in Bangkok.

Flew over to BKK on 10th May and spent 11th at BNH Hospital having my first full medical for some years.

Seemed like a good time to do this after our recent IVF procedures and the stress than came with that.

The good news is that everything seems to be in pretty good condition. Nothing significant to worry about – my distance vision has deteriorated a little. But that might have just been an excuse to spend some time with the very nice eye doctor lady.

Meanwhile another young doctor took some wax out of my right ear – while showing me the whole thing on a big monitor above me. Lovely. It looked like something from deep in middle earth. Gross.

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The choice of new movies on Emirates this month is the worst that I have ever seen.

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Went to see Star Trek – this is movie number 12 – and has some fun references to the original TV series and to movies 2 and 3. Brendan Cumberbatch is a very effective bad guy – although he sounds disconcertingly like Jeremy Irons.

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It is far too hot and humid in BKK right now – after only a short walk the sweat starts to trickle down your back and lower…yuck. Makes it very hard to want to go anywhere.

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One evening out with Mr. Dennis – vegetarian Indian for dinner and some proper pool in a proper pool hall without distraction….

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You do now Bangkok too well when the sight of a cockroach or a humungous rat seems perfectly normal and leaves you unmoved.

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Watford v Leicester – Championship play off semi final second leg. Stunning finish.

But you would expect a bar called Penalty Spot to be showing the match on its multiple tv screens. No. It was showing the Shanghai F1 grand prix.

The only tv screen with the Watford match meant sitting outside the bar on the Sukhumvit Road pavement in 35C heat – with no commentary other then my own.

Fail.

11 May 2013

Reasons to love football: – FA Cup final:

Manchester City 0 Wigan 1

Wigan FC first XI: £11.5million: Man City FC first XI: £187million.

Wigan still get relegated and they will not be back in the Premiership is any great hurry.

9 May 2013

We saw Iron Man 3 today – rather dull; largely because it feels like Iron Man 1 adn 2 repeated. We watched in 3D. Don’t really like 3D. It feels too artificial

8 May 2013

More departures from the Emirates fleet: Withdrawn Emirates A340-300 A6-ERS departed Dubai this morning positioning Dubai – Lourdes as EK2015. The aircraft will become N139WL for Willis Air Lease.

That is the third A340 to leave the fleet in a month.

Emirates A330-200 A6-EAP has also been withdrawn from service.

4 May 2013

Tough news today. though  guess it was only confirming what we knew on Thursday. Our IVF was unsuccessful.

It is a blow. The clinic gave us every reason to be optimistic.

It was a tough month so we will take a while to recover and then decide how and if we want to try again.

2 May 2013

The story of Omar and his two friends – the Emirati actors expelled from Saudi for being “too handsome” – made news around the world.

Back in Dubai, journalists say this was only half the story. The problem started because they were suspected of being gay – a criminal offence – and the “handsomeness” story was a diplomatic way for everyone to save face.

Possible?

1 May 2013

Late last night I was watching “The stoning of Soraya M” on Fox TV.

Just as a sidenote it will always be strange that a tame kiss has to be edited out of a movie while an extended execution scene is perfectly acceptable.

The film is based on a true story from a small Iranian community in 1986 – but rather heavy handedly the film is too eager to extrapolate the martyrdom of an innocent woman into a broader condemnation of the Muslim world.

But this should not be about any one religion – the story reflects the global dimensions of abuse, persecution, and even the executions of women in any society.

The story is as much about Soraya’s aunt, Zahra, as about the tragic Soraya. Zahra’s passionate and articulate voice counters the stereotype of the voiceless Muslim women. Zahra is independent, educated, and world-wise. She is not afraid of authority or of speaking up.

It is Zahra who exposes the tragic story of Soraya to the world, not in a move against Islam, but against men who misinterpret their religion to institutionalize misogyny.

The stoning is hard to watch. Soraya M is drenched in blood and crumpled on the ground, her mutilated face partially obscured by a mass of dark hair. Over an excruciating seven-and-a-half minutes, she has been disowned by her family, buried to her waist in a hole at the centre of the village square and finally reduced to tattered rags of flesh by a baying mob hurling stones.

Awful. Yet is still happens. And it takes a movie, rather than governments and world leaders, to tell us that this is wrong.

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Emirates will launch Second Daily A380 service to Bangkok starting 27 October 2013.

Emirates will add 3rd daily nonstop Dubai – Hong Kong service from 27OCT13 with A330-200 aircraft; will switch to 777-300ER from 01FEB14

30 April 2013

Emirates will launch Second Daily A380 service to Bangkok starting 27 October 2013.

Emirates will add 3rd daily nonstop Dubai – Hong Kong service from 27OCT13 with A330-200 aircraft; will switch to 777-300ER from 01FEB14

29 April 2013

Perfection is all the small things done well…..

28 April 2013

“I admire CNN’s commitment to cover all sides of a story just in case one of them is accurate.” — Obama at the White House correspondents’ dinner. Ouch.

27 April 2013

Withdrawn Emirates A340-300 A6-ERQ departed Dubai this morning operating Dubai – Lisbon as EK2013 where it will become CS-TQY for Hi-Fly; Hi-Fly are ACMI specialists based in Lisbon and Malta.

A340-300 A6-ERR is also due to go to HiFly of Portugal as CS-TQZ.

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Only a few days ago I was reading and linking to a Huffington Post article titled: Why Dubai Is Rapidly Becoming the City of the Future.

Well there are also reasons why it might not be and it is fair to create a balance.

Human Rights issues in the UAE are not transparent. The court and judicial processes are still under development. The UAE is one of the safest places in the world; but if you do fall on the wrong side of the law here the best you can do is be patient and polite. Any alternative behaviour will severely hurt your situation.

The New Statesman today asks “Why is Britain rolling out the red carpet for the UAE’s Sheikh Khalifa?”

It is a reasonable question to ask – but the magazine ignores the decades of historical ties, the massive investment by British business into the UAE and by UAE money into Britain, and the tens of thousands of jobs taken by Britains working in the UAE.

And it is hardly the first time that the UK and the Queen have hosted unelected leaders; there were for instance plenty in the UK last year for the Queen’s diamond jubilee.

That said the more that the UAE can do to ensure transparency in its judicial system the better.

And maybe this is part of why regional leaders need to change – Why the Sheikhs Will Fall

26 April  2013

The Daily Mail for once is writing something useful – its coverage of the Godolphin doping scandal has been far more inquisitive and to the point than most – The rush to reach a judgment in the Godolphin scandal leaves a sinister smell

25 April 2013

Air Canada, one of the most anti-Gulf carriers out there, signs a codeshare MOU with Etihad Airways. Only one giant left to fall: Lufthansa

24 April 2013

There are people tweeting from the horse-racing world in the UK that should alarm the racing folks, owners and trainers in Dubai –

Does Sheik Mohammed really expect everyone to believe he’s the only person in the racing world shocked at the Godolphin doping scandle?

Wrote Ross Burdon from Newmarket who works in horseracing for Sir Henry Cecil.

The Dubai media is being predictably cautious.

And it is a difficult issue for the British racing media – without the millions put into British racing by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum the sport would be near comatose.

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I hope this guy flies better than he writes:

“@HHShkMohd im writting here regadrding our grduation which will be held tomorrow in emirates airline headquarters our owner you to be attend”

Or is this the future of Emirates?

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Emirates Airline said on Wednesday it will build five residential towers in Dubai Silicon Oasis to house its cabin crew.

The 25-storey towers will include a total 669 three-bedroom apartments, as well as six four-bedroom flats, accommodating about 2,000 cabin crew. Construction starts later in 2013.

23 April 2013

At least I was not the only one depressed by the sight of Thailand’s Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra posing, smiling and holding hands with the ruler of Bahrain, Hamad bin Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa.

Read this:  Thailand: Puppets on a string, dancing to the tune of the military

Yingluck’s handshake with the ruler of Bahrain is symbolic. It said that it was OK to shoot down pro-democracy demonstrators in Bahrain and in Thailand. Not good.

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Not a telephone number but the faster centruy ever in cricket history – Chris Gayle in the IPL today – 103 off 30 balls: 001440440416640664616066466016 – nice to see that he played himself in first, proper batting!

22 April 2013

Luis Suarez may be talented but he is a liability to his club – summed up after today’s biting incident in the Telegraph:

“So far at Liverpool, Suarez has racially abused Manchester United’s Patrice Evra, dived to win a penalty against Stoke City, courted controversy with a handball in the build-up to a goal against Mansfield Town and now this attack on Ivanovic. Some great players have graced that Liverpool No 7 shirt. Suarez stains it. Enough is enough.”

20 April 2013

Happy birthday Alex – sweet (??) 16.

17 April 2013

A thought from Scotland on the Thatcher funeral via the Guardian:

“For those of us in Scotland who wish to see our country independent this circus only serves to highlight the vast gulf between the governed and those governing ,which now exists between Scotland and Westminster. There is not a lot of anger at this event as so many see it as a foreign and almost alien spectacle, which in so many ways it is. Her party which for so long wielded enormous power and influence is now reduced to cheerleading the Labour party in the Scottish parliament .The best protest and acknowledgement of this woman’s reign is the one Tory MP, the Scottish parliament and the referendum on independence.”

And in the end this was a very London funeral – she would not be getting the same applause and cheers anywhere north of Watford.

16 April 2013

Good old Britain – as a nation it might be a bit ropey at deficit reduction, equality, good weather, teenage sobriety, Eurovision or dentistry, but at pomp and pageantry, Britain is world leading.

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The bombing in Boston is a bad business but somehow the deep compassion and anger felt in the US when it is attacked never translates to understanding the effects of US aggression against others.

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It is not promotion form – one win in six games, and a 3-2 loss away to relegation battlers Peterborough last time out, has left Watford one place and six points shy of an automatic promotion spot with four to play.

The Hornets still boast the most lethal attack in the Championship (78 goals in 42 games), and have scored one goal every 3.23 attempts on target, which is the best conversion rate in the division.

They’ve also picked up an unsurpassed 36 points on their second tier travels, while their opponents have the joint fewest home points (24).

Blackburn and Leeds are still to come to Vicarage Road, either side of a trip to out-of-sorts Leicester.

And tonight we are away at Millwall.

15 April 2013

Watching Man Men is hard. On many levels. The relevance of so much of what happens in one episode only becomes clear in future weeks.

It has to be set in a time and place – 1968 New York – values and behaviour were different. Workplaces were different although roles were clearly changing. The Vietnam War dominated the news. But television was the new sales tool.

And then there is Don. He is contemptible but somehow we still root for him – and rooting is an apt word for Don.

He is cheating. Philandering Don made it loyally through series 5. But now he is sleeping with the neighbour’s wife, Sylvia.

The trouble with Don is that the chase is so much more enjoyable than stability. He wants the challenge. Megan never gave him that. In the end she was too easy; too accommodating. She needs her career to take off and then she can.

There are no secrets in life. Eventually. Megan will find out. And then. She has to chuck him out. But it will hurt her more than him which is wrong.

Nothing worth saying about Pete – except that he really is not so different from Don Draper – he just lack’s Don’s charm and caution. His morality is just as low.

The trouble with getting to a series 6 is that there are so many characters and sub plots than parts of the story are simply not developed and some characters are unseen or only briefly seen. Don’s children have disappeared. But they like Megan and he will have problems with them when this marriage ends – which it now must.

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On the subject of no secrets nothing escapes by lovely spouse – she lands from Bombay – overnight – has not slept.

I heard you eating the ice cream while I rested last night she says – followed by spotting the Easter egg box – did you eat all the egg? She would make a poor detective. The box may be in the garbage but 90% of the egg is still in the fridge – a chocolate bunny with no ears!

14 April 2013

Yesterday was a day for the unexpected – and was expensive.

More details at a future date when I can write about it – safe to say that it is part of an ongoing process and the results are not known yet.

12 April 2013

A nice gathering at the Thai consulate in Dubai today to celebrate Songkran. A good turn out, plenty of food and lots of water.

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Meanwhile the Masters has descended into pettiness and spite – Masters 2013: Guan Tianlang hit with one-shot penalty for slow play.

Guan is 14 years old. He would be 3 over and safe for the weekend. At 4 over he was in danger of heading home.

He was on the 17th. This was a day to let him finish his round and then bollock him in the clubhouse.

It is windy. Conditions are hard.

No player has had a one shot penalty for slow play on the PGA since 1995 or in a major since 2004.

There is plenty of slow play today. But would the officials ever penalise Tiger Woods or the other major names. Not a chance.

It is so much easier to punish a 14 year old amateur Chinese boy. As an amateur he cannot win prize money.

This just looks like an old white man bullying the Chinese golfer and in doing so spoiling the game for millions of would be Chinese golfers.

In the Guardian’s commentary: “Tianlang Guan is in the clubhouse with a second-round 75. That’s another brave effort from the kid, following that almost unnatural one-over 73 yesterday. He’s +4 for the tournament, and he should just make the cut. Should.But he’s right on the line. And if he doesn’t, then all hell’s likely to break loose, and no wonder, because it transpires he was penalised a stroke for slow play on 17 by some officious buffoon. This is the first time this has happened on a PGA Tour event since 1995, when Glen ‘All Day’ Day was docked a penalty shot in the third round of the Honda Classic. Rules are rules, I guess, and he must have been warned previously and put on the clock, but the lad’s 14 for goodness sake, surely the officials could have made do with a stern bollocking. This is going to be one hell of a harsh lesson if he misses the weekend’s play – and the chance of being the youngest player in history to make the cut.”

Brainless. Just worth adding that not one player has been penalised in 17 years on the US tour but Augusta just penalised a 14 year old Chinese boy.

The Chinese need to be summoning the US and British ambassadors to Beijing for their own one-stroke penalty.

Mind you – 5 and 1/2 hour rounds of golf are evil!

After two rounds Jason Day leads – coincidentally one of the slowest golfers ever to play the game!

11 April 2013

Emirates Road is back – but it is not the same Emirates Road as before –

There are 3 main highways through Dubai,SW-NE.

1. The Sheikh Zayed Road, which is still called “The Sheikh Zayed Road”.
2. The Emirates Road (311), which is now called “The Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Highway”.
3. The Bypass Road (611), which is now called “The Emirates Road”.

Bizarre.

10 April 2013

The giant panda born at Chiang Mai Zoo in Thailand, the ever-popular Lin Ping, is to be sent to China after she turns four years old on May 27. Thailand will need to declare a national day of mourning!

For particular personal reasons it is with respect that I note the death of Robert Edwards, a British Nobel prize-winning scientist known as the father of in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) for pioneering the development of “test tube babies”.

Edwards, who won the Nobel prize for medicine in 2010, started work on fertilisation in the 1950s, and the first so-called test tube baby, Louise Brown, was born in 1978 as a result of his research.

Since then, millions of babies have been born around the world as a result of the techniques Edwards developed together with his late colleague, Patrick Steptoe.
Edwards began his work on fertilisation in 1955 and by 1968 had been able to achieve fertilization of a human egg in a laboratory. He then started to collaborate with Steptoe.

Together they founded Bourn Hall, the world’s first IVF clinic, in Cambridge, eastern England, in 1980.

5 April 2013

Emirates China changes from 1st May:

DXB-PVG: A380 service increase from 3 weekly to 5 weekly
DXB-HKG: A380 service reduced from 4 weekly to 2 weekly

3 April 2013

Crazy Russian photographers – some great pictures of Dubai here.

2 April 2013

Watford v Hull is underway at the KC Stadium….and we lead 1-0 at half time.

• This is a vital six-pointer in Watford’s bid for automatic promotion, which has hit upon turbulent waters of late, with just one point out of nine, and one win in five.

• A share of the spoils would give the Hertfordshire club their 500th away draw in league football.

• The free-scoring Hornets have failed to find the net in only one of their last 10 Championship games.

And Watford win 1-0.

1 April 2013

Low cost carrier Flydubai will introduce a twice weekly service to two new destinations in the CIS region, bringing total destinations there up to 20.

Flights to Osh in Kyrgyzstan will begin April 24 and those to Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan, will begin April 30.

The airline has offered services to the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek, since February 2012. The past 12 months have seen overall air traffic between Dubai and Bishkek grow by 157%.

Round trip fares to Osh will start from AED 1,595 and to Dushanbe from AED 2,000.

30 March 2013

It’s unconfirmed, but a man arrested on Thursday by London’s Metropolitan Police on suspicion of sex offences is thought to be children’s entertainer Rolf Harris.

Australian media outlet the Age reports, “The pensioner from Berkshire, west of London, is one of 11 people arrested so far under Operation Yewtree, which is investigating people linked to [BBC personality Jimmy] Savile.”

The same man, who was identified as “an 82-year-old Australian entertainer,” was questioned and then released by police in November. His home was searched at the time.

There may need to be a rewording of “Two Little Boys.”

The UK tv networks are saying nothing for now – but this is all over Twitter and a number of UK journalists have now named Mr. Harris.

Harris is 83 today.

Operation Yewtree needs to get to a resolution quickly. This one arrest a month is simply too drawn out – and those who were hurt, abused, mistreated deserve really resolution and where appropriate the opportunity to confront those who hurt them in court.

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A few notes from driving around Dubai yesterday:

  1. Friday morning traffic (and the Easter weekend as well) meant that traffic trying to get to Terminals 1 and 3 was simply awful.

This is not good when you need to get the better half to the EGHQ for her Singapore flight.

The Dubai authorities need to fix this. From airport road heading towards the EGHQ there is a single lane off ramp to Terminal 1 and a single off ramp to terminal 3.

Traffic was backed up down Airport Road and around the corner past the Meridien towards Garhoud Bridge.

And to add to people’s frustration there were no warning signs – no attempts by Dubai police to aid the traffic flow. Instead there was a single motorcycle cop with his notepad out taking numbers (for tickets) of drivers trying to cut into the terminal 3 ramp. Very poor.

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Good to see Stephen Milner yesterday – who I first met teh first day that I started work in 1979! Streuth. Almost 34 years ago!

It was a good excuse for a drive around Dubai – to Meydan – to the 7s stadium – along route 77 towards Jebel Ali – around the new airport and then back along the 311 to Dubai Mall for a late lunch.

At the new airport:

There is a huge amount of work to be done before the Dubai Airshow venue is ready.

The small passenger terminal is making good progress. But it is small. It looks like the sort of terminal you would see at a Mediterranean tourist airport! There is an outdoor uncovered car park. There will be no airbridges. It is a genuine LCC airport.

There are a few freighters and a few bizjets parked. We did not stop to take pictures. The only other vehicles that were there on a Friday were some police cars. Stopping did not seem wise.

It is quite hard to imagine what the airport will look like in 15 years time.

27 March 2013

AirAsia X plans to set-up a subsidiary in Thailand in cooperation with sister carrier Thai AirAsia according to this report by the Bangkok Post. It has applied for an air operator certificate in Thailand and plans to launch long-haul services from Bangkok Don Mueang International (DMK) to Japan and South Korea later this year with a fleet of A330-300s. According to Thai AirAsia CEO Tassapon Bijleveld, the plans have not been finalized yet and are still at an early stage.

26 March 2013

Paul Mahoney (golf writer) on twitter today: “You see, America, cricket is very much like life. It’s not all about winning or losing. Sometimes it’s enough just to strive to break even.”

Mike Selvey in the Guardian:

“After two months in this beautiful country, and three Test matches, the destiny of the series came down to the final delivery of the 143rd over of England’s second innings, bowled by their indefatigable left armer Trent Boult to Matt Prior, the man who is constructing a compelling case to be regarded as the finest wicketkeeper-batsman England has fielded. Boult was spent but to the roars of the crowd, he thrashed the ball into an unresponsive pitch for the last time, Prior defended and then raised his arms in triumph. England had survived the match and earned themselves a draw in the series by the skin of their teeth.

It was a day for heroes, players who reined in their natural instincts to carve out one of the great rearguards for only three teams previously had entered the final day of a Test with four wickets down and survived to the end of the day.”

25 March 2013

Coming up next after Cyprus – Slovenia, Malta and Luxembourg…..

This is not over. And it will all be dealt with in crisis mode.

24 March 2013

New Zealand haven’t beaten England in a Test series since 1999. They haven’t beaten them at home in a series since 1983-84. They haven’t won a series against anyone apart from Bangladesh or Zimbabwe for over seven years. They have won only three series of three Tests or more since Sir Richard Hadlee’s retirement in 1990.

Those are the statistics of a rubbish side. The evidence of this series is that New Zealand are far from a rubbish side.

Or maybe England are not the side they talk themselves up to be.

And if England lose and Australia win in India then Australia will go above England in the Test rankings.

Ouch.

22 March 2013

Alex Salmond has announced that Scotland’s independence referendum will be held on 18 September next year.

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Sad: Yingluck/Chalerm have betrayed everyone who voted for them. They are now indistinguishable from Abhisit/Suthep. This is bad news for Thailand.

21 March 2013

The controversy over last week’s PBS debate on the lese majeste laws continues in Thailand – Prayuth who is the head of police basically told anyone who does not like the law to leave the country and live elsewhere.

“I agree with what Prayuth said,” Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm “The government doesn’t agree with changing laws protecting the monarchy.”

Chalerm is a disgrace. A thug. His PT party were elected to bring about change after the army supported Abhisit government. Instead PT parrots the same nonsense.

20 March 2013

I used to enjoy Wigan’s annual escape from Premiership relegation. I used to enjoy their manager’s honesty. I used to enjoy the style of football they played.

During Sunday’s Barclays Premier League match between Wigan Athletic and Newcastle United, Wigan’s Callum McManaman — in his first career Premier League start — committed a horrible, career-threatening tackle on Newcastle’s Massadio Haidara that went unpunished.

But Wigan Chairman David Whelan is an idiot in his defense of his player.

“There is no question that our lad got the ball and then they collided.” Wigan chairman Dave Whelan

I hope Wigan now disappear into the Championship and slide slowly down the leagues.

That’s what you deserve for publicly defending the indefensible. It was a shocker of a tackle. He should have been sent off. The referee did not see it. The player was not punished.

Both the chairman and manager would have been better advised saying nothing – or simply that it was being dealt with by the FA and wishing Haidara a quick recovery.

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A few notes will appear over the next few days after last week’s Bangkok and Kanchanaburi trip….

firstly – PowerMall at Central Chitlom – just hopeless – so much of what is wrong in Thailand in one single store. Staff that hover hopelessly and pointing things out to you that you have no interest in; a single cashier – presumaby the only staff member than can deduct 100 baht from 1000 baht without a calculator. A long queue at the cashier. And 25 staff standing around the cashier’s desks (I counted them) doing nothing. Hopeless.

19 March 2013

Air Arabia as well as RAK Airways and flydubai will move to Doha’s new Doha Hamad International (OTHH) airport from April 1.

In total 10 airlines will operate from the new airport. All other carriers serving Doha International (DOH) will continue to operate to the old airport for the time being until the premium passenger lounges at the new facility have been completed. This includes Emirates, Qatar Airways and Etihad.

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A date for your diary: the first day of the Islamic holy month Ramadan in 2013 will be July 10.

August 9 is the first day of Shawwal, the tenth month in the lunar Islamic calendar, as well as the first day of the Eid Al Fitr holiday.

It will be a very hot month. And longer days extend the fast.

18 March 2013

Alex has headed back to HKG this morning. And he has been very good company for a week.

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Driving in BKK – crazy – it took four hours on Friday afternoon from Samut Songkhram to Bangkok. Taxi drivers are for the most part remarkably patient.

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Kanchanaburi province. Very pretty and a real escape from Bangkok.

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But the Erawan Falls. Over-rated, expensive for foreigners to visit and over-run by Russians.

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Boutigue Raft River Resort – loved it – loved the location. Just did not sleep very well and fell into our pool – a small cage of river water.

17 March 2013

The Daily Mail continues its love-hate relationship with Dubai – Motorcycling champion whose new wife died on honeymoon at luxury Dubai hotel is arrested for being drunk

If there is truth in the article it is woefully insensitive work by the local police….

16 March 2013

You have to love this from the Nation – reported today without any sense of its inappropriateness:

“The Constitution Court has historically sought solutions for the country in times of political gridlock, its president Wasan Soypisudh said yesterday.
At a seminar on the court’s role in keeping the balance in Thai politics, he referred to the court’s resolution to dissolve the People Power, Chart Thai and Matchima Thipataya parties. If various groups had not staged so many rallies at the time, the decision might have been different, he said. “If the country at that time had been peaceful, the government and the opposition could have joined hands, the country could have moved forward, and I believe most of the judges would have decided not to dissolve the parties,” he said. “But the country at that time was chaotic and the Constitution Court had to use its judgement to maintain law and order,” he said, adding however that the court was under no pressure.”

So the Constitutional Court chairman confirms that the court makes its decisions based upon political expediency, not based on the law.

Not surprising; but not right.

15 March 2013

So we have a new Pope – but it is clear that he may not exactly be a saint – there are questions about his role under the old military junta in Argentina.

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So many Russians at the Erawan Falls – is it their spring break? Did they invade.

Baht 40 for Thais – Baht 200 for foreigners. Alex became Thai for the day.

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At Baht 200 for foreigners this place is a gold mine. Sat 3,000 there today = bat 600,000. hey might be taking baht 4 million in a week.

11 March 2013

This is never helpful “Flight delayed due to operational reasons.”

Just front up and tell your customers what the problem is.

6 March 2013

The EK 2013-2014 annual plan (1 April to 31 March) speculation from a post on one of the airline bulletin boads:

For Emirates financial year April 1 2013 – March 31 2014:

14 Airbus A380s will be added to the fleet
6 Boeing 777-300ERs will be added to the fleet
2 Boeing 777-200LRFs will be added to the fleet

2 Airbus A330-200s will leave the fleet
2 Airbus A340-500s will leave the fleet
1 Airbus A340-300 will leave the fleet

8 new destinations to be added. Two of which are HND and CRK. (Haneda and Clark)

A380 upgrades will only begin in October.

This is the current outlook assuming everything goes to plan. I’m assuming that A340-300s A6-ERQ and A6-ERS are going to be retired by the end of this financial year. This means by March 31, 2014 there will only be 5 A340-300s.

5 March 2013

In regional news Bahrain has welcomed the UAE’s decision to block the entry of a UK-based academic to the country, according to Wam, the state news agency.

This is all rather sad – I understand the GCC countries showing a united public face – but at least behind the scenes you have to hope that the UAE is distancing itself from the actions of the authorities in Bahrain.

Dr Kristian Coates Ulrichsen, an academic with the London School of Economics, was to speak at a planned conference at the American University of Sharjah entitled “The New Middle East: Transition in the Arab World”.

The UAE authorities said yesterday he had been prevented from entering the country because it was deemed to be “unhelpful to allow non-constructive views on the situation in Bahrain to be expressed” in the UAE.

Dr Kristian Coates Ulrichsen, from the London School of Economics, was denied entry at Dubai airport on February 22 because of his “unhelpful” views on the political situation in Bahrain.

The conference he was due to attend at the American University of Sharjah, which was to be co-hosted by the LSE, was subsequently cancelled.

Capitalising on the UAE’s action the Bahraini ministry of foreign affairs said in a statement that the UAE’s move was “a true reflection of the strong bonds of fraternity between the UAE and Bahrain and an example of GCC co-operation in addressing such issues”.

Regional understanding requires debate on the impact of recent changes in many middle eastern nations and academic freedom is threatened when those debates cannot take place.

4 March 2013

Asia Atlantic Airlines has been announced as the new name for Thailand’s latest start-up carrier backed by Japanese tour operator H.I.S. and Thai hotel group Baiyoke. It had originally planned to operate as Asia Pacific Airlines (Thailand). It plans to use two B767-300(ER)s to operate charter services from and to China, Guam, Hawaii, Indonesia, Japan, Russia and South Korea according to its website.

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Due to pragmatic self censorship I will not comment much on this case – and will say little other than what is published in the UAE papers:

The trial of 94 people accused of plotting to overthrow the UAE government was due to start in the Federal Supreme Court today.

The UAE Attorney General Salem Saeed Kubaish said in Janaury that the suspects, all Emiratis, were arrested as part of a probe into an organisation that was seeking ways to seize power in the Emirates.

The fact that the case is being heard in the Supreme Court means that there can be no appeal against the verdict.

It will be interesting to see and read how the international media covers this story; especially parts of the international media that have chosen to establish Abu Dhabi regional offices.

After a day of hearings the case was delayed until 11 March.

2 March 2013

The sentence “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” uses every letter in the alphabet.

1 March 2013

The Lords Taverners are in town this weekend – and they played a 35 over cricket match against the Emirates Airline team at the 7s stadium cricket ground today.

The Taverners made 219 for 7 and bowled the Emirates team out for 88. It was a very easy win.

Scott Styris led the way for the Taverners with a powerful 110.

The saddest part was watching just how miserable the Emirates team was – this is a team that includes a number of players from the UAE national squad.

They looked miserable. They gave no appearance of enjoying their cricket. Anything that went wrong was someone else’s fault. An early run out looked like the two batsmen would come to blows. A dropped catch (it was an appalling full toss) had the bowler berating the poor fielder who was under a skier coming out of the sun.

When Scott Stryis reached a very entertaining 100, which included 6 sixes, only two of the Emirates team were seen to applaud him. Whatever happened to courtesy in this game? I thought this was really poor.

This was a very unhappy looking Emirates team. This was a charity game. Emirates are effectively a club team privileged by virtue of their employment to playing against some well known international players. They need a major attitude reboot. As one of their younger players said to me while fielding “some of our guys take it too seriously.”

28 February 2013

Etihad Airways has agreed to buy three pairs of slots at London Heathrow airport from Indian carrier Jet Airways for $70 million.

Jet Airways will continue to operate the slots under a sale and leaseback agreement signed on 26 February.

The sale gives Etihad future growth potential at the UK hub while also freeing up cash reserves for Jet Airways.

Separately, the two airlines are in due diligence proceedings over a prospective sale of 24% of Jet Airways to Abu Dhabi’s flag carrier.

That deal was expected to have been concluded earlier in February, but Reuters subsequently reported that Etihad is revising its planned agreement.

27 February 2013

I want to be in Canada…..no specific reason – was playing some Blue Rodeo and feeling homesick.

26 February 2013

Happy birthday honey!

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From 01JUN13, Emirates introduces second daily Airbus A380 operation on Dubai – Sydney service. The second daily flight, EK414/415, will replace existing Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. Reservation for the second daily A380 service opened at 0600GMT.

EK414 DXB0215 – 2205SYD 388 D
EK412 DXB1015 – 0605+1SYD 388 D

EK415 SYD0600 – 1430DXB 388 D
EK413 SYD2110 – 0540+1DXB 388 D

EK415 operates with A380 from 02JUN13. EK continues to operate Boeing 777-300ER aircraft on Dubai – Bangkok – Sydney – Christchurch service.

25 February 2013

Good news for EK main fleet crews: especially Japanese crew: From 1June 2013 – EK318/319 DXB NRT DXB changes from A388 to B77W. This changes coincides with the start of daily DXB HND operations, which will likely impact the demand for NRT flights. The Narita A388 has so far not yet be reallocated elsewhere in the network. The B77W change seems to be permanent as it has been loaded through Winter 2013.

Effective 1 October 2013 – EK143/144 DXB MAD DXB changes from B77W to B77L. This is the second daily Madrid flight, which has been much less popular than the morning flight out of Dubai. The B77L aircraft is sourced from the DXB GIG EZE route, which upgrades to a B77W on the same date. This change brings about a second freed up B77L frame in the system, which has not yet been allocated. The spare B77L capacity could potentially be used for a new Europe route. B77Ls will be deployed to Geneva, Hamburg, Lisbon and Madrid in Europe and the only 2 ULH routes of the B77L schedule will be Seattle and Dallas.

EK143/144 is scheduled to return to a B77W in 01FEB14.

20 February 2013

Emirates is full of surprises this week – first it was Clark in the Philippines and now a proposed Dubai-Milan-New York.

Emirates has requested slots for a new Dubai – Milan Malpensa – New York JFK Three Class Boeing 777-300ER service to commence on 1st October 2013. Schedules are set to be:

EK205 Dubai 0910 – 1350 Milan Malpensa 1600 – New York JFK 1810

EK206 New York JFK 2215 – 1215+1 Milan Malpensa – 1400+1 – Dubai 2205+1

Emirates watchers had expected an extra JFK flight to be routed through Manchester.

Milan already has three flights a day – it may well be that if this flight does start in October then the breakfast terminator flight to MXP would cease to operate.

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EK also has another 777 – Emirates Boeing 777-31HER A6-ENG was delivered from Paine Field today routing direct to Dubai as EK777. This brings the Boeing 777-300ER fleet up to 85 aircraft.

18 February 2013

Note to myself: The Canadian Consulate has moved and is now located on the 19th floor of the Jumeirah Emirates Towers (Business Tower) on Shaikh Zayed Road.
It working hours are 8am to noon and from 1pm to 3pm Sunday to Thursday

17 February 2013

Bored. Don’t seem to have any reason to leave the apartment.

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Thailand’s next mini-under-financed-not likely to succeed airline is Asia Pacific Airlines (Thailand) which is reported to be the name of a new Thai charter carrier back by the largest Japanese tour operator H.I.S., its Thai subsidiary H.I.S. Tours and Thai hotelier Panlert Baiyoke. It plans to launch operations in mid-2013 with two B767s operating charter services to China, Japan, the Middle East and South Korea.

In fairness at least their staff advertisements are written in decent English. And that is rare.

14 February 2013

Happy Valentines Day.

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But not for the South African sprinter and paralympian Oscar Pistorius who has been charged with the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, who died of gunshot wounds at his home on Thursday morning. Bizarre.

12 February 2013

My new TV addiction – “House of Cards is a political drama television series developed for American television by Beau Willimon for the streaming network Netflix. The series stars Kevin Spacey as Frank Underwood, a ruthless politician with his eye on the top job in Washington, D.C. It is an adaptation of the previous BBC miniseries of the same name.”

The UK series was based upon Micheal Dodds book – his anti-her was Francis Urquart.

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Bahrain Air has suspended services after filing for voluntary liquidation, carrier says on Facebook.

11 February 2013

Low cost carrier, Flydubai, is introducing two routes in Pakistan. From March 13, the carrier will operate three times a week to Sialkot and from March 14, three times a week to Multan.

Return fares start at AED 1,050 to Sialkot and at AED 1,230 to Multan. Flights to Sialkot will operate on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and to Multan on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

10 February 2013

Too close: An asteroid measuring 150km is set to fly past the earth on Friday 15 February.

The 2012 DA14 asteroid weighs 130,000 tonnes and will be coming so close to the earth that it will come into the orbit of some communication satellites.

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The battle between GEMS and the KHDA will continue:

There will be no school fee increases for the 2013/14 academic year, Dubai’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) has revealed.

The announcement comes in line with the release of the annual Education Cost Index (ECI), calculated by the Dubai Statistics Centre at -1 percent.

ECI is affected by the consumer price index and specifically addresses the costs of running a school, including salaries, rent, and utilities.

The KHDA said the ECI of -1 percent means that fees will remain unchanged for the 2013/14 academic year.

8 February 2013

This could be the most depressing tweet of the day – “After week in DC discussing US Mideast policy, my sense is the WH has no vision or plan on any of major issues, only crisis mgmt+containmemt” – Emile Hokayem – Middle East analyst at International Institute for Strategic Studies.

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Watford top scorer Matej Vydra starts for Watford tonight after he was whisked back from international duty (in Turkey) for the Czech Republic on club owner Giampaolo Pozzo’s private jet. Nice.

5 February 2013

Apparently Thunderbirds – the tv series – is to be remade – this time using CGI – not puppets….hope they stick to the spirit of the original series…

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Good advice:

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My continuing attempts to get a ticket for Watford on Friday – “Unfortunately, one or more items in your basket is assigned to a newly registered client, which is not allowed.”

So you can register on the web site – but you cannot buy tickets….hopeless.

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This is looking ever more likely. Scotland would declare independence from the UK in March 2016 in the event of a ‘yes’ vote in the upcoming referendum under plans from the Scottish Government.

Elections to the independent parliament would follow in May 2016. An official paper, drawn up by the the Scottish Government and obtained by the BBC, outlines the transition from a ‘yes’ vote to independence.

4 February 2013

Being a football fan is a problem when you want to buy tickets to see a game – thought I should try and go to Watford v Crystal Palace on Friday night – you have to register online to buy a ticket – so I tried to do that and got the following message – “Unfortunately, this time you don’t have the correct privileges on your account to purchase tickets for this match. Why not return to ticket home and try another match?”

I have no idea what that means but it is of no use to me whatsoever.

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The largest country in the GCC is Saudi Arabia. It is a country that is driving closer Gulf co-operation even union. But the trouble with greater union is that it will  likely be on Saudi’s terms. Here is just one example why closer union with Saudi is a bad idea. It is stories like this that reflect a country that is still in the dark ages when it comes to basic human rights and decency. This is simply awful.

3 February 2013

Stephen Gallacher wins the Dubai Desert Classic by three shots from Richard Sterne.

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A little side note to a Qantas announcement about improved flight schedules into Asia – Qantas has also brought forward the end date for its loss-making Frankfurt services by six months to 15 April 2013

2 February 2013

In and out of the Nuffield Hospital in Plymouth for a couple of days taking my mother in for surgery to remove a synovial cyst. This has trapped a nerve on her back for some weeks and has caused paid all down her right side.

The MRI revealed the cyst – which is completely benign but its location against the spine causes all the problems.

Surgery went well….

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Pakistan crashed to their lowest Test total when they were bowled out for 49 by a South African pace barrage on the second day of the first Test at the Wanderers Stadium on Saturday.

Dale Steyn took six for eight in 8.1 overs as Pakistan failed to match their previous low – 53 against Australia in Sharjah in 2002/03.

Ouch.

31 January 2013

David Beckham has joined French football team Paris St-Germain, and he has announced that he will be donating his salary to charity.

Beckham has signed a five-month contract with the club, and his salary will be paid direct to a Paris children’s home.

Inspired.

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British politics in one short story:

“One day a florist went to a barber for a haircut. After the cut, he asked about his bill, and the barber replied, ‘I cannot accept money from you. I’m doing community service this week.’ The florist was pleased and left the shop. When the barber went to open his shop the next morning, there was a ‘thank you’ card and a dozen roses waiting for him at his door.

Later, a cop comes in for a haircut, and when he tries to pay his
bill, the barber again replied, ‘I cannot accept money from you; I’m doing community service this week.’ The cop was happy and left the shop. The next morning when the barber went to open up, there were a ‘thank you’ card and a dozen doughnuts waiting for him at his door…?

Then an MP came in for a haircut, and when he went to pay his bill, the barber again replied, ‘I cannot accept money from you. I’m doing community service this week.’ The MP was very happy and left the shop. The next morning, when the barber went to open up, there were a dozen MPs lined up waiting for a free haircut.”

30 January 2013

On 21 January 2013 an Etihad Airways Airbus A330-200, registration A6-EYF performing flight EY-1A from Munich to Frankfurt/Main (Germany), was on final approach to Frankfurt’s runway 25L when all three airspeed indications (left, right, standby) were lost. The crew was able to continue for a safe landing on runway 25L about 2 minutes later.

The French BEA reported the German BFU is investigating the serious incident.

The aircraft performing flight EY-1 from Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates) to Frankfurt had previously diverted to Munich due to weather.

Possibility – pitot tubes freezing over.

It is not clear how they monitored their landing speeds – though there is talk that an iPhone GPS app was used!

29 January 2013

I am confused – Europe (the French) go to war in Mali but ignore Syria.

Intervention in Libya required UN approval. But there appears to be no such requirement in Mali.

The Russians and Chinese have blocked any intervention in Syria. Not a word of protest about Mali.

Am I missing something?

Anyone who thinks this has a simple quick ending has been woefully misled. This is just scene 1 of the first act.

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After a great win at Notts Forest Watford then go and lose 0-2 three days later away at bottom of the Championship Bristol City. Instead of going second Watford go fourth. Manager Zola made six changes to Saturday’s team and worse left out his two in form strikers – bringing them on to chase the game after 60 minutes….is it possible that the owners are happier funding a Championship side – because that sounds like a team that is not interested in automatic promotion….

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Emirates has another social media mess to deal with…why – because they simply do not react quickly enough. Paralysis.

This appeared on Instagram today – offering 40,000 tickets to Dubai and gaining 33,000 followers immediately.

Lots of questions on twitter to known social media managers at Emirates – such as “Saw many #emiratespromotion posts on Instagram today. Is it legit? cc @JohnSaydam @arun4”

All this seems to have led to a bit of a panic at EK with a cry for help to two staff members at Instagram from @arun4 – “@jayzombie @@dantoffey Hi, I work in social media at Emirates Airline, Dubai. Need your assistance. Could you please follow me? Thank you.”

An airline cannot afford to give away 40,000 tickets. So it is almost certainly spam – someone imitating EK or worse – someone in EK drumming up publicity. If the latter – and the ticket commitment is not honoured – they should be fired. Misleading and unethicial.

What EK should have done is issue a very fast denial of responsibility for the account and the promotion. But as always when something goes wrong at EK the first response is a prolonged silence…..

The EK response came 13 hours after the call for help to Instagram – with @arun4 tweeting : “The #emiratespromotion on Instagram is a fake. Emirates Airline is only on Facebook, G+ & YouTube for now. #socialmedia” and the following response on Facebook: “To all our fans, Emirates has three official social media channels which are:

www.facebook.com/emirates
www.google.com/+Emirates
www.youtube.com/Emirates

When we launch competitions or new social media channels, you will be the first to know via our Facebook, G+ or YouTube channels and on emirates.com

Thank you for your continued support
Emirates”

29 January 2013 – continued

Dual Pricing in Thailand – nailed by this web site.

It is shocking – Doi Inthanon was 40 baht for a Thai and 400 baht for foreigners.

Try charging foreigners 10x more than a Brit to enter a park or attraction in the UK.

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Arabian Business carries the following headline today :

“Wife of Syria’s Assad pregnant – report. British born Asma Al Assad said to be expecting fourth child with dictator.”

Interesting choice of words – Assad is a dictator – other non elected rulers across the region are leaders.

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I meant to report on our weekend in London – we had such plans – a nice hotel – maybe some theatre and a good dinner!

It did not go quite as planned.

Thursday – first night – late lunch of Chinatown wontons (dismal!) and dinner was a takeaway from M&S at Bond Street – we were tired.

Friday was spent wandering around the East End – the regeneration of that part of London is one of the stories of the last 15 years. We went to Canary Wharf. Canary Wharf continues to grow. It is like a North American downtown in the middle of London. All the major service industry companies are there and it was busy.

Then across to Greenwich, Cutty Sark for lunch (more bad Chinese food!) and then took the Emirates Airline from close to the O2 at Greenwich over to nowhere town on the north shore. We took the Docklands Light Rail up to Stratford.

You cannot see the Olympic Stadium and Park which are all under renovation until the summer. That seems to me to be a mistake losing much of the Games momentum and goodwill from last year and creating a building site not a great sports facility.

But the Westfield Mall was packed. It is big. Where did all these people go before the mall opened?

Dinner at Pizza Express close to our hotel.

Saturday was meant to be an exploring day – though Tai was underwhelmed by walking from St Pancras through to Fleet Street and up to St Pauls. Fleet Street is dead; killed off in part by the success of Canary Wharf. Reuters old 85 Fleet Street building now faded and grey.

We walked across the Millennium Bridge to the Tate Modern by when I was feeling terrible. Soon all I wanted was to get back to the hotel and pass out. The north-south cross rail got us from Blackfriars to St Pancras. And the rest of the day and night was misery. I cannot remember when I was last that sick.

Sorry hon. London did not quite work out as planned.

28 January 2013

EK is holding an open day in Plymouth – Emirates Airline, is holding a Cabin Crew Open Day 9am on January 30, at the Copthorne Hotel Plymouth, Armada Way, Plymouth, PL1 1AR.

The Cabin Crew Recruitment Open Day offers interested applicants the opportunity to explore their dream job and learn about living in cosmopolitan Dubai.

Emirates currently serves 128 cities and is seeing dedicated employees, who are open-minded, helpful, friendly and service-oriented. Applicants have to be at least 21 years old at the time of possible recruitment and are requested to bring an up-to-date curriculum vitae (CV) in English, and a photograph.

Should I go !?

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In the UK the coalition government has announced a new citizenship test for aspiring Britons, intended to place more emphasis on British history and achievements than versions drawn up under Labour. Take the sample questions and see whether you score the 75% necessary to pass:

Me: Full marks. That is terrifically British (just so long as you don’t boast about it to anyone)

23 January 2013

This is probably a good call by Qatar Airways – and follows on from its Rangoon/Yangon service launched last year. Qatar Airways plans to launch flights between Phnom Penh and Doha on February 24.

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The latest in the Jimmy Saville investigations: Stuart Hall, ex BBC sports and tv braodcaster charged with one offence of rape and 14 offences of indecent assault

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Human Rights Watch has a very simple statement on Thailand that sums up all its current issues very succinctly:

“The government of Yingluck Shinawatra has not yet fulfilled her promise to give priority to human rights. No one has been held responsible for the 98 dead and more than 2,000 injured during the 2010 “Red Shirt” demonstrations. Thai authorities enforce censorship and prosecute activists under computer and lese majeste (insulting the monarchy) laws. In the southern border provinces, separatist insurgents attack civilians including government teachers, and state security forces torture and “disappear” people with impunity. Thai authorities ignore rights abuses against migrant workers. Refugees and asylum seekers are returned to countries, like Burma, where they will likely face persecution.”

22 January 2013

A very happy 80th birthday to my mother.

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Obama’s second term inauguration was yesterday – some excerpts from his speech.

“We do not believe that in this country, freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few. We recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, any one of us, at any time, may face a job loss, or a sudden illness, or a home swept away in a terrible storm. The commitments we make to each other – through Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security – these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us. They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great.”

“We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths – that all of us are created equal – is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth.”

“For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts. Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law – for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well. Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote.

Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity; until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country. Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for, and cherished, and always safe from harm”

It was good. Sombre. Providing a link from the past to call fro changes to the present to ensure the future. It was a call for tolerance, equality, fairness. And who can argue with that.

And one passing thought on twitter – “Imagining the drag queens and gay kids rioting at Stonewall in 1969 being told that one day a President would remember them in an inaugural.”

20 January 2013

Heading to London on EK001….which would be great except for the fact that:

We flew into Dubai from Bangkok last night – home about 10.30pm….bed at 1am.

Woken at 3am by a call from Emirates call centre – no idea why they were calling as I thought it was the alarm going off and I simply cancelled the call.

Alarm did go off at 5am.

Way too early.

We are sitting near the back of Economy of the A380. Every time the toilets are flushed it sounds like Vesuvius is erupting. Add to that a crew that closes every drawer or locker by banging then closed.

So no rest on this flight – and there are still 5 hours to go. And it is snowing in London and I have a four hour drive to do.

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We had a nice couple of days in Bangkok – the weather was fabulous – nice cool breezes – which Bangkok gets for about two days a year !

Played some golf on Friday – went down the river with Tai and one of our EK friends for lunch on Friday afternoon and caught up with Ian (ex Dubai and now in Singapore) on Friday evening – Oskar’s bistro has some good food and some good looking people.

However, the band in Spasso suck. Big time. It was like a retro night fever nightmare. Amazingly the place is still quite busy. Despite a Baht800 (two drinks) cover charge. Criminal.

17 January 2013

Note to Scarlett restaurant at the Pullman G in Bangokk:

“Just finished dinner at Scarlett.

Here’s the problem: non-smokers get the worst of this restaurant/bar and that cannot be right.

Indoors is non smoking. The food is good. But there is not much life/ambience.

There is an outdoor terrace with views towards the river. These are the preferred tables. But because it is open air smoking is allowed. So you can sit and enjoy your dinner with smokers to the left, smokers to the right and smokers to the rear.

Sorry – but smoking kills and passive smoking is miserable to a non smoker. The answer is to create a smoking area that is properly ventilated. Otherwise you have merely made a guest’s dinner into an unpleasant experience.

If you do not fix this then you are living in the dark ages. We will return when you do.”

15 January 2013

Hello from Chiang Mai. This is a very nice time of the year to be here. Warm and sunny by day and cooler in the evening.

11 January 2013

And they gave this guy a knighthood: a police report was issued today and is summarised in the Guardian…

“Jimmy Savile abused children across six decades at 14 hospitals including Great Ormond Street and a children’s hospice, according to a police report.

The report into his activities reveals his offending spans from 1955 to 2009. Most of his victims were children – 73% – and he committed most of the offences when he was between 40 and 50 years old.

Commander Peter Spindler of the Metropolitan police said Savile used his fame and celebrity status to “hide in plain sight”. “The report paints a stark picture emphasising the tragic consequences of when vulnerability and power collide. His offending footprint was vast, predatory and opportunistic.”

Some of the hospitals where the TV and radio presenter abused children are: Leeds general infirmary, Great Ormond Street, Exeter hospital, Saxondale mental health hospital in Nottinghamshire and Wheatfield hospice in Leeds, a Sue Ryder hospice for dying children.

According to the report, called Giving Victims a Voice, 450 victims have come forward to allege incidents, and Savile committed 214 criminal offences in 28 areas of England and Wales.

Savile offended while working at the BBC between 1965 and 2006 and at the final recording of Top of the Pops. Most of the victims were aged between 13 and 16.”

Just shameful – but what is worse is the number of people who must have either known or been concerned and who did nothing.

Emirates rumours: New routes will be announced by end of January –  to Miami, Boston, Stockholm and Brussels. Later on in the year they will announce Taipei, Chengdu and possibly Malaga in Spain.

8 January 2013

Emirates Airline said on Monday that it was planning to add a fifth daily flight to Bangkok at the end of the first quarter of 2013.

The new flight will be operated by 3-class A332 and will switch to 3-class B77W from 1st September 2013.

EK376 will depart Dubai at 03:40 hrs and arrive in Bangkok at 13:00 hrs. The return flight, EK377, will depart at 15:25 hrs the same day and arrive at Dubai International Airport at 18:30 hrs.

The 31st March will also mark the start of the airline’s fourth daily service between Kuala Lumpur and Dubai, while a third daily Manila service started on 1st January and a third daily

Jakarta service will commence on 1st March.

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Meanwhile flyDubai said in a statement it will begin operating two flights a week to Ha’il, its ninth destination in the KSA

Flights to Ha’il, an oasis city in Nejd in the north west of the country, will start on February 13.

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Back to Global Village this evening – that is six years now – and to be honest what was entertaining the first and even the second time is far less fun now.

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Etihad’s existing and proposed investments make little sense – they may provide some feeder traffic through Abu Dhabi but the long term return on investment is highly questionable – now ch-aviation reports that Etihad (AUH)) is considering taking a stake in Alitalia later this year according to a news report by French newspaper Les Echos saying that Etihad would plan to buy a minority stake in the Italian national carrier to control the carrier jointly with partner Air France-KLM which currently holds a 25% stake

6 January 2013

Bizarre: “His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, has ordered that two flights will transport Emiratis from Sharjah Airport to Bahrain, to support their national football team in its match against Bahrain’s team.

UAE-Bahrain football match will be held on Tuesday as part of the 21 Gulf Cup of Nations football competition in Manama.”

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Dubai will host a cycling stage race in the spring of 2014 as part of a long-term strategy to develop the sport in the UAE.

Dubai is seeking to become a two-wheels-and-no-engine racing destination, with its eyes a 2024 Olympic bid. The Emirate launched its 64km cycling course close to Bab Al Shams resort on Friday.

But – find a cycling lane on any Dubai road – no chance. Even in Business Bay – where the roads are only being laid now and where there would have been the perfect opportunity to create cycle lanes….

5 January 2013

Pegasus Airlines has a new route from Istanbul to Dubai which offers some interesting connections into Turkey and acrosss Europe – book far enough in advace and Dubai to Izmir return is less than US$300 including taxes and a 20kg babbage allowance. Meals and seat selection cost extra.

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On the subject of Turkey’s airlines: A Turkish cargo plane carrying 1.5 tons of gold from Ghana to Dubai has been held at Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport for four days due to missing documents, Doğan news agency has reported.

The plane reportedly arrived in Istanbul on Jan. 1 for refueling and a personnel change.

It has been claimed that the plane was actually coming from Algeria and flying to another country.

The plane has been locked up and sealed as part of security measures.

4 January 2013

The National reports today that : “The pyrotechnics of the Downtown Dubai New Year’s Eve Gala attracted a record 1.7 million visitors, according to its organisers, Emaar Properties.” How on earth do they know that – it is nothing more than a random stab at a number – and is in fact probably double the real figure….

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Have had the strangest and most persistent of headaches for the last two days – very strange and not very comfortable.

2 January 2013

Where will this end – Veteran comic Jim Davidson has been arrested by cops probing the Jimmy Savile sex abuse scandal – was it a right of passage for every 70s tv personality?? Just depressing.

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Investing in Dubai in one sentence: “If there is no certainty over the rules of the game, where the goalposts are likely to end up, or which way the pitch is sloping, it should not come as a surprise if some investors decide not to play at all.”

Well done The National

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China has taken a major step into 21st century tourism:
beginning January 1, 2013, nationals from 45 countries, including the USA, UK, UAE and Canada, may spend up to 72 hours in China’s two major cities (Beijing and Shanghai) without the hassle and expense of obtaining a Chinese visa.

Passengers must hold transit flight tickets to a third nation and third country visas (where required). Passengers must also exit China from the airport they entered and remain within the administrative areas of Beijing and Shanghai for the 72 hours.

1 January 2013

Notes from tributes to CMJ today:

“CMJ enjoyed telling the story of when he heard that he had been made President of the M.C.C . He said to his wife Judy “Did you ever, in your wildest dreams, imagine that I would one day be President of the greatest cricket club in the world?” To which Judy replied “I’m sorry to break the news to you Christopher but you don’t really feature at all in my wildest dreams!”.”

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As of January 1, 2013, Emirates Road has a new name — Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Road.

Another change that just trips off the tongue…..

Why, why, why? What was wrong with Emirates Rd – which did what it says – its links all the Emirates of the UAE.

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2013 is the first year since 1987 to be made up of four different digits.