AOB – 2012


30 December 2012

The usual insane annual statistic from Thailand – In the first 4 days of the new year holidays in Thailand, 202 people have been killed & 1,898 injured in road accidents. So predictable and so unnecessary.

29 December 2012

Just having a read through the Executive Towers forum on Skyscraper City – this is interesting from January 29th 2008 giving pricing estimates:

“sizes depend but the general is:

2br- 1485 sq ft ranging from Aed 1550/ sq ft-1700/ sq ft and above
3br- 2088 sq ft ranging from Aed 1500-1800/ sq ft and above
1br- 960 sq ft approx ranging from Aed 1600-2000/ sq ft…

views are usually shaikh zayed road view, the back side creek view and burj view in some cases….”

By November 2008 there were comments such as this “1700AED/sqft is a very good price!!!! Why so cheap? Can someone explain to me?!”

Little did they know!

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Two A380 deliveries to Emirates in the last two days:

Emirates A380 A6-EED was delivered Finkenwerder – Dubai yesterday as EK7380. This brings the Emirates A380 fleet up to 31 aircraft.

The day before Emirates A380 A6-EEE had been delivered as the airline’s 30th A380.

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The big news yesterday was that I went to a Dubai hotel bar – Zeta at the Address Downtown. Sat outside on the terrace. It was a bit cold. It was windy. It was very pleasant. Though the pizza is a criminal price. Thanks Gerald !

It was good to get out.

28 December 2012

I am having a very out of sorts end of the year…too much time on my own.

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The world famous liner QE2, which has been moored in Dubai since 2008, is reportedly to be sold for scrap to a Chinese firm.

The 293m-long vessel was bought from Cunard for around $100m in June 2007 by a Dubai-based investment company.

Lots of plans; but nothing has happened. The UK media have reported that a Chinese crew of 20 has boarded the ship, leading to fears that it is to be sold for scrap.

Speculation is that the the ship could raise as much as £20m as dead weight scrap.

Sad: bought in a blaze of glory and bling publicity. Greeted by an A380 flypast as it sailed into Dubai. Now – scrapped.

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The main road through Downtown Dubai has been renamed Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard by developer Emaar Properties.

The 3.5km street, previously called Emaar Boulevard, is basically a circular road that starts and ends at Dubai Mall while circling the Burj Khalifa.

Mohamed Alabbar, chairman of Emaar Properties, said: “By renaming Emaar Boulevard as Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard we are paying tribute to the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum who is the driving force of the city’s transformation into the world’s newest hub for hospitality, tourism, retail and trade.”

Fair enough – but then with naive hyperbole Alabbar added: “The Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard in Downtown Dubai… is today the world’s most vibrant lifestyle destination, on par with and even surpassing other boulevards in the world.”

Err – the road does not go anywhere; no one walks it; it is surrounded by building sites. It is not Champs Elysees; Regent Street; Broadway, Gran Via, Nanking Road; Las Ramblas; Michigan Avenue; Las Vegas Boulevard.

Mr Alabbar needs to travel and explore more.

27 December 2012

Here is a bit of nonsense from the clowns that run football. Alex Ferguson lost the plot last night – his ranting at officials on the pitch after half time delaying the re-start was way out of order – but whether the Scot will face a Football Association charge for his conduct depends on what referee Mike Dean includes in his report – so it is totally irrelevant what millions watching on tv saw! And they wonder why the referees get no respect.

26 December 2012

I hate to say I told you so – but I did! R Airlines of Thailand has announced that it has decided not to launch long-haul services between Bangkok Don Mueang International (DMK) and Frankfurt International (FRA) it had previously announced. The flights that were due to start on December 19 and to be operated with a B777-200ER wet-leased from euroAtlantic Airways (YU, Lisbon Portela de Sacavem (LIS)) have been cancelled on very short notice on December 17.

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Downton Abbey Xmas special – not exactly festive – but cant write about it yet – as Tai has still not seen it – though she may as well just watch the last few minutes!

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Home alone for Xmas day – not good. Two day old beef leftovers; nothing on tv. Very dull.

23 December 2012

It does look like EK’s newest 777s are being configured as two class only – an accountant’s wet dream with 76 economy seats replacing 8 first class seats.

And the first class seats are usually taken up by upgrades, points users, EK execs or captain’s wives.

So this has to be a win for the bottom line.

21 December 2012

I like the choice of John Kerry as Secretary of State.

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The Mayan calendar predicts that the world will end today – so not sure why I am blogging today.

Bye bye – farewell and thanks for all the fish!

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Meanwhile if we do survive we might see the Business Bay canal.

Yesterday Sheikh Mohammed viewed a design of the 2km Business Bay Canal project which will cost more than AED1.5bn. It will apparently include a unique “hanging canal” feature which will be built over the Dubai Metro track.

Err – what ??

The water project extends from the Business Bay to Jumeirah Beach crossing the Sheikh Zayed Road, Al Safa Park and Wasl Street.

“I want this project to see light within two years from the day of beginning of construction,” Sheikh Mohammed said in comments published by WAM.

The orginal plan involved massive diversions on SZ road to build a bridge over the canal/creek extension.

Now the canal goes over the road…..

Shaikh Mohammed praised the hanging canal as “creative”, and declared it would be the next milestone to be added to Dubai’s pantheon of global tourist attractions, keeping the UAE at the forefront of regional and global tourism.

Al Shaibani said the canal, the first of its kind in the Middle East, would add a fresh urban and tourist landmark to the emirate’s cityscape.

Just weird – not one newspaper questions or explains the change. Though a massive diversion to SZ road was clearly not practical.

20 December 2012

Falcao – Futsal – Genius.

19 December 2012

Oh dear – Emirates continues to treat social media as an advertising resources rather than an interactive discussion. This is just horrible.

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EK’s 29th A380 is on the way – Emirates A380 A6-EEA departed Finkenwerder on delivery to Dubai today as EK7380.

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Qatar Airways on Wednesday announced an increase in the number of scheduled flights to Bangkok from three to four a day, effective from February 20 next year.

The additional daily service will take the frequency up to 28 non-stop flights a week, the airline said in a statement.

This matches EK’s current 4 daily.

The carrier added that the increase was in response to growing demand, particularly from key feeder markets across Europe, Middle East, Africa and The Americas.

All flights on the Doha – Bangkok route are operated with a Boeing 777 aircraft.

The demand for flights into BKK is remarkable – and the Gulf based airlines are perfectly placed to feed traffic through their hub airports into Thailand.

18 December 2012

Youtube failure: “Recommended for you because you watched Emirates Airline | A380 | Amsterdam | Inaugural Flight | Schiphol Airport

SHOCKING Plane Crashes”

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So Homeland’s series 2 finale made sense of the rather bizarre preceding episodes and the unlikely behaviour of Abu Nazir….

But – did Brody know in advance? Quinn must wonder why he did not shoot Brody – then the car could never have been used in the bomb attack….and just how could a car be parked right outside the VP’s memorial service?

If next series becomes a clear Brody’s name series it will be a dud. But as a last episode this succeeded more than it failed.

Series 2 – still watchable – but increasingly implausible….and at its heart – a romance that is simply not interesting. The two characters only have chemistry as antagonists not as bed-mates.

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Introducing Air Canada Rouge – AC’s latest attempt at low cost….after Tango and the other one whose name I cannot remember – if they got it wrong twice before why will this be any different – in the end it is just about recruiting staff on new contracts at a lower cost.

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Well done Bahrain – successfully managing its own PR again – this today from Nick Kristof of the New York Times: “Greetings from Bahrain airport–where I’ve just been denied entry. Officials say I’m on a blacklist. It’s a reminder that our ally Bahrain doesn’t want witnesses to its brutal crackdown here.”

17 December 2012

News from one of my least favorite airlines: Orient Thai Airlines (formerly 1-2-Go) plans to withdraw from half of its Thai domestic services from January 8 giving up its routes from Bangkok Don Mueang International (DMK) to Chiang Rai International (CEI) and Hat Yai International (HDY).

It will continue to offer just four daily domestic flights with two daily round-trips from Don Mueang to both Chiang Mai International (CNX) and Phuket International (HKT) and will concentrate even more on ACMI and charter services. It currently operates a MD-81 and two MD-82s on its domestic flights but is expected to retire the MD-80s from its fleet.

15 December 2012

“Thanks to the enemies of history, Mecca and Medina have become distorted copies of Dubai and Shanghai; masses of concrete and ugly skyscrapers inconsistent with the history and geography of the land.”

Excellent reporting on the importance of history to any faith and for any nation – RiyadhBureau.com

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I don’t want to downplay the Newtown tragedy but the children Obama kills with his drones had their equally precious lives ahead of them too. Yet there is massive domestic support for US drone attacks on foreign soil.

The cry for stricter US gun control laws should extend to their deadly use of drones as well.

“Obama promises ‘meaningful action’ after Newtown school shooting” Yet in Florida over 1 million people have permits to carry concealed handguns….and gun manufacturers Smith & Wesson recorded record sales for its most recent quarter, up 48% from a year earlier.

Meanwhile Obama’s tears do appear to be reserved solely for American children.

14 December 2012

On Sunday the BBC Sports Personality of the Year trophy for 2012 will be awarded to the winner at the ExCeL – I have no idea who will win but there has never been a better year for British sport or a longer list of deserving winners….here is the Guardian’s list of twelve possible winners….all exceptional talents.

13 December 2012

It does make you wonder what a humble subject is really expected to think when wealth is so extravagantly displayed – does anyone really need a private A380.

Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal will take delivery of the world’s first customised A380 superjumbo next year. Alwaleed is chairman of Riyadh-based Kingdom Holding and estimated to be worth around US$21.3bn, is rumoured to have paid US$485m for the customised jumbo – dubbed ‘The Flying Palace’ – when it was ordered back in 2009.

Alwaleed’s A380 jumbo is believed to include four-poster beds, a Turkish bath, storage space for a Rolls-Royce, a boardroom, a concert hall, five suites with king-size beds, a prayer room featuring computer generated prayer mats which face Makkah and a lift between floors on all three levels.

Why?

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Emirates apparently has a seven point check-list for cockpit crew’s use of the A380 toilet facilities….hilarious.

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Thailand is a nation that has grown up on superstition, rumour and fear – and it is so much bunk. Yet it is accepted by so many apparently intelligent people; adults that have grown up in the 21st century – not in the middle ages.

One of our Thai friends was flying back to Dubai today – her mother calls her to say that she should not be flying on 12/12 or on 21 and 22/12 – something to do with strange winds and air currents due to the planet being disturbed….really!

Why not simply dismiss this as the hogwash that it is.

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Why do people’s legs stop working when they get off an airplane – honestly you can walk a bit quicker.

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When I mentioned Newcastle in a post on facebook I was just joking – it was not meant in reference to anything else – it was a response to someone going to find sand and sea – and I was trying to think of somewhere that Emirates flies to that was close to sun and sand and would be cold and bleak in winter!

Some people do think to much and read things into comments that were never intended – not even subliminally… 

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I am getting old – a glass of wine, a decent dinner, a good conversation and a few games of pool. All adds up to an excellent night out.

12 – 12 – 12

It is a very long flight from BKK to Dubai tonight – which might have something to do with the 151 km/hr headwind that we are battling into….

Flying time looks like about 7 hours and 20 minutes….

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Devastating stuff from Bloomberg clarifying just who does own Thailand’s crown property bureau and its less than altruistic objectives.

Monarchy Fund Evicts Elderly to Boost Profit in Bangkok Renewal

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This is not a date that you will see for a while ! Once in a century….

It is the last consecutive date until  01 January 2101 ~ which will be 01-01-01.

Golf at Muang Kaew yesterday – managed to lose six balls – two on the 18th! But still had seven pars in the last 12 holes. Hard to get started yesterday – It had been too long since I last played.

It has been a golfing few days – as Dennis Cookson and I were watching the final round of the Thailand Golf Championship at Amata Spring (singular) on Sunday – won very convincingly by Charl Schwartzel….a good day out walking the course watching Thongchai Jaidee and Jonathan Moore.

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Arabian Business reports that Dubai’s new Al Maktoum International airport, which began cargo operations two years ago, expects to open its long-delayed passenger terminal by the end of 2013.

Sheikh Ahmed is president of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and chairman of Dubai Airports.

“We will look to open passenger terminal by end of next year,” he told reporters. “Hopefully before the next Air Show in Dubai, we will open passenger terminal.”

The point is that this will not be the main passenger terminal for Emirates and major airlines which is scheduled for mid 2020s.

This is a no frills LCC terminal for – well no one knows who!

7 December 2012

Thailand’s JetAsia Airways in January 2013 to launch following from Phuket: Beijing, Tianjin, Nanjing, Shenyang, Chongqing and Changsha –

Chinese tourists are the future of tourism….which is not necessarily a good thing….

6 December 2012

Emirates has already requested slots to ARN (Stockholm) (EK 157/158) for a June 2013 launch.

I said below that the fall-out from the Jimmy Savile investigations would go on and on – the latest – Max Clifford has been arrested on suspicion of sexual offences by police investigating Jimmy Savile scandal.

Clifford is the appalling high profil publicist that want-to-be celebs go to.

Scotland Yard officers say that officers are looking at three strands within their inquiry: claims against Savile, those against Savile and others, and those against others. Inevitably there is more to come….

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The vagaries of the UAE justice system: The National reports today that a woman who reported to police that she was gang-raped after visiting a Dubai nightclub has been fined Dh1,000 for drinking alcohol without a licence.

The British woman, 28, hailed a cab after leaving the Rock Bottom Cafe in Regent Palace Hotel in Bur Dubai on July 6, after which she claims she was kidnapped and raped by three Iranian men.

The Judge at the Misdemeanours Court found the woman guilty of illegally consuming alcohol on the day in question, as she did not possess an alcohol licence.

The three men she accused of raping her are on trial in the Criminal Court.

Dubai has hundreds of licensed bars and nightclubs – but in theory you need an alcohol licence to drink in them – even as a tourist…in reality people drink without a licence hoping that nothing awful happens to them.

5 December 2012

There really is no end to the sad revelations of some ugly abuses and the institutions that turned a blind eye – BBC Commentator Stuart Hall has been charged with three counts of indecent assault in relation to alleged incidents in 1970s and 1980s.

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Star Alliance versus Emirates; or will Emirates get more flights to Toronto.

Air Canada will also begin new, non-stop service to Istanbul from Toronto on June 4, subject to government approval. The new route will operate using a Boeing 767-300ER aircraft, with flights departing three times a week year-round, and the airline will work closely with alliance partner Turkish Airways to provide connections throughout Turkey, as well as to destinations in Central Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.

Turkish already flies 5x weekly from IST to Toronto. It is likely that all eight flights will become full code-shares.

This goes head to head with Emirates connections through Dubai.

Which honestly makes the Canadian government’s protection of Air Canada, by restricting Qatar, Emirates and Etihad’s Toronto operation, both farcical and embarrassing.

4 December 2012

Manchester City tonight became the 1st English side to fail to win a match in a Champions League group. There are some things even Abu Dhabi can’t buy.

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Two unusual EK diversions both on Sunday:

Emirates A380 A6-EDV operating EK1 Dubai – London Heathrow diverted via Amsterdam this morning.

Emirates A380 A6-EDX operating EK17 Dubai – Manchester diverted via Munich this morning.

No idea why!

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Default on a payment as a foreigner in the UAE and it means imprisonment and deportation; default as an Emirati and there is now a bail out fund.

The UAE’s Debts Settlement Fund has approved a budget of Dh1.49 billion to settle personal loans of nationals who have defaulted.

The new scheme is expected to benefit 1,348 citizens who have applied to the fund for aid.

So instead of teaching financial responsibility a bail out is provided.

3 December 2012

Salik shocker: Taxi users will no longer be exempt from the Dh4 toll for each Salik gate beginning January 1, Gulf News has learnt.

Taxis have been exempt from the toll since December 2008.

The metres will automatically add the toll. Taxi operators have been asked to upgrade their meters to a recently introduced system called D8, in order to automate the process.

There are currently four Salik gates in Dubai. Initially two toll gates were set up at Shaikh Zayed Road and Al Garhoud bridge. Two more were added later at Al Maktoum bridge and Shaikh Zayed Road.

So my AED35 trip to the airport will suddenly become AED43 – a 23% price increase.

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So Prince William and Catherine are going to have a baby – and that baby will now be third in line to the thrown following Charles and William and will likely be a future King. If it is a he then he wont be called James – due to the James Hewitt connection -but a he would need a royal name….heaven help us he could be another George or maybe even Charles. A girl; Elizabeth; Mary? The media frenzy has already started – the due date has not been announced….meanwhile Harry slips one place to fourth in line – all the more reason to go and party….

It is all a plot to stop Parliament and the media from discussing the Leveson inquiry.

I fully expect a biography of the royal baby before he or she is even born!

2 December 2012

How bad was the Dubai weather on Friday morning: Emirates Boeing 777-31HER A6-EGQ operating EK39 Dubai – Birmingham suffered a lightning strike on departure from Dubai this morning. The aircraft continued to Birmingham however on arrival damage was found which has resulted in the overnight delay of the return EK40.

30 November 2012

From popbitch: J-Lo’s concert in Dubai last week was going well. So much so that she snatched a flag from someone in the audience, draped herself in it and  loudly declared her love for the UAE.

At that point the room turned a little frosty. Why? Because the flag she was draped in was the Lebanese one…

The love J-Lo feels for the UAE was obviously in no way influenced by the enormous paycheck she drew from opening the world’s largest Audi showroom in Dubai two days previously.

29 November 2012

Dubai’s Emirates has suspended its flights to and from Damascus until further notice, the airline said in a statement on its website on Thursday.

The carrier said its two daily flights to Syria were suspended with immediate effect.

No reason was given for the suspension but the airline said the safety of passengers and crew was its priority.

26 November 2012

Kevin Pieterson – second test in Bombay – 186 from 233 balls with 20 fours and four sixes. “It was a heartwarming work of staggering genius.” Guardian OBO.

24 November 2012

Top 10 regrets of Brits, according to the Heart Foundation charity:

10 not asking grandparents more about their lives before they died.
9 eating unhealthily
8 wasting years with wrong partner
7 choice of career
6 not working harder at school
5 smoking
4 not saving enough money
3 taking too little exercise
2 not keeping in touch with friends from the past
1 not traveling more and seeing the world.

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The British costume drama “Downton Abbey” is to return for a fourth season next fall, ITV has announced.

The season will include eight episodes and an extended Christmas 2013 special. It is to begin shooting at England’s Highclere Castle and Ealing Studios in February, the British network said.

“The opening and closing episodes will again be feature-length with Series 4 continuing the story of the Crawley family and their servants in the early 1920s,” the TV company said.

More hi-so soap opera!

Meanwhile there is the 2012 Xmas special to come.

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Madness. Really. Thailand must be the only country where citizens who have the right to vote take to the streets to demand a military coup.

22 November 2012

“‘Skyfall,’ the number one movie at the box office this week, made over $100 million. It’s the biggest opening ever for a James Bond film. There’s not a lot of sex in the movie — it’s very downplayed. See, James Bond is just a secret agent. It’s not like he’s head of the CIA.” –Jay Leno

21 November 2012

Tai is in Prague – where it is grey and misty and cold. Which is how Prague is supposed to be. To leave you feeling sad and thoughtful; so that you can contemplate the past and how it has shaped the present.

Then you can understand their sad songs.

It is a city that you are supposed to contemplate as much as you admire – a city for the introverted and the melancholy.

I should live there !

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No surprises here : Bloomberg reports that U.S. pollster Gallup conducted a survey in 152 countries to compare how people feel about their lives. Singapore ranks as the world’s most emotionless society, behind Georgia, Lithuania, and Russia. Singaporeans are unlikely to report feelings of anger, physical pain, or other negative emotions. They’re not laughing a lot, either. “If you measure Singapore by the traditional indicators, they look like one of the best-run countries in the world,” says Jon Clifton, a Gallup partner in Washington. “But if you look at everything that makes life worth living, they’re not doing so well.”

Some of Gallup’s questions are straightforward. Evaluate your life on a scale of zero to 10: ­Danes are the most satisfied and people from Togo in West Africa are the least. No surprises, too, when Gallup asked people to say whether life would be better or worse five years from now. The award for most pessimistic goes to the inhabitants of Greece, ground zero of the euro debt crisis. Last year, the people most likely to report feeling stress, anger, sadness, worry, or pain were Iraqis. The most emotional nation? The Philippines.

20 November 2012

There are a few corporates that should have a think about this:

“Jimmy Savile created a whole other version of himself for public consumption; the lesson of the last few weeks has been that it is perfectly possible to make society look the other way. As a strategy this was extraordinarily successful. The BBC is getting a going over for its role in giving a platform to the ‘wrong Savile’. But other areas of public life were just as taken in – the Royal family, the Vatican, the NHS, the Prison Service, the government, the news media as a whole and of course, the general public, who adored him and lined the streets for his funeral.

The components of Savile’s vile version of CSR marketing are the same tools used by every major corporate. It was a familiar mix of celebrity, charity, sport, PR and mass media.

Charities are very vulnerable to abuse in this way, they are on the whole badly run, lack commercial skill and are desperate for money.

They need protection, and not just from the Saviles of this world, but also from huge unethical corporates, some of whom use them as a smokescreen for their own alter egos. This is important because the abuses make us cynical. And our cynicism gets in the way of helping those we should be helping.

Once the BBC is held out to dry, the inquest will doubtless look in to how to prevent the rest of us from getting fooled again. I wonder how wide it will go?”

Source: http://www.unofficialpartner.co.uk

18 November 2012

England lost their rugby international at home to Australia last night leading to this gem in the Guardian: ” In their absurd new plum-coloured kit, England looked nothing more than a bunch of damsons in distress.”

17 November 2012

Happily the England debacle in India is not to be seen on my tv….though to be fair this was a test match that appears to have been decided at the coin toss – with a pitch that was taing too much spin even on the first day.

But this is the Guardian OBO description of Ian Bell’s dismissal:

“l cannot not believe this. I mean really, really, that may be the single most idiotic, pathetic, embarrassing, humiliating, disgraceful, desultory, excruciatingly awful dismissal I have seen from an English batsman in five years of writing over-by-over cricket coverage. Really, that’s not a joke, or an exaggeration. It is a good thing Ian Bell is about to fly home to be there for the birth of his child, because if he wasn’t – barring a hundred in the second innings – I would really suggest that he should have been dropped from the team on the strength of that shot alone. Mercy me. To recap: Ian Bell walked out to the middle, in the most jaunty, cocksure fashion, marked his guard, took a step down the wicket and chipped a catch straight – and I mean straight – to mid-off. It was, truly, the shot of a moron. He’s gone for a golden duck.”

This sounds like the same team that was miserable in the UAE. Strauss got out at the right time.

16 November 2012

The commentary is more entertaining that the cricket in Ahmedabad as England toil against the Indians. This from the Guardian OBO.

In the Sky commentary box, Bumble and Beefy are munching on ice-lollies. “It’s hot over here Bumble…” says Beefy. Then, when the host broadcaster puts up an Ask Sunny caption on screen, some question or other about cricket, Bumble says, “Here you go, we’ve got an Ask Sunny here. Whatever happened to Cher?” Now all you can here is sniggering in the background. Great stuff.

David Lloyd is a commentary genius. Sunny, of course, meant Sunny Gavaskar !

14 November 2012

Escape from Majorca – and this was not easy….

There is a general strike in Spain today. My mid morning departure to Barcelona was cancelled.

The Vueling website said that I could rebook online

No I could not – I got a Spanish message telling me that this ticket could not be rebooked and I should call customer service.

But my phone does not roam and the hotel has no phone.

Tai made the change for me from Dubai so that I could catch the 7am flight.

Next problem. The car hire company does not open until 7am and I would need to leave the car at 6am.

Again – no phone. And no reply to message on email or twitter.

So off to the cafe next door where the waitress lent me her phone.

I could leave the car outside their parking lot and leave the keys in the boot. They would order a taxi for me.

So far so good. Off to the Blue Rodeo concert in Lloseta on a cold raining night – got a bit lost in the dark and the rain – Lloseta is in the middle of no where. But still arrived in good time.

Back at the hotel just after 1am. Awake at 4.15am. Left the hotel at 4.50am.

Did not see a car on the road south for 20 kms – until I arrived at the Inca junction. It was so quiet.

There was a huge electrical storm which just after Inca turned into a monster of a thunderstorm with torrential rain.

I found the car rental – but there was no gas station open this early so could not fill up the tank – I bet that will be expensive.

Had to transfer my bags to the taxi – the rain was terrible – in a minute I was drenched.

It cost Euro 15 to go one mile in the taxi to the terminal. Extortion.

At the terminal there was a big queue for the Barcelona flight. And an incredibly rude Spanish couple that wanted to jump the queue. So they got an earful in English.

And so to Barcelona. Where there were demonstrators protesting in the terminal until midday when presumably they went home for their siesta. Part-time protestors. The good news is that as soon as they left the stores were all able to open.

I have been at the airport for 5 hours – just 2 and 1/2 to go!

12 November 2012

Hello from Puerto de Alcudia….off season this place is a bit of a dump ! There is no one here.

It is also grey and cool. And we had a big thunderstorm last night.

The perils of booking online. When I tried to book for Majorca there were very few hotel rooms available. I thought that people were taking end of year vacations – catching the last of the sun for 2012. Silly me. It wasn’t that the hotels are busy. They have no rooms because they are all closed for the season. Duh!

I should have stayed an extra day exploring Barcelona and then flown over here for the Blue Rodeo concert which is tomorrow night.

Barcelona was a lot of fun. And was full with weekend visitors from all over Spain and Europe. And they do stay out late.

10 November 2012

A few Emirates update: A380 A6-EEB departed Finkenwerder on delivery to Dubai as EK7380 today. This brings the Emirates A380 fleet up to 27 aircraft.

Following the 7/11 diversion to Paris CDG whilst operating EK201 Dubai – New York JFK, Emirates A380 A6-EDO positioned Paris – Dubai this morning as EK7002 – a weather diversion? Or something else? A replacement A380 was flown to Paris to take the passengers onto New York.

Emirates Boeing 777-31HER A6-EBO operating EK373 Bangkok – Dubai diverted to Mumbai on 7/11 evening due to a technical issue. Reports indicate an engine fire.

The Asia Times reported that : “According to airport authorities, the flight, which was going from Bangkok to Dubai, started showing signs of a suspected fire in one of its engines, while it was flying over Mumbai. The pilot immediately contacted the Air Traffic Control (ATC) in Mumbai, and apprised it of the snag in the plane. Subsequently, full emergency was declared by the ATC at around 11.22 pm on Wednesday.

“Operating on one engine, the flight landed on Runway 9 at 11.36 pm….the alternate flight left for Dubai with the passengers and crew at 7.20 am,” an Emirates spokesperson said.

Emirates Boeing 777-31HER A6-EGM has special decals on both sides of the cockpit marking Emirates’ sponsorship of the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

Airbus A330-200 A6-EKZ left the fleet on 6/11 and positioned Dubai – Bordeaux as EK7201.

6 November 2012

Ernie Els has been removed from European Tour money list because he won’t fulfil membership requirements of 13 events this year – so we wont see him in Dubai for the DP World Championship.

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Voting day in the USA. I do expect Obama to win a second term but it will hardly be a ringing endorsement; more of a grudging acceptance.

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Very interesting: Starting tomorrow (6th November 2012), Emirates Skywards members can use their miles to pay for easyJet flights.

http://www.skywards.com/partner_deta…ner%20Airlines

The redemption agreement, which is aimed at facilitating travel around Europe, will connect Emirates 31 destination strong European network with all of easyJet destinations, Emirates said in a statement.

“As of November 6, members will be able be use their Skywards Miles to fly with easyJet to over 30 countries across Europe and North Africa,” Emirates stated, adding that used in conjunction with an Emirates flight or for separate travel itineraries, Skywards members will have the choice to expand their travel options across Europe.

According to Emirates, the agreement applies to redemption of Skywards Miles on easyJet flights only and will apply to all destinations across the easyJet network.

At an Easyjet hub such as Geneva or Milan Malpensa this has to be a good move for Emirates.

I suspect a full codeshare is unlikely – it would be too damaging to the EK brand. Easyjet is a low cost airline for a reason.

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The Premiership season so far: Manchester United look strong. The rest are looking rather poor – Man City aimless – Spurs rudderless – Arsenal toothless (no RVP) – Liverpool penniless – Chelsea probably the only team that can give Man U a decent game at the moment.

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Downton Abbey season 3 comes to and end with a whimper and a cricket match. Thomas somehow gets promoted rather than fired. Bates is Thomas’s unintentional saviour. Each show Tom becomes more like one of the toffs. Such a shame!

Of course the most ludicrous storyline of all three series has to be anything to do with Matthew Crawley. Sole survivor of his troop in WW1, made full recovery from paralysis, lucky recipient of not one but two massive inheritances and ends up hitched to Michelle Dockery. I hope he does the Lottery each week as well.

The series ended with absolutely everyone happy, which is a first for Downton, but that could all change with the announcement at the end of the episode that there will be a Christmas special on Christmas day.

Sadly after wanting to see Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) and Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens) get together and marry – which they did – they have both become irretrievably dull.

Since Dan Stevens is unlikely to be available for another series the doe-eyed declarations of love can’t last and he needs to be written out. Maybe he will run off with alluring distant niece Lady Rose – why else would you introduce a new character in the final season episode?

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Apparently if I am out with someone I can only talk about things that they know about…..long silences now expected….

4 November 2012

The Guardian and The Economist have both supported Obama for a second term. But grudgingly. The lesser of two evils. The campaign in its last days is now about fear, about keeping the other guy out, not policies. There was so much hope in 2008. There is so little now.

Reality; Obama has done OK to manage the banking and financial crisis in the USA; he has managed to implement a compromised health insurance programme; his foreign policy has largely been managed by the Clinton household which is held in decent respect.

But he has been a disappointment. Too many unmet promises.

But he still needs another four years – as the alternative is not something I want to see.

1 November 2012

Air New Zealand’s new Hobbit based safety video: now if only Emirates could loosen up enough to have a sense of humour….the safety video has an airplane full of hobbits, elves, orcs, and a wizard:

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England are only 3 days into their tour of India but the Test starting 11 is taking shape. Likely Cook, Compton , Trott, KP, Bell, Patel, Prior, Bres, Broad, Swann, Anderson?

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From the Guardian: Move over Fifty Shades of Grey: there’s a new erotic fiction bestseller in town, and it’s taking the book charts by storm. Japanese-American author Sylvia Day’s Reflected in You, featuring its very own tortured billionaire and beautiful heroine, has sold over 80,000 paperbacks in just six days on shelves in the UK – more than EL James’ record-breaking novel did in its first week on sale.

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Hard to argue after this week. Incidentally Bloomberg Businessweek does some great covers.

31 October 2012

Emirates from 29DEC12 to 15JAN13 is to offer 4 extra round-trip flights on Dubai – Bangkok service, on board 2-class Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.

Schedule:

EK3374 DXB0930 – 1830BKK 77W 29DEC12
EK3372 DXB2150 – 0650+1BKK 77W 03JAN13
EK3372 DXB2150 – 0650+1BKK 77W 05JAN13
EK3372 DXB2220 – 0720+1BKK 77W 15JAN13

EK3375 BKK2250 – 0240+1DXB 77W 29DEC12
EK3373 BKK0910 – 1245DXB 77W 04JAN13
EK3373 BKK0920 – 1255DXB 77W 06JAN13
EK3373 BKK0920 – 1255DXB 77W 15JAN13

Not enough – they could easily fill a fifth daily based upon current loads.

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It is far from clear what Chelsea was hoping to achieve with another high profile racism accusation – this time Chelsea as in the football club has levelled the charges at last weekend’s match referee – Mark Clattenburg.

If they are anything less than 100% certain and have conclusive evidence then they would have been well advised to lay low…Chelsea has some way to go to get its own house in order…

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Why am I tired today: blame Arsenal. Henry Winter in the Telegraph tells why:

“This was one of the epic cup ties, an emotion-shredder of a match that saw the Mad Stad live up to its nickname as Arsenal amazingly recovered from 4-0 down to reach the quarter-finals of the Capital One Cup. Extra-time, extraordinary tie. (Arsenal won 7-5).

…..this game was a welcome breath of fresh air, a reminder of the sport’s intoxicating qualities. It was the type of night that will have had a television audience bewitched.

…..this is what following a team is all about, the ambushing of the emotions, the lows and the highs, the sublime replacing the ridiculous. The game has to be about the glory, about chasing trophies rather than simply keeping the accountants happy by finishing fourth and securing entry to the Champions League.”

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BBC – 1 in 4 Europeans is now looking for work. That simple statistic is shocking and genuinely depressing. Add to that the potential for massive social disruption is huge.

Economic recovery if it comes may stabilise this figure but it is not going to re-employ the unemployed. This is now a  long term issue.

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The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS) has agreed to acquire Lucasfilm Ltd. in a stock and cash transaction. Lucasfilm is 100% owned by Lucasfilm Chairman and Founder, George Lucas.

Under the terms of the agreement and based on the closing price of Disney stock on October 26, 2012, the transaction value is $4.05 billion, with Disney paying approximately half of the consideration in cash and issuing approximately 40 million shares at closing. The final consideration will be subject to customary post-closing balance sheet adjustments.

So what will we see:

Leia and the Tramp
Snow White and the Seven Ewoks

And of course, “Mickey, I am your father”

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The Tokyo incident was not the only EK A380 problem in the last week: on 22nd October from avherald: “An Emirates Airlines Airbus A380-800, registration A6-EDQ performing flight EK-805 from Dubai (United Arab Emirates) to Jeddah (Saudi Arabia), burst a number of tyres on landing in Jeddah but came to a safe stop.

After the tyres were replaced the aircraft was able to depart Jeddah and reached Dubai on its return flight EK-806 with a delay of 10.5 hours.”

30 October 2012

Sean Dyche has been appointed as manager at Burnley. I hope he does well there and can then raise the proverbial middle finger to the ingrates at Watford

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Hurricane Sandy’s hit on the Eastern USA caused mass hysteria on CNN and other media. Late night Sunday it was unclear whether New York would still be with us by breakfast time.

But it is.

Story of the night appeared to be a crane that was hanging lose over 57th Street. And CNN found a crane expert to tell us how it was hanging.

Then we got pictures of a guy dressed as Santa running through Battery Park before the storm arrived. Now there is a news scoop.

I don’t often watch CNN these days. But this was over the top.  And presumably the hype and hysteria must put off many customers.

The only reason to watch last night was to see if CNN’s intrepid reporter in storm-torn Atlantic City – his name was Ali – would be picked up by the wind and blown into the sea. Who could blame him – at least he would escape Peirs Morgan,

Yes it was a very big storm and a serious event: at least 30 deaths, flooding in lower Manhattan, loss of power, evacuation of hospitals and low-lying areas (200,000 New Yorkers live less than four feet above sea level), the closure (every cloud has a silver lining?) of Wall Street.

But why this hype; its not like Sandy has not been around for a while; 69 people died when Sandy devastated the Caribbean, and Haiti was badly hit as usual.

But there are few global media corporations or foreign correspondents in Port-au-Prince. Sandy has already been around for 10 days.

I understand how these things work. Extreme weather makes for great TV pictures. But only the dramatic pics are shown. One ends up unsure how serious a crisis has really been.

Not everyone sounded as if the end of the world was at hand. Mayor Mike Bloomberg (they are related) of New York was a model of calm, as Rudolph Giuliani was in New York’s real trauma, the 9/11 attacks – a benchmark event that should have helped provide the city with perspective.

Mitt Romney and Barack Obama both cancelled campaign events. The president said all the right things. But he looked tired and sounded disengaged. Obama doesn’t do empathy well.

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Outstanding Homeland episode – summarised by Time magazine: 
Homeland Watch: Broken Boy Soldier

29 October 2012

Downton Abbey – dull as hell episode…going nowhere.

The Good Wife – The Calinda and Nick story line has to end…the show has lost too much of its spark. Too many characters not being fully developed.

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Oops – Manchester Evening News – A senior flight stewardess has been fined for attempting to smuggle cigarettes through Manchester Airport.

Sophie Grier, 29, was arrested on October 19 when she attempted to pass through the Customs “Green Channel” with 3,000 duty-free cigarettes after arriving in Manchester on a flight from Dubai.

She was interviewed by investigators from HMRC and later charged with duty evasion offences.

Grier, of the Palm Jumeirah in Dubai, was ordered to pay a total of £1,019 in fines plus costs at Stockport magistrates court. She pleaded guilty to two counts of the fraudulent evasion of excise duty.

27 October 2012

I was shaken but not stirred !

26 October 2012

Qatar Airways will begin daily scheduled services to the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh starting February 20, 2013.

The Cambodian capital will also be its 11th gateway in the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean), following on from Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Bali, Ho Chi Minh City, Jakarta, Hanoi, Singapore, Manila, Phuket and Yangon.

23 October 2012

I like Berlin. Not sure why I have ignored it for so long.

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Bad day for the Emirates airbus fleet yesterday:

Emirates A332 at Lusaka on Oct 21st 2012, uncontained engine failure

and:

Emirates A388 at Tokyo on Oct 21st 2012, asymmetric flaps

18 October 2012

By bye to three of Emirates older A330s – A330/200 A6-EKZ and A6-EAN are stored. A330/200 A6-EAL was returned to ILFC and is now flying for Sichuan Airlines.

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Newsweek, the 80-year-old US current affairs magazine, is to become an online-only publication.

The last print edition will be on 31 December, reflecting the trend for newspapers and magazines to move online as traditional advertising declines.

Vanity Fair is rather good today on Newsweek’s print closure:
“Pairing stock images and incendiary statements at random and slapping them on the cover did not, in the end, turn out to be a business-saving publishing model.”

17 October 2012

This sounds like hell:  Dubai Mall will open round the clock for three consecutive weekends between 18 October and 4 November.

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It must be winter – Global Village opens in Dubai on 17 October !

16 October 2012

Emirates Boeing 777-31HER A6-ENA departed Paine Field on delivery this afternoon routing direct to Dubai as EK777. This aircraft brings the Emirates B777-300ER fleet up to 79 aircraft.

This is a two class high capacity 777.

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Fantasy Thai based airlines – here is another one : R Airlines (RTC, Bangkok Don Mueang International (DMK)) has announced plans to lease a single B777-200ER in addition to two B737-400s it plans to use for its launch of scheduled charter services later this year. It plans to use the B777 for twice weekly services from its base at Bangkok’s Don Mueang airport to Frankfurt International (FRA) from December 19.

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Happy Anniversary to us – four years! Time passes very quickly.

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Emirates will introduce an extra Dubai – Kuala Lumpur rotation from 3rd December 2012, initially on a four times weekly basis taking services up to 25 weekly.

The new Three Class A330-200 service will initially operate to the following schedule:

EK344 Dubai 2145 – Kuala Lumpur 0850+1 Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays

EK345 Kuala Lumpur 1100 – Dubai 1430 Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays.

15 October 2012

Downton Abbey spoiler alert: review from The Telegraph – “Lady Sybil’s death was one of those very Victorian deaths; a thoroughly decent person who had to be punished for her angelic nature to show the wrath of God. After her death, her sisters Mary and Edith looked glumly like Goneril and Regan wondering if they would ever be able to get on without Lady Sybil there as the peacemaker. It seems unlikely, and with Lady Cora now blaming her husband for not listening to Dr Clarkson, the family home is going to be a very unhappy one.

And even though the baby, a daughter, was delivered successfully, you know that she will be used as a political football as former chauffeur Tom’s convictions harden and he has no reason to remain with an aristocracy that he despises so completely.”

Robert – not me the one in Downton Abbey – has been verging between arrogant, pig-headed and foolish all season – time he ran off with one of the maids.

I dont like this but suspect it will happen – Tom will give his new born girl to Mary and Matthew to bring up as their own – solving their fertility issue – and sparing us from a Mary pregnancy. She has a men tongue now – would her own pregnancy mellow her. I dont like this solution – far too trite – but all too likely.

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Felix Baumgartner jumps from 127,000 feet – “One giant leap for a man….insane, brilliant, crazy, please be ok…..”

“Absolutely, brilliantly, completely, wonderfully, insanely genius!”

13 October 2012

Yesterday saw Emirates A380 A6-EDZ was delivered Finkenwerder – Dubai as EK7380. This brings the A380 fleet at EK up to 26 aircraft.

It also looks likely that India will allow foreign airlines to operate the A380 into a number if its airports – Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad.

11 October 2012

Not really safe for work – but still entertaining – Cathay Pacific, Lawyers, YouTube and Next Media all in the same tale of in flight entertainment !

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The Collapse Continues: Greek Unemployment Rises For 35th Consecutive Month, Passes 25%.

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It is the only vice-presidential debate tonight – just a thought – when Joe Biden was first sworn in as a senator, Paul Ryan was two years old…..

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Angela Merkel arrives at the Athens airport “Nationality?” asks the officer “German” she replies “Occupation?” he asks “No, just visiting”

8 October 2012

My idea of hell: The Dubai Mall will be open all night long on weekends from 18October to 3 November.

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Tai is not well – lousy bout of flu – and now has to call in sick for her flight tomorrow to Lisbon – missing out on her first flight to the Portugese capital.

6 October 2012

Guardian: “There are now thought to be more than 40 allegations of abuse against Savile.”

“Yesterday, the BBC’s director general, George Entwistle, said he was appalled by the number of revelations but insisted there was no evidence to suggest a coverup by management during the 1960s and 70s.

No cover up – just massive complacency that tolerated feral behaviour.

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Staggering admission – there is no plan:

“It is not yet clear if the old Dubai International Airport will move to DWC or if only some airlines will be shifted there,” said Dubai Airport CEO Paul Griffiths.

http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/736327.shtml

Finally Paul Griffiths admits that he is unclear on what will happen with DXB. Closing it completely was/is/always will be a ridiculous idea given the billions of dollars that have now been pumped into the infrastructure for terminal 3 and the new terminal 4. Dubai will need two airports because the two runways at DXB are too close to allow parallel operations. It does look like Mr Griffiths is not as well linked into the discussions among the higher echelons of Dubai’s power’s that be as he would like and that his role is to maximise the use of existing DXB.

4 October 2012

A third daily to Jakarta has been announced from 1 March 2013. As with the Manila flight this is an evening departure with a lunchtime return into Dubai.

EK356 DXB0440 – 1545CGK 77W D
EK358 DXB1025 – 2135CGK 77W D
EK368 DXB1905 – 0615+1CGK 77W D (NEW)

EK359 CGK0015 – 0530DXB 77W D
EK369 CGK0745 – 1310DXB 77W D (NEW)
EK357 CGK1745 – 2300DXB 77W D

EK368 eff 01MAR13, EK369 from 02MAR13.

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Summary of the first presidential debate: Turkey is shelling Syria, Iranians are in the streets, more Chinese ships sailing in Japanese waters, Obama looked distracted.

So much easier when you are the challenger.

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There was always something very weird about Jimmy Savile, and not weird in a ‘good way’

always creepy…

Now his knighthood looks sadly tarnished. Claims of assault must be investigated – even though Saville has died. And if the BBC was in any way complicit then it needs to be held to account.

The image of Saville and Gary Glitter with young girls on “Clunk-Click” could haunt the BBC who were far to quick to canonise Saville after his death.

2 October 2012

News from Emirates route planning: Dubai to Manila goes 3xdaily from 1 January 2013

EK336 DXB MNL 1830 0630+1
EK337 MNL DXB 0845 1350

The outbound sector has only regional connectivity (of which there is plenty to MNL), whereas the inbound is of course timed to feed into the afternoon departure bank.

Dubai to Erbil gets a 5th weekly from 2 November 2012 (Erbil was due for daily flight from Sep 2012 but this is postponed indefinitely).

Phuket service will be operated by A340-300, instead of A330-200.

Dubai – Rome effective 1October 2012 the planned introduction of 3rd daily service, EK099/100, has been cancelled.

Dubai – New York JFK effective 1January 2013 will see 2 daily 487-seater A380 service, replacing 1 daily each of A380 and 777-300ER.

By February 2012 London will get 5x daily A380. And Paris will also get 2x daily A380 as well as 5 weekly 777s.

Dubai – Perth effective 1December 2012 service increases from 14 to 19 weekly and from 1 March 2013 Perth goes 3x daily.

Today was a big delivery day with 2x A380s and 1×777 arriving:

A6-EDX and A6-EDY are the 24th and 24th A380s.

A6-EGZ is the 78th Boeing 777.

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Sod off facebook – “We don’t recognise the device you’re using. Please answer a few security questions to keep your account safe.”

I drove two hours out of Bangkok – people do move around – wasn’t that the whole point of building facebook so that people could keep in touch. Idiots.

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I was saddened this morning by news from Hong Kong – a boat packed with revelers on a long holiday weekend collided with a ferry and sank off Hong Kong, killing at least 36 people and injuring dozens, authorities said.

The boat was carrying utility company workers and their families to famed Victoria Harbour to watch a fireworks display in celebration of China’s National Day and mid-autumn festival. The two vessels collided Monday night near Lamma Island off the southwestern coast of Hong Kong Island.

The government said 36 bodies had been recovered as of Tuesday morning and the search was continuing. More than 100 people were rescued and sent to hospitals, and nine had serious or critical injuries, the government’s statement said.

The ferry was damaged but able to return to harbour.

30 September 2012

Is Qatar Airways planning to join the One World airline alliance – and if so what does that mean for the Emirates/Qantas tie in.

Flight Global reports that Oneworld will hold an event announcing a “significant membership development” on 8 October.

There are already widely-reported discussions with Qatar Airways about joining the alliance.

The event will be held in New York and includes Bruce Ashby, chief executive of Oneworld, Tom Horton, chairman and chief executive of American Airlines, and Willie Walsh, chief executive of International Airlines Group (IAG), according to documents obtained by Flightglobal.

Qatar has been linked to joining one of the big three alliances in the near future.

Snagging the Doha-based carrier would be a coup for Oneworld. It would be the first of the big three alliances to include one of the major Gulf airlines and would ratchet up pressure on SkyTeam and Star Alliance to forge partnerships with either Emirates or Etihad.

Oneworld already includes Royal Jordanian as a member and SriLankan Airlines is slated to become a member in late 2013.

Qatar declines to comment on whether it is joining Oneworld.

Now Qantas is already a One World member. But its tie in with Emirates meant ending its commercial relationship with British Airways also a One World member.

Emirates meanwhile has stated that it has no plans to join any of the three major air alliances.

25 September 2012

Heading out of London this morning on EK008 to Dubai. Despite the awful weather forecast it is a lovely sunny morning.

Sunday (all day) and Monday morning brought some shocking weather across Southern England. Especially in the West country. Driving on Sunday was unpleasant and very difficult.

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And this is a tragic way to go; a young New Zealand woman was walking in Kew Gardens in the storm on Sunday when she was killed by a falling tree branch.

24 September 2012

I am sorry but I read this and immediately thought two things – one that Dulux emulsion would be easier and two that it reminded me of golf on tv where they paint the inside of the cups (golf holes) on the greens so that they show up better on tv: Thailand’s skin-whitening craze reaches woman’s intimate areas

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Forget the left bank in Paris – London’s south bank from Tower Bridge to Charing Cross may now be the best riverside city walk in the world.

23 September 2012

The London airport Marriott Hotel remains firmly rooted in the dark ages. This is simple. Hotels should provide wireless internet access in the same way that they provide a television or soap for the shower.

But the Marriott charges gbp15 a day for wireless access. Criminal. And for an American owned hotel chain to do this is shameful.

21 September 2012

Andrew Mitchell the government chief whip needs to do the only decent thing and resign. In a week when two police women were shot calling the Downing Street police as “f***ing plebs” is simply stupid.

If a member of public had said that to a police officer they would have been arrested.

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Hats off to Jackie at Avis Gatwick Airport North Terminal. Great customer service. Now all she needs to do is head to the USA and sort out the Budget/Avis team over there.

18 September 2012

Back in Dubai for just 24 hours – and I am so tired. Did not sleep on the flight back from Washington and had about an hour’s sleep around lunchtime today. Have to pack again to head to Gatwick tomorrow morning.

15 September 2012

Dear Washington – you are looking a bit tired; a bit underinvested. And your subway remains bleak, dark and rather scary. Dark is not fashionable. Instal some lights.

14 September 2012

Lots of self righteous outrage in the UK after a French magazine published blurry pictures of Kate Middleton topless.

Maybe the simple answer is that the royals should keep their clothes on?

The long-lens pictures of the Duchess have appeared in Closer magazine on Friday. They were allegedly snapped when Kate was sunbathing beside a private swimming pool with her husband during a holiday in Provence last week.

11 September 2012

On September 11 2001, nearly 3,000 people died in terrorist attacks on New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania. Today marks the 11th anniversary of the September 11 attacks; our world is still impacted daily by the events of that day.

I wont write anymore about that day. It was a difficult time in my life for too many reasons. And I am in a much happier place now.

But here is what I wrote one year after the tragedy of 9/11.

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Huge cheers for Andy Murray who at last has his first tennis major.- the Scot overcomes Novak Djokovic in five sets to become first British male to win a grand slam since 1936

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And for some additional cheer – thanks to the Chinese ministry for their pin up pages of girls and women in the Chinese armed forces – where do I sign up!

10 September 2012

Have a read of the Jonathan Freedland article in the Guardian – and then read the comments below: Goodbye to Britain’s golden summer – fascinating how polarised people’s views are of the impact of the 2012 games.

But 1 million people lining the streets for the victory parade says more than a few malcontents in the Guardian.

The question is can the feel good factor last – will diversely abled people get equal opportunities; will cities, office and home be made fit for everyone. Is inclusivity real or a pipe-dream?

9 September 2012

David Weir – T54 – wheelchair champion and gold medal winner in all four of his disciplines – what a performance – 800m, 1500m, 5000m and now the marathon.

And from a contributor to the Guardian’s daily paralympic commentary:

“I don’t want this to end. I don’t want to go back to being the frightened, defensive person I was before the Games – constantly feeling I had to defend myself and other Disabled people who are forced to survive on social security benefits. In the last few days I actually felt like I belonged on this planet. And I’ve been waiting 44 years for that. I can’t bear the thought of what happens when it’s all wrapped up and packed away. I’m scared that people will revert to the “scrounger” narrative. I want to be wrong on that. I want to believe the best of people. But it’s up to you to prove me right.

The public reaction in the stadium to those politicians who sought to portray themselves as our champions – when they are the opposite – made me feel that non-disabled people people have finally “got it”. Now please follow up on that. Don’t let those who discriminate against Disabled people in whatever sphere of life off the hook.”

THAT is the Legacy these Games deserve.

8 September 2012

The last athletics event in the stadium and a special performance from Oscar Pistorious, who wins the 400 metres by a distance, is the culmination of an incredible six weeks or so at London 2012.

7 September 2012

The Canada Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa is showcasing a new exhibition from 4th October 2012 -“People, Places and Planes: Air Canada at 75.”

The museum’s exhibition will showcase 75 of the best photographs from the Air Canada Collection.

The photographs trace the development of Air Canada since its early days. The Museum holds the world’s largest collection of Air Canada material including vintage uniforms and thousands of images and printed material, in addition to aircraft such as the Douglas DC-9 and the Lockheed Electra.

This collection tells the story of the growth of Canada’s aviation industry and its contribution to our nation. Visit www.aviation.technomuses.ca for more information on the Canada Aviation and Space Museum.

6 September 2012

I think this is actually a very important moment in aviation history
For the last so many years the new Middle Eastern carriers have not been looked upon favorably. And I think many hoped that they would just disappear altogether. But this is the moment a historic carrier ditches its long standing deal with another historic carrier and teams up with the new breed. Essentially accepting the fact that these new carriers have their place in the market, and a strong one at that.

5 September 2012

Michelle Obama in her speech to the Democrats convention last evening:

If farmers and blacksmiths could win independence from an empire…if immigrants could leave behind everything they knew for a better life on our shores…if women could be dragged to jail for seeking the vote…if a generation could defeat a depression, and define greatness for all time…if a young preacher could lift us to the mountaintop with his righteous dream…and if proud Americans can be who they are and boldly stand at the altar with who they love…then surely, surely we can give everyone in this country a fair chance at that great American Dream.

The full text is here.

Good speech – but at some stage someone has to deal with the real issues of promises not delivered (Quantanamo) of an economy in tatters and of huge and continuing unemployment.

3 September 2012

The biggest fraud in car hire policies : Your vehicle will be supplied with a full tank of fuel and must be returned empty. No refunds will be given for unused fuel.

Whoever thought of this is a genius – no one ever returns a car empty. So the car hire companies make money from every vehicle that is returned with gas in the tank as they fill up the 3/4 that remains and charge for a full tank.

Disgraceful !

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More fun and games in the Thailand based airlines doomed to failure department:

R Airline (Bangkok Don Mueang International (DMK)) is the new brand of Thai charter carrier Sunny Airways that had recently returned its single aircraft, a B767-200ER. It plans to resume operations under the new brand with a fleet of two B737-400s that it feels are better suited to serve short-haul charter services for incoming tourists from markets such as China and South Korea.

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How depressing is this: Dubai Sports Council (DSC) has announced that Argentinian football legend Diego Maradona has been appointed as Honorary Sports Ambassador of Dubai, tasked with raising the profile of sport in the Emirate and the UAE.

The former Al Wasl coach has signed a one-year contract with the DSC where he will play an advisory role in the development and promotion of sports as a lifestyle choice in Dubai and the UAE.

He won’t last the year.

In the meantime handball will be promoted as the UAE’s national sport.

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Bladerunnings – Big shock last night as Brazilian Alan Fonteles Cardoso Oliveira upset South Africa’s Oscar Pistorius in the 200-meter T44 final at the London Paralympic Games. An angry Pistorius complained that Oliveira had a technological advantage due to longer blades.

But Oliveira’s blades were legal. The Science of Sports blog has much more detail.

So does Pistorius agree that blades improve performance – which was the core of the ‘should he be in the Olympics’ debate.

In a statement released to Press Association Sport, Pistorius said: “I would never want to detract from another athletes’ moment of triumph and I want to apologise for the timing of my comments after yesterday’s race.”

The statement continued: “I do believe that there is an issue here and I welcome the opportunity to discuss with the IPC but I accept that raising these concerns immediately as I stepped off the track was wrong.

Note that he apologised for the timing and not for what he actually said. Poor.

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That’s the excuse everyone needed: Researchers in Argentina say Viagra and other erectile dysfunction drugs could be used to help travellers overcome the effects of jet lag. The scientists found that mice given small doses of Viagra were able to readjust their internal clocks after exposure to conditions mimicking long-distance travel, much faster than mice who were given nothing.

2 September 2012

Sir Alex Ferguson is must be looking forward to today’s game; this is his 1000th as Manchester United boss. One. Thousandth. Remarkable.

1 September 2012

Bored.

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With just two months to go until the US presidential election here is the simplest of messages to Americans:

America will be a sadder and darker place if the Republican Party is allowed to achieve their goals. Americans need to do whatever they can to re-elect President Barack Obama this November.

31 August 2012

Blue Rodeo alert – and coming to you on October 16th – The Blue Rodeo: 1987-1993, which Warner Music drops October 16, will appropriately enough feature the five full-lengths issued between that time span. The band’s debut disc Outskirts, featuring the crushing country ballad “Try,” kicks off the collection, and is followed by 1989’s Diamond Mine, 1990’s Casino, 1992’s Lost Together, and the troupe’s unequivocal magnum opus, 1993’s magnificent Five Days in July.

Rounding out the eight-disc affair will be a completely remixed version of Outskirts, a set of demos from the Casino era, and another disc of odds ‘n’ sods. All the studio albums have been remastered, though tracklistings have yet to pop up for the extras.

Also included with Blue Rodeo: 1987-1993 is a 44-page booklet compiling rare photos and an essay written by Jason Schneider.

The text apparently finds the band discussing their early days, from their reaction to success to the time they turned down the chance to work with Beatles engineer Geoff Emerick.

Speaking of the box set, guitarist-vocalist Greg Keelor noted that no matter how much had changed for the band over the years, some things have stayed the same: “I was surprised at how many different accents I sang in on those records and how Jim [Cuddy] sounds exactly the same now as he did 25 years ago.”

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EK watch:

DXB LUN HRE switches from 332 to 77W (with P class) from 01FEB13

DXB SGN flight number changes from EK390/391 to EK392/393 fro 28OCT12

DXB BSR Planned service increase from 4 weekly to daily postponed until 01OCT12 (originally due to start 01SEP12)

DXB SIN EK354/355 operates with A380 from 01Dec12 (regular basis, not temporary in Sep 2012)

DXB JNB EK761/762 planned A380 service resumption cancelled (Aircraft goes to SIN)

DXB TUN From 01Dec12 reduce from daily A340-300 to 5 weekly 777-300

The #23 (A6-EDW) A380 was delivered on August 29th.

The #24 (A6-EDX) is due on September 7th or 8th.

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The invasion of Hong Kong: Last year, there were 28.1 million mainland Chinese tourists to Hong Kong, almost four times the city’s population, up from 8.4 million in 2003. In the first half of this year, 15 million mainlanders arrived, a 23 percent jump over the previous year.

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Thai justice is so flawed – allegedly insult the King and you are in jail for 15 years while the teenager who caused death of nine people on tollway sentenced to 2 years in jail (suspended for 3) and forbidden to drive until 25.

But she has the right family connections.

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But because of Barack Obama, says Mitt Romney, small businesses can’t sponsor little league teams. No, he really said that.

This was part of the Romney acceptance speech at the Republican convention.

I dont like Romney – he has no agenda other than to beat Obama; he flip flop on policy as he has none of his own. But the November election is going to be far closer than it should have been because the Republicans in the Senate and the House of Reps have effectively strangled Obama from substantial achievement.

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Meanwhile back in Thailand passengers flying into the Kingdom will soon receive on-board warnings against bringing counterfeit products into the country.

I guess this is to protect Thailand’s own counterfeiting business….

Useless.

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Etihad Airways, one of the UAE’s flag carriers, has suspended flights to Damascus until further notice because of security concerns.

Emirates is still flying to Damascus…

30 August 2012

Interesting note on the Paralympics – Thailand has sent 50 athletes -which is more than the 39 athletes at the Olympics and participating in more sports!

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Thai AirAsia from 19OCT12 is launching Bangkok Don Mueang – Wuhan service, on board Airbus A320 aircraft.

Schedule:

FD2570 DMK0715 – 1135WUH 320 D
FD2571 WUH1220 – 1510DMK 320 D

Emirates somehow needs to increase its access to China for the long haul market.

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No Prince Harry at the opening ceremony – he really is in the dog house. It’s a shame as he has done so much work with injured soldiers.

29 August 2012

So long Andrew Strauss. A fine articulate captain of England’s cricket team. Home and away Ashes wins. The first series win in Australia for 25 years. And he led England to number 1 in the world test rankings.

“It’s one of these decisions where you just know in your heart when the time is up. I knew that probably before the South Africa series started and certainly by the end of the series I was fairly clear in my mind.”

“The driver to it all was, quite frankly, my form with the bat. I haven’t batted well enough for a long period of time now and I think for a captain to perform in his role properly it’s important, firstly, you’re not a passenger in the side but also that people aren’t speculating as to whether you should be in the side or not. I think that would have been a big distraction to the side going forward. I know with my own energy levels and motivation, I wasn’t going to improve my batting; I’d run my race.”

28 August 2012

Tai to me – “Swahili and Japanese are quite similar!” Impossible. Weird.

27 August 2012

The passing of Neil Armstrong feels like the saddest of days – this most modest and fearless of men – who boldly went where no one had been before. One small step for a man; one giant loss for mankind.

From today’s New Yorker:

“Not that Armstrong was one for speeches; his deeds were enough, and, if there was something finally mysterious about him, a hint of the indecipherable, it was not, as I say, because of things locked or encrypted within his personal character, but just because what he achieved, however briefly, pulled him further out of our reach and range than anyone had ever ventured before. We claim to look up to those whom we admire; for three hours in the summer of ’69, however, if you wanted to check out where Armstrong was working that day, you really did have to look up—raise tired eyes from your newspaper, or your family, or your desk, and try the skies instead. He had stood somewhere new, and come back home; as with Lazarus, in St. John’s Gospel, we shall never see what he had seen—not on this planet, at any rate.

That may be why Saturday felt sad and substantial, as if the last known survivor of a war had passed away, even though, in this happy instance, so little blood was shed. “The odds is gone, / And there is nothing left remarkable / Beneath the visiting moon.” That’s what Cleopatra thought, in her bereavement, but our restive age, in its quest for the remarkable, had a better idea: How about visiting the moon? Yeah. Much was asked of Neil Armstrong, and he was commensurate. He held attitude. We held our breath.”

25 August 2012

The Telegraph tries to put a remarkable new spin on Prince Harry’s drunken naked partying:

A witness told The Sun the prince “went over to be a gentleman” and told the girl “I will shield you, I will protect you, I won’t let them see you.”

Cough, cough: bullshit!

22 August 2012

Ek fleet news: The first 2 A343s are about to leave the EK fleet. A6-ERQ and A6-ERR will be the first one to go in September and October respectively, and will move to HiFly of Portugal.

EK has accepted #23 A380 (A6-EDW) to be delivered later this week.

A6-EGW (B77W and the 75th B777 at EK) was delivered this week.

20 August 2012

Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund is buying 20% of Heathrow owner BAA in a move that adds the airport operator to a portfolio of British interests including Harrods and stakes in Barclays and J Sainsbury.

18 August 2012

PL winners will be in Manchester (sitting on fence) – relegated – QPR, Southampton and Norwich.

16 August 2012

The third and final test match between England and South Africa is underway at Lords – the whole test match completely overshadowed by KP-gate; tweet-gate; the Kevin Pietersen affair –

A great line from Mike Atherton on Sky. “It’s a very modern saga, with press releases, Tweets and so on … I tell you how this would have been sorted in the Lancashire dressing-room 20 years on: someone would have got clouted and we’d have moved on.”

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Robin van Persie set for Manchester United debut against Everton – good business for Arsenal – some gbp23million for an aging, injury-prone forward.

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This sanctification of Julian Assange is making me uncomfortable. He is wanted in Sweden for questioning in connection with accusations of the rape of one woman and sexual assault on another in August 2010. The extradition request is from Sweden not the USA. Assange has not been charged by Swedish prosecutors, but they say they have a case against him. There ought to be a solution that allows the Swedish police to carry out their investigation in London or for Assange to be questioned in Sweden on the guarantee that he cannot be investigated by, or extradited to, the USA. No nation should be in the business of harbouring alleged rapists. In the meantime there is some irony in the praise being lavished by the founder of Wikileaks on an Ecuadorian regime that hardly has a stellar record on press freedom.

14 August 2012

Tourism Authority of Thailand governor seen flying from the UK on Emirates first class – maybe not the best advertisement for Thai Airways.

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Meanwhile The connectivity of the DXB HKT route seems to be improving somewhat during the summer schedule when the flight will leave DXB at 11.10am instead of 12.45pm:

From March 31:

EK378 DXB HKT 1110 2005
EK379 HKT DXB 0120 0450

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Rumours that EK will announce Boston soon – makes sense with the JetBlue codeshare.

13 August 2012

I have PODS – Post Olympic Depression Symptoms – watching the closing ceremony again – this time without the awful Barry Davies commentary!

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And Rory McIlroy did win the USA – by a massive eight shots – astonishing at this level.

In his last round – and on a massive championship course he had just 24 putts in 18 holes as part of his 66.

Now if I could putt like that!

12 August 2012

It was 47.5C when we left the golf course in Ras Al Khaimah today.

Too hot. Too tired. Too many 3 putts.

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Meanwhile in proper golf McIlroy leads from Poulter at the start of the final round of the US PGA at Kiawah Island.

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RAK Airways (RT, Ras al Khaimah International (RKT)) has announced plans to become the second UAE carrier after Rotana Jet Aviation (RG, Dubai International (DXB)) to launch domestic services in the country. RAK plans a new four times weekly service linking its base at Ras al Khaimah with Abu Dhabi International (AUH) from October 3.

9 August 2012

Women’s boxing finals – and 16,000 in the ExCel arena – incredible crowd – loud and knowledgeable.

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Note to self. The Good Wife returns to US tv on 30 September.

8 August 2012

Effective 28 OCT EK 355 will be retimed to SIN 2135 DXB 0100 +1

(Currently this leaves Singapore at 02.00am arriving in Dubai at 05.10am).

7 August 2012

47C today ad I was out playing golf. Mad.

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While the Olympics is on the USA has been renamed the United States Of If It’s Not Taking Place Here, We’re Not Showing It.

NBC even failed to show live coverage of Bolt winning the 100m. By the time they broadcast in the evening everyone new the result thanks to the internet.

4 August 2012

As per 04AUG12 GDS inventory display, Hong Kong Airlines is cancelling Hong Kong – London Gatwick daily service starting 03SEP12. Reservation for this flight is closed for travel on/after 03SEP12, although its website shows “sold out”.

This route is currently operated by all-Business Class Airbus A330-200 aircraft. The route will have lasted just six months. How will these all business class aircraft be re-deployed – or is Hong Kong Airlines coming to an abrupt end?

3 August 2012

A few aircraft changes for Emirates :

Washington Dulles New route from 12SEP12 to be operated by 777-200LR instead of -300ER (the -300ER will operate SIN EK354/355 from 01SEP12.

London Heathrow EK029/030 operates with A380 instead of 777-300ER from 10DEC12, therefore 5 daily A380 will move from 01FEB13 to this date

Hong Kong EK382/383 from 01SEP12 to be operated by A340-300 instead of A330-200

Meanwhile : Emirates flight catering on YouTube.

1 August 2012

Emirates starting 10DEC12 is launching Dubai – Phuket service, its 2nd destination in Thailand. Service operates with Airbus A330-200 aircraft.

Operational schedule has been loaded in the OAG around 1400GMT and appeared in Amadeus timetable listing in the past 2 hours. Reservation for this route will be open shortly.

EK378 DXB1245 – 2155HKT 332 D
EK379 HKT0035 – 0435DXB 332 D

Connectivity for the outbound sector seems questionable. I presume that European connections are targeted, but they are left with average connecting times of 6 to 7 hours. Other South East Asian departures with this kind of schedule leave over 2 hours earlier: BKK at 0905 and 0940, SGN at 0925, HKG at 1005, KUL at 1030, SIN at 0935, CGK at 1025, MNL at 1030

31 July 2012

Sorry – distracted by the Olympics.

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Hat tip to Fred Couples who won the British Seniors Open at Turnberry last week. Fred never won the Open – but has always been one of the very best golfers of his generation.

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And I played yesterday at Al Hamra – and played better than I have for some time – best of all the driving was back and some 10% to 15% longer than I have been hitting the ball for the last few months – secret is swing speed. Much better. And made all the long par fours easily reachable in two.

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Why is French an Olympics language – time to change – reality is that the Olympics languages should be English ad Mandarin.

27 July 2012

Forgot to mention that I recently read Tony Parson’s book “Catching the Sun”.

Rather then review  it myself here is a review off the Amazon.com site…..I agree with every wood.

“Catching the Sun is a boring, mind-numbingly simple and idealistic tale of a family who flee recession-hit Britain, after their house is robbed by chavs (naturally, eugh), and head to Thailand, where Tom has been offered a driving job. Their neighbours are, naturally, adorable – operating a seafood restaurant on the beach, where the wife cooks and serves, while the husband goes out to fish for the menu in his traditional boat…..

Catching the Sun is a thinly-veiled attack on Britain in the most stereotypical, hackneyed fashion – an attempt, on Parsons’ part, of tapping into the currently trending notion that Britain is faulty, spineless and populated with crazed youths out to kill the middle classes. For a writer of his talents, I was deeply disappointed with the quality of the plot, the writing and the characterisation on display in this book. It can’t even be described as harmless holiday fluff, because I think Parsons does Thailand, as well as the UK, a disservice here too, in his reliance on stereotypes (nasty Thai prisons, Thai brides, women besotted with Western money, almost feral children in need of teaching), etc – really rather unsavoury, lazy stuff. When Tania falls pregnant at some point in the book, the whole thing falls apart, as they start to bleat about returning to London, where there are ‘good schools’ – an alarming insult, not to mention a complete contradiction to their previously fierce rejection of Britain as dangerous and depressing. I mean – what is this book really about? There’s no substance, no point, that I could discover whatsoever. The whole thing just isn’t feasible, nor does it make any sense – with a host of predictable, cardboard cut out characters, which exist, largely, only in idealised adverts and pop psychology.”

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Meanwhile this is worth watching.

Al Jazeera’s Andrew Richardson goes in search of the soul of British football.

25 July 2012

Two days to go to the London Olympics – and suddenly I have realised how much more fun in would be to be in London rather than in Dubai where it is 46C in the day and when we are in the first weeks of Ramada when the city is at its quietest in the daytime.

The Olympics in your “home” country really is a once in a lifetime event.

I used to get very excited about watching the Games – from Tokyo in 1964 to Mexico in 1968. Interest started to disappear in the 1970 and 1980s with political boycotts, the Munich tragedy, doping scandals – yes, you, Ben Johnson and appalling commercialisation – the Coca Cola games in Atlanta.

23 July 2012

Idiotic female interviewer from the BBC to Adam Scott just after he had thrown away the British Open: “Those three bogies at the end didn’t help you , did they ?”

Actually it was four bogies.

That is 3 out of the last 4 majors won with long putters. Cannot be right.

21 July 2012

The AOB’s favourite golf statistic for the day is that the 62-year-old Tom Watson is 15 years older than the combined age of his playing partners for the first two rounds, Japan’s Ryo Ishikawa, 20, and Germany’s Martin Kaymer, 27. Of the three, only Watson made the cut.

Watson is scheduled to attend a ceremony at Turnberry on Wednesday to unveil a plaque marking the spot at the 18th from where he hit his famous seven-iron approach to three feet on his way to winning the 1977 Open.

Presumably, he will decline any invitation to revisit the spot on the same fairway from which his overhit a nine-iron in 2009 which cost him his chance of victory.

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The Emirates impact: Singapore Airlines starting 28OCT12 is reducing operation on Singapore – Milan Malpensa – Barcelona route, from 4 to 2 weekly.

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Meanwhile Emirates Airbus A380 A6-EDC arrived into Auckland today as EK412 from Dubai and Sydney however the return EK413 has been delayed indefinitely due to a technical issue with the aircraft. Not good when your airplane goes sick that far from home.

20 July 2012

Dreadful events overnight in Aurora Colorado.

But the ridiculous gun laws in the USA means events like this and Columbine happen all to frequently. It is not about gun control. It is about gun abolition. The right to carry guns is in the second amendment of the US constitution from 1787. This has to change.

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Etihad Airways will launch daily flights to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam’s commercial capital and most populous city, in October 2013.

Do you really need to announce routes that will not be launched for another 15 months….

Flights between Abu Dhabi and Ho Chi Minh City will begin on 1 October 2013 and will be served by a two class A330-200 aircraft.

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One week to the Olympics – and there seems to more apathy than excitement. Add to that anger about the cost, the congestion, and security that manages to be both slightly paranoid and worryingly chaotic.

Trouble is there is so much other sport in the UK. The Open is on this weekend. There is a great test series between England and South Africa. The Euros just finished. Wimbledon just finished.

The reality is that Britain didn’t need the Olympics. But it will make the best of them without too much more complaining. After all Olympic mud slinging is a sport.

Four years ago in Beijing we were going to be choked by smog and entombed in algae at the sailing venue. Athens was going to be a building site.

Sharks were going to devour triathletes in Sydney harbour.

Somehow it will all work out ok.

19 July 2012

Dad would have been 80 today – left too soon.

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And the Open Championship starts today = previous winners at Royal Lytham & St. Annes: — Bobby Jones, Bobby Locke, Peter Thomson, Bob Charles, Tony Jacklin, Gary Player, Seve Ballesteros, Tom Lehman and David Duval

18 July 2012

Some 10 years ago the standard government slice of any contract granted in Thailand was 25% – this appears to have crept up to between 30 and 35% according to a report in today’s The Nation. OK – it is in the Peua Thai hating Nation; the organisation carrying out the survey is also known to be anti PT. 

More than 85 per cent of respondents to a University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce survey said they had to pay bribes whenever they had to deal with government agencies or politicians to win contracts.

Projects most likely to lead to corruption were infrastructure developments worth a total of Bt2.2 trillion and the flood-rehabilitation project worth Bt300 billion….which is why the Airport project was (and will be) such a mess.

35 per cent of respondents said they must pay more than 25 per cent of a project’s budget to win the job from the government. On average, they said they must pay about 30-35 per cent of the budget to win a project from the government or state-owned agency.

Depressing.

16 July 2012

A German competitor was lost, and wanted directions to the Olympic village in Stratford, London. He was standing outside East Ham tube station when he saw two lads walking by so he stops them and asks, ‘Entschuldigung, koennen Sie Deutsch sprechen?’

The two lads look at each other blankly and stare back at the German.

‘Excusez-moi, parlez vous Français?’ He tries.

The two continue to stare.

‘Parlare Italiano?’ Still absolutely no response from the two lads.

‘Hablan ustedes Espanol?’ The London lads remain totally silent.

The German Olympian walks off extremely disappointed and downhearted that he had not been understood. One of the boys turns to the second and says, ‘You know, maybe we should learn a foreign language!’

‘Why?’ says the youth, ‘That German guy knew four languages, and it didn’t do him any good!’

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Got my haircut in Dubai today. Now that is not news. But my hairdresser was from Syria and his family are still there. he said that his family hardly ever dare to go out. And that is in the capital city Damascus.

Assad and his cronies had to go he said They help themselves and not the people.

But China, Russia and America all make the situation more complicated.

Syria cannot be Iraq or Libya – as Syria has “no petrol.” so they do not expect western help. Change is hard he said. But it will happen.

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BA has confirmed that it will close bmibaby by September, putting 800 jobs at risk.

IAG, the owner of British Airways, acquired bmibaby and bmi Regional last month as part of a deal with Germany’s Lufthansa to buy the main bmi airline business.

BA had always stated that it did not intend to continue the bmibaby and bmi Regional divisions itself.

IAG says a new owner for bmibaby has not been found “despite attempts over many months”.

IAG has started a consultation with unions but expects to ground all bmibaby planes by September.

bmibaby’s largest base is at East Midlands.

IAG bought loss-making bmi for access to its prized Heathrow take-off and landing slots.

14 July 2012

Emirates Boeing 777-31HER A6-EGU was delivered Paine Field – Dubai yesterday as EK777. This brings the Boeing 777-300ER fleet up to 73 aircraft.

13 July 2012

Today’s National newspaper happily reports that “Abu Dhabi Police arrested 23 Asian workers, six of whom are illegal immigrants, who were running a gambling scheme in public that involved a belt, a screw driver and an ironing table.

Police conducted a security campaign that led to the arrest of the workers, who have been involved in three separate cases of gambling this year. One was also found to be in possession of counterfeit money.”

What on earth were they playing?

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The film of Aung San Suu Kyi’s life has been released in the last week in Dubai. A bit late; the film was made in 2010 and shot largely in Thailand on the Burmese border.

Starring the Malaysian actress Michelle Yeoh, the film follows Aung San Suu Kyi’s involvement in politics and how her dedication tested her marriage with the British scholar Michael Aris, played by David Thewlis. It opened in Britain in December 2011.

Suu Kyi has not yet watched the film. The director, Luc Besson, said in an interview that: “the film is very private and emotional for her.” It depicts scenes of her late father, who was assassinated, and her husband, who died of cancer while she was under house arrest.”

Suu Kyi did however meet with MIchelle Yeoh and the physical resemblance in the movie is quite striking.

It is a decently made movie; more a story or love and sacrifice than of political change. And because it was made in 2010 it misses the remarkable changes of the last six months. And in doing so it misses what would have been a wonderful ending – Suu Kyi collecting in 2012 her Nobel peace prize, awarded to her in 1991.

11 July 2012

Lese Majeste prisoner Joe Gordon was given a royal pardon late afternoon yesterday to avoid USA raising the LM issue at Asean Summit

Of course he should never have been imprisoned in the first place.

9 July 2012

Should the abuse thrown at players on a football pitch ever end up in court? The answer has to be no. The John Terry trial is a stunning waste of public money and court time – it should never have come to court.

Personal abuse is an unpleasant part of almost any football match whether in a Sunday league or in the Premiership.

Live with it.

8 July 2012

Really, really dislike the new Emirates advertisement – rich girl does first class. Hardly an invite to the 99% of us who travel steerage.

7 July 2012

M4 motorway closed between junctions 1-3 for up to 5 days. Other options include: Heathrow Express, Heathrow Connect or the Underground.

Just in time for the Olympics and when London is at its busiest.

6 July 2012

Andy Murray becomes first British man to reach Wimbledon final in 74 years.

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Umi Sushi…..Awful. Never again. Meal in the Executive Towers Branch on Friday evening – 7pm. Only two people in the restaurant. Food left on counter while staff answered phone calls for delivery. Food eventually delivered with one hand while waitress was still talking on the phone held in the other hand. Staff are only interested in orders for delivery. Guests in restaurant are simply an annoyance. AED200 (exactly) for single plates of Tempura, Chicken Teriyaki and Sushi. A small meal for two people. Expensive. Never, ever again.

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Emirates Airline is expanding its presence in the United States by adding a second daily A380 flight to New York’s JFK International Airport.

By the spring of 2013 all five daily Heathrow flights are expected to be on the A380.

EK007/008 DXB LHR DXB, the 2.30am departure from DXB will upgrade to an A388 from 28 October 2012. When EK029/030 starts operating with A388 on 01 February 2013, all 5 LHR roundtrips will then operate with A388

5 July 2012

Higgs Boson goes into a Catholic church.
The priest says, “You’re not welcome here.”
Higgs Boson says “You can’t have mass
without me.”

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Ramadan will start this year on July 21, and Eid Al Fitr will fall on August 19.

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So the A380 flies to Moscow next year – the bar will be packed !

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24 hours in Hong Kong are caught in this 4 minute video by Hong Kong film makers – Spot on Idea,

Hong Kong Accelerate from Spot On Idea on Vimeo.

2 July 2012

Half way through 2012 already.

Alex and I are in Grantown on Spey – in the north of Scotland – cold and wet and not much of a summer….and Alex is sensible laid up with a headache.

We stopped at Balmoral Castle yesterday – the Queen’s Scottish residence for August and September each year. Built by Queen Victoria and her husband Albert. The location is very nice. But a ballroom with stuffed stag heads around the room is just depressing; and so out of touch.

30 June 2012

Three tweets in a row on my timeline about Emirates Airline:

Laura_Millerx: Never flying emirates again what an unhelpful unaccomodating airline. Absolute joke what’s happened today

HHShkMohd: Emirates Airlines is a model for the rest of our national companies. It started locally and succeeded internationally…

HHShkMohd: Emirates Airlines is a development success story and a national accomplishment. It serves our children and the future generations…

Hmmmm – the view of a customer and the views of the owner!

25 June 2012

Sorry I have been quiet – traveling!

Alex and I at le Rosey for his end of year celebrations.

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Emirates is moving forward planned Airbus A340-500 service on Dubai – Nice to 01SEP12, replacing A340-300. Previously A340-500 was to start operation from 28OCT12.

Schedule:

EK077 DXB0925 – 1415NCE 345 D
EK078 NCE1610 – 0030+1DXB 345 D

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Emirates further postpones planned Airbus A380 service resumption on Dubai – Johannesburg EK761/762 service. The airline will now resume A380 operation from 01DEC12, instead of 01OCT12

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From 01AUG12, Dubai – Basra service increases from 4 weekly to daily.

EK945 DXB1355 – 1445BSR 332 D
EK946 BSR1615 – 1915DXB 332 D

19 June 2102

Bring a plane down your street – brilliant advertising from British Airways….

Still no sign of my coffee drowned laptop which is still in the repair shop.

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Back at Al Hamra for more golf today – 4 down with 6 to play ended up All Square which felt like the right result….it was a good morning.

Second game in three days after a Sunday fourball match which we won by one hole on the 18th.

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It is Aung San Suu Kyi’s 67th birthday today- and the first since 1988 that she has been truly free.

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Emirates is set to operate its A380 superjumbo on a one-off service into Gatwick airport next month.

The news was flagged up by industry website airlineroute.net, and when Business Traveller checked the carrier’s online reservation system (see screen grab below), flights EK0015 (departing Dubai at 0800) and EK0016 (departing Gatwick at 1530) on July 6 are both showing as being served by an A380 aircraft.

Emirates already operates its superjumbo on selected services into both London Heathrow and Manchester airports, but this will be the first time Gatwick has welcomed a scheduled A380 service.

16 June 2012

Aung San Suu Kyi delivered her Nobel Lecture in Oslo, Norway, today; in receipt of the Nobel Peace Price awarded to her in 1991. A truly remarkable leader.

Her lecture can be found here. It is humble, gentle, optimistic and without anger or bitterness.

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The Olympic course in San Francisco has taken its toll at the US Open – after two rounds some of the big names have gone.

The cut of low 60 and ties fell at 8-over 148 with 72 players – 69 professionals and three amateurs – advancing.

The USGA this year eliminated the 10-shot rule. That provision had added any players beyond the low 60 and ties provided they were within 10 strokes of the lead – though no player had ever won after making the cut via the added buffer.

Among the players eliminated at 149 who in past years would have kept playing were Masters champion Bubba Watson, Masters runner-up and 2010 British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen, 2009 U.S. Open winner Lucas Glover, disabled golfer Casey Martin, and Dustin Johnson, the most recent winner on the PGA Tour.

Notable players beyond that score included Luke Donald, the No. 1-ranked player in the world, and No. 2 Rory McIlroy, the defending champion who made more bogeys in two rounds than he had all of last year at Congressional.

After two rounds Furyk, Toms and Woods share a two shot lead at 1 under par.

I am not sure that this is the sort of tournament that either players of spectators want to see -McDowell who after rounds of 69 and 72 is two behind said: “My day was equally as un-enjoyable as yesterday…it’s just tough to have fun out there, I got to be honest with you. It’s just a brutal test of golf.”

14 June 2012

Bye bye Harry Redknapp; the manager is never bigger than the club that he works for….

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EK’s planned A380 deliveries for 2012 are now 3 airframes in September and 3 more in October. These will all be fitted with the temporary wing fix.

The A380 deployment planning is as follows:

* before the delivery of A6-EDV/W/X during September, EK will upgrade DXB NRT and DXB AMS to A388 on July 01 and August 01 respectively. These aircraft are sourced through the postponement of A380 service on the EK029/030 LHR and the temporary downgrade of the JNB flight.

* the delivery of 3 aircraft in September will cater for the reinstatement of A380 services to JNB on October 01 and the upgrade of the nonstop MEL service on October 06.

* the 3 October deliveries may cater for further A380 upgrades but at the same time, a number of aircraft will at that point be undergoing renewed wing inspections, which may ground at least some capacity.

13 June 2012

Coming to a movie theatre near you in November – Flight.

Loosely (and obviously) based on the real-life exploits of hero pilot Chesley Sullenberger, “Flight” stars Washington as an airline pilot who miraculously crash-lands his ailing aircraft, saving the lives of everybody on board.

Unlike Sullenberger, however, it turns out that Washington’s character had a nip of the bottled comfort the night before and soon enough, questions about his actions lead to a media frenzy that’s just as happy to destroy heroes as create them. 

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Time out presents 
“Cabin crew Dubai diaries” – a day (or night) in the life of an EK pilot and an EK cabin crew. This could be fictional. An EK captain does not take a bus to work – he is she gets the chauffeur driven company car.

And an FG1 who likes to turn up early at the airport to read her manuals. That person does not exist.

12 June 2012

On television this evening – the 1969 movie “Battle of Britain” – great cast – some fabulous flying scenes and careful historical accuracy. Some of the sub plots are a bit unnecessary but do attempt to show how life continued during the war.

I do remember being fairly terrified by the movie. Too many horrible ways to die; plenty of blood. I always remembered one shot where a pilot’s head appears to explode all over the windscreen. The German crews flying Heinkels were incredibly brave – these were slow old bombers with little defence. Without fighter escorts they were almost target practice.

I was always interested in this time – as my grandmother lived in Hawkinge, Kent. The aerodrome there was the closest air base to occupied France – just ten minutes flying time – so was at the forefront of the Battle of Britain.

In the last twenty years the airfield has been converted to a housing estate. However, the Kent Battle of Britain museum is still based there. http://www.kbobm.org/index.htm

11 June 2012

England v France in Euro 2012. Finished 1-1. It was pretty average.

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Mad Men – final episode of series 4. Forty minutes of Don needing a dentist – and then hallucinating. And the rest of the episode is Pete’s doomed affair; the good news is that he gets slugged by the train guard.

Peggy and Don reunite by chance in a cinema. Don is still grouchy that Peggy got successful and left him. It is a strangely weak meeting for two of the strongest characters in the show.

The saviour of the episode – the theme to “You Only Live Twice”…at the end…and the big question for Don: “Are You Alone?” – how he replies will determine the course of next season.

Meanwhile True Blood is back for Season 5. Pam: “I’m wearing a walmart sweat suit for y’all – if that’s not a demonstration of team spirit I don’t know what is”

Jessica is back! And looking good. But there are too many characters – too many different story lines. And we cant be shocked anymore.

10 June 2012

Good fun at the rebuilt Edgbaston cricket ground today with Tino Best making 95 – by some distance the highest ever test match score by a number 11 – and he loved every minute of it – making England look very ordinary.

But then the teams come off for bad light.

They lost the first two days to rain. The stadium has floodlights. And test matches can be played under lights.

So why come off for bad light?

People have paid gbp43 each to watch a day’s cricket. Let them watch a full day. The only thing that should stop play (assuming there are lights) is rain (or snow!!).

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Why on earth would you give Euro100 billion to exactly the same people who got themselves into a financial crisis in the first place.

The Spanish economy Minister says that it is not a rescue – trying to portray this as a loan in the normal course of business.

Nonsense.

8 June 2012

Old Jokes Home:

The past, present and future walk into a bar. It was tense.

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Meanwhile in Thailand Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha on Friday poured cold water over any attempts to lure the soldiers out of the barracks, saying he would not fall prey to staging a coup in the face of the push for charter change.

“The coup idea can not be reignited,” he said.

Isn’t that what he said in 2006. There are no warnings given for a coup!

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Tai and I spent the last two days watching series one of “Homeland” – thanks Greta for the DVDs.

Carrie Mathison, a CIA operations officer, is on probation after carrying out an unauthorized operation in Iraq. As a result, she has been reassigned to the Counter terrorism center. Whilst in Iraq, she was warned that an American prisoner had been turned by Al-Qaeda. When Nicholas Brody, a U.S. Marine Sergeant, is rescued after being held hostage since 2003, she suspects that he is the turned American prisoner. Brody is received home as a war hero, so Carrie goes to any lengths possible, ignoring protocol, to catch him out.

And that simple plot concept gets drawn out for 12 episodes and is still not solved by the end of the series. I thought it started stronger than it finished – after 12 episodes of leading us to believe that Brody was some kind of terrorist plotting against the American establishment, it turns out that Brody is … some kind of terrorist plotting against the American establishment. But that no one can catch him or blow his cover.

So the final episode became an advert for series two.

Very few questions were answered.

Who is the security mole? Who has the take that Brodey made?

It would be a shame if they drag this plot line out for ever.

Carrie Mathison is interesting enough to find other cases and threats to pursue.

Meanwhile Claire Danes and Damian Lewis both won Golden Globes in January where they won Best Actress and Best Actor.

7 June 2012

Latest from Thailand: Thailand edges toward major constitutional crisis as Attorney General sides with govt, parliament while opposition backs Constitution court.

5 June 2012

It is not hard to see why the big name golfers from Europe all migrate to the US tour. Money and crowds.

Thongchai Jaidee won the Welsh Open at the Celtic Manor course lat weekend. The crowd was a few hundred people and a few thousand sheep.

Meanwhile in Ohio Tiger Woods won the Memorial in front of tens of thousands of delirious fans; beating a world class field at the same time.

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The Diamond Jubilee Concert was a very British occasion; lots of flag waving, bad jokes and old people singing. Sort of up market amateur dramatics.

But it had its moments!

There are lots of pictures here.

Grace Jones is 64! Really. And she hula hooped through Slave to the Rhythm. Very odd.

Wishing the Queen a Happy Birthday suggests Ms Jones had not read the script.

Rolf Harris  – well he had to be there.

What was Chris Patten doing sitting next to Prince Charles in the Royal Box? Head of the BBC board of trustees could be the answer.

Tom Jones’ best known song is about a wife killer – weird. Why, why why?

The DoE was taken ill and could not attend. Probably in hospital watching EastEnders reruns.

Ob-la-di Ob-la-da was always a crap song.

Highlights of the show: Lang Lang – no, no not a giant panda! And Madness playing from the roof of Buck House – Our House and It Must be Love….with some great graphics projected onto the front of Buck House.

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Sensible tweet from @PravitR for anyone trying to understand current events in Thailand at the moment – “What cannot be said publicly about Thai politics may in fact be more important than that which can be said publicly. #thai #politics”

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Twitter makes you love people you’ve never met; Facebook makes you hate people you already know. RIP Facebook!

4 June 2012

OK – the queen’s booze cruise down the river Thames was quite a sight. But 10 hours of coverage on SKY – and some appalling cloying humourless commentary was gruesome –

And it was no better on the BBC or CNN. It is like all the reporters are in a contest to see who gets the first OBE…

Some comments from twitterland:

“Seems we all agree on terrible BBC coverage. Low grade, celebrity driven drivel. How did Beeb get it so wrong”

“Which is worse, the heavy rain falling on the flotilla along the Thames or the BBC’s dreadful coverage of this Royal Jubilee event?”

“One hated Thames Armada. No Navy left so hordes of tatty boats. Queen freezing, BBC 5Live and TV commentary pathetic. A disgrace.”

 “Has the BBC ever presented a more mind-numbingly tedious programme in its history? “HRH the queen” said the first ignorant presenter. HRH?”.

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Once again Mad Men proves that it is by far the smartest programme on tv – great acting and great attention to detail. Just one episode left in this series. Peggy has left (I think she will be back) and Lane Pryce has committed suicide in his office; and only Don knows why.

The question is can Don and Megan survive?

3 June 2012

“Land of Hope and Glory, Mother of the Free,
How shall we extol thee, who are born of thee?
Wider still, and wider, shall thy bounds be set;
God, who made thee mighty, make thee mightier yet!”

1 June 2012

Thailand looks like it is headed for conflict again. This week was just foreplay – it was also a message from those who think they run the country that even though they are unelected they still get to say what happens in Parliament – shocking really.

This week the Democrats in Parliament assaulted the speaker and created chaos in Parliament. This was not while debating a bill; this was about deciding whether a bill – ironically a reconciliation bill – should be heard.

Outside the Dems allies – the PAD, yellow and multicoloured shirts today stopped MPs from even attending Parliament.

The police did nothing.

The Democrat Party’s name is tarnished. Abhisit should condemn these acts instead he condones and support them.

So the PAD stopped parliament from being in session to discuss a law that would not even be needed if it were not for the 2006 coup.

And the leader of that coup is now the proposer of the reconciliation bill in Parliament. Crazy.

But the PAD and their allies are radical; in and out of parliament the PAD think they are protecting the nation. There is little doubt that violent means will be used by both PAD and Democrats to achieve their aims.

The government should get tough but it wont. The police and military should work in tandem but they wont.

A standard should be set for parliament to do its work; instead parliament is held hostage.

The bill is a mess. At a minimum it must not be a money bill handing Thaksin back his cash.

But what this week is telling us is that any changes to the laws, constitution, need the consent of the non elected PAD and the minority Democrats.

31 May 2012

Old Jokes Home:

Q) What are the first three letters of the
new Greek alphabet?

A) I O U

30 May 2012

“it seems churlish to point out that awarding great privileges and pseudo-medieval deference to members of an otherwise undistinguished Anglo-German family ill befits a nation that wants to see itself as democratic, meritocratic and modern.”

New Statesman

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Something for EK’s planning department – the amended UAE-JAPAN Air Services Agreement has just been completed which entitles Emirates to fly from June 2013 Daily Dubai – Tokyo Haneda and 2nd daily to NRT.

29 May 2012

More evidence of delays in Emirates A380 deliveries:

DXB JNB reverts to B77W on 01JUL until 30SEP

DXB LHR EK029/030 upgrade to A380 has been postponed until 01FEB2013.

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On 30 May 2012, at 10 am in the Criminal Court in Bangkok, the verdict in the case of Chiranuch Premchaiporn, charged with ten counts of allegedly violating the 2007 Computer Crimes Act in Black Case No. 1667/2553, will be read. The reading, which had been scheduled for one month ago, was unexpectedly postponed.

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) urges all concerned persons to attend the court as observers, and calls on other interested persons to follow the case closely.

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This is very rare – a week without a note on what is effectively my diary page – I am sorry dear reader. Inexcusable.

Put tt down to laziness and/or lack of inspiration.

Tai and I did go over to Bangkok for a few days. But these short trips for just a few days are tiring.

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AsiaTique is getting lots of media attention and is a valid attempt at trying to add some evening life to the Bangkok river side.

But at the moment it is a very sterile attempt to recreate the Suan Lum night bazaar. There is a food court – but other restaurants are in a soft opening or not open at all.

Disappointing. Access is by road or by a courtesy boat from Saphan Thaksin pier.

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Yes it was my birthday on Sunday. Tai was already back in Dubai and on her way to London.

I try to ignore it – after all it is just one year closer to my bus pass…..

And I removed my birthday from being published on facebook so there are no reminders for people.

Alex called.

And Dennis took me out for a boys night in Bangkok in the evening. Mainly our surprisingly close games of pool.

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I am tiring of Bangkok – just a sense that its appeal is wearing increasingly thin.

You cant walk on any of the pavements in the main parts of the city and either the BMA or police have rented out every part of the pavement to street traders.

And on Sukhumvit every other street trader is now selling porn videos and sex toys….it is not discreet.

Pratunam is impossible to walk through. But that is true even in the malls where Thais have perfected the art of walking incredibly slowly and without any apparent purpose.

It is hot, humid. Traffic is worse now than it has ever been. And new malls, condo blocks and hotels are being built without any improvements to access and infrastructure. It is gridlock.

22 May 2012

One of the more sensible tweets of the morning – sensible probably means that I agree with it!! ” This idea that red shirts are just Thaksin lackeys is also straight out ASTV line. Always been more complex relationship. “

Which is what I have been trying to argue. But there are some strange people in twitterland in Thailand who enjoy black and white and see no shades of grey.

21 May 2012

Melissa Chan was Al Jazeera’s respected English language reporter in China – until the Chinese kicked her out for no apparent reason – and they have been especially unpleasant about her in the media subsequently – but here in her final commentary on leaving China is the country summed up in a sentence:

“China is a country of contradictions. One minute you marvel at the speedy transformation, the new wealth, the great hope of many. Another minute, and in this case powerfully felt because it can all happen in one day, you’re disgusted by the corruption, the systemic problems of a one-party authoritarian state, and the trampling of individual human rights and dignity.”

This note from the WSJ might help to put her departure from China into perspective:

“Foreign journalists are facing the worst environment in China in the past 20 years, said James McGregor, chairman of the U.S. government relations committee for the American Chamber of Commerce.

“Before, China used to try to influence foreign journalists. Now they’re trying to control them the same way they control local journalists, through intimidation. And it’s not going to work. You could kick out a foreign journalist every week and they’re still not going to produce propaganda for you,” said Mr. McGregor, who was an executive and journalist at Dow Jones & Co., publisher of The Wall Street Journal, until 2000.”

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Here is why Emirates is a tough airline for cabin crew to work in:

Flight from DXB to SYD – departs at 02.15.

So here is what a crew member has to do.

Start to prepare. 23.00
Depart for airport. 00.00
Crew briefing. 00.35
Onboard aircraft. 01.15
Flight time. 14 hours
Arrival Sydney. 16.30 (22.30 local)
Arrive hotel. 18.00 (00.00 local)

18 hours from home to Sydney hotel. Rest allocated to crew in crew rest area – 2 hours 50 minutes.

Note that flight deck rest is 6 hours.

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Life on Shaikh Zayed Road – The Gulf News reports that Last year, motorists racked up 714,894 fines for exceeding speed limits on Shaikh Zayed Road. That’s nearly 2,000 tickets a day or 81 an hour.

Obviously, they haven’t learnt anything. In the first three months of 2012, the heavy footed incurables have run up 210,128 tickets on this freeway – a 27 per cent jump from 165,074 between January and March last year.

I wonder how many of these fines are actually paid.

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Robert Amsterdam – lawyer to Thaksin and the UDD gave a speech on the 19th to the red shirts gathered for the 2nd anniversary of the deaths there – but his speech shows a real conflict of interest between Thaksin and red shirts on issue of “forgive and forget.”

In the end Thaksin is establishment – just new money rather than old. And the promises that he gave to the red shirt movement are empty words – he has sold them out for his own fortune.

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There but for the grace of god go the rest of us – note these were plain clothes policemen presumably in an unmarked car – aviation engineer failed to be acquitted for indecently gesturing in public at two plainclothes policemen.

“The Dubai Court of Appeal upheld a six-month suspended jail term against the 59-year-old French engineer, D.M., and convicted him of flashing his middle finger in the faces of two Emirati policemen while driving on Business Bay Bridge.

When D.M. appeared before the appellate court, he pleaded innocent. The accused sought to be acquitted. The court rejected his appeal and confirmed the primary judgement. The defendant also faces a deportation order.”

20 May 2012

Well done Chelski. Winners of the European Championship after penalties last night in Munich.

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Libya’s Lockerbie bomber Al-Megrahi has died, 3 years after being released from Scottish prison.

He takes the answers of who really downed the Pan Am flight to his grave.

18 May 2012

Good job from Andrew Strauss with a test century against the West Indies.

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Great comment from Michael Holding on IPL cricket and the lure the of the $$$$ “You can’t take national pride to the supermarket”

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I was wrong. Jessica Sanchez makes the final.

17 May 2012

American Idol latest – down to three and I think it will be Jessica that goes – leaving the two guys in the final….actually at this point I dont care – for the last three in the contest – they are all good but nothing that makes me jump up and say that I want more.

16 May 2012

The England squad for the Euro championship in Ukraine and Poland next month (under Roy Hodgson) is:

Goalkeepers: Joe Hart (Man City), Rob Green (West Ham), John Ruddy (Norwich)

Defenders: Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Phil Jones (Man United), John Terry (Chelsea), Joleon Lescott (Man City), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Ashley Cole (Chelsea), Leighton Baines (Everton)

Midfielders: Theo Walcott (Arsenal), Stewart Downing (Liverpool), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Gareth Barry (Man City), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), Scott Parker (Tottenham), Ashley Young (Man United), James Milner (Man City)

Forwards: Wayne Rooney (Man United), Danny Welbeck (Man United), Andy Carroll (Liverpool), Jermain Defoe (Tottenham)

Standby players: Jack Butland (Birmingham), Adam Johnson (Man City), Daniel Sturridge (Chelsea), Phil Jagielka (Everton), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool).

Summary – pray that Hart is not injured; solid at the back; too many holding midfielders; not enough pace and creativity and limited options up front where Rooney is suspended for the first two group games.

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The President of the USA met David Beckham and the LA Galaxy team yesterday and said: “He is tough. It is a rare man who can be that tough on the field and also have his own line of underwear. David Beckham is that man.’

He really does need his own talk show!

15 May 2012

Acts of God: Hollande’s plane turns back to Paris after being hit by lightening en route to Berlin – Presidential source

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Only four more episodes of this season of Mad Men. It does seem that 13 episodes are simply not enough to fully develop a story line that has sp many characters; it means that some people’s story simply does not get told….Joan is badly under-used – and has one of the biggest secrets to tell. Peggy is treading water.  Betty’s I am fat is wearing thin (sorry!). Don is mopeing. And whatever happened to the admin partner who since his fight with Pete has simply disappeared. Too many loose ends.

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True Blood season 5 will premiere on HBO at 9/8c on Sunday, June 10, 2012.

Season 5 will pick up right where season 4 left off, with Sookie holding Tara in the kitchen.

Who’s returning?

Characters who are confirmed for season 5 include: Sookie, Bill, Eric, Alcide, Lafayette, Arlene, Terry, Jessica, Hoyt, Sam, Jason, Pam, Tara and Patrick.

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Is facebook really worth north of US$100 billion. I worry about its long term future – Alex’s generation are not using it; so it has become an occasional outlet for middle aged folks like me – but if it disappeared tomorrow would I be sad – not really.

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Good news. She was putting newspaper sales above common decency and a trial is needed: Rebekah Brooks, a former chief executive of Rupert Murdoch’s British newspaper arm, has been charged with perverting the course of justice over a phone hacking scandal at one of the media mogul’s papers, British prosecutors said on Tuesday.

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There is another interview with Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths where he tries to make sense of growing DXB while delaying the new airport for fifteen years.

This was the strangest of his comments: As for congestion, Griffiths plays down the existing problems highlighted by the media, but makes clear the company’s intentions to come up with a plan. “First of all there is a very limited problem,” he says. “Of course holding delays are undesirable both from a passenger perspective and a fuel consumption perspective, but they are unfortunately part of life at most busy airports around the world. Dubai has largely escaped them up to now, and at the moment they are of a very limited impact to a small number of people.”

So in response I posted the following which I am sure will get no reaction at all….

Mr Griffiths must sleep very early as he may not have seen the late night arrivals rush hour at DXB. To describe this as a very limited problem is badly understated. From about 11.30pm to 1.00am there are planes going in circles to the north west of DXB over the sea, to the north of Dubai over RAK and to the east of Dubai over Fujairah. It is not much better between 5am and 7am in the morning. Sometimes flights simply move from one hold to the next. Add just an element of poor weather and the delays get worse. The trouble is DXB only allows a single runway for landing (12L or 30L). At peak arrivals times there are very few planes departing so the second runway is largely unused.

It is the same for departures – at peak times flights are regularly held and again only one runway is in use – there are very few arrivals in the peak departure times (that is the nature of a hub operation).

The issue is not just DXB, but is the availability of airways across the region and also the growing use of other airports in the UAE. But to grow DXB capacity from 51 million to 90 million in 6 years probably requires at least 60% more airplane movements.

One obvious solution is to move flydubai to DWC – freeing up peak time landing and departure slots at DXB for Emirates growth – but a) flydubai dont want to move and b) many flydubai routes do provide connecting passengers to Emirates. At a minimum all the bizjet traffic, Netjets, Execujet etc and charter carriers such as Eastern Skyjets and National Air Service will presumably need to move soon.

As for connections between DXB and DWC a metro service is unlikely – but a frequent express bus will be a must.

The worst thing that could happen is that lack of space at DXB slows down EK’s growth. The new Doha airport will open for business on 12/12/2012 – that will be a massive upgrade from the current facility and could be a regional game changer…..

14 May 2012

The capacity for football to entertain, amaze and break hearts was never displayed better than yesterday – here is Paul Merson losing it on Sky:

13 May 2012

Paul Kruman in the New York Times on the potential crash of the Euro:

“Some of us have been talking it over, and here’s what we think the end game looks like:

1. Greek euro exit, very possibly next month.

2. Huge withdrawals from Spanish and Italian banks, as depositors try to move their money to Germany.

3a. Maybe, just possibly, de facto controls, with banks forbidden to transfer deposits out of country and limits on cash withdrawals.

3b. Alternatively, or maybe in tandem, huge draws on ECB credit to keep the banks from collapsing.

4a. Germany has a choice. Accept huge indirect public claims on Italy and Spain, plus a drastic revision of strategy — basically, to give Spain in particular any hope you need both guarantees on its debt to hold borrowing costs down and a higher eurozone inflation target to make relative price adjustment possible; or:

4b. End of the euro.

And we’re talking about months, not years, for this to play out.”

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This news item leaves me feeling very depressed:

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and an entourage of about 50 businessmen left for Bahrain Sunday for a visit between May 13-15.

They departed on a special Thai Airways International flight at 12.50pm for Manama airport where the prime minister will be received by her Bahraini counterpart HH Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa.

Ms Yingluck said before leaving she had invited Thai businessmen to join her on the visit for talks with their Bahraini counterparts on a number of issues including trade, investment, construction, finance, energy and security.

One nation that oppresses freedom of speech visits another – they are strange but maybe unsurprising bedfellows. They deserve eachother. Sadly.

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Meanwhile on an Emirates forum a frequent traveler writes: “So, all this hype about new beginnings etc. and lots of new and exciting changes, no, same old same, dodgy equipment, variable crews, and nobody too interested in making it better. “

Nails it.

10 May 2012

Old Jokes Home

Q: How do you approach an angry Welsh cheese?
A: Caerphilly.

9 May 2012

Jake Needham in a tweet to me today “ALL life is in the editing, and none of us really want anybody to see the parts that we’ve cut…”

He may well be right!

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A6-EGP is on delivery today from Boeing’s Paine Field (KPAE) to Dubai (OMDB) carrying callsign UAE/EK777 -EGP is estimated to land at Dubai (OMDB) at approximately 19:30 GST.

8 May 2012

Emirates has further postponed planned Airbus A380 service resumption on flights to Johannesburg and Seoul Incheon. Also, planned 4th Daily A380 to London Heathrow is also pushed back as well.

Details:

Dubai – Johannesburg EK761/762 A380 resumes operation from 11JUN12 (Previously planned eff 01JUN12)
Dubai – London Heathrow 4th Daily A380 service on EK029/030, to start from 01JUL12 (further postponed from planned 01JUN12)
Dubai – Seoul Incheon A380 resumes operation from 01JUN12 (Previously planned eff 01MAY12)

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It has been a while since Dubai announced outrageous projects – so it should not be a surprise that we are starting again.

The latest is an underwater hotel.

You have to pray that the hotel is constructed to better quality that many of Dubai’s newer apartments or people will be having a very wet night.

7 May 2012

Changing times? And bad news for conservatives and proponents of austerity across Europe. Sarkozy loses the presidential vote in France and becomes the first French President to be removed after one term since Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, in 1981.

3 May 2012

THAI Airways’ newest lower-cost venture, Thai Smile Air (www.thaismileair.com) is scheduled to make its inaugural flight on Jul 7 to its first (and currently its only) destination—Macau. Meant to compete with regional giant Air Asia, Thai Smile Air’s introductory prices to the gambling island start from B6,230 roundtrip, inclusive of taxes and surcharge.

Thai Smile Air (TSA??) will provide a snack box for every passenger.

Thai Smile Air will start flying to Krabi and Suratthani in August, and Phuket and Chiang Mai in September.

2 May 2012

Rumours – Emirates is apparently refusing anymore A380 deliveries. At least for the moment. Why? The issue of compensation for down time due to the wing root problems has not been resolved.

1 May 2012

Mad Men – reviewed here – and still the best show on tv: this is from the review of episode 6.

“While other shows would be hard pressed to find enough revelation and drama in those events to make for a really satisfying hour of television, Mad Men operates something like a pair of compasses, the fractional movement of one arm creating wide, sweeping curves at the other. Don’s in-laws didn’t just come to visit, they came to spit at his bourgeois achievements and er, spit out something else altogether. Megan didn’t only save an account, she took a step forward in the trail blazed by women like Peggy in the workplace, albeit diffidently. Peggy didn’t just move in with her boyfriend, she joined a generation that rejected accepted norms. And finally, that wasn’t just a fancy party, it was a really fancy party, in what Sally discovers is a really dirty city.”

Emirates stuff:

AviationReporter.com takes a tour of the Emirates training centre. His report is here – and a larger collection of pictures are here.

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So Manchester City beat Manchester United 1-0 at the Etihad last night. That is the league double over an ageing United side and suggests a power shift in Manchester that could be long term unless Unites find some new investors with deep pockets.

If Man City win their last two matches the premiership is theirs. Though do not expect Newcastle to make it easy for them on Sunday.

For Etihad this was remarkable publicity – the match commentator said that the match was being shown live in 212 countries around the world. Which starts to make their investment look very good value indeed.

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Tai is on standby at the moment – always a strange few days – when she is on airport standby I do not know if she will be home in 4 hours or 7 days and on home standby we are waiting 6 or 8 hours for the phone to ring !

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This is why I do not place bets – here are my footie predictions from last August –

“So with the Premiership starting next weekend it is time to get out the crystal ball.

Champions: Manchester United
Second: Chelsea
Third: Man City
Fourth: Liverpool
Fifth: Arsenal

Relegated: Norwich, Swansea and Aston Villa.

Promoted from the Championship (honestly – who knows – this is the hardest division of all to get out of – upwards at least) – Leicester City, Leeds and Ipswich in that order. Ipswich through the play-offs. Come back here in May and see whether I am even close.”

Yes – not even close !

28 April 2012

Obama; “I had more material but gotta get the secret service home in time for their new curfew”

POTUS has some great scriptwriters.

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The A180 strikes again – this one is an SQ A380 returning to base – Singapore A388 over Andaman Islands on Apr 26th 2012, navigation system problems

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Scoot – the daftly named Singapore LCC – has moved forward its launch date from June 26 to June 4 when it will now operate its inaugural flight between Singapore Changi International (SIN) and Sydney Kingsford Smith (SYD).

27 April 2012

Gamblers spent $33.5 billion in Macau last year; by comparison, Las Vegas took in $6 billion. Wow. New York Times report.

Presumably the only threat to Macau’s gambling growth is that China can turn off the tap at any time…..unlikely now – too much invested.

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Wide awake by 2.30am – jet lag is really thumping me after this trip – am sure I will be sleeping at lunchtime again!

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As the Leveson enquiry meanders on this line in a Guardian commentary by Martina Hyde sums up everything rather nicely “Blaming Murdoch for attempting to influence policy in his commercial favour is like disagreeing with gravity.”

25 April 2012

Hallo folks. I am back in Dubai and have not been deliberately ignoring this page. But it is hard to spend much time on the web site while driving 2,000 miles across the USA.

I did manage to keep a diary of our travels. And that is here at Tales from the Road.

16 April 2012

Alain de Botton: “Rather than ‘love at first sight’, one should say, They look promising and I’ll know properly in about 20 years time…”

Romance in a single tweet !

14 April 2012

We should be on our way to Houston as I type this – but the new Emirates slogan – hello tomorrow – appears to mean that we also have to fly tomorrow.

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So Liverpool make it to the FA Cup semi final – 2-1 over Everton. And this is just one comment from the Guardian’s readers which summarises things rather well:

“This is a sad day for football. I think we’ve all seen and heard way too much about Liverpool already this season, and now they have another chance at ‘success’, yet more press coverage and potentially further reward for what has been at times a disgraceful season for them. This only fuels the sense of entitlement and bragging (where there should be none) of a particularly blinkered set of fans (on the whole – apologies to the non-blinkered), and serves to distort the true level of the club and the way it has both played and behaved this season. I feel for Evertonians whose club operates in the right spirit and deserved much better than this very cruel result, and I very much hope either Spurs or Chelsea have the legs left by the final to absolutely crush Liverpool.”

13 April 2012

American Idol update time with a show that is proving that Asian American’s still do not compete on an equal footing and cannot win the competition.

Mind you Ms Sanchez’s song choices have been terrible – she sings for the judges not for the voters – big mistake….

The judges got a bit wound up over this one – and used their one save on her. Made for a bit of drama.

Jessica Sanchez can sing – but someone needs to work on her image and her song choices…..

Am sure the other six that are left in the competition would have been very happy to see her leave.

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Weird Dubai weather – sandstorms continuing – and watch out for Thunderstorms / Rain Saturday Eve and Sunday in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and other parts of UAE. Prediction is 40-50%

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It only took 2 years for Dubai’s RTA to do the blindingly obvious: Now you can carry up to 2suitcases with you on Dubai Metro.You can keep them in the dedicated luggage area which can be found in every cabin.

The metro line stops at both terminals 1 and 3. But previously you could not take luggage on the train!

12 April 2012

Qantas’ final repair bill for the Airbus A380 damaged in Singapore in 2010 will be A$139 million ($143.3 million), more than one-third the list price for a new aircraft.

The aircraft, VH-OQA is set to fly from Singapore to Sydney on April 21, with revenue service resuming later in the month, says the Australian operator. The repaired aircraft currently is undergoing final tests.

VH-OQA suffered an uncontained engine failure after takeoff from Singapore on Nov. 4, 2010, resulting in major damage. The A380 made an emergency landing and has been grounded for repair ever since.

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Angela Merkel arrives at passport control
at Athens Airport.
“Nationality?” asks the Immigration officer.
“German,” she replies.
“Occupation?” he asks.
“No, just visiting for a few days.”

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First game of golf for about a month yesterday – Al Hamra is in lovely condition (except for baked hard bunkers) – my game is not in such a good condition….

10 April 2012

Talksport tweet : “Martin Atkinson saw the Ballotelli foul on Song and gave nothing, so no retrospective action can be taken. Atkinson should never ref again.”

Exactly – incompetent referees are tolerated far too easily.

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From Business Traveller in the UK there are reports that Emirates wants to fly its A380s in and out of Heathrow during current 1am-4am curfew. No word as yet from airline.

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Kenny Dalglish will blame everyine but himself for Liverpool’s problems but like it or not the team is in a mess. And if his name was not Dalglish he would have been fired long ago – actually if his name was not Dalglish he would never have been appointed – Roy Hodgson had a short tortured time on Merseyside but under him Liverpool did win six of their 10 matches at Anfield. This season, Dalglish, a man who is idolised rather than treated with indifferent contempt by the Kop – which was Hodgson’s lot – has overseen just five home victories in 16 attempts. That is not unlucky, that is awful.

9 April 2012

Sony Corp. will cut its global workforce by about 10,000, or 6 percent of its entire workforce, by as early as the end of 2012. Ouch.

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Hubba Bubba Watson wins the Masters in Augusta.

8 April 2012

Happy Easter to all who celebrate the day with family and friends.

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At HKG airport but may or may not get on the delayed CX731 to Dubai this afternoon.

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Two new films in HKG with interesting titles – love in the buff – love actually….sucks !

Have to be careful with the first one – with the font they used I was sure it said something else !

7 April 2012

This will be tough: Ramadan in 2012 will start on Friday, the 20th of July and will continue for 30 days until Saturday, the 18th of August.

The hottest part of the year and almost the longest days of the year. Have the greatest respect for those who fast and show restraint during Ramadan.

One side note – that is about the same time as Modesch appears for the Dubai Summer Surprises so I am sure that will need to be retimed this year.

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Almost six hour rounds of golf at the Masters on Friday. Too long and too slow. And these guys hit it straight and have caddies and markers to find their balls.

No round of golf should ever take more than 3 and 1/2 hours.

6 April 2012

In Hong Kong for the weekend. And it has rained for 24 hours since I arrived.

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Are you missing whacky Thailand? Try this Songkran Road Safety Music Video of the Dancing Female Thai Traffic Cops:

3 April 2012

Many congratulations to Marko and Sumittra – who delivered their first child, a son, Jake, yesterday. Everyone is doing well and Jake is a very healthy baby!

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Strawberry Frog calls itself the world’s first Cultural Movement agency. What in this world does that mean?

It is an advertising agency.

It is Emirates’ advertising agency.

It dreamed up the Hello Tomorrow campaign – and filled Emirates with meaningless corporate speak that is arrogant and paints a target on Emirates’ back.

31 March 2012

One letter removed from Emirates new advertisng campaign and you have “Hell Tomorrow” – which sums up 3-4-3 in economy !

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From PPT – and may as well quote it in full – as this was a farce – and everyone connected with it – in particular Abhisit and Suthep should be hugely embarrassed.

“The Nation reports that the Department of Special Investigation is “expected to conclude before Songkran its investigation of an alleged conspiracy to topple the monarchy, and recommend that the case be dropped for lack of evidence.”

That there is a “lack of evidence” and “unclear evidence” should be a damning criticism of Abhisit Vejjajiva, Suthep Thaugsuban, the Centre for Resolution of the Emergency Situations, and the military brass who shouted so loudly that there was a Thaksin Shinawatra-red shirt republican plot to overthrow the monarchy (ล่มเจ้า).

The “evidence” submitted by these royalists, who seeking to destroy others with rash and politically-charged accusations of “disloyalty,” was based on little more than circulated yellow shirt conspiracy theories and politically-motivated fabrications.

PPT has long pointed out that the Democrat Party-led coalition government, put in place by the military and elite, traded in lies and fabrications.”

30 March 2012

Caught up with the first episode of the new 5th series of Mad Men yesterday – trouble is that when a show has been off air for 18 months it is hard to pick up your interest again.

The show has moved onto 1966 – and the season appears to be developing into a battle between the old world and the beatles generation –  basics first – Don has married Megan, Joan has had her baby, the civil rights movement is in full swing, Peggy can do the twist and is dating, Harry Crane has lost a ton of weight.

But there was too much time on characters that I really do not like: Roger Sterling is still a sleaze. But the old world clients still like him. Peggy is still ambitious. So is Pete. But he is a pain. Lane is a desperate husband and Joan is still indispensable. I wonder when the truth will be told about the father of her baby.

And Don? Well Don is calmer, nicer. His new wife is in his office and in his bed. And she can sing – ‘Zou Bisou Bisou.’

What is it with these French Canadian actresses taking over the best roles in Hollywood TV?

But Don will blow everything. He has to. It is his way.

But Megan is strong and modern. How she manages Don will be one of the storylines this season

At the end of the episode the civil rights movement had come to the company. There will be black secretaries hired – and how the office reacts to these new characters will be one of the stories of the season. An affair for Pete?

No sign of Betty yet – how will she fit into the the brave new world?

Perhaps the real star is the 1960s look and feel. Pete declares his office a no smoking zone. No line or passing look in the office hasn’t been thought through and considered. The music fits; the costumes and props are all 60s perfect.

It was not a great first episode – but it set up the series very neatly – and showed where power lies both in the homes and in the offices.

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The A380 repairs at Emirates are continuing – and continue to mess up the airline’s flying sechedules:

Dubai – Johannesburg EK761/762 till 15MAY12 Boeing 777-300ER replaces A380 (Previously planned until 30APR12)
Dubai – London Heathrow 4th Daily A380 service further postponed till 01JUN12 (previously planned until 30APR12)
EK029/030 A380 replaced by 777-300 until 24MAR12, 777-300ER from 25MAR12 to 31MAY12

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This is not going to be a recruiting campaign for US universities…..from Rolling Stone magazine….

Confessions of an Ivy League Frat Boy: Inside Dartmouth’s Hazing Abuses – A Dartmouth degree is a ticket to the top – but first you may have to get puked on by your drunken friends and wallow in human filth.

29 March 2012

EarthHour is a con. It is basically excuse for big companies to send press releases about how eco-friendly they are. ANd there are plenty such press releases across the UAE today. Trouble is Saturday evening (31st) is also the Dubai World Cup horse racing at Meydan – and they wont be racing that in the dark.

28 March 2012

Oh dear – a six-month prison sentence for two men who kissed in the street was yesterday upheld by the Abu Dhabi Appeals Court.

A lawyer for the two men – a German and an Indian – said the pair had simply been saying goodbye to each other and that the gesture was purely platonic.

Six months. Is that really necessary? And who would go to the trouble of reporting them…

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Emirates Airline’s (EK) dedicated Airbus A380 terminal at Dubai International (DXB) will open Jan. 1, 2013, Executive VP-passenger sales Thierry Antinori confirmed to ATW.

“At this new facility we can offer 20 A380 parking positions,” Antinori said. Emirates will take delivery of 11 A380s and 20 Boeing 777-300ERs this year.

25 March 2012

Mad Men is back tonight – with a two hour episode to start Series 5. Goody !

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Apparently Etihad went after the owners of PPrune demanding they release the details of everyone who posted some comments about the airline’s “grooming guide” for the pilots. It was reported in another forum that some pilots were fired and others threatened with prosecution….part of the settlement must have been that there would be no further posts concerning Etihad on the website.

24 March 2012

A6-EGO is flying now – the 1,000th 777 – it went to SIN and BNE on its first revenue flight at 02.45 on the 23rd – back to Dubai at 13.00 today – and off to Milan at 15.50.

23 March 2012

On Sunday night in Thailand the “Smiling Moon” is back. Venus & Jupiter with the crescent moon will make a smiling face.

21 March 2012

The widespread storm, which has laid a veil of fine dust across most of the GCC, will gradually clear off by tomorrow and temperatures will start to climb again, weather forecasters said yesterday.

It is pretty grim outside!

The first front that hit the area four days ago brought in sand and dust from Iraq and Kuwait. A second front causing low pressure later moved eastward, reaching south-eastern Iran and kicking up dust and sand on Monday that engulfed the northern region of the UAE and parts of Oman. For many it was the worst dust storm in recent years.

The National Centre of Meteorology and Seismology explained that the high amount of dust is a result of the nature of the land over which the wind passes through.

The storm creates severe visibility problems across the country, blocking sunlight and coating everything with a cover of orange-coloured fine dust.

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First it was Emirates/NBD – and the next bank to slash jobs in the Middle East is HSBC.

Staff at HSBC Middle East have received an email today announcing immediate company plans to implement redundancies, Arabian Business has learned.

Sources said the email did not specify the number of job cuts or in which departments they would occur, but recipients of the email included employees in wealth management.

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Speaking at the AviationoutlookMENA conference today Nok Air CEO @Patee122 said that “Pretty female flight attendants allowed for 15% fare increase.”

Which explains the airline’s recruitment programmes on TV – more beauty and talent show than airline safety awareness.

It is a very Thai approach to recruitment and operating an airline.

It may be honest but it says a lot about the role of women in Thailand.

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The next ASEAN summit is to be held in Cambodia on April 3 and 4. Thaksin was last heard of in Cambodia – coincidence?

20 March 2012

Earthquake in Mexico tonight – magnitude 7.4; epicenter in Ometepec – between Acapulco and Oaxaca big and shallow. Almost had my own earthquake in Oaxaca once – a long story.

It is the strongest earthquake to hit Mexico since a 7.8 magnitude quake in 1985, which killed thousands.

The quake, which struck at noon (CST), was felt as far south as Chile.

So far the reports indicate significant property damage but no fatalities.

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So I am walking back to the hotel on Ruam Rudee on Sunday night – I stop at the 7-11 and a group of kids come in – American and Thai  – Sir can you do us a big favour they ask – we are in a race doing a series of challenges – can you please stand there and hold this potato and let us take your picture…..

OK – bizarre! So somewhere online there is a picture of me in a 7-11 with a potato in my hand !

Amazing Thailand!

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Too hot though and far too humid. And I walked for miles on Saturday – and then into air conditioning – so have come back with a crappy cold.

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Thai Airways back to Dubai – they are not the airline that they used to be. Safety checks are especially weak.

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What is it about Arab travellers that they have to shout at eachother across the airline cabin – not just at the start of the flight but throughout it….if you want to talk to someone walk around the cabin to wear they are sitting and go and talk to them.

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Films watched on TG this month:

Johnny English Reborn.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
The Ides of March
The Double

18 March 2012

Al Nasr boss Walter Zenga has had to issue an apology for his remarks made after his side’s 1-0 loss to Dubai on Friday night.

Outspoken Italian coach Zenga claimed “everybody is crazy in this country” in reference to the UAE after hitting out at the match officials following his side’s shock home defeat to relegation threatened Dubai.

Why apologise !? I was not offended !

14 March 2012

In one of the ultimate signs of the times:

After 244 years reference book firm Encyclopaedia Britannica has decided to stop publishing its famous and weighty 32-volume print edition.

It will now focus on digital expansion amid rising competition from websites such as Wikipedia.

The firm, which used to sell its encyclopaedias door-to-door, now generates almost 85% its revenue from online sales.

It recently launched a digital version of its encyclopaedias for tablet PCs.

12 March 2012

Dubai is still not out of its financial crisis: Bloomberg reports today that Dubai’s Emirates NBD Said to Plan Cutting 15% of Workforce to Reduce Costs; The job cuts will affect about 500 to 700 employees across all departments and are likely to be carried out this month, said one of the people, declining to be identified because the information is private.

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Qatar’s natural gas and oil reserves are apparently worth ‘about $9.5 trillion’ – which is why this small and rather self conscious nation will be able to buy anything that it wants for a very very long time to come.

It is a strange quirk of history that the first industrial nations built the very machinery that they lack the fuel reserves to be able to operate cheaply in perpetuity; the very machines that will make their nations poor.

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Emirates will boost its operations in Italy this October as the airline adds a third daily flight to Rome. This will take the total number of flights offered to Italy to 56 weekly.

10 March 2012

Struggling Kingfisher is cancelling its flights from Mumbai and Bangalore to London Heathrow from April.

Assume the slots will be sold. Emirates may want these – at least a sixth daily to London is possible.

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Speculation on Fleet St has reached fever pitch this week that Kate’s done her duty, and that a royal baby announcement isn’t too far away.

9 March 2012

The Wall Street Journal noted today that Qantas Airways Ltd.’s talks with Malaysian Airline System Bhd. to establish a new premium carrier collapsed Friday, leaving the Flying Kangaroo with the same old problem: an international business that’s going nowhere…..

6 March 2012

Tai and I watched “The Iron Lady” tonight. Meryl Streep is uncanny as Margaret Thatcher. But the portrait is way to sympathetic – the script feels like a Daily Telegraph editorial.

Streep’s impersonation is remarkable – she captures Thatcher in pathetically touching old age and Thatcher in her political prime as party leader and world stateswoman.

There is too much time spent lingering on the ageing Thatcher- battling with questionable memories and the onset of dementia. These scenes are all fiction – we have no idea of how well or unwell Baroness Thatcher is. Meanwhile the film stumbles through 11 and 1/2 years of Thatcher’s premiership with hardly a note of regret.

I never liked her – I never will. And this appears to be a film that has been financed by the Tory party with the support of bankers’ bonuses. But Streep is remarkable.

3 March 2012

Good game of golf yesterday at Muang Kaew – but it was hot and humid and slow and exhausting.

Big thank you to Dennis – who I know enjoys it less than I do so I always appreciate his patience and willingness to head out with me.

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My old mobile phone was gone – together with the old BKK SIM number.

I would hate to say that someone took it from my hotel room – but that was the last time I remember seeing it or using it.

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Why do Thais always pretend that they understand something and then by their actions make it perfectly clear that they have no idea what you were talking about. This is especially true of hotel staff – and at Centrepoint they are no close to useless.

29 February 2012

Last day of the month and a once in four years leap year.

And I am back in BKK for the first time in seven months. Not much seems to have changed – a few new hotels; another mall; and ever worse traffic.

24 February 2012

A380 number 21 for Emirates (A6-EDU) arrrives today as flight EK7380.

The next #22 (A6-EDV) A380 will be delivered on March 29, 2012.

23 February 2012

Tonight’s most unusual flight:

  • Airline: Jet2
  • Flight: RT4702
  • From: Berlin, Tegel (TXL)
  • To: Ra’sal-Khaymah, Rasal-Khaymah (RKT)
  • Aircraft: Boeing 757-23A (B752)
  • Reg: G-LSAC
  • Hex: 400E4E
  • Altitude: 3275 ft (998 m)
  • Speed: 227 kt (420 km/h, 261 mph)
  • Track: 201°
  • Squawk: 1055
  • Pos: 25.5046 / 55.9975

So this is being flown as a RAK Airways charter by Jet2 based in the UK.

But it does explain the number of Germans staying at the hotels in RAK.

21 February 2012

Sky TV news are showing people heading to the Brit awards – don’t any of these people have real names?

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Dominique Strauss-Kahn is clearly a very naughty boy. Even with the French love of a good scandal this may be an orgy too many – his political career is surely over – his porn career may be just beginning !

19 February 2012

Saddest twitter message of the evening because it is so true: “In the Middle East we all know that repression is “acceptable” if it is practiced by a country that is friendly to the U.S.” – @SultanAlQassemi

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If you need a fix of Thai pop/karaoke – this youtube link takes you to a scary 143 songs.

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In other music news: Last night a seating section collapsed at a concert by Faye Wong in south-west China, injuring 64 people.

The state-run Beijing News said concertgoers suffered cuts, broken bones and head injuries after scaffolding behind the stage broke apart on Friday night. Those seated in the area fell about 1.5m to the concrete floor of the city of Chongqing’s Olympic stadium.

The paper said none of the injuries was life-threatening. The concert was rescheduled for tonight.

Question: why does Chongqing have an Olympic Stadium?

18 February 2012

There is something thoroughly depressing about the news channels all covering Whitney Houston’s funeral on Saturday night.

Such intrusion on a family’ sadness – this morbid interest in celebrity is desperately sad.

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The Guardian’s cricket page has a helpful commentary on the Dubai weather today:

The Shamal blows from the northwest across the sea, originating as a northerly in the northern Gulf (‘shamal’ just means ‘north’ in Arabic, y’see).

What we have had the last two days is a ‘Kaus’, which is far worse for sandstorms, being a vigorous south-easterly blow off of the desert. A bit more easterly and it would be the equally nasty Sharqi – Arabic for ‘east’. But before anyone gets the idea that Gulf winds are all so prosaically named, Kaus means ‘bow’. The Kaus does provide orifice-clogging unpleasantness.

17 February 2012

Tai has left me this week – for Rio and Buenos Aires. I went to Rio in January 2002 – that feels like a long time ago. It really is a great city.

I used to have a life where I traveled; made hard decisions and went to exotic places. What happened to that life.

Now I have ironing; washing up. While Tai is in BA the best I can do is a very drinkable Argentinian Chardonnay !

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Big sandstorm today – not a day where you go anywhere!

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So two nights in watching American Idol. It really is the American Dream condensed into a TV show. Very clever. And this series has potential.

***********************
Star Alliance member Singapore Airlines is scheduling FINAL Boeing 747-400 operation on 6th April 2012, where the carrier is to operate Singapore – Hong Kong service. The airline began Boeing 747 service in 1973.

The FINAL Boeing 747 flight is also marketed as a package tour, which include land packages in Singapore and/or Hong Kong. Passengers booking on First Class will also gain access for behind the scene tour at SQ’s cabin crew training facilities and well as flight simulator and SATS Catering Centre tour.

Reservation for FINAL Boeing 747 is on sale with following schedule:

SQ747 SIN0830 – 1315HKG 744
SQ748 HKG1445 – 1930SIN 744

16 February 2012

Old Jokes Home:

My wife has left me. She said to get her something black and lacy for Valentine’s Day.

So I got her football boots.

15 February 2012

Had a couple of nice days up in Ras Al Khaimah and Khasab. The Al Hamra Fort hotel is like a step back into the early 1990s. Big clean rooms; but so dated. And a buffet that makes school dinners appealing.

Khasab is a very different and very attractive place for a day away from the city.

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Tai meanwhile has gone to Rio and Buenos Aires for a five day trip. Lucky girl.

11 February 2012

Alex Ferguson proving today that he really does not have a clue what goes on off the football pitch:

“We’ve got to get our house in order in terms of fighting racism. It’s an important issue in this country. Football’s come a long way from the days of John Barnes when they were throwing bananas at him to where we are today. We can’t go back. We have to go forward in a positive way and ban it altogether.”

Football has not come a long way – in 30 years it has gone no where….

And it was not just Barnsie…

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Already awarded the 2022 World Cup Qatar now wants the 2020 Olympics:

Doha is competing against five other cities for the right to host the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games alongside Baku, Istanbul, Madrid, Rome and Tokyo.

The IOC will select candidate cities in May and the 2020 host city will be selected in Buenos Aires in September 2013.

With the population of the Middle East expected to reach 700m by the end of the decade, Qatari athletes will accompany Doha 2020 to submit the official applicant file on February 14 in Lausanne Switzerland.

Rome and Tokyo hosted the games in 1960 and 1964. Barcelona hosted the 1992 games in Spain.

Doha has the money – the games have never been held in the Middle East. Istanbul should be another strong contender.

9 February 2012

Fabio Capello has resigned as England manager, the Football Association has confirmed. Another Italian leaving a sinking ship!

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Thai Air Asia from 23MAR12 launches Bangkok – Chongqing Service.

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Spent the day following Tom Lewis around the Emirates Golf Club in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. It was a case of the old and the new from the European Tour as Tom was playing with this year’s Ryder Cup captain – Jose-Maria Olazabal.

Tom started with a birdie on 10 – and was three under after 5 holes. But bogeys on 4 and 7, two straightforward par 3s meant he finished at two under. It could have been so much better.

Tom still wants to attack every pin. But in Dubai some of the pin placements are barely on the green. Sometimes it would be better to be seek safety on the green.

8 February 2012

EVA’s Hello Kitty jets: Cutest airplanes ever.

Emirates needs a Modesh themed jet ! And crew dressed appropriately!

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The 13th edition of Dubai Airshow will be held from November 17, 2013, to November 21, 2013, at Dubai World Central.

I will miss the old showground at DXB. It was the only time you could enjoy all the commercial operations at the airport as a part of the show.

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Be very careful what you say and who you say it in front of: 7Days reports today that a British engineer has lost his appeal for insulting Islam after he used a derogatory word to ask co-workers when they would be finished building mosques in Abu Dhabi. Yesterday Abu Dhabi Appeal Court ruled that the one-month jail sentence would stand. The engineer, who was working for the parks and recreations section of Abu Dhabi Municipality, had said he merely made the comment during the meeting as he was keen to finish designing a mosque garden.

The court heard he loudly asked colleagues the question, inserting a blasphemous word before saying ‘mosque’. One of his colleagues then complained to police. The man had previously told the lower court that he did not intend to insult Muslims and was merely emphasising his words to show how keen he was to finish the project. He added that he respected the UAE and Islam and never intended to show disrespect to the mosque on which he was working.

He was appealing the one-month sentence imposed by the Abu Dhabi Court of Misdemeanours.

The British culture of using a swear word every other word simply does not work here. The fact that the BBC has institutionalised the use of the f word in all its programming does not help….maybe with the exception of “The Archers”!

7 February 2012

If the UN tried to pass a resolution for regime change in Bahrain I assume that Britain and US would veto it. Syria is Russia’s Bahrain?

Syria – Why Russia Says No

6 February 2012

Well done Pakistan: The Guardian OBO summarised their win: Pakistan have recovered with exceptional dignity and style from the spot-fixing trauma to add another improbable chapter to the story of the most interesting team in the history of all sport.

England were outplayed in all three tests. And here in Dubai in the third test England they bowled Pakistan out for 99 and still managed to lose the test….

5 February 2012

China & Russia will use their veto power against UN resolution on Syria.

When there is a regime change in Syria – as there inevitably will be – the Syrian people will remember those that helped them and will resent those that supported Assad’s vicious regime….

3 February 2012

Hungarian flag carrier Malév has been grounded after almost 66 years of operations. The airline’s board has decided to order the grounding.

Ryanair is to open a new four aircraft base at Budapest Airport from 17FEB12 following the collapse of Malev earlier today.

Wizz Air will increase Budapest-based fleet from three to five aircraft and increase weekly flights from 67 to 129 following Malev closure.

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Third test underway in Dubai – and it is a mess – Pakistan bowled out for 99 and England ending the day on 104 for 6.

So much for a five day test match – this could almost be all over by tomorrow night – it certainly wont go past three days.

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There have been 35 LBWs in the ten innings we have seen so far in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, more than in the entirety of any other three-match Test series in history.

2 February 2012

Simple twitter guide : Do be useful. Do be novel. Do be compelling. Do not, under any circumstances, be boring.

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Thai education fail factor – this is from a facebook update today:

“Kasetsart University. Time flies, almost 5 years+ since I graduate. Thank you for the best educations!!!”

English grammar was not on the curriculum !

1 February 2012

Emirates still appears to be struggling to define its social media roles – after months of recruitment there is another job advertisement placed yesterday for a social media controller:

“We are looking for a Social Media Specialist who will implement the social media strategy of the Emirates Group to ensure that social media is leveraged as a recognised and valued component of the integrated marketing mix in support of Emirates Group brands and business objectives. Collaborate across departments to support and protect our brand by making sure that consistent messaging is maintained and coordinate all client interactions.

Establish a social media community and develop sound relationships with all stakeholders in Corporate Communications, the business, suppliers and other identified target groups to proactively manage issues as they arise in collaboration with the Social Media Manager and Manager of Public Relations.”

At the moment Emirates has no official twitter or facebook account.

31 January 2012

Latest Emirates rumour is that the airline is also expected to introduce flights to Chicago and Taipei during the second half of 2012 and announcements confirming these two new routes are expected in the coming weeks.

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Golf today at Al Hamra. Driver is beginning to work and getting some good distance – but my irons were horrible and my short game ugly – one day it will all come together at the same time!

29 January 2012

Thongchai Jaidee failed to make the cut in the Abu Dhabi HSBC golf – with opening rounds of 78 and 69….lets hope he brings his better for to Dubai in two weeks time.

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Meanwhile I will be making my European Tour debut tomorrow in the Emirates Invitational Pro Am at Yas Links in Abu Dhabi – but only as a caddy. Look at for me – 11.20 tee time.

Should be great fun. No idea who I am caddying for or who we will be playing with.

www.emiratesinvitational.com

26 January 2012

This was never a good idea in the first place: “In a four-month period where Dubai police offered 30 per cent to 40 per cent discounts on payment of traffic fines, road fatalities rose by 28 per cent on the previous year. “When we reduced traffic fines, many people saw it as an opportunity to commit more traffic offences, and they came to think that we did not care,” Dubai’s traffic chief told Abu Dhabi daily The National – vowing not to offer the discounts again.”

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The classic American rock group the Eagles will perform their large catalogue of hits at The Sevens Stadium in Dubai on April 12.

The Hotel California hit-makers are on an extended world tour celebrating the group’s 40th anniversary. When news of the tour first broke last year, the guitarist Joe Walsh told Rolling Stone magazine the shows would feature visuals as well as archived footage of the band’s early years. Tickets go on sale next Wednesday at 9am through various online ticketing outlets. Meanwhile you can register for pre-sale information at www.­eaglesdubai.com.

Given that their LP “One of these nights” was one of my first four records ever – and that was while I was at school these guys are getting on a bit !

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The Dubai Marathon is tomorrow – but arrangements are a bit farcical – Organisers told race participants that footbridges on Burj Khalifa/Dubai Mall metro station and Business Bay metro station will open early, even though the metro does not operate until 2pm on Fridays. Participants can park in Al Wasl and walk over Sheikh Zayed Road to the starting line. Organisers also strongly advised competitors to take taxis to avoid delays looking for parking.

The walk across the Burj Khalifa metro to the start line at the pavilion is long – and through the downtown building site.

So you walk a marathon before you run a marathon!

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EK has just announced flights to Barcelona, starting July 03 with 3-class B77W: details are:

EK0185 DXB BCN 0655 1200 B77W
EK0186 BCN DXB 1640 0100+1 B77W

The early departure time has been dictated by increasing congestion issues in the early departure bank.

Note that the airplane then sits in Barcelona for over four hours. Again the late return is probably to avoid adding to the midnight congestion.

EK is also adding a second daily Madrid flight from July 01. Both MAD flights to operate with B77W: the two daily flights are:

EK0141 DXB MAD 0750 1345 B77W
EK0142 MAD DXB 1525 0040+1 B77W

EK0143 DXB MAD 1425 2020 B77W
EK0144 MAD DXB 2210 0715+1 B77W

25 January 2012

I got my worst ever thumping in the golf course today – in 40 years. Truly awful. 9 and 8. I could not even hold the putter for the first ten holes. I three-putted the first hole from 5 feet including missing from 9 unches. It was horrible. And however good the rest of the game is when you cant even hold the putter it is miserably demoralising.

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What on earth is Norwegian Air Shuttle going to do with 222 Boeing and Airbus airliners – ambitious; but realistic?

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Sign at the Zayed stadium; “dress code is very simple, just keep your clothes on.”

Well done Abu Dhabi – there was more flesh on show at Dubai#s cricket ground than there is at Jumairah Beach – and it was not attractive.

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Ex England cricketer and now commentator sums up Abu Dhabi in a single tweet:  “Never heard anything as daft in my life Can’t have a bet but overrun with hookers !”

24 January 2012

Great headline: “British Singer Bryan Ferry, 66, Weds Son’s Ex-Girlfriend, 29”

Bryan Ferry, 66, and former publicist Amanda Sheppard, 29, were married earlier this month in an island ceremony at the Amanyara resort on the Turks and Caicos.

Sheppard, who is 37 years Ferry’s junior, was briefly involved with the singer’s son Isaac Ferry, now 26, before hooking up with Dad.

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The ultimate out of touch US Presidential candidate: The median gross income in the USA in 2010 was $33,048. Mitt Romney makes that in a day.

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Assistant manager David Platt defending Balotteli is nonsense – he will get a four match ban – and if they call for a hearing he will waste the FA’s time and get 5 games. It was unpleasant.

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As for Harry Redknapp – the man everyone seems to think will get the England job will have to do so from behind bars.

He set up an undisclosed Monaco bank account using the name of his dog and had his bung money (share of the gain on transfer fees) paid into this account and not declared to the inland revenue. Naughty boy. Now he cannot be the only high profile sports person to have done something like that but his problem is that he was caught and today is the second day of his two week trial.

It will be very interesting to know what his defence is.

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How bad are Dubai’s finances: Today’s news is a good example that things are far from resolved: Reuters:  Dubai’s Zabeel Investments’ $1.6 billion debt talks.

23 January 2012

More on the Concordia:

“The salute wasn’t always done, but fairly often,” said a second officer, Alberto Fiorito. “I am sure it had been done the last three times the ship sailed from Civitavecchia to Savona.” The CEO of cruise company Costa Crociere has insisted that such salutes were rare.

CEO does not have a clue or is being deliberately evasive.

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Kung Hei fat Choy – Happy New Year.

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Interesting tweet from Kevin Pieterson, the England cricketer – “Wow, the contrast!! Dubai as oppose to Abu Dhabi.. Construction actually taking place in AD. Is Dubai on its last legs??”

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Meteorologists recorded a low of -0.2 degrees C on the mountain range of Jebel Jais in Ras al Khaimah at 1.30am yesterday morning.

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Meanwhile from England commentator David Lloyd – “It’s ONLY cricket ! Some folk on here are so nasty and vindictive and fanatical ! Have a cup of tea and relax ! It’s ONLY cricket!”

He is right – it is hard to know why some people stay on twitter given the abuse that the get – I see some of the messages directed at Michael Vaughan – ex England captain and at David Lloyd. They are vicious. Sadly most of them come from India and they are full of hate; not of reasoned debate.

And these are messages from people who will never have the talent or credibility of the people that they are abusing. They must get some sort of ego boost from being able to send vileness to sports celebrities. Very unpleasant.

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Who ?  Sunny Airways plans to start 1 weekly Bangkok – Sharjah – Frankfurt service shortly…

HS-KOA is their sole 767-200.

Another hopeless Thai outfit following in a near fraudulent tradition of cheap, failed carriers – such as Thai Pacific and Phuket Air.

Sunny was due to start flying last May; then it was August. According to PPRUNE the company “employed” three highly experienced ex-VIVA MACAU Captains to set up manuals etc etc for issue of AOC by Thai DCA, then after all the work was done, were “dumped” without being paid a cent!.

The Thai DCA needs to better regulate some of these dubious operators – they harm the country.

22 January 2012

“Balotelli has kicked Scott Parker in the head purposely. He’s back-heeled him in the head. I don’t know why you would do that on a football pitch. It’s there for everybody to see.”
Harry Redknapp – Spurs Manager

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Happy birthday to my Mum!

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Magrudy’s in Dubai Festival City has closed. So has the one in Deira City Centre,

The Festival City sit was large but was on the top floor of the mall with no passing footfall.

SIgn of the times.

21 January 2012

There is a q and a with Watford’s owner in this week’s Watford Observer. This question and answer hardly fills the fans with confidence:

Q: Where did you, and do you acquire, your financial resources from to purchase the club and continue your financial support for the club?

A: That’s a private matter. It’s my money.

And this is interesting:

Q: What is your biggest surprise since taking over at Watford? – Adrian Patterson

A: Just how much skull-duggery goes on in the industry. What I mean by that is the sheer number of people looking to attach themselves to football to make thousands of pounds for themselves without a care about who they hurt in trying to do so.

Is he just another one making a buck?

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Get this: China Southern CEO predicts one million Chinese citizens will visit Australia per year by 2020 for business and leisure.”

If you are in the Aussie tourism and MICE business then this is a number that you need to think about !

19 January 2012

Update on the Costa Concordia: Eleven passengers and crew are known to have died, and 21 are still not accounted for. The captain remains under house arrest.

18 January 2012

England were badly beaten by Pakistan today – by 10 wickets and in three days.

Here is the Guardian report on today’s play.

And a note from the OBO which sums the match up neatly:

“As depressing as the result is for an English supporter,” writes Peter Davies. “The world is very much a better place with a Pakistan team playing with such an attractive combination of flair and focus. Their fans have had a lot to deal with recently, so hats off all round.”

16 January 2012

Tai is making her debut in Dublin tonight – be nice to her.

It did mean a 4.15am start today – and an excuse to visit Dubai Creek before dawn. Cool, quiet, very different.

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Lebanese-Swedish suspect charged w/ having explosive chemicals linked to terror plot after substances found at building in Samut Sakhon:MCOT

This is presumably the same suspect that was reported as not being charged and was to be deported a couple of days ago.

There has not yet been one convincing coherent or clear statement from the Thai government and police.

Now the Thai authorities are upset with the US Embassy for raising what the Thais argue was a false and damaging alarm.

There are even protests planned for outside the US Embassy.

I am sorry for my almost adopted country – but I would take a warning from the US Embassy as being far more reliable than any statement from Thai officials all seeking either to save face or earn favour.

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Three notable winners at the Golden Globes today:

Best Miniseries or Movie: “Downton Abbey (Masterpiece),” PBS.

Best Actress, Miniseries or Movie: Kate Winslet, “Mildred Pierce.”

Best Actor, Miniseries or Movie: Idris Elba, “Luther”

14 January 2012

This makes no sense:

“Thai police chief says detained Lebanese man admits planning attack in Bangkok; will be deported without charge (MCOT)”

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KPAM radio feature on Emirates Cabin Crew Training (can’t buy this sort of publicity) EK as the new Pan Am? http://youtu.be/U2aQGiq3B5Q

13 January 2012

A real BKK mess – now Thai police urged residents to look for a suspect of Middle-eastern origin on Khao Sarn Road, Rambutri Road and Sukhumvit Soi 22.

They will be arresting thousands….. Weirder and weirder.

And they arent looking for suspects on Sukhumvit soi 3 and 5

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A380 production plans….

EK will accepted 11 A380 deliveries in 2012. The registration numbers are A6-EDU,V,W,X,Y,Z and A6-EEA,B,C,D,E.

EK will then take 13 A380 delivery is coming in year of 2013 and the registration number is A6-EEF,G,H,I,J,K,L,M,N,O,P,Q,R.

On 24th February EK takes its 21st A380 – A6-EDU...this will be used for the fourth daily LHR A380 (25th March)

Then in Q2: A6-EDV…this will be used for NRT (1st July)
In Q3: A6-EDW, A6-EDX, A6-EDY…2 will be used for MEL-AKL (1st October)
Q4: A6-EDZ, A6-EEA, A6-EEB, A6-EEC, A6-EED, A6-EEE – destinations unknown.

The 2013 deliveries will be :

Q1: A6-EEF, A6-EEG
Q2: A6-EEH, A6-EEI, A6-EEJ
in 2013: A6-EEK – A6-EER (No 37 – No 44)
further: A6-EES – A6-EEV (48th A380)

There will also be 15 B77W delivered in 2012.

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From the Spectator commenting on the US republican nomination battle:

Taking the long view, however, America has benefited from electing dull leaders. They have provided the unbroken political stability that inspired generations to immigrate, improvise, invest and invent, creating a resilient, productive and optimistic society. Perhaps eventually a candidate will glimpse this truth and campaign on the genuinely conservative promise of stability, incremental change, and conformity. But don’t look for such wisdom from any of this year’s crowd of Republican hopefuls; they just don’t have the imagination for it.

The full article is here.

11 January 2012

Independence for Scotland – the Scottish first minister wants a vote in 2014 to coincide with the feel good factor generated by events such as the Glasgow Commonwealth Games and the 700th anniversary of the battle of Bannockburn. And why not. Lets the Scots decide whether they want to be a part of the United Kingdom or not -at the moment it is looking like an UnUnited Kingdom – if the Scots go the Welsh should do the same thing. And maybe even a United Ireland – heresy for many.

There are, of course, serious issues here, The Guardian quotes Professor Robert Hazell of University College London,

“If the Scots vote “yes”, negotiations would begin on issues great and small, such as how to divide the national debt and North Sea oil revenues, nuclear bases on the Clyde and the sharing of defense capabilities, and Scotland’s membership of the EU. (Most international lawyers say that Scotland would have to reapply.) The division of Czechoslovakia in 1992 required 30 treaties and 12,000 legal agreements.”

What money would the country use? Euro or pound? If the former where would it acquire gold and other reserves to put on deposit in the European Central Bank?

It’s not such an easy process, breaking up a 300 year old shotgun marriage.

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This is not good – the new Scoot uniform for Singapore’s low cost long haul carrier. Low cost is right. Sort of like a bad Star Trek The Next Generation outfit….

10 January 2012

First entry from the new laptop – another Dell – this time the XPS-15Z. Bought with the help of my 14 year old technical support guru.

But transferring files from a three year old laptop to the new one takes forever – and is a mix of trial and error and occasional brilliance; coupled with mood swings that go from depressed frustration to relief and occasional elation.

7 January 2012

Wonderful fictional advertising from the Eon Group

More problems at Anfield after an Oldham player was viciously abused by a fan last night: one writer summed up the thoughts of many: “This is what happens when the leadership of an organisation condones racist behaviour from its employees. Despite the excellent work of organisations like Kick It Out there still exists an undercurrent of racism in England. The management of Liverpool and their promotion of tribal behaviour to defend their striker has created the environment for this to thrive. Liverpool FC – once a great club – now a globally damaged brand.”

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Aircraft engineers in Australia have called for the entire worldwide fleet of Airbus A-380 super-jumbos to be grounded after cracks were found in some wings.

The faults were discovered in planes operated by Qantas Airways and Singapore Airlines.

Airbus say they have found the cause of the problem and insist the planes are safe.

6 January 2012

Problems ahead for Cathay Pacific? Hong Kong Airlines Ltd has confirmed its order for 10 double decker Airbus A380 jets, valued at about $38 billion at list prices.

The planemaker plans to deliver the first A380 to the Chinese airline, backed by HNA Group, in 2015.he announcement was made by an HNA official; Airbus spokesman Stefan Schaffrath declined to comment on orders in advance of a Jan. 17 press conference.

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TAN network reports that Gen Sonthi Boonyaratklin, as chairman of the House reconciliation committee, meets with leaders of all political parties.

Isnt it just a little strange that the man who led the 2006 coup is now leading a reconciliation committee?
The Race to Dubai bonus pool available to Europe’s top golfers has been halved to $3.75m for the 2012 season, it has been announced.

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The European Tour said in a statement that Luke Donald’s defence as Europe’s best golfer this year would coincide with a “refined bonus pool for The Race to Dubai”.

Only the top 10 players in The Race to Dubai at the conclusion of The 2012 European Tour schedule will share the $3.75m bonus, with the top player receiving $1m.

The 2011 bonus pool amounted to $7.5m, with the best 15 players being given an extra reward for their year’s work.

Which may explain why some of Europe’s best golfers are committing to the US Tour in 2012 – including Donald, McIlroy and Westwood.

Add to that Nakheel has still to pay some of its debts from the inaugural 2010 event!

It maybe that the European Tour is losing some of its shine.

5 January 2012

flydubai yesterday (04JAN12) announced it’ll be launching 7th route to Saudi Arabia, where it’ll operate Dubai – Taif service 3 times a week, with Boeing 737-800 aircraft.

Operational schedule:

FZ875 DXB1925 – 2130TIF 73H 135
FZ876 TIF2230 – 0220+1DXB 73H 135

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I am not going to even use the name of these people – but what an idiot.

A certain fitness club in Dubai was blasted by users on social media sites Twitter and Facebook after posting an image of the Auschwitz death camp with the slogan; ‘Kiss your calories goodbye.’

“If it caused offense it was not our intention” said the owner. So much for a complete and full apology. Of course it caused offence. And I am sure it was intended to. As I said, idiot.

4 January 2012

At the risk of stating the obvious imagine the outcry if this story was the other way around….

Dubai jockey killed toddler after forgetting which side of road to drive on

3 January 2012

Facebook note from a crew member on a certain Middle East airline – “Off to xxx before starting my leave, feel like my body is tearing apart, working with cold and flu for 7 days in a row is killing me!”

In any normal job the staff would just call in sick. But the fear factor at this airline is such that staff believe disciplinary action, real or implied, is more likely than a get well soon card.

And that is wrong. The last thing passengers need is sick crew coughing all over them.

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Emirates’ fleet numbers have risen to 168 aircraft as it welcomes its 64th Boeing 777-300ER. Of this total, 160 are passenger aircraft while eight are freighter variants.

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Meanwhile someone writing on the India v Aussie test match in Sydney wrote: “With the exception of Tendulkar, and for a time, Rahul Dravid in Melbourne, India’s top-order has looked about as comfortable as a brunette at the Miss Sweden contest.”

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The case of Stephen Lawrence proves that justice is ALWAYS worth fighting for. Never, ever give up…EVER.

Gary Dobson, 36, and David Norris, 35, were found guilty of murder on Tuesday by a jury at the Old Bailey.

The pair were part of a group of five white men who were suspected just hours after the murder in 1993, but had escaped justice through police failings and because some witnesses were too scared to come forward.

New scientific evidence tied Dobson and Norris to the murder and exposed as lies their claims that they were not present when Lawrence was attacked. A covert video shot in the flat Dobson rented in 1994 showed him and Norris bragging and fantasising about inflicting violence on ethnic minorities, using explicit racist language, and having close friends who handled knives.

The case was one of the most famous unsolved murders in Britain. An 18-year fight for justice by Lawrence’s parents led to a public inquiry which uncovered blunders by the Metropolitan police, blamed on institutional racism, which allowed his killers to escape justice.

Lawrence, 18, was murdered on 22 April 1993, as he and a friend waited for a bus in Eltham, south-east London.

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Dubai New Years Eve video – from Reuters via Dubai TV:

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Try this for two different Dubai property headlines on the same day:

Dubai realty in recovery mode with sales rising 20% in 2011 – gulfnews.com

Decline in housing costs forecast to continue – The National

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It is hard to tell who if anyone actually turned up for the New Years Event of the Queen Elizabeth 2 moored in Dubai – 7 Days newspaper excitedly reports that : “Revellers who did enjoy the bash included international royalty, model and socialite Lady Victoria Hervey, Girls Aloud singer Nadine Coyle, actor Liam Cunningham, Steps singer Lisa Scott Lee and British TV presenter Vanessa Feltz.”

This is not even an A or B list – I have never heard of any of them – sorry.

Sadly it seems Dubai is going back to the days of hype and excess. When a little honesty and reality makes the place so much more credible.

2 January 2012

The FA’s 115 page report on Luis Suárez’s racial abuse of Patrick Evra should thoroughly embarrass Liverpool Football Club and their head in the sand defence of Suarez. Wearing t-shirts in support of Suarez simply condoned his abuse. Foolish. Any Liverpool appeal would be very misguided.

The report is 115 pages. It was prepared by an independent QC led committee which made it very clear that Suarez was a less than credible witness.

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Arabian Business reports today that Fujairah-based start-up Eastern Express will miss its planned January launch date due to “red tape woes”

1 January 2012

Welcome to a new year – and remarkably the 11th year of this blog.

To start of the year – have a look at this link from Gerald Donavan who took a timelapse of the New Year’s Eve traffic from our balcony last night.

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With EK now flying its A380 to Kuala Lumpur the airline is now operating its big jet on services from Dubai to London, Sydney, Auckland, Bangkok, Toronto, Paris, Seoul, Jeddah, Beijing, Manchester, Hong Kong, New York, Shanghai, Munich, Rome and Johannesburg.

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Cricket Movies: on Twitter. #cricketmovies

WG Grace Under Fire
Blazing Siddles
MisField of Dreams
The Warne Identity
The Fred Trueman Show
The Edgebaston of Darkness
The Black Swann
The Man with the Golden Duck
Star Waughs
The Umpire Strikes Back
Bend it like Botham
Cover Driving Miss Daisy
The Warne Identity
Lord of the Swings
One flew over the bowler’s head
Four overs and a funeral
White Men cant stump
Kallis in Wonderland
The Last of the Sri Lankans
Debbie does Kallis