AOB – 2011

30 December 2011

The New Year celebration theme in Bangkok is “Smile Up” – what on earth does that mean !

27 December 2011

David Fincher’s $100 million budgeted adaptation of the international bestselling novel ”The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’ has reportedly been banned in UAE.

Last year, ‘Black Swan’ and ‘Love & Other Drugs’ both were banned from released based on their adult content.

*******************************
In Dubai last Friday two Indian workers crossing a road were mown down by a Nissan Altima; the car was being driven by a 16year old, who had no driving license. The car was traveling at 200kms an hour. The 16 year old driver is described as a GCC national.

The driver faces charges of hit-and-run, failing to provide help to victims and driving without a licence

Sadly the GUlf news seems to justify speeding based on the green light “Video footage provided by the Roads and Transport Authority indicated that the driver was speeding as the light was green.”

The workers were allegedly crossing the road despite red pedestrian lights. Which I am sure will be seen as exonerating circumstances. Just imagine if this case was the other way around….

26 December 2011

Good news for 31 January and the new year celebrations around the Burj Khalifa: According to the press releas from the RTA : “The Roads & Transport Authority – Mohammed Al Munji: His Excellency Mattar Al Tayer, Chairman of the Board & Executive Director of the Roads & Transport Authority (RTA), announced the master plan for the management of traffic and public transport means spanning the Dubai Metro (Burj Khalifa Station, Financial Center Station, Business Bay Station), public buses, and taxis during the New Year’s celebrations at Burj Khalifa area in order to streamline the traffic flow and ease the mobility of visitors from and to the event venue.”

In other words – it will be total chaos.

25 December 2011

Some things are best not discussed over dinner: 8.30pm – BBC Entertainment just gave the dictionary definition of “rimming” – my mother nearly choked on her turkey..maybe not appropriate.

*******************************
Merry Christmas dear reader !

*******************************
Emirates, one of the world’s fastest growing airlines, has taken delivery of 16 new aircraft in the current fiscal year and is expected to receive seven more planes in the next three months, a local report said on Sunday.

The planes are part of a $6.1-billion package involving the purchase of Airbus and Boeing aircraft and it has been funded completely, the Dubai-based Arabic language daily ‘Al Bayan’ said.

The new planes will boost Emirate’s total fleet to 171 aircraft by the end of this fiscal year which ends on March 31,” the paper said.

Since April 2011, Emirates has taken delivery of 10 Boeings 777-300, five Airbuses 380 and a Boeing 777-200 cargo aircraft.

“Seven more aircraft will join Emirates’ fleet before the end of the current fiscal year on March 31…the company also received 19 aircraft in 2009 and 11 last year,” Al Bayan said.

24 December 2011

Santa’s checkflight:

22 December 2011

Two key points on the prosecution/persecution of John Terry:

The crown prosecution service (CPS) is clear that there is enough evidence to get convict John Terry for racist abuse.

And the CPS believes that it is in the public interest to prosecute.

That probably makes sense – he is high profile; he is a public figure; if he uses the language he is accused of he legitimises it.

Mr. Terry strongly denies the accusations.

Why is the CPS prosecuting Terry and not Liverpool’s Suarez – because there was a complaint by a member of the public – which makes the police duty bound to investigate.

For the Suarez case there has been no public complaint or investigation. Instead the allegation was from Patrice Evra; a fellow footballer. So he was investigated by an independent panel of the Football Association….he was fined gbp40,000 and banned for 8 games.

Terry may be a pain – but he is innocent until proven guilty.

Actually I even have a little sympathy. Go to any professional football game and the vitriol that is launched at players and officials is shocking – and this has been ignored by the FA (we all know what that really stands for) for decades while they have been busy making money. Disgraceful.

But the FA is now in a moral maze. Do they allow Terry to remain England captain while the case is ongoing? Having taken such a strong stance on Suarez…

*************************
Kim Jong Un – now the great successor – appears to have been educated for two years in Switzerland. From 1998 until late 2000, he lived in Liebefeld at No. 10 Kirchstrasse, a sedate suburban street with two pizza joints, a Credit Suisse bank and a Coop supermarket.

He was around 17 when he abruptly left in the middle of the school year, apparently to return to Pyongyang.

Known as “Pak Un” to his teachers at Liebefeld-Steinhölzli Schule, a German-speaking state school, he was registered with Swiss authorities as the son of an employee at North Korea’s embassy in the nearby city of Bern, Switzerland’s capital, according to Ueli Studer, director of education in the local administration.

Throughout Pak Un’s time in Liebefeld, however, neither friends nor teachers ever met the parents. “I never saw his father or mother,” said the school’s principal, Peter Burri, recalling how they repeatedly failed to show up for parents’ night.

Attending in their place, Burri said, were assorted North Koreans who apologized for the parents’ absence and said this was due to their inability to speak German.

The reality: the boy’s father didn’t work in Bern at the embassy but was more than 5,000 miles away in Pyongyang.

After leaving Europe, he is reported to have attended Pyongyang’s Kim Il Sung Military University, an officer training school, but virtually nothing else is known about him.

21 December 2011

In addition to launching the A380 to Melbourne EK has announced that 4 of the 5 daily LHR flights will be on the A380 from 25th March. Everything except EK 7/8 which remains 773.

Emirates will also fly the A380 from Dubai to Tokyo Narita from 01JUL12.

20 December 2011

One of those bad days.

Tai gets up and the first thing she sees is her January roster – nothing that she asked for; six turnarounds including a double sector and a roster that she miserably described as awful.

Then there was no water; cut off due to urgent work on the water pipes. Again. But zero notice. A Mrs that cannot have her morning shower is to be feared.

And that set the tone for the day.

None of the above was my fault. Really.

************************
Golfer Christina Kim – who was in Dubai for the Omega Ladies Masters last week left this message for EK fans tonight:

“Landed in JFK!!! On my way home tonight!! What a great flight with Emirates, always is a pleasure!!!”

**************************
flydubai will start operating direct flights to Baghdad & the city of Najaf in Iraq from January 2012

**************************
Hillary Clinton on the continued army violence in Cairo: (it) “dishonours the revolution, disgraces the state and its uniform and is not worthy of a great people.”

Well spoken.

**************************
More nonsense from our building management prompting this letter to the owners association board:

“Dear Board Member,

There is an urgent shut down of Tower B water today – I think it is for floors above 26th.

I would like to know at what time notices of this shut down were posted. I did not see a notice late last night (01.00) when I was in the elevator – although there is one posted now.

I cannot be the only person who did not know about this shut down.

Not everyone works a regular 9-6 day. For instance my better half is working an afternoon flight for which she will now be unable to shower….

When urgent work needs to be done in the building there has to be a better way to contact people – by email – or better still by sms – to give as much notice as possible.

Please investigate and discuss with DP/Taziz how residents can be better informed.”

Note that as usual nothing will improve!

18 December 2011

A couple of vocal fascist protests outside the US Embassy in BKK in the last couple of days. Would be nice if the other foreign delegations also made it clear that this is out of order: And why are protestors outside US Embassy in BKK masked? They don’t want to be recognised when they line up for US visas later?!

***************************
“The four most overrated things in life are champagne, lobster, anal sex and picnics.” – said Christopher Hitchens, the journalist and

16 December 2011

Lee Westwood’s 60 at Amata Springs yesterday is a remarkable score on a difficult golf course.

15 December 2011

Malaysian Air is cutting 12% of its passenger capacity by culling unprofitable routes in early 2012 – the cancelled routes include:

Effective January 10: Thrice-weekly Kuala Lumpur – Dubai
Effective January 12: Twice-weekly Kuala Lumpur – Karachi – Dubai
Effective January 13: Twice-weekly Kuala Lumpur – Dubai – Damman

Meanwhile EK still flies 3 times daily to Kuala Lumpur feeding passengers into Dubai on connecting routes.

But no not be surprised if Air Asia X picks up some of the Malaysian routes at some stage in the future as the airlines have combined into an effective monopoly in Malaysia.

************************
EK A380 update: delivery of A6-EDS (20th A380) is scheduled next Friday. A6-EDT was delivery 2nd December. A6-EDU follows next year.

**************************
In Thailand where the war on lese majeste appears to be taking a most unpleasant direction Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung said yesterday that the government would spend 400 million baht ($12.7 million) to purchase legal intercept technology that can block websites that insult the monarchy.

The trouble with this is that anything that is not glowing, kow-towing praise is deemed to be an insult.

***************************
Nick Kristof of the NYT on his recent visit to Bahrain: “the basic dynamic has not changed. One family still controls an entire country: Important positions almost all go to members of the royal family, who are Sunni Muslims. Shiites are the majority but amount to second-class citizens who are mostly kept out of the security services, in a system reminiscent of apartheid.”

13 December 2011

The Economist on the position of how the UK might be viewing the Euro – not a bad analogy – although toxic comes to mind which is unfortunate:

“Does that mean the government thinks the single currency is the Titanic, just like the gleeful backbenchers and columnists who were so happy this weekend? I hope not.

I think that the Titanic is a misleading analogy. Once the Titanic sank beneath the icy waves, it effectively ceased to exist. If the euro blows up, the consequences will be horrible and long-lasting.

I have a new analogy to propose. I think the British government should think of the euro as the Chernobyl nuclear complex. They think it was badly designed, and thus was always a bad idea. They are very glad not to have it on British soil. But they also understand Britain’s interest in helping to fix it. Or if that is impossible, undertaking heroic efforts to contain and limit the continent-wide fallout.”

****************************
Frantic apartment cleaning underway before my mother arrives in Dubai tomorrow night for her first ever visit.

12 December 2011

The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) announced this morning that Blue Rodeo are the 2012 inductees to the Canadian Music Hall Of Fame. The band will be honoured during the 41st annual Juno Awards ceremony, set for April 1, 2012 at Ottawa’s Scotiabank Place, and will be broadcast across the country on CTV.

****************************
The Guardian on Mission Impossible 4 – “It’s an opportunistic endeavour – you suspect locations may have been in place, deals done with car firms and tourist boards before the script was given a thought.”

11 December 2011

This is wonderful – Gerald Donavan’s timelapse from his favourite Dubai balcony showing last night’s lunar eclipse….

10 December 2011

Sign of the times at Watford : Watford’s 3rd round FA Cup tie has been scheduled for January 7 2012.

The clash with League Two Bradford City will kick-off at 3pm at the Vic’ as it is, unsurprisingly, not scheduled for TV.

Tickets for the game have been priced at £10 for adults and £15 for U16’s.

Unemployment is now so bad in the UK that Under 16s pay more than adults to watch a football match.

9 December 2011

Golf thought – this weeks trophy in Dubai should be a model of a crane surrounded by diggers.

**************************
Euro crisis summit – not really – there will be another one within weeks….this was the 8th Euro crisis summit this year…

**************************
Why is the euro failing – simple such diverse economies as Germany and Greece cannot share a common currency and interest rate. If you lend money to someone who cannot repay, you end up enslaving them.

***************************
Cameron’s problem is that he put the bankers first – he defended the City as the financial hub of Europe and the largest single generator of income to UK plc.

But it was unregulated bankers who created this mess in the first place.

***************************
In between my grumblings about the DWC Golf there are some great pairings today: els/kaymer, donald/oosthuizen, molinari/molinari, westwood/bjorn, garcia/mcilroy.

6 December 2011

The Dubai World Championship is to golf what the World Series is to baseball. Other than Europeans and South Africans there appears to be one Korean, one Australian and one Chilean. For instance, there is not one member of the winning US Presidents Cup team. The event is the climax to the European Tour. Why not respect that and call the tournament what it is – the Dubai European Tour Championship? To over-hype the event is to devalue it. It is a significant tournament to players that have slogged through 51 tournaments in the year. 3 of the year’s major winners are playing; but the reality is that the field does not have the depth or the majors. Enjoy it for what it is. But do not think of it as a world championship…which already exists under the banner of the World Golf Championships (WGC).

5 December 2011

The view of Glocer’s departure from New York: “Glocer is credited with rescuing Reuters a decade ago through a sweeping cost-cutting programme when the company’s performance and stock price faltered following the dotcom bust. More than 3,000 jobs were axed. He then engineered the $17 billion takeover of Reuters by Thomson and in the process scored the masterstroke of securing the top job of the combined company for himself. Thomson Corporation paid a 40 per cent premium to Reuters’ share price at the time. Reuters gained a bail-out; Thomson gained global recognition. As the Financial Times put it: “Headquartered in Toronto and with its West legal business in Eagan, Minnesota, Thomson punched below its weight outside North America. But by acquiring Reuters, with its global news brand, buildings in Canary Wharf and Times Square and a high-profile chief executive in Mr Glocer, ‘they flirted with having a personality’, one insider said.”

*****************************
Over his three years at the helm of the combined company Glocer earned more than $55 million. He is likely to walk away with at least $37.7 million in pay and shares.

He holds $28.2 million in shares and options, according to company filings. He should also be entitled to compensation in lieu of his annual salary and short-term and long-term cash bonuses worth $9.5 million last year. A five-year long-term deferred share award that he received in 2008 when he oversaw the merger is set to vest. The windfall was worth $28 million but has vested in portions of 20 per cent each year since then.

******************************
Frozen Plant brings a whole new meaning to chilling out!

3 December 2011

On Clarkson – nice letter in the Guardian: “Clarkson gets gently rebuked by his pal Mr Cameron, who dismisses his words as a joke. Two boys jokingly incite others to riot on Facebook and, to Cameron’s satisfaction, get four-year sentences. Indeed we are all in it together.
Gerard Hudson
Jarrow, Tyne and Wear”

****************************
England’s Euro 2012 group games:

Monday 11 June v France (5pm)
Friday 15 June v Sweden (7.45pm)
Tuesday 19 June v Ukraine (7.45pm)

England are playing all their group matches in the Ukraine – but are staying in Krakow in Poland. Daft – it is a two hour 800 mile flight to each of their group matches.

2 December 2011

European football championship draw: Euro 2012 in the Ukraine and Poland,

Holland, Denmark, Portugal and Germany are in Group B Ouch.

Poland Greece Russia and Czech Republic in Group A,

Croatia, Spain, Italy and Rep. Of Ireland in Group C.

France, Sweden, Ukraine and England in Group D.

*********************
Tom Glocer is forced out of Thomson Reuters:

The official version from David Thomson:

“Tom will be remembered as the individual who turned around Reuters ten years ago, led the company to growth and guided its sale to form Thomson Reuters,” said David Thomson, chairman of Thomson Reuters. “Over the past four years, Tom successfully directed an extensive integration, expanded our business internationally, revitalized the Reuters news organization and championed talent across the entire business.”

The unofficial version: which I subscribe to:

“Tom will be remembered as the individual who destroyed the Reuters brand and organisation after 150 years of undisputed leadership in international news & financial information, led the company to ruin, and sold it off cheaply to Thomson while rewarding himself handsomely with stock options and generous bonuses” said former executives of the organisation that was once a household name with an enviable reputation for innovation, integrity, and independence.”

1 December 2011

Jeremy Clarkson is an opinionated buffoon.

Jeremy Clarkson’s TV outburst in which he said striking workers “should be shot” has led to more than 21,000 complaints to the BBC.

The Top Gear host – who made his comments during BBC1’s The One Show on Wednesday – has since apologised, together with the BBC.

The incident led to condemnation by union leaders and politicians, with Prime Minister David Cameron branding the presenter’s comments “silly”.

Clarkson’s gaffe came as he appeared on TV on the evening of Britain’s biggest public sector strikes for 30 years.

Speaking about the strikers, he said: “I’d have them all shot. I would take them outside and execute them in front of their families.

“I mean, how dare they go on strike when they’ve got these gilt-edged pensions that are going to be guaranteed while the rest of us have to work for a living?”

***************************
BBC Sports Personality Of The Year isn’t going to be an all-male event after all. Belgium’s all female Scala choir are performing. So boys do sport, girls sing. Brilliant.

The BBC has I think ten candidates for sports personality of the year – including three golfers – and all are male. Sad.

Incidentally as far as anyone can tell the only personality that the golfers have is greed.

***************************
Old Jokes Home:

Just bought a Jehovah’s Witness advent calendar.

Every time you open a door someone tells you to f**k off.

****************************
The greatest live music performance of the year was last week on Brazilian TV. Mike Tyson singing Girl From Ipanema.

fr

30 November 2011
EK#19 A380 (A6-EDT) will be delivered this Friday – December 2nd.

*******************************
Came over to London on Sunday. And spent today on a quick day trip to gale-hit Brighton.

Should write more. But feeling lazy!

25 November 2011

Emirates launched its A380 service to Munich today replacing the morning B777 service.

EK also takes delivery of its 18th A380 today with number 19 arriving next week

Couple of bits of data:

The airline’s A380 operations are supported by more than 2,500 dedicated cabin crew and 362 pilots.

The carrier’s 17 A380s now serve Munich, London Heathrow, Manchester, New York, Paris, Sydney, Auckland, Toronto, Bangkok, Seoul, Jeddah, Johannesburg, Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai.

Rome will be the next A380 point from December 1 followed by Kuala Lumpur effective January 1 2012.

24 November 2011

Where does public interest stop and start – or start and stop?

If it was not in the public interest to know that Max Mosley was into BDSM would it be in the public interest if we suddenty found out that a government minister was into BDSM?

It is not a moral judgment – but would it be behaviour that might lead to potential bribery or corruption.

Adults, privacy and consent are fine – if you are not doing any harm to anybody should you be able to do whatever yuo like?

Let’s extend that question – you are a parent with kids in a school – one day the school headmaster or teacher of your children is compromised through published photographs; do you have a right to know and should you be concerned? I really do not know….

*****************************
This from the Bangkok Post:

“Local Facebook users risk violating the computer law unknowingly by pressing the “like” or “share” button included with posted comment on anti-monarchy messages on the most popular social networking site, Information and Communication Technology Minister Anudith Nakornthap said on Thursday.

Anyone doing so could be arrested on charges of violating the Computer Crime Act and committing lese majeste because the law prohibits the dissemination of content deemed insulting to the monarchy, he said.

Facebook users should not press the “like” button or post comments on lese majeste-related content.

They would then become involved with the group’s network. This may allow anarchists to use their personal information to create a fake Facebook account to support their cause.

Mr Anudith urged the users to press the “delete” button if they receive messages defamatory to the revered institution, to avoid breaking the law.

”Any user not deleting it may risk beiing prosecuted under the Computer Crime Act, because they will be seen as having a role in indirectly disseminating an unlawful message,” he said.”

23 November 2011

Reuters problems: Thomson Reuters shares hit a new 52-week low in New York on Wednesday and then went even further south as markets headed into the US Thanksgiving Day holiday. The stock was trading at $26.01, below its previous 52-week low of $26.11, when The Street wire issued a report. Later the price was $25.77, down 3.48 per cent on the day. TRI’s average volume has been 1.3 million shares over the past 30 days. The shares were down 28.4 per cent year to date at the close of trading on Tuesday.

Now I really am wishing I had gotten rid of my Reuters shares a year ago.

************************
Simple message to the Thai judiciary – letting a 61 year old man with cancer get 20 years in prison for “insulting” you is not human and cannot be just.

*************************
Tai has gone to Mauritius – it has not been our best few days….and I am home with a foul cold and a not much better mood!

Meanwhile some more top work from Gerald Donovan with 24 hours in Dubai in a single picture….

22 November 2011

A two week wait until the next episode of The Good Wife – just as the series is starting to take shape and the plots and sub plots are beginning to take on some definition – Sunday’s was the best episode to date of series 3. And Diane Lockhart is defining herself as the strongest character in the team.

21 November 2011

“Key question Grant testimony raising, it seems, is: to what extent should celebrities be entitled to privacy?” said the New York Times correspondent.

Nope – key question is just how far is the press allowed to go to breach anyone’s privacy – whether a Dowler or a Grant.

The picture that Hugh Grant presents is of a man that has been largely hounded by the media for the last 17 years – and he presents his evidence very articulately with some humour and no little anger.

Hugh Grant has easily the best line of the day at #leveson to QC: “If these are your straight balls, I’d hate to see your googlies.”

Why Hugh Grant hates Associated Press – and why the Mail is such a nasty, vicious rag – this article is poison.

Yet the Mail on Sunday statement claims “[Hugh] Grant’s allegations are mendacious smears driven by his hatred of the media.”

Grant also claims that the Mail paid gbp125,000 to an ex boyfriend of his child’s mother (ex girlfriend) for personal pictures of her.

The Mail and the Mail on Sunday are one and the same. They are not fit to wipe your arse with…..

****************************
Some people are so fucking inconsiderate – why do people blast out music at the loudest volume when they live in an apartment building.

First I rang the door bell – three times.

Then I knocked on the door three times.

Then I rang the door bell again and again.

Then I used the heel of my shoe to bash on the door.

Then the music stopped. A voice on the other side of the door asked what is it. Silly cow. What did she think it was.

Next time I will get security to do the work.

18 November 2011

Knock Knock “Who’s there?” “James Murdoch.” “James Murdoch who?” “I really have no recollection of that.”

***************************
The irony of the English media fashionably rounding on Blatter is notable. The English have some of the most abusive fans in the world.

Blatter is past his use by date but he has taken football to the world – without him the world cup would not have gotten to South Africa and would not be going to Russia and Qatar….so while the Brits want to lynch him – most footballing nations and most of the FIFA executive are hugely supportive of the old man !

****************************
The FT’s The World blog today is intriguing –

“Yesterday evening I went to a dinner in Brussels, featuring a group of senior politicians and diplomats. These dinners can be dull. But not this one. The sense of crisis in Europe made for an extraordinary conversation. The official speeches were not that exciting – featuring the usual, “we’re living in tough times, but I’m confident we’ll see this through type of rhetoric”. But it was the talk around the tables that was so striking. Three remarks in particular stuck with me.

1) A senior official from a AAA country in Europe, saying of the euro – “It seems we have created a machine from hell, that we cannot turn off.”

2) A senior official from a country that is in trouble with the markets saying that – “For us Europe was a dream, but now it is a nightmare” – and concluding that the only option was for his country was to leave the euro. I asked him whether this was official policy. He said – no, but he personally could not see any other way out.

3) A Brussels-based official who says that he is thinking of “Armageddon plays”. In other words, what to do with his money, if the euro breaks up. His conclusion – “Buy land in New Zealand. If war breaks out in Europe, you can always go and live there, grow your own food and sell vegetables to the Chinese.”

As you might infer, that was not an entirely serious remark. But the sense of near-panic underlying it, seemed to me entirely real.”

The crisis is only just starting….

17 November 2011

The White House just announced that during President Obama’s visit to Indonesia, Lion Air has signed up for 230 firm orders for Boeing 737s with options on 150 more. 201 of the orders are for 737Max. Valued at USD21.7 billions at list prices, excluding options – this is the US airframer’s biggest order to date both by size and value.

How will Lion Air finance this deal?

*************************
The Huffington Post wrote:

Ever wanted to spend a day in Dubai? Now you can skip the flight and beat the heat by watching a full day’s time lapse of the city’s skyline below.

Gizmodo first published the stunning images photographed by Gerald Donovan, noting that the scene “is so beautiful it seems unreal.”

The moon’s shimmering reflection glides down the Burj Khalifa, which towers over 2,700 feet high and currently holds the record for tallest building in the world. Turn on the sound for an equally dramatic background track.

One of the 400,000 who have viewed the video on YouTube wrote:

“it’s a masterpiece, with such a sense of light and shadow, of time and space, it’s truly a poem on the vanity of civilization …congratulations”

What are they writing about: Gerald’s 24 hour timelapse from our balcony!

16 November 2011

The US Ambassador to Thailand had this to say as Hillary Clinton met PM Yingluck “”the United States stands firmly behind the civilian government of Thailand”. SecClinton says at press con w Thai PM Yingluck. #ClintonBKK”

Emphasise the word Civilian.

***********************
Qatar Airways confirms at #DXB11 its 2012 expansion with new flights to Zagreb, Helsinki, Perth, Gassim, Zanzibar, Kigali and Mombasa.

***********************
Tiger Woods to play Abu Dhabi HSBC from Jan 26-29. Looks like a Masters warm up – McIlroy, Schwartzel, Kaymer, Day, Westwood, Choi, Clarke.

************************
The UAE will compete with Russia, Brazil, Turkey & Thailand in hosting World Expo 2020

*************************
Respecting the faith of Saudi citizens is one thing; but tolerating brutality and shocking discrimination is another:

The Australian reports that Saudi Arabia is the only country to deny women the right to drive. But despite renewed protests against the ban this year, resistance to change remains strong among conservative royals and clerics.

“A report this week by Kamal Subhi, a former professor at King Fahd University, warned that allowing women to drive would provoke a surge in prostitution, pornography, homosexuality and divorce. Within 10 years of the ban being lifted, it warned, there would be “no more virgins” in the kingdom.”

Oh dear….

15 November 2011

Next week – The Good Wife – Good Advice – “the state’s attorney is coming after you because you are sleeping with his wife – stop it”

***************************
Because I know that you care – a review of episode 8 of Pan Am.

In another review – this gem: “Kate nurses Henry and tells him about her love for Croatia, but even post-heart-attack Henry totally knows that she’s talking about her love for a Yugoslavian MAN, not a country. He asks “Who was he?” and she says, fondly, “He was my redhead.” Kate, you cannot just compare your short-term Communist boyfriend to the 40-year love of a dying man. In fact, her comment killed him. Or maybe it was the heart attack, I guess. In any case, he basically made everybody go to Haiti for nothing.”

And in another minor complication: “Kate offers to leave Henry’s dead body behind so that the Haitian girl can fly with them, which is a compromise that I feel like she’s not allowed to make. (“Hello, is this Henry’s daughter?” “Yes!! Where is my father??” “Oh, welllllll we just left him in a body bag on the tarmac in Port Au Prince, ha-ha. Our bad.”)”

***********************
Emirates Airline’s A380 services from London Heathrow will become triple daily from 24th January, 2012, confirms the carrier.

14 November 2011

Tasteless from the Nation. Politicians set to continue breeding

13 November 2011

There are an estimated 50 million active golfers in the world. Their average score for 18 holes is 107 strokes and a full 80% of them will never achieve less than a handicap of 18

11 November 2011

UAE vs South Korea today – 2014 World Cup qualifying – UAE has employed 18 coaches in 15 years.

UAE 0 South Korea 2.

*****************************
This reads like all the best reasons to avoid Phuket: (Jan-Jul ’11) Tourist arrivals up at Phuket Immigration: 1. China +116%, 2. Australia +22%, 3. Russia +103% (TAT)

******************************
Boeing has begun assembling the 1,000th 777. The airplane is a Boeing 777-300ER (extended range) model. It will be delivered to Dubai-based Emirates Airline in March 2012.

Emirates is the largest 777 customer with 95 777s currently in its fleet; the 1,000th 777 will be its 102nd.

Sixty-four airlines have ordered 1,295 777s.

I remember SQ taking delivery of the 1,000th 747…..

9 November 2011

Premium flights from HKG to London Gatwick and vv – Hong Kong Airlines – Club Premier will feature luxury suites in a 1-2-1 configuration which convert from a superbly comfortable seat to a fully flat bed.

Club Classic will feature extra wide and supportive cradle recliner seats in a very spacious 2-2-2 configuration.

34 seats in Premier and 82 in classic.

This will be a tough sell – Gatwick is not the first place you think of for business class travel.

*****************************
RAK Airways will today take delivery of a single E190 on ACMI lease from Air Moldova for growth in GCC – RAK airways whose fleet seems to change on an almost weekly basis. In this case Air Moldova is providing the crew so no training required. The plans will be used on a Ras al Kaimah to Doha route.

******************************
Two days of lovely weather in Dubai (sorry corrected for typo) – clouds – and even some rain – and then blue sky. Cool; at least by Dubai standards.

******************************
How gross is this: More than 1,300 people needed treatment at a Qatari hospital after suffering from stomach upsets caused by excessive eating on the first two days of Eid Al Adha, the feast of the Sacrifice.

Qatari media said that the emergency unit of Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) on Sunday, the first day of Eid, treated more than 550 patients with most of them complaining of severe stomach upsets, including colitis and diarrhoea.

The turnout of patients at the emergency unit on Monday was a record 767 between 6am and 6pm, and again, most of the cases involved stomach and related ailments, some of them being quite severe, Qatari daily The Peninsula reported on Tuesday.

*********************************
Anyone who bumps into Tai should ask her why she was unable to go to Hamburg today….

But try hard not to take the….

5 November 2011

Adam Scott – totally disconnected with the real world –

“It’s not an issue for me,” Scott said. “I think everything in that room last night was all in good spirits and a bit of fun and I think it probably got taken out of that room in the wrong context. Steve issued a statement and apologised and he did the right thing.”

As for golf’s administrators: read this from Lawrence Donegan in the Guardian:

“No comment. No comment. No comment. For a global sport at a global event in the midst of a global controversy, professional golf had depressingly little to say for itself in the immediate aftermath of Steve Williams’s racial slur against his former employer Tiger Woods.

“That black arsehole,” was the term used by the New Zealander at an awards ceremony in Shanghai in front of 200 or so players, caddies, sponsors and officials.”

“That Williams was guilty of revealing an ugly truth about himself, unwittingly or otherwise, is beyond doubt. So is the punishment he should have faced. He should have gone. From the Champions event in China. From his lucrative employment with the Australian golfer Adam Scott. From the sport of golf. For good.”

“That none of these things had happened by the evening after the night before speaks eloquently about the cravenness and cowardice of the self-regarding, self-perpetuating, self-enriching administrators who claim to have the best interests of golf at heart.”

Williams saw fit to post an apology on his website, admitting that his comments could have been “construed as racist. However I assure you that was not my intent.”

Idiot.

*************************
This will have shaken up the passengers – an SQ 777 skewed off the runway at Munich – and it looks like the crew over-corrected – slewing to the left and then ending up on the grass to the right of the runway!

***************************
From Pravit at The Nation via Twitter: Kom Chad Leuk newspaper reported that luxury hotels & resorts in BK & nearby provinces r booked up by ‘hi so’. Nice 2 know they r OK.

As reports suggest that the flood waters will reach victory monument in one day.

4 November 2011

Finally as I go to bed there is a big Emirates rumour on the pprune board – from three different people. Maybe something to it. But it is just a rumour…..

**************************
Sorry but the Groupon IPO is not proof of a new internet bubble – 5% only of the stock was for sale – and it was priced to ensure those who bought could sell quickly at a profit – how long before the stock falls below US$20?

**************************
Clever comment on pprune described SQ’s 777 that finished on the grass at MUC yesterday as the 777OR – off road version !

***************************
Lufthansa ending Frankfurt – Calgary service, effective 05FEB12. But Canada still refuses to extend landing rights to Emirates. Go figure??

Air Canada lobbied the government hard to protect AC and Star Alliance from EK’s announced wish to fly daily to Toronto and also to Vancouver and Calgary. Now LH is pulling out of Calgary. AC is losing is codeshare on that route. And EK still cannot fly there.

Who loses out? The customer.

3 November 2011

Bit of a slog back from Madrid yesterday – we were delayed for three hours in Madrid – sitting on the airplane – waiting for a “technical problem” to be fixed – 20 to 30 minutes turned out to be three hours. They had to find a part. They had to get paperwork. Very hard to tell what was going on.

I hate it when the crew say there is a technical problem. We are not stupid – tell us some more information – what the problem really is…we all have things that go wrong – so don’t be shy in adding some explanation.

And be realistic is assessing the problem – we would have been much happier waiting in the terminal and going to get a drink and something to eat.

Anyway we mad up a bit of time and landed into Dubai at 2.35am – so some people will not have made their connections.

***************************
Skyfall will be the 23rd Bond film – it is set debut in British cinemas on Oct. 26, 2012 and U.S. cinemas on Nov. 9.

Yes I have seen them all – and at least a few times each!

****************************
Norman Foster’s fabulous plans for a Thames transport hub in London were unveiled today – summed up in the Guardian as follows:

Could we soon be flying in and out of one of the greatest ports in the world where fleets of modern aircraft, ships and trains power Britain’s economy into a newly competitive age? Will we live in fine new homes connected to brand new transport, energy and communications spines and hubs? Or will we decide it’s business as usual in little Britain and carry on building junk housing on what were once meadows and unsustainable supermarkets and shopping malls on the land that’s left and between overcrowded roads and railways? Foster and his team have offered a big-spirited vision of Britain, but do we have eyes to see it?

1 November 2011

52 days until Christmas – where did the year go?

*******************************
Heading back to Dubai in the morning; need a rest! Not sure how the Madridlenos survive – they eat and drink and party! And they start late and finish later…

31 October 2011

Tomorrow Singapore Airlines will unveil details about its forthcoming low-cost, long-haul airline. Scoot?

************************
The Thais may have the world conquered when it comes to scams – and the saddest part is that no one ever does anything about it – the so called authorities are simply paid off – the Grand Palace is closed scam has been running for decades – the newest version is that the Grand Palace is flooded – it is not. Go and enjoy. And tell the scammers with their nice English and friendly I can take you somewhere manners to go and drown themselves.

*************************
Back in Madrid – Happy Halloween. Weather is nice – autumn sunshine.

Sunday nights in Madrid are crazy. Everyone is out in the city. Walking, shopping, eating, drinking. The sun is shining and there must be more cars and cafes in this city that anywhere else on the planet.

But it is fun. People are out late. But they are not boorish; they are not vomiting in the streets or pissing on the walls. ie. This is not the UK. It is not Dubai either !!

But how on earth do people get up for work on Monday morning?

26 October 2011

Surreal. Sitting in an apartment on the Costa Del Sol trying to watch BBC1’s new series – The Frozen World. Five minutes into the programme and we have a visual of mating polar bears!

David Attenborough is still a genius. And the quality of film work is truly remarkable. Stunning images. When the DVD is out we should all buy it but watch it while sitting in a fridge to get the idea of just how cold this film making was!

******************************
The Costa Del Sol has some of the ugliest developments on the planet – the coast is littered with buildings and apartment developments that must have been the work of East German or Russian contractors from the 1960s and 1970s. Just awful.

*******************************
That said – drive inland to Ronda – this is a lovely town. A spectacular location, lots of history and a sense that it looks after the tourists that are the heart of its survival.

25 October 2011

How strange it is not to have internet access. Feels like part of me is missing.

Tai and I are traveling with Alex this week. We started in Madrid on 22nd; and are now on the Costa del Sol….really the Costa del Brit given that the majority population here still appears to be British…staying at Benalmadena for two nights – great apartment, just no internet!

So apologies if you missed me for a few days.

21 October 2011

All you need to know about the UAE’s traffic woes – Why Are Dubai and Abu Dhabi’s Roads Some of the World’s Most Dangerous?

20 October 2011

So true: For all its faults, democracy provides much better retirement plans for its leaders.

As Gaddafi is killed at last in Libya – ending 42 years of dictatorship.

****************************
Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) warned Singaporeans not to travel to Bangkok unless “absolutely necessary”, following fresh alerts from the Thai government.

In an e-mail statement, an MFA spokesman said: “Unless travel is absolutely necessary, we urge Singaporeans planning to travel to Bangkok in the next few days to consider waiting for the flood situation to improve before doing so.”

*****************************
“I’m not going to spend any money on putting shirts on football players in England.” – Oman Air’s corp affairs chief.

Not that he has much money to spend I suspect.

*****************************
“For Suvarnabhumi Airport, AoT has prepared a contingency plan to cope with the possible flood situation. The plan is ready to put into effect if and when the situation warrants. Airlines and business operators as well as related agencies have been notified about the plan, including an option to move facilities and aircraft to operate at Chon Buri’s U-Tapao Airport and other airports” according to the Nation.

After all this was such a huge success when the yellow shirts took over BKK three years ago – by the way – was anyone ever prosecuted for that – thought not….

*******************************
Meanwhile – About 300 prison inmates will be sent to help soldiers build up the sandbag embankments around Suvarnabhumi airport tomorrow, the Correction Department deputy chief said on Thursday.

Thanis Sriyaphan said he will take 300 well behaved inmates from prisons in Bangkok and surrounding provinces to help put up sandbags around Suvarnabhumi airport in Samut Prakan province on Friday.

*******************************
According to info from Austrian Embassy, flooding of Sathorn & Wittayu possible. Heavy rain expected until 24 October.

One message on Thai Visa gets things about right among all the mud slinging:

“This isn’t the fault of the current government, but every government for the past 20+ years. Thailand is a country that has annual flooding. But it worsens each year when rampant deforestation is allowed for resorts and private mansions, which results is fewer trees and other types of growth which can soak up the rain, as well as provide stability for the soil. It happens when factories and housing estates are built in low lying areas, there by impeding the natural flow of water. And all of this is caused by the greed which permeates Thai society and thinking at every level. “Live for today, make as much money as you can, and who cares about tomorrow” should be the motto for Thailand, not “Land of Smiles”. I don’t see a lot of smiling going on now…..This flood is a tragedy which I doubt any Thai government could effectively deal with, or could have prevented under the current circumstances. The loss of lives and property, as well as businesses is sad by any means. The best Thailand can hope for is that they will actually LEARN from this, and then take the necessary steps to develop a new water management program that will benefit ALL of Thailand, and not just BKK.”

***********************************
One conspiracy theory argues that Yingluck has deliberatly mismanaged the crisis so that she can resign and that Thaksin can be brought back as a modern day Poseidon – I mean Prime Minister!

19 October 2011

The Nation is such a rag – “but the collapse of dykes here and there shows Yingluck’s inability to keep things under control.”

Yep – a government that has been in power for about two months.

Does anyone honestly think that Abhisit’s Democrats would have done a better job of managing the worst flooding in decades.

Yingluck’s difficulties have only been added too rather than aided by the Dems. The Dems control BKK and appoint the city Governor who has already said that his is the only voice to be trusted.

It is a mess. Business and livelihoods have been damaged, in some cases beyond repair.

But the predictable blame game in the Nation – disgraceful.

********************************
The Suvarnabhumi International Airport Wednesday heightened its earthen dykes to four-meter-high and piled up one-meter-high sandbag barriers along surrounding roads, in a bid to prevent flood.

Airports of Thailand (AOT) acting director Somchai Sawasdipol said that the Highway Department since October 10 helped heightened and strengthened the dykes, which would complete today (Oct 20). While the Lat Krabang Canal would be dredged to help support more excessive water, the airport also worked with the Royal Irrigation Department to drain floodwater in the airport’s south into the sea speedily. The airport also set up a sandbag making center by volunteers to assist flood-affected people.

The argument that the airport is safe and secure is not convincing….

18 October 2011

The trouble with the Pan Am TV series is that the TV version of the airline is flying to places that Pan American did not fly to in 1963 and probably never did fly to. Episode 4 took the crew to Jakarta, Rangoon and Hong Kong.

Pan Am flew to Hong Kong. And back to America via Tokyo, Honolulu and onto SFO or LAX.

Flights operated to Jakarta via Saigon and Singapore.

This link takes you to the Pan Am timetable for 1 August 1963.

************************
1,000 volunteers needed for sandbagging at Suvarnabhumi. Shuttle bus departs Donmuang airport at 8am tomorrow morning – all is clearly not well.

This must be what the authorities referred to as the flood prevention plan at Bangkok’s international airport.

So what are the Thai people and thousands of tourists not being told?

*************************
NY Times calls Thai floods man-made disaster caused by illegal logging, poor city planning and water mismanagement.

Exactly…..

**************************
Fourth EK daily flight to Singapore is now available for booking :

The flight operates from 03 November

EK354, departs DXB at 0325, arrives SIN 1445
EK355, departs SIN at 0200, arrives DXB 0510

The timing is strange – it still looks as though it should be flying onto an additional destination.

****************************
At 3am this morning the fog was getting thick – then I slept through the worst of it as heavy fog covered Dubai once again.

Meteorologists warn that visibility is expected to remain at dangerous levels for several days at times when many commuters are taking to the road.

A meteorologist at the National Centre for Meteorology and Seismology said that south of Dubai, visibility dropped to just 50 metres yesterday.

“The least visibility was recorded in Al Minhad, just south of Dubai, yesterday morning,” he said. “Abu Dhabi, Ras Al Khaimah and Sharjah airports recorded visibility of 100 metres, as did Jebel Ali and Safra. Dubai airport recorded visibility of 200 metres.”

The weather centre said the last two weeks of the month would probably bring fog and storms across the country.

16 October 2011

Happy Anniversary to us!

How is it that we can get better French food in Bangkok that we can in France?

And why is Saint-Tropez so outrageously expensive?

Why have French people not yet learned the noble art of poop and scoop?

13 October 2011

Best advice for Bangkok right now:

When your government tells don’t panic, it is time to scream and run.
When they tell don’t hoard. Go in the supermarket and buy for 2 months.

11 October 2011

As Bangkok readies for the great flood this is just one example of how unprepared the authorities are – a tweet from the editor of the Nation newspaper – “Thai Airways has announced readiness to move to U-tapao if Suvarnabhumi runways are flooded “even by half an inch.””

Sorry – logistically that is not going to happen – maybe one or two flights. No more than that.

7 October 2011

Nick Kristof of the New York Times left this facebook message today – and it is worth repeating:

Happy 80th birthday, Desmond Tutu! You’re the greatest, one of a kind. We all stand in awe of your integrity, courage and compassion. May you continue to serve the world until you’re 180!

***********************
EK’s next A380 is due in one week – the delivery date for MSN077 to EK was postponed from 16/9 to 14/10. This will be number 16.

Number 17 (MSN 080)is due for delivery to the airline is scheduled for October 27th

6 October 2011

ps: Steve Jobs died. Forget all these tv sensitive comments on his passing; he died! This was the satirical website The Onion on the death of Steve Jobs.

***********************
“all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death”

RIP – Steve Jobs.

***********************
I don’t want to be a complete grouch – Mr. Jobs was an inspiration – but with great success comes responsibility and accountability; this report details conditions in the Chinese factory that builds your i-things.

4 October 2011

Channel 5’s The Wright Stuff plumbed the depths today:

“Foxy Knoxy: Would Ya?
So Amanda Knox has been cleared of the murder of British student Meredith Kercher. She’s entirely innocent. She’s also undeniably fit and loves wild sex. Or did. So if you were a guy who’d met her in a bar and she invited you back to hers, would you go? I’m being quite serious. Or would something in your brain make you think twice?”

Dear oh dear !

*******************************
The UK’s The Mail newspaper is a shameless rag. But yesterday they plumbed the depths posting a made up article online about how Amanda Knox had lost her appeal. Read the story here.

2 October 2011

My first fantasy – at least that I can recall involved Wei Wei Wong – she was one of the original members of the UK’s most popular television song and dance groups of the 70’s ‘The Young Generation’ & ‘The Second Generation.’ They appeared on shows like The Rolf Harris Show. She also did a few episodes of The Golden Shot with Bob Monkhouse. OK – I was about 10yrs old.

In The Man with the Golden Gun she played the bar girl in the Bottoms Up club.

What I did not know was that sadly she died in 1999 – at the age of 51. Breast cancer.

*************************
Shane Warne and Elizabeth Hurley – who would have thunk it – the only thing they have in common is that they are both past their best!

**************************
Is it Wall Street bankers or Ball Street w….. – well you know what I mean?

**************************
David Croft died last week – aged 89. He was a comedy writer in the golden age of tv comedy – in a lovely tribute in the Guardian David Mitchell wrote:

“Dad’s Army is still on terrestrial television. That odd, very historically specific scenario has amused and touched a mainstream audience for more than 40 years. When it started, many Home Guardsmen were still alive. Now wartime children are in their dotage. Its writers, Croft and Jimmy Perry, used that small-scale setting to be funny about enormous subjects — class envy, war, ageing, mortality, fascism and even, in Sergeant Wilson’s relationship with Pike’s mother, sexual shame – and to create intriguing characters whom millions loved.

No art form can do that as well as sitcoms, and even they seldom manage it. I’m sad to hear of the passing of a man who made it look easy.”

****************************
The rugby world cup quarter final line – up: Ireland vs Wales, England vs France, South Africa vs Australia, New Zealand vs Argentina.

And winners of the first two and last two games meet in the semi finals – so there will be a northern hemisphere side in the final.

South Africa v Australia is huge for a quarter final – and that all happens because the Irish beat the Aussies.

With teams beginning to get bruised and battered and injured then it may come down to who has the strongest squad.

OK – predictions – England v Ireland and South Africa and NZ in the semi finals; and an England v NZ final.

***************************
Welcome to October and a quiet news day in Bangkok – led by news that the Thai PM Yingluck’s Twitter account has been hacked.

And to think most people just thought that she was being honest for once!

And in an even weirder message from the TAN news network: “Pheu Thai quotes intelligence sources claiming attempt to overthrow govt and wreak havoc through 9-step plan”

Not a shred of evidence presented.

30 September 2011

Luke Donald’s streak of holes without a three-putt ends at 449 at Dunhill Links….that is competitive golf on championship courses – 25 rounds of consecutive golf without a 3 putt!

***************************
As Ikea gets ready to open in Bangkok just a thought – Do Bangkok’s Ikea pretties come in a flat pack with an allen key?

**************************
More bad news for the tourism sector in Thailand – in this case another Phuket scam….‘My R200 000 holiday hell’

29 September 2011
This would have been scary – Pilot’s toilet break mishap sent ANA jet into nose-dive

27 September 2011

Shakespeare’s Hamlet – ultra condensed – “Whine whine whine…To be or not to be…I’m dead”

***************************
Emirates, Dubai’s fast-growing state airline, will likely place more orders at the Dubai airshow in November, its chairman said on Tuesday.

The carrier, the biggest customer for the Airbus A380 superjumbo with 90 orders, has previously said it planned to expand its fleet to eventually include 120 of the jets.

The airline’s president (Tim Clark) said this week Emirates had seen no drop in demand despite a weakening global economy.

So what will Emirates order?

26 September 2011

The Good Wife is back on TV – though she appears to be more like a naughty ex-wife making up for lost time !

And Pan Am debuted on TV as well.

****************************
Saw the movie “Friends with benefits” today – utterly predictable twaddle – friends with complications. Saved by an OK script and some nice scenes of New York and Los Angeles.

Part of the problem was with watching the movie in Dubai – the censor chopped out large chunks of nudity from what was originally an R rated movie in the USA. It wrecks the movies continuity.

Gratuitous and horrible violence is fine. Nudity is a no-no.

****************************
It is hard to know what to say about the UAE’s strange election held on Saturday.

129,000 voters were hand picked to elect 20 representatives to the 40 person Federal National Council – which has an advisory role and cannot create or veto legislation.

The remaining 20 seats are filled by nominees of the rulers of the seven emirates.

Of the 129,000 who were chosen to vote only about 28% bothered to do so.

24 September 2011

It is the All Blacks v France today. This will decide first and second in the group – with quarter finals against Scotland or England in two weeks.

***********************
La Marseillaise is an awesome national anthem. God Save the Queen has to go. Land of Hope and Glory is the only possible match for the French.

************************
A new haka from the All Blacks – like a psycho Macarena. With an implied decapitation at the end – not tasteful for effective!

22 September 2011

The new British Airways advertisement – to fly, to serve. Take a look.

And this background film is fun as well. British Airways people and planes over the last 90 years

**************************
Staff in Dubai’s Kinokuniya were today displaying a new reprint of Mein Kampf – apparently (and sadly) it is a best seller in Dubai.

**************************
Nothing like firm foundations: “Loving the Nakheel sukuk. It’s not just hot air, it’s warm salty water. Bond is backed by undredged land sitting on the seabed. Go figure” said one twitter message today.

***************************
Years ago Leeds United playing Manchester United would be huge. Instead last night it was a Carling Cup tie with a reserve Manchester team winning easily 3-0; they were 3-0 up by half time. This was the Man U side –

Ben Amos, Ezekiel Fryers, Fabio, Antonio Valencia, Ryan Giggs (Paul Pogba, 45), Park Ji-Sung, Michael Carrick, Federico Macheda (Larnell Cole, 78), Dimitar Berbatov, Mame Biram Diouf (Danny Welbeck, 70), Michael Owen

Two goals from Michael Owen. Forgotten by England.

21 September 2011

Chalerm’s son Wan Yoobamrung has been made “Mr Airport Link” to lead crackdown on airport taxi mafia and be Airport Link presenter. Oh dear.

20 September 2011

While in Dubai – The Dubai Police chief has urged all of his officers to continue dealing with the public in the most courteous way possible.

“Each one at Dubai Police, without exception, must provide fair treatment and interact with the public in a friendly, polite, professional, responsible and ethical manner,” said Lt Gen Dahi Khalfan Tamim.

The statement was made during a meeting of the Dubai Police management boards discussing the force’s customer-service charter.

“There is no place for insolence or arrogance here, and we have to act in a kind and humane manner, as we are here to serve the public,” Gen Tamim told his officers at a Ministry of Interior awards ceremony.

Maybe tell that to the officer at the Emirates Group HQ who tells tired crew, in not the most pleasant manner, that if they want a taxi they should go and stand at the bus stop.

**************************
But in other court news : Prosecutor pushes out arraignment of yellow shirt members in airports closure case to Oct 20 as more witness interrogation is needed – after all they have only had 3 years – and there is more than enough TV and newspaper evidence. The yellow shirts were not exactly shy!

**************************
This took forever but good to see that some justice has been done: The Criminal Court has sentenced the owner of the Santika Pub and the owner of a special effects company to three years in jail each. Both were found to have been negligent and responsible for a fire that broke out on New Year’s Eve 2009 after fireworks were used indoors in the New Year celebration.

66 party goers were killed in the blaze.

The two were also ordered by the court to pay around nine million baht in compensation to the families of the victims.

**************************
Five years on and it may now be that the coup never happened – and i must have made the whole thing up;

The Nation excitedly reports today that Thai Government figures yesterday threw their support behind a proposal by a group of legal scholars to expunge all records and judicial decisions originating from the 2006 coup.

They said implementing the proposal could lead to social reconciliation and get rid of a negative legacy of the coup blamed as a cause of the ongoing political conflict.

The legal scholars’ group, known as Nitirat (Citizens of Law), outlined steps it said could restore the country as if the seizure of power had never happened. The proposal called on the government to nullify all decrees and actions taken by the coup-makers, revoke all court decisions originating from post-coup decrees, and terminate all legal proceedings initiated by the post-coup Assets Examination Committee (AEC).

Investigation by the AEC, which was set up by the coup-makers, led to court cases against figures in the government of Thaksin Shinawatra, which was accused of corruption and abuse of power.

One case led to a two-year imprisonment sentence against Thaksin, who has been in self-exile overseas escaping the jail term.

Amazing Thailand. Miracle Thailand.

I wonder if they can make me 5 years younger as well!

18 September 2011

Headline of the day for the Italian PM – Berlusconi slept with 8 women in 1 night

**************************
It is Emmy night in the USA; and the award for lead actress in a drama goes to Julianna Margulies for The Good Wife. Excellent. This series will be back in a few weeks.

The Emmy for best actor in a drama series goes to Kyle Chandler, for Friday Night Lights. This is a surprise – beating Steve Buscemi, Jon Hamm and Hugh Laurie.

The Emmy for outstanding drama goes to Mad Men. It’s the fourth year in a row for this seminal series, which has never not won this category since its first season

14 September 2011

Phuket is ok for a short visit but I cannot imagine why anyone would want a longer stay here,

Tourists in Thailand are basically prey not guests.

This article on the tuk-tuk mafia tells you plenty about the attitudes here.

And Thailand is a country that is seeking to double the number of tourists that it receives. It is more likely to drive away visitors than attract new ones.

As the tide heads out Patong beach is covered in plastic bottles and bags.

Have to be impressed by the length of service of many of the women working in the bar area – there appears to be very little staff turnover.

12 September 2011

Arrived in Phuket thanks to a venerable Thai Airways A300. I have no idea what is in the roll that is served in the snack box. But it has the worst taste of anything that I have ever eaten on an airplane.

********************************
In Dubai the British surgeon charged with raising his middle finger was acquitted yesterday – despite not returning from the UK for trial.

*******************************
Phuket is fairly quiet. Everyone talks about it. Hotels, taxi drivers, bar staff.

Note to every vendor in Patong:

I do not need a tuk tuk
I do not need a massage
I do not need a new suit
I do not need a tee shirt
And I have never smoked anything….

11 September 2011

Ten years ago. 11-9-2001 was a remarkable day; in all the horror it brought out so much that was good, so much that was heroic.

And it is right to commemorate the day. The images were shocking. And of course it was America. It was New York. And it was live on tv.

But as a result of the so called war on terror tens, even hundreds, of thousands or people have been killed in Afghanistan and Iraq. Most were civilians. Where is their memorial. That seems to be the part of the day that is missing. That is the part of the day that we are no commemorating. And there lies the disconnect. The family tragedies, the lost sons, fathers, daughters of Iraq and Afghanistan have not been seen or heard.

Amazingly it is another bright and sunny day in New York; just like ten years ago.

****************************
Meanwhile in Bangkok it has been wet and miserable all day – and my mood seems to reflect that. An out of sorts kind of day.

9 September 2011

Emirates flight 374 from Dubai to Bangkok was more ordeal than experience last night.

The flight was full. Mainly with passengers connecting from GCC flights and heading to BKK on Thursday night for the weekend.

Departure was about 45 minutes late. Sleep was impossible due to Tai using me as a footrest, some turbulence and the little lad in seat A who was traveling as a UM and seemed to need the bathroom more times than a young lad should !

Message to one fellow passenger – you have a serious personal hygiene problem – which when Emirates seat people almost on top of eachother, really is very unfair to your fellow passengers.

10 across on a 777 may please the accountants but it is the most cramped you can be in economy on any flight. And anyone sitting at the aisle seats in guaranteed to be clunked into be anyone walking in the aisle – this is worst as passengers are boarding and their bags end up in your face, and when the crew are pushing trolleys like bambi on an ice rink !

Why cant Emirates ever serve drinks with the meal? A glass of wine would make the food tolerable. Instead even if you eat incredibly slowly the drinks always arrive long after you have eaten.

We are staying at Siri Sathorn; for two years in 2003/4 this was my Bangkok home. Many of the staff are still here (always a good sign) and it is nice to be back among familiar faces.

Tried to sleep in the morning – but only gave myself and even worse headache.

So headed out in the afternoon for the usual haul around Silom, Siam Paragon and Siam Center and Siam Square…..

And it is raining too much.

8 September 2011

Emirates Airline confirms plans to launch a daily flight between Dubai and Dublin from January 2012.

**************************
Alex left yesterday morning to head back to Geneva. Great to have him in Dubai – though he does appear to be a one man wrecking machine – my beloved 5 wood is history and the bathroom shower needs major repair work that will need a contractor !

7 September 2011

With just four days remaining until the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attack on America there are many articles appearing. This New York magazine encyclopaedia of 9/11 is one of the more comprehensive series of articles.

And Time Magazine’s cover:

6 September 2011

Last night I saw the ghost of Gloria Gaynor at the foot of my bed. At first I was afraid, then I was petrified.

***************************
World Cup football qualifiers across Asia for the 2014 World Cup – good win for Thailand over Oman, 3-0.

Meanwhile the Lebanon beat the UAE 3-1 – and the UAE coach was immediately sacked.

***************************
War is God’s way of teaching Americans geography. Attributed to Ambrose Bierce in The Violent Foam

***************************
Orient Thai has acquired three ex Continental Airlines 737-300s – unusually they have been modified with winglets.

But is the new Orient Thai colour scheme meant to be a poor copy of Thai Airways?

5 September 2011

The usual pr smoke and mirrors….Formula Rossa, the world’s fastest roller coaster based at Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi has been closed for the past week for annual maintenance but is expected to come back online “within days”.

No one would close the park’s major attraction through the annual Eid holiday unless it was a safety issue.

4 September 2011

Alex arrived this morning – but he was hugely under whelmed by Emirates crew on the A380.

It is an overnight (00.35 departure from HKG); he is in the window seat. He rings the call bell. An hour later a crew member arrives. He asks for a tissue as he seems to have an allergy. The staff say the tissues are in the bathroom; get it yourself. There are two passengers sleeping next to Alex that he has to wake up to get out to the aisle.

Note to EK – you really have to do better.

The A380 crews are rapidly getting a reputation for being a worrying combination of superior (we are the flagship crew) and idle.

3 September 2011

Golf today – but the humidity was back and for the most part I played like a donkey ! Two shirts; three gloves and gallons of water needed just to get around the course.

****************************
And Alex arrives in the morning – expected landind at 4.05am !! Too early.

*****************************
There are some amazing pictures of Dubai on this site – http://www.alisdairmiller.com/

2 September 2011

Rome, Madrid, Tokyo, Istanbul, Doha and Baku, Azerbaijan, have submitted bids to host the 2020 Olympics, the International Olympic Committee says

The IOC will select the host city by secret ballot on September 7, 2013, in Buenos Aires, Argentina

1 September 2011

Every time I renew this page it amazes me that another two months has passed.

*****************************
Golf at Al Hamra today; a bit cooler; and a tough win on the final hole; but it needed a 70 yard chip to inches to win the match. Good fun.

But some of the late night driving on the Emirates Road is truly alarming – must be something to do with the holiday.

*******************************
At tonight’s Libya press conference held in Paris perhaps most telllingly Qatar criticised the Arab League. The Emir of Qatar said: The Arab League did not do enough in LIbya, perhaps NATO was not needed.

So what is the Arab League doing in Syria?

31 August 2011
Japan has its sixth Prime Minister in 5 years. Strange country.

************************
Not a whole lot else to talk about.

************************
Second day of the Eid holiday. Traffic is horrible around Dubai mall in every direction.

Gulf News: “The Dubai Police have closed traffic on access roads around Dubai Mall on Wednesday night to ease congestion.

Heavy congestion has been reported in roads around the mall.

It is not clear what caused the congestion”

Err – lots of cars might be the reason !

30 August 2011

Things I hate to do on any day – and this was meant to be a holiday – ironing !

**************************
It’s Eid Al Fitr today for millions of Muslims across the globe who are celebrating after a month-long day time fasting during Ramadan.

In the UAE, festivities start soon after the early morning prayers at the various prayer grounds and mosques across the emirates.

The moon sighting committee chaired by Hadif Juan Al Dahiri, Minister of Justice, which met in Abu Dhabi on Monday evening, said that the new moon was sighted on Monday evening.

28 August 2011

Hurricane Irene: on its way through Washington:

KDCA 280454Z 36036G50KT 3SM RA BKN021 BKN034 OVC055 23/20 A2915

KDCA is Reagan National in Washington.
28th August
04.54 UTC.
Wind from 360 degrees 36 knots gusting to 50 knots
3 statute miles visibility
Rain
Clouds 5/8 to 7/8 21,000 feet
Clouds 5/8 to 7/8 34,000 feet
Clouds 8/8 55,000 feet.
Tem 23C Dewpoint 20C
Altimeter 2915 inches

********************************
Meanwhile in Thailand a foreigner was found dead yesterday in a canal in Phitsanulok’s Bang Rakam district.

Remarkable work from the police who believe the man – whose nationality remained unknown – was murdered. For once it is not a farang suicide conclusion – what could have persuaded them:

Maybe that the victim’s head was covered with a plastic bag fastened by sticky tape. The tape also covered his eyes and mouth. He had fair skin and blonde hair and wore a red-and-white shirt with a wide striped pattern and grey shorts.

Police said they were attempting to determine the man’s identity and searching for the murderer.

26 August 2011

Back in Dubai – a bit sooner than expected. My golfing plans got terminated so that I could come home and sit in the apartment on my own all day. Great.

23 August 2011

Earthquake in the USA tonight in Virginia – shallow 5.8 quake but still the largest recorded in state since a 5.9 earthquake on May 5, 1897, and felt as far away as Toronto.

**********************
I am quite enjoying a few days of limited internet access and even fewer website updates. Sorry, dear reader !

18 August 2011

There is nothing like arriving in a foreign land and getting 7 messages from Etisalat before you have even left customs.

Big sign at the luggage carousel in Bangkok saying that counterfeit goods may not be imported. Presumably because Thailand has enough of those already.

15 August 2011

Wow: Google Inc said it will buy Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc for about $12.5 billion in cash in a move to bolster the adoption of its Android mobile phone software.

**********************
Keegan Bradley becomes only the third player in the history of all golf to win a major championship at his very first attempt, following Francis Ouimet at the 1913 US Open, and Ben Curtis at the 2003 Open.

And he won in a 3 hole play-off after a triple bogey on the 15th in regulation play.

***********************
Airbus has announced that Emirates’ seventeenth A380 (MSN080), will be handed over to the airline on October 27.

14 August 2011

Abu Dhabi’s National newspaper managed to offend just about everyone in the UAE today with this grossly tasteless headline:

“Pigs and Christians are key to solving Cairo’s growing rubbish problems”

The outcry was such that the headline was amended online to:

“As Cairo’s rubbish grows, residents lament decline of street collectors”

The trouble is that it cannot be changed in the print edition.

*****************************
Is Bridalplasty the most nauseating show on television – brides competing for plastic surgery…..? Gross.

12 August 2011

Why are the Indian cricket team – until this summer the no 1 team in test cricket quite so awful:

They field like a very bad villages side; their bowling is average at best; their wonderful batting line up has failed; their wicket keeping is awful; the team spirit none existent. Sehwag wandering off the pitch before the end of the day because he looked tired and/or bored said it all.

And then Sehwag comes back today for a King Pair! As England declare at 710 for 6 after Cook makes 294.

Maybe there is simply too much money in the IPL and one day cricket. Because this Indian team seems to have zero interest or aptitude for the five day game.

*************************
Interesting notes hidden in the Nation today: Charges against red shirts were ‘inflated’

“Police investigators and public prosecutors claim they were pressured by policy-makers to file terrorism charges against red-shirt demonstrators last year despite a lack of solid evidence, the Truth for Reconciliation Commission (TRC) said yesterday.

It was unveiling the draft of its second report to be submitted later to the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

Somchai Hom-laor, chairman of the TRC’s fact-finding subcommittee, said many charges had been inflated…he said police investigators and public prosecutors admitted to being pressured by the Abhisit Vejjajiva government’s policy-makers to inflate the charges and they had ended up filing “indiscriminate” charges against red-shirt demonstrators.”

No surprises there. But proof if ever it was needed that the Democrats would use any tactic to undermine Puea Thai and the red shirts.

******************************
The Economist has an interesting article on Thailand’s new government – search on Yingluck to the fore. I should not link to it.

******************************
It is so hard to sleep – bad dreams and a loudly snoring spouse!

11 August 2011

Favorite email of the day:

Dear sir/madam,

Glad to hear that you that you’re on the market for metal parts.
We specialize in this field for several years, with good quality and pretty competitive price.
Attachment is our company profile,pls read.

Should you have any questions, pls do not hesitate to contact me.
Thanks
Best regards
Michelle Zhang

Cheesay Machinery CO.,Limited
Tel: 86-028-82714746
Fax:86-028-82714746
E-Mail:michelle@cheesay.com
Skype:
Website: www.cheesay.com

Very Cheesey!

****************************
From today’s Guardian OBO ; “All the laws of custom and nature state that Test matches should begin on a Thursday at 11am,” says Michael Gorman. “This messing about with the days on which Tests start is yet another sign of the inexorable decline of Western civilisation. Nick Clegg is another.”

Exactly.

10 August 2011

BBC documentary for the This World series; Fergal Keane reporting on Thailand – Justice Under Fire (4 parts)
http://bit.ly/n6OU3L
http://bit.ly/oc6Ltu
http://bit.ly/oTHxIO
http://bit.ly/qQPKAI

***********************
Tiger Airways said it will gradually resume its Australian operation on August 12 after the Civil Aviation Safety Authority on Wednesday lifted an order to ground the carrier.

The Singapore-headquartered Tiger, about one-third owned by Singapore Airlines , also said that it will reduce its fleet in Australia to 8 Airbus A320 jets from 10 and will redeploy the two aircraft to the other parts of the group.

9 August 2011

Love me, I’m a looter. Smart and intelligent commentary.

***********************
Still some humour: Looting across country. London call it ‘an abomination’, Birmingham call it ‘a disgrace’ & Liverpool call it a ‘Monday’.

***********************
The German magazine Spiegel is likening the London riots to scenes from Mogadishu. Marco Evers’ dispatch from London begins thus:

“A burning capital city. Marauding bands stealing whatever they please. A police force that appears to be impotent. And a fire brigade that can’t put out blazes because its rescue forces are attacked by a mob. The television images dominating screens this week could be right out of Mogadishu. As difficult to imagine as it might be, the pictures aren’t from Somalia, but from London, right in the centre of Europe. And they will never be forgotten.”

*************************
How did all this start? With family and friends wanting to understand why Mark Duggan was shot.

Latest – The Independent Police Complaints Commission has just announced that there is no evidence that Mark Duggan opened fire at police officers before he was shot dead, according to ballistic test results, reports the Press Association.

*************************
Sky News is dismal ; I wish I was in London so I could ask the kids what they are doing and why. The media is showing us hour after hour of Outraged Upstanding Citizen all saying the same thing.

Then they interview a nice white policeman.

As for the other side of the story – forget it. Instead we get image after horrible image and calls for looters to be flogged or shot or worse.

The trouble is both sides are extreme. But the UK media has no interest in taking the hard road of finding out why this is happening.

*********************
Cameron make a statement – but Cameron scuttles away, no questions allowed. His statement makes no attempt to address the underlying problems. As one journalist wrote “Upper class twat out of his depth.”

*********************
MAS to join Oneworld sponsored by QantasAirways, while Qantas subsidiary Jetstar and AirAsia have a collaboration deal in place.

*********************
Here is the author of “dick-lit” – Tony Parsons showing why he is such an unpleasant reactionary:

“If we call in the British Army to stop the #LondonRiots, they would not even have to kill anyone- a few dozen broken skulls disperse the lot”

Would not solve anything; just creates a bigger problem.

Meanwhile Roger Helmer MEP tweets: “Memo to COBRA: Time to get tough. Bring in the Army. Shoot looters and arsonists on sight.”

Idiot – all expenses paid European bureaucrat. First thing to do would be to dissolve the European parliament – and spend the money domestically.

*******************
More on the London riots – this is a surprisingly sensible analysis from the Telegraph

*******************
Obama spoke to his nation tonight – very lacklustre – as he spoke US share prices fell; he walked off, US share prices bounced back a bit. That’s probably all you need to know.

*******************
One twitter message on the London riots seems to sum up how shambolic the violence there is: “The Youth of the Middle East rise up for basic freedoms.The Youth of London rise up for a HD ready 42″ Plasma TV.”

This is not violence for a cause – it is simple lawlessness.

********************
Please no – Chalerm as Justice Minister? At that point I give up any hope that I had for Yingluck’s government. Its like watching the Titanic.

*********************
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.

8 August 2011

Note to HBO – please do not kill off Jessica….

*********************
Alarming events in Tottenham, north London, last night. Made worse by the fact that the police seem to have been in hiding, allowing looting and damage to go on for hours.

These latest riots could simmer for months – and could spread to other London suburbs and other inner cities.

***********************
According to Tulsathit at the Nation : Yingluck’s husband Anussorn Amornchat: I’m always the one who says sorry after a fight. It’s her rule.

According to Anussorn, Yingluck’s rule No1 is she’s always right. Her rule No2 is, if she’s wrong, he must refer to rule No1.

Sounds so familiar.

*************************
I failed to get to Bangkok – the flights were so busy this week. Means that I missed seeing John and Lesley who were visiting from Aussie. Disappointed. Would have been good to catch up.

*************************
And played golf at Al Hamra yesterday – started at 2pm – must have been in the high 40s (Celcius) on the golf course. At the end of the day my whole body still felt 10 degrees warmer than it should be. And that was despite drinking a bottle of water every two holes.

5 August 2011

Airline fares sometimes make no sense: try this example.

6 August – Cathay Pacific one way to Hong Kong – on CX746 at 18.10pm – AED2,150 plus AED580 in tax for a total of AED 2,730.

Meanwhile – 6 August – Cathay Pacific to Bangkok via Hong Kong – CX746 at 18.10pm connecting to CX 751.

AED 470 plus AED 690 in tax for a total of AED 1,160.

Very strange.

****************************
Amazing what an LCC can do with one new airplane – Thai Air Asia from 01OCT11 is adding flights on a number of Key Domestic Routes. Destinations with service increase includes Hat Yai, Krabi, Phuket and Udon Thani.

Details:

Bangkok – Hat Yai Increase from 4 to 6 Daily
Bangkok – Krabi Increase from 2 to 4 Daily
Bangkok – Phuket Increase fro 7 to 8 Daily
Bangkok – Udon Thani Increase from 2 to 3 Daily

Each flight is about a one hour trip – 6 return flight is 12 hours flying time; allow 30 minutes for each turnaround and you have an 18 hour day – start at 6am and finish at midnight.

4 August 2011

Tried to fly standby to Bangkok this morning. Failed miserably. The flights are heavily over-booked this week and no one got on either of this morning’s flights.

*******************************
Russian visitors to Thailand increased almost 60% in the 12 months to June 2011; Chinese visitors by 58%.

*******************************
Australia’s Jetstar Group plans to launch a Hong Kong-based budget airline focused on mainland China routes and has started discussions with the city’s government to apply for an air operator’s certificate, the Apple Daily reported Thursday, citing unnamed sources.

The report said Jetstar, a unit of Qantas Airways Ltd. (QAN.AU), is seeking Hong Kong permanent residents as potential majority shareholders of the proposed airline, to conform with Hong Kong laws regulating ownership of airlines registered locally.

Jetstar already operates flights within Asia through its Singapore-based unit, Jetstar Asia Airways Pte. Ltd.

*****************************
Advice on one of the frequent flyer forums for passengers flying on Emirates:

“c) Overweight, balding Indian men trying to chat up the n00bs in the galley

I’m overweight and balding too but seriously dude, have some self respect. Your creased T-shirt and hairy …-crack visible due to your sagging track bottoms with strategic stains make me quite nauseous. And please don’t offer to buy them a gift from Duty Free to “thank them for their great service”. Their service sucked and they won’t sleep with you anyway. Take your scotch on the rocks in a plastic cup and slink back to your seat with some dignity intact.”

3 August 2011

Royals on a shoestring: Air passengers stunned as Kate and Wills settle into budget Flybe seats, while Harry goes EasyJet

Dont imagine we will see the Thai royal family on Nok Air or One-Two-Go….unless all their airplanes are impounded!

2 August 2011

Stuart Kuttner, the public face of the News of the World and its most vocal public defender for 22 years, has been has been arrested by police investigating allegations of phone hacking and of bribing police officers to leak sensitive information.

As managing editor until his resignation in July 2009, Kuttner was in charge of finances at the now-defunct tabloid.

That is 11 arrests to date – and have to assume there are more to follow.

**************************
Am I the only one who thinks that Eric Northman is more like Shallow Hal. The real Eric is still in there. He just changed tactics for a while. And he got to bed Sookie at last – it only took three and a half seasons, and a reversal of personality to get there ! I miss mean, mischievous Eric. The new, cuddly version cannot last.

If you have no idea what I am talking about then it is probably too late to start watching True Blood – cos it is awfully confusing !

1 August 2011

Click the link for a detailed 3D reconstruction of the Flight 1549 Hudson landing. http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=tE_5eiYn0D0#t=109

Wonderful.

*****************************
England beat India convincingly in the second test to go two up in the four match series.

Honestly, the Indians look tired, aged and poor. The bowling attack is feeble. The wicketkeeping shabby…and the batting too dependent on the three great and ageing batsmen, Tendulkar, Dravid and VVS Laxman.

31 July 2011

The Bangkok Post on Family Business. Says everything that you need to know about Thai politics…

OK – try this:

Bell was stupid. But the Indians could have just let it go. Kumar’s shocking fielding and his sense that the ball had gone for 4 just added to the confusion.

But once given out Bell was out and should not have returned. Now the moral high ground is with the Indians and that is always unlikely.

But – imagine if the English had done the same to Tendulkar in Eden Gardens, Calcutta when he was 138 not out. There would have been half a billion people outside the British Embassy protesting….

****************************
Lots of controversy at the test match in Trent Bridge – I wont write about it here – you can read it.

****************************
The obituary pages often tell a wonderful story of people who have had led outstanding lives – and this is one from yesterday: Flight Lieutenant Neill Cox

Flight Lieutenant Neill Cox, who has died aged 88, won two DFCs for flying operations in the Mediterranean; he was also noted in the Service for once taking off in his Spitfire completely unaware that a WAAF mechanic was clinging on to the tailplane.

***************************
This arrive in an email from Dubai Deals:

Souq.com’s deal of the day:

Dh2,199 for a BlackBerry Torch 9800 worth Dh2,199. Save 27%!

Err – maths may not be their strong point !

*****************************

fr

2016 Brazil World Cup qualifying draw: European teams:
Group A Croatia, Serbia, Belgium, Scotland, Macedonia, Wales
Group B Italy, Denmark, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Armenia, Malta
Group C Germany, Sweden, Rep. of Ireland, Austria, Faroe Islands, Kazakhstan
Group D Netherlands, Turkey, Hungary, Romania, Estonia, Andorra
Group E Norway, Slovenia, Switzerland, Albania, Cyprus, Iceland
Group F Portugal, Russia, Israel, Northern Ireland, Azerbaijan, Luxembourg
Group G Greece, Slovakia, Bosnia-Herz., Lithuania, Latvia, Leichtenstein
Group H England, Montenegro, Ukraine, Poland, Moldova, San Marino
Group I Spain, France, Belarus, Georgia, Finland

The nine group winners qualify by right with the eight best runners-up playing off for Europe’s last four berths in Brazil.

Spain, the current world champions, were drawn in the same group as France.

In Asia: teams play each other home and away, with the top two from each group going through to two groups of five. The top two of each of these groups will go to the finals, while the two third-placed finishers will face off, with the winner of that taking on the fifth-placed South America team for a place in Rio.

Group A China, Jordan, Iraq, Singapore
Group B South Korea, Kuwait, UAE, Lebanon
Group C Japan, Uzbekistan, Syria, North Korea
Group D Australia, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Thailand
Group E Iran, Qatar, Bahrain, Indonesia

***************************
Accident at Guyana’s airport yesterday as the new 737-800 over ran the runway end on arrival from New York. Seven people were injured – two had broken legs. There were no fatalities. Looking at the damage that is amazing!

The accident scene the following day (Photo: AP/Jules Gibson)

The UAE has confirmed the first day of the holy month of Ramadan will be Monday, August 1. Ramadan Kareem.

29 July 2011

The Dubai government has said that it won’t bid for 2020 Olympic games – has “decided a bid would be better timed for 2024. Err – no money !

The government’s media office claims that a feasibility study on Dubai’s capability for hosting Olympic Games shows that 70% of hard infrastructure needed is in place or planned. Planned is very different from in place. And we know that planned in Dubai does not equal reality. The airport and many of the hotels are there. But the stadium facilities. Not.

I wonder when my last Olympics will be. By 2024 I will be well into my 60s….not so many left then!

28 July 2011

Nelson Graves, once of Reuters, on The Baron’s web site, discussing changes in the markets division of Reuters: htis feels about right.

“The Thomson family is clearly not happy with the results of the Markets Division. They have fired the chief and key members of his team, and put the group CEO in charge. This shows there is no clear successor and the changes were made in relative haste. The Markets Division in many ways is exReuters – Glocer must be swallowing hard, and possibly looking afield. He probably has max one year to turn things around. Meanwhile, Editorial seems to be putting lots of eggs in the US media basket. Anyone’s guess why. If I were an investor, I’d be worried. Hold on, I am an investor!”

*****************************

File

Debuting on September 25th on ABC in the USA : “Pan Am” is a television series centered around the iconic airline Pan American World Airways during the 1960s. The period drama, from former ER writer Jack Orman, will focus on the pilots and flight attendants working for the world-famous airline in 1963.

From the official ABC site -“Passion, jealousy and espionage… They do it all – and they do it at 30,000 feet. The style of the 1960s, the energy and excitement of the Jet Age and a drama full of sexy entanglements deliciously mesh in this thrilling and highly-original new series.

In this modern world, air travel represents the height of luxury and Pan Am is the biggest name in the business. The planes are glamorous, the pilots are rock stars and the stewardesses are the most desirable women in the world. Not only are these flyboys and girls young and good looking, but to represent Pan Am they also have to be educated, cultured and refined. They’re trained to handle everything from in-air emergencies to unwanted advances – all without rumpling their pristine uniforms or mussing their hair. There’s Dean (Mike Vogel) – a cocky, charismatic and ambitious new pilot – the first of a new breed not trained in the war. On the sly against company policy, he’s dating Bridget, a stunning beauty with a mysterious past. A rebellious bohemian, Maggie (Christina Ricci) turns into a buttoned up professional for work so she can see the world. Rounding out the crew are flirtatious Colette (Karine Vanasse), the adventurous Kate (Kelli Garner) and, finally, Laura (Margot Robbie) – Kate’s beauty queen younger sister, a runaway bride, who recently fled a life of domestic boredom to take to the skies.”

Should be fun!

26 July 2011

The Thai media has out such a spin on the story behind the impounded Thai government 737 currently sitting in Munich that the German Embassy in Bangkok has had to issue its own clarifying press release.

25 July 2011

Do read Charlie Brooker’s very strong article for the Guardian/Observor on the media’s coverage of the bomb and shootings in Norway. Says it all. The news coverage of the Norway mass-killings was fact-free conjecture.

*************************
A truly depressing story from Thailand – which needs General Prayuth to stop forward and say that he personally will stop this abusive and vile treatment of conscripts in the army.

Deadly army discipline – Armed forces beating claims the life of an honours graduate, but family’s call for justice goes unheeded.

Credit to the Bangkok Post for pursuing the story.

24 July 2011

I have avoided writing or commenting on the tragic and unnecessary shootings in Norway. There is little that anyone can add to the expressions of sorrow and sympathy.

The combined death toll from the bombing in Oslo and shooting on the island of Utøya has risen to 93. Around 97 people suffered injuries.

What was sad was the reaction of the western media – the Sun’s front page headline on Saturday was “Al Qaeda Massacre: Norway’s 9/11”. Typical of most of the western media – even including the Financial Times. But this was home grown right wing fundamentalist terrorism.

How badly did the media react – Media Reacts to News That Norwegian Terror Suspect Isn’t Muslim

Shameful – but also an indication of just how the post 9/11 world behaves even ten years after the event.

***************************
Amy Winehouse died yesterday. No one should die that young. The Guardian’s obituary is here.

****************************
And Chinese bullet trains crash allegedly as the result of a lightening strike.

In the usual Chinese way it is unlikely that the truth of this accident will be revealed. The bullet trains are high profile national infrastructure projects and a matter of national pride. That has been badly dented.

22 July 2011

More twitter silliness: this time cricket movies:

The Umpire Strikes Back
Monty Python and the Holy Bail
How the test was won
Bowling John Malkovitch
Bedi does Dallas
Crease and Crease 2
Black Swann

You get the idea !

******************************
It has been a rough couple of weeks in Dubai – too much time on my own and marooned in Executive Towers which really does seem cut off from the rest of Dubai. It would be so nice just to be able to walk downstairs and have coffee and see people.

There are too many days when the only person I talk to is myself.

*******************************

Did have brunch yesterday with two happy couples – EK crew and their significant others – good to see old friends who are settled, well and happy. Things do work out – sometimes it takes time; but they do.

********************************
Is it the “For Neville” email that is going to cause fatal damage to the Murdoch empire.

To get all the background you need to read the Guardian article on the subject. In one corner James Murdoch who says he never saw the email and in the other corner the ex editor and legal counsel of the NOTW who have basically accused James Murdoch of lying to the parliamentary sub-committee. This could really blow up next week.

*************************
202 not out for Kevin Pieterson at Lords today against the Indians – how did he get to 200 – from the Guardian’s OBO – “he crashes four over the bowler’s head, bangs six into the pavilion, and wallops two to long-on. There are very, very few men in the world who are capable of playing an innings like this. He forces the next ball away for four and that brings up his double century. He’s absolutely overjoyed.”

***************************
Singapore Airlines confirms 777-200 selection for new long-haul LCC; they will be acquired from SIA + “reconfigured in new seating layout”.

Assume no first class and ten across in Economy – oops – just like that other long haul LCC – Emirates!

21 July 2011

“I bet when Rupert Murdoch was 38, he had no idea there was a baby somewhere called Wendi who would one day save his life.” – Jon Stewart

20 July 2011

Fox TV’s autumn line-up includes : Embarrassing Dads Say the Darndest Things, and Are You Smarter Than A Selectively Deaf Media Mogul?

The editor of the Indpendent calls this about right today: “one of the least edifying spectacles of this saga has been the willingness of politicians (largely on the Labour side) who have spent a large part of their careers dancing to Rupert Murdoch’s tune (or “greasing up” in Neil Kinnock’s memorable phrase) to queue up to express their disgust at the old man’s ways, and their distaste for his lieutenants.”

This whole sorry saga did not start recently – it started decades ago.

Maureen Dowd in the New York Times:

His most revealing moment was when he volunteered his admiration of Singapore, calling it the most “open and clear society in the world.” Its leaders are so lavishly paid, he said, that “there’s no temptation, and it is the cleanest society you’d find anywhere.”

It was instructive that Murdoch chose to praise a polished, deeply authoritarian police state. Maybe that’s how corporations would live if they didn’t have to believe in people.

19 July 2011

And in a simple summary of the Murdochs’ testimony to a parliamentary committee today:

“We weren’t involved, weren’t there, didn’t know, nobody told us, sorry.”

18 July 2011

The Daily Mail on Darren Clarke – “that is what makes him a perfect people’s Open champion. A noble underdog. Tick. A triumph over adversity. Tick. A decent man. Tick. One of the chaps. Tick. He says he is enrolling in Weight Watchers tomorrow, but will probably lose interest after a week and will go to Killarney for the Irish Open, but cannot guarantee being sober. Everyone in the room lapped up this cordial normality. Just like us, we thought. Just like us, if we were really, really good at golf.”

************************
Winning the Open is a big deal – but I am not sure that one great week should propel Clarke from 111th in the world golf rankings to 30th.

Did he suddenly become better than 81 golfers by virtue of that win – or did he just become better off than those 81 golfers?

17 July 2011

Emirates flights to Frankfurt will increase to 18 weekly from 31 October 2011, and then 21 weekly (3x daily) as originally scheduled from 1 December 2011.

************************
Darren Clarke won the Open at Royal St George’s in Sandwich. Could not happen to a nicer guy.

Just as a note it was also Peter Allis’ 50th anniversary of tv commentary at the Open. That is a pretty remarkable broadcasting achievement.

Was a little sad to hear McIlroy complaining that a golf tournament should not be decided by the luck of the draw and the weather than you play in. His first three rounds were all played with Ricky Fowler who incidentally finished fourth and looked like a serious challenger at the start of the final round.

Rory was also outplayed in the final round by Sergio Garcia.

McIlroy grew up as a links golfer; the weather is part of links golf. Me thinks he will start to play more golf on the USA tour.

Sadly his comments sound like he has already given up on the British Open – one links tournament a year is not worth changing his game for he said. Adding that he liked playing in windless 80F weather. No wonder he likes the Dubai Masters.

But the golfers that will also be remembered are those that can work there way around a links course manufacturing shots in the worst weather.

Tom Watson won 5 (almost 6) Opens. That is greatness.

16 July 2011

If there is any evidence that the News of the World and or News International were hacking into the telephones of families of the 9/11 victims in the USA then Murdoch’s US empire is dead in the water. Fox News would be pilloried.

There are few sacred cows in the USA but anything and anyone connected with 9/11 is protected territory.

*************************
Do read this great commentary on the fall of the Murdoch empire – a very British coup indeed.

*************************
Hong Kong – Gateway to China – 1930s video.

*************************
Brilliant hashtag on twitter today: #shakespeare4murdoch might be the single most middle-class act of subversion ever to take place. Only on Twitter…

Examples:

Hacking is such sweet sorrow

For never was a story of more woe/Than this of Murdoch and his CEO

Murdoch most foul!

Friends, Romans, countrymen; lend me your mobiles

Is this a blagger I see before me?

************************
Southeast Asia’s largest budget carrier AirAsia said it was close to a landmark deal that will see it partner Japan’s All Nippon Airways to launch a new low-cost airline.

Jetstar will invest $500 million in a major boost to its Singapore hub that will see seven new aircraft based in the city state and the addition of 40 weekly flights. The airline announced it would add five Airbus A320s and two wide-body Airbus A330-200s, including one previously announced aircraft to service new flights to Beijing.

*************************
As for the British Open – Donald and Westwood – the world number one and two missed the cut. McDowell missed the cut but left this lovely morning message – “On the couch with a cup of tea and a choccie Hob Nob and the golf on. Would love to be out there. Looks brutal. Won’t win it sitting here!!”

No Harrington either.

It is carnage out there today – brutal weather. The thing about Watson is that he just gets on with it. Chooses his club; has a look; hits it. He is playing today with Ricky Barnes who looks like he has never seen rain and wind !

Tom Watson at the tender age of 61 had a hole in one yesterday and is in contention again. He also played two rounds with the twenty year old English amateur, Tom Lewis, who was actually named after Tom Watson !

Tom major and Tom minor were great fun to watch.

Other than golf is there any other sport where the master and servant relationship is so obvious ? Golfers should carry their own clubs…

***************************
Atlantis on the last shuttle voyage – the landing day schedule for July 21is: deorbit burn now at 4:53 am EDT and landing at 5:57 am – just before 2pm Dubai time.

14 July 2011

Bastille Day. Happy birthday Nooraine. And the opening day of the British Open – golf. Wish I had a golf swing like Luke Donald.

Did play three games this week at Al Hamra – Thursday, Sunday and Tuesday – and when you start to play more often you can feel the game coming back. And when you make a mistake you can feel what you did and put it right.

Tuesday was fearfully hot – must have been close to 50C and probably hotter than that in the desert hills by some of the fairways.

13 July 2011

Thai slang of the day: หน้าแหก /naa haek/ (lit. “split face”), as in spectacular loss of face.

That’s what is feels like when someone impounds your airplane!

10 July 2011

Michelle Wie will end her 2011 competitive season at Dubai in the final event of the year, said officials at the Ladies European Tour.

Wie will play in the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters from Dec. 12-17, a $710,129 event hosted by the Emirates Golf Club, they said.

The 21-year-old Wie, who finished runner-up in 2009, came in fifth last year after struggling for most of the tournament with a bad back. The 10th-ranked Wie has had four top-10 finishes this year on the LPGA Tour but has yet to win.

Good to see Michelle coming back to Dubai – but please this time – dont try to launch the tee shot over the trees at the 18th !

********************************
Out of this world shuttle/space slideshow from Reuters – 27 glorious pictures.

*********************************
Since when have garden gnomes been thai?

“The ‘Amazing Thailand’ Festival at Dubai Outlet Mall is open to the public from 1 July till 31 July 2011 from 10am to 10pm on weekdays and 10am to 12 midnight on weekends; Showcasing Thailand’s unique attractions. The mall is decorated with DSS theme combined with Thai style beautiful and vivid ornaments and lanterns and visitors will get to experience Thai culture, entertainment, cuisine and handicrafts with lots of exhibitors offering unique stuff to purchase.

There is a wonderful entertainment lined up including Thai dance and performance, craft demonstrations, Thai massages, the Pink Garden show, Roaming stilt fashion shows, Garden Gnomes and lots more to amuse everyone.”

8 July 2011

Here are the pictures from Canada Day in London from the official web site.

7 July 2011

The Nation has a survey today of Thai childrens’ IQs which are said to be on average lower than the world’s median of 100.

But the Thai solution is not about their appalling education system – instead Dr Apichai Mongkol of the Mental Health Department said he believed insufficient iodine intake was the main cause of the below-average IQs of children in these provinces.

To promote higher IQs, he said parents should express their love for their children, provide them with nutritious food and allow them to interact with nature.

“Let children play without restrictions because that will boost their creativity,” Apichai said. “Aside from that, parents should encourage their children to read, sing and play sports.”

Errrr – investing in education at every level of a child’s development may be a better start.

6 July 2011

The Nation has not got much right about the Thai election but this quote is one irony worth highlighting – and it tells you all you need to know about Thai politics: “Thailand’s biggest sugar daddy Chuwit Kamolvisit – who admitted to paying millions of baht each month in police bribes but decided to enter politics after he fell out with the then police chief – got elected on an anticorruption ticket.”

5 July 2011

Thai Election Commission reports official election poll result with PT at 265, Dem 159, BJT 34, CTP 19, CPP 7, PC 7, Chuvit 7, Purachai 1.

4 July 2011

Happy Independence Day to any USA readers….

**********************************
Sights of the times – English pubs turned into MacDonalds

2 July 2011

We drove out of London this morning to go to the Maverick Festival at Easton Farm in Suffolk.

Oh My Darling and Blue Rodeo also made it from Trafalgar Square to Easton – as did a very friendly couple of Blue Rodeo fans – Al and Suzanne.

It is a strange event – Blue Rodeo would get mobbed at an event like this in Canada – in the UK they can walk around the event, visit the food stands and no one knows who they are. And the Brits that do know them would be too shy to say anything.

This is the sort of festival where Oh My Darling and the Travelling Band ended up playing frisbee together at the end of the evening….

Just dont stay at the nearby 3 Tuns.

1 July 2011

Alex and I drove from Stratford upon Avon to Elstree this morning and took a train into London for the Canada Day festivities in Trafalgar Square.

Good to catch up with my baby brother there – and to see the mad marathon runner looking well.

**************************
We saw Macbeth in Stratford last night. I love what they have don with the traditional old RSC theatre – which is now a raked 1,000 seat theatre with a thrust stage and seating in a circle on three sides of the stage – a far more comfortable version of a 16th century theatre.

But how can you have a Macbeth without witches – even the opening scene was cut…..no more when shall we three meet again!

2016 Brazil World Cup qualifying draw: European teams:
Group A Croatia, Serbia, Belgium, Scotland, Macedonia, Wales
Group B Italy, Denmark, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Armenia, Malta
Group C Germany, Sweden, Rep. of Ireland, Austria, Faroe Islands, Kazakhstan
Group D Netherlands, Turkey, Hungary, Romania, Estonia, Andorra
Group E Norway, Slovenia, Switzerland, Albania, Cyprus, Iceland
Group F Portugal, Russia, Israel, Northern Ireland, Azerbaijan, Luxembourg
Group G Greece, Slovakia, Bosnia-Herz., Lithuania, Latvia, Leichtenstein
Group H England, Montenegro, Ukraine, Poland, Moldova, San Marino
Group I Spain, France, Belarus, Georgia, Finland

The nine group winners qualify by right with the eight best runners-up playing off for Europe’s last four berths in Brazil.

Spain, the current world champions, were drawn in the same group as France.

In Asia: teams play each other home and away, with the top two from each group going through to two groups of five. The top two of each of these groups will go to the finals, while the two third-placed finishers will face off, with the winner of that taking on the fifth-placed South America team for a place in Rio.

Group A China, Jordan, Iraq, Singapore
Group B South Korea, Kuwait, UAE, Lebanon
Group C Japan, Uzbekistan, Syria, North Korea
Group D Australia, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Thailand
Group E Iran, Qatar, Bahrain, Indonesia

***************************
Accident at Guyana’s airport yesterday as the new 737-800 over ran the runway end on arrival from New York. Seven people were injured – two had broken legs. There were no fatalities. Looking at the damage that is amazing!

The accident scene the following day (Photo: AP/Jules Gibson)

The UAE has confirmed the first day of the holy month of Ramadan will be Monday, August 1. Ramadan Kareem.

29 July 2011

The Dubai government has said that it won’t bid for 2020 Olympic games – has “decided a bid would be better timed for 2024. Err – no money !

The government’s media office claims that a feasibility study on Dubai’s capability for hosting Olympic Games shows that 70% of hard infrastructure needed is in place or planned. Planned is very different from in place. And we know that planned in Dubai does not equal reality. The airport and many of the hotels are there. But the stadium facilities. Not.

I wonder when my last Olympics will be. By 2024 I will be well into my 60s….not so many left then!

28 July 2011

Nelson Graves, once of Reuters, on The Baron’s web site, discussing changes in the markets division of Reuters: htis feels about right.

“The Thomson family is clearly not happy with the results of the Markets Division. They have fired the chief and key members of his team, and put the group CEO in charge. This shows there is no clear successor and the changes were made in relative haste. The Markets Division in many ways is exReuters – Glocer must be swallowing hard, and possibly looking afield. He probably has max one year to turn things around. Meanwhile, Editorial seems to be putting lots of eggs in the US media basket. Anyone’s guess why. If I were an investor, I’d be worried. Hold on, I am an investor!”

*****************************

File

Debuting on September 25th on ABC in the USA : “Pan Am” is a television series centered around the iconic airline Pan American World Airways during the 1960s. The period drama, from former ER writer Jack Orman, will focus on the pilots and flight attendants working for the world-famous airline in 1963.

From the official ABC site -“Passion, jealousy and espionage… They do it all – and they do it at 30,000 feet. The style of the 1960s, the energy and excitement of the Jet Age and a drama full of sexy entanglements deliciously mesh in this thrilling and highly-original new series.

In this modern world, air travel represents the height of luxury and Pan Am is the biggest name in the business. The planes are glamorous, the pilots are rock stars and the stewardesses are the most desirable women in the world. Not only are these flyboys and girls young and good looking, but to represent Pan Am they also have to be educated, cultured and refined. They’re trained to handle everything from in-air emergencies to unwanted advances – all without rumpling their pristine uniforms or mussing their hair. There’s Dean (Mike Vogel) – a cocky, charismatic and ambitious new pilot – the first of a new breed not trained in the war. On the sly against company policy, he’s dating Bridget, a stunning beauty with a mysterious past. A rebellious bohemian, Maggie (Christina Ricci) turns into a buttoned up professional for work so she can see the world. Rounding out the crew are flirtatious Colette (Karine Vanasse), the adventurous Kate (Kelli Garner) and, finally, Laura (Margot Robbie) – Kate’s beauty queen younger sister, a runaway bride, who recently fled a life of domestic boredom to take to the skies.”

Should be fun!

26 July 2011

The Thai media has out such a spin on the story behind the impounded Thai government 737 currently sitting in Munich that the German Embassy in Bangkok has had to issue its own clarifying press release.

25 July 2011

Do read Charlie Brooker’s very strong article for the Guardian/Observor on the media’s coverage of the bomb and shootings in Norway. Says it all. The news coverage of the Norway mass-killings was fact-free conjecture.

*************************
A truly depressing story from Thailand – which needs General Prayuth to stop forward and say that he personally will stop this abusive and vile treatment of conscripts in the army.

Deadly army discipline – Armed forces beating claims the life of an honours graduate, but family’s call for justice goes unheeded.

Credit to the Bangkok Post for pursuing the story.

24 July 2011

I have avoided writing or commenting on the tragic and unnecessary shootings in Norway. There is little that anyone can add to the expressions of sorrow and sympathy.

The combined death toll from the bombing in Oslo and shooting on the island of Utøya has risen to 93. Around 97 people suffered injuries.

What was sad was the reaction of the western media – the Sun’s front page headline on Saturday was “Al Qaeda Massacre: Norway’s 9/11”. Typical of most of the western media – even including the Financial Times. But this was home grown right wing fundamentalist terrorism.

How badly did the media react – Media Reacts to News That Norwegian Terror Suspect Isn’t Muslim

Shameful – but also an indication of just how the post 9/11 world behaves even ten years after the event.

***************************
Amy Winehouse died yesterday. No one should die that young. The Guardian’s obituary is here.

****************************
And Chinese bullet trains crash allegedly as the result of a lightening strike.

In the usual Chinese way it is unlikely that the truth of this accident will be revealed. The bullet trains are high profile national infrastructure projects and a matter of national pride. That has been badly dented.

22 July 2011

More twitter silliness: this time cricket movies:

The Umpire Strikes Back
Monty Python and the Holy Bail
How the test was won
Bowling John Malkovitch
Bedi does Dallas
Crease and Crease 2
Black Swann

You get the idea !

******************************
It has been a rough couple of weeks in Dubai – too much time on my own and marooned in Executive Towers which really does seem cut off from the rest of Dubai. It would be so nice just to be able to walk downstairs and have coffee and see people.

There are too many days when the only person I talk to is myself.

*******************************

Did have brunch yesterday with two happy couples – EK crew and their significant others – good to see old friends who are settled, well and happy. Things do work out – sometimes it takes time; but they do.

********************************
Is it the “For Neville” email that is going to cause fatal damage to the Murdoch empire.

To get all the background you need to read the Guardian article on the subject. In one corner James Murdoch who says he never saw the email and in the other corner the ex editor and legal counsel of the NOTW who have basically accused James Murdoch of lying to the parliamentary sub-committee. This could really blow up next week.

*************************
202 not out for Kevin Pieterson at Lords today against the Indians – how did he get to 200 – from the Guardian’s OBO – “he crashes four over the bowler’s head, bangs six into the pavilion, and wallops two to long-on. There are very, very few men in the world who are capable of playing an innings like this. He forces the next ball away for four and that brings up his double century. He’s absolutely overjoyed.”

***************************
Singapore Airlines confirms 777-200 selection for new long-haul LCC; they will be acquired from SIA + “reconfigured in new seating layout”.

Assume no first class and ten across in Economy – oops – just like that other long haul LCC – Emirates!

21 July 2011

“I bet when Rupert Murdoch was 38, he had no idea there was a baby somewhere called Wendi who would one day save his life.” – Jon Stewart

20 July 2011

Fox TV’s autumn line-up includes : Embarrassing Dads Say the Darndest Things, and Are You Smarter Than A Selectively Deaf Media Mogul?

The editor of the Indpendent calls this about right today: “one of the least edifying spectacles of this saga has been the willingness of politicians (largely on the Labour side) who have spent a large part of their careers dancing to Rupert Murdoch’s tune (or “greasing up” in Neil Kinnock’s memorable phrase) to queue up to express their disgust at the old man’s ways, and their distaste for his lieutenants.”

This whole sorry saga did not start recently – it started decades ago.

Maureen Dowd in the New York Times:

His most revealing moment was when he volunteered his admiration of Singapore, calling it the most “open and clear society in the world.” Its leaders are so lavishly paid, he said, that “there’s no temptation, and it is the cleanest society you’d find anywhere.”

It was instructive that Murdoch chose to praise a polished, deeply authoritarian police state. Maybe that’s how corporations would live if they didn’t have to believe in people.

19 July 2011

And in a simple summary of the Murdochs’ testimony to a parliamentary committee today:

“We weren’t involved, weren’t there, didn’t know, nobody told us, sorry.”

18 July 2011

The Daily Mail on Darren Clarke – “that is what makes him a perfect people’s Open champion. A noble underdog. Tick. A triumph over adversity. Tick. A decent man. Tick. One of the chaps. Tick. He says he is enrolling in Weight Watchers tomorrow, but will probably lose interest after a week and will go to Killarney for the Irish Open, but cannot guarantee being sober. Everyone in the room lapped up this cordial normality. Just like us, we thought. Just like us, if we were really, really good at golf.”

************************
Winning the Open is a big deal – but I am not sure that one great week should propel Clarke from 111th in the world golf rankings to 30th.

Did he suddenly become better than 81 golfers by virtue of that win – or did he just become better off than those 81 golfers?

17 July 2011

Emirates flights to Frankfurt will increase to 18 weekly from 31 October 2011, and then 21 weekly (3x daily) as originally scheduled from 1 December 2011.

************************
Darren Clarke won the Open at Royal St George’s in Sandwich. Could not happen to a nicer guy.

Just as a note it was also Peter Allis’ 50th anniversary of tv commentary at the Open. That is a pretty remarkable broadcasting achievement.

Was a little sad to hear McIlroy complaining that a golf tournament should not be decided by the luck of the draw and the weather than you play in. His first three rounds were all played with Ricky Fowler who incidentally finished fourth and looked like a serious challenger at the start of the final round.

Rory was also outplayed in the final round by Sergio Garcia.

McIlroy grew up as a links golfer; the weather is part of links golf. Me thinks he will start to play more golf on the USA tour.

Sadly his comments sound like he has already given up on the British Open – one links tournament a year is not worth changing his game for he said. Adding that he liked playing in windless 80F weather. No wonder he likes the Dubai Masters.

But the golfers that will also be remembered are those that can work there way around a links course manufacturing shots in the worst weather.

Tom Watson won 5 (almost 6) Opens. That is greatness.

16 July 2011

If there is any evidence that the News of the World and or News International were hacking into the telephones of families of the 9/11 victims in the USA then Murdoch’s US empire is dead in the water. Fox News would be pilloried.

There are few sacred cows in the USA but anything and anyone connected with 9/11 is protected territory.

*************************
Do read this great commentary on the fall of the Murdoch empire – a very British coup indeed.

*************************
Hong Kong – Gateway to China – 1930s video.

*************************
Brilliant hashtag on twitter today: #shakespeare4murdoch might be the single most middle-class act of subversion ever to take place. Only on Twitter…

Examples:

Hacking is such sweet sorrow

For never was a story of more woe/Than this of Murdoch and his CEO

Murdoch most foul!

Friends, Romans, countrymen; lend me your mobiles

Is this a blagger I see before me?

************************
Southeast Asia’s largest budget carrier AirAsia said it was close to a landmark deal that will see it partner Japan’s All Nippon Airways to launch a new low-cost airline.

Jetstar will invest $500 million in a major boost to its Singapore hub that will see seven new aircraft based in the city state and the addition of 40 weekly flights. The airline announced it would add five Airbus A320s and two wide-body Airbus A330-200s, including one previously announced aircraft to service new flights to Beijing.

*************************
As for the British Open – Donald and Westwood – the world number one and two missed the cut. McDowell missed the cut but left this lovely morning message – “On the couch with a cup of tea and a choccie Hob Nob and the golf on. Would love to be out there. Looks brutal. Won’t win it sitting here!!”

No Harrington either.

It is carnage out there today – brutal weather. The thing about Watson is that he just gets on with it. Chooses his club; has a look; hits it. He is playing today with Ricky Barnes who looks like he has never seen rain and wind !

Tom Watson at the tender age of 61 had a hole in one yesterday and is in contention again. He also played two rounds with the twenty year old English amateur, Tom Lewis, who was actually named after Tom Watson !

Tom major and Tom minor were great fun to watch.

Other than golf is there any other sport where the master and servant relationship is so obvious ? Golfers should carry their own clubs…

***************************
Atlantis on the last shuttle voyage – the landing day schedule for July 21is: deorbit burn now at 4:53 am EDT and landing at 5:57 am – just before 2pm Dubai time.

14 July 2011

Bastille Day. Happy birthday Nooraine. And the opening day of the British Open – golf. Wish I had a golf swing like Luke Donald.

Did play three games this week at Al Hamra – Thursday, Sunday and Tuesday – and when you start to play more often you can feel the game coming back. And when you make a mistake you can feel what you did and put it right.

Tuesday was fearfully hot – must have been close to 50C and probably hotter than that in the desert hills by some of the fairways.

13 July 2011

Thai slang of the day: หน้าแหก /naa haek/ (lit. “split face”), as in spectacular loss of face.

That’s what is feels like when someone impounds your airplane!

10 July 2011

Michelle Wie will end her 2011 competitive season at Dubai in the final event of the year, said officials at the Ladies European Tour.

Wie will play in the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters from Dec. 12-17, a $710,129 event hosted by the Emirates Golf Club, they said.

The 21-year-old Wie, who finished runner-up in 2009, came in fifth last year after struggling for most of the tournament with a bad back. The 10th-ranked Wie has had four top-10 finishes this year on the LPGA Tour but has yet to win.

Good to see Michelle coming back to Dubai – but please this time – dont try to launch the tee shot over the trees at the 18th !

********************************
Out of this world shuttle/space slideshow from Reuters – 27 glorious pictures.

*********************************
Since when have garden gnomes been thai?

“The ‘Amazing Thailand’ Festival at Dubai Outlet Mall is open to the public from 1 July till 31 July 2011 from 10am to 10pm on weekdays and 10am to 12 midnight on weekends; Showcasing Thailand’s unique attractions. The mall is decorated with DSS theme combined with Thai style beautiful and vivid ornaments and lanterns and visitors will get to experience Thai culture, entertainment, cuisine and handicrafts with lots of exhibitors offering unique stuff to purchase.

There is a wonderful entertainment lined up including Thai dance and performance, craft demonstrations, Thai massages, the Pink Garden show, Roaming stilt fashion shows, Garden Gnomes and lots more to amuse everyone.”

8 July 2011

Here are the pictures from Canada Day in London from the official web site.

7 July 2011

The Nation has a survey today of Thai childrens’ IQs which are said to be on average lower than the world’s median of 100.

But the Thai solution is not about their appalling education system – instead Dr Apichai Mongkol of the Mental Health Department said he believed insufficient iodine intake was the main cause of the below-average IQs of children in these provinces.

To promote higher IQs, he said parents should express their love for their children, provide them with nutritious food and allow them to interact with nature.

“Let children play without restrictions because that will boost their creativity,” Apichai said. “Aside from that, parents should encourage their children to read, sing and play sports.”

Errrr – investing in education at every level of a child’s development may be a better start.

6 July 2011

The Nation has not got much right about the Thai election but this quote is one irony worth highlighting – and it tells you all you need to know about Thai politics: “Thailand’s biggest sugar daddy Chuwit Kamolvisit – who admitted to paying millions of baht each month in police bribes but decided to enter politics after he fell out with the then police chief – got elected on an anticorruption ticket.”

5 July 2011

Thai Election Commission reports official election poll result with PT at 265, Dem 159, BJT 34, CTP 19, CPP 7, PC 7, Chuvit 7, Purachai 1.

4 July 2011

Happy Independence Day to any USA readers….

**********************************
Sights of the times – English pubs turned into MacDonalds

2 July 2011

We drove out of London this morning to go to the Maverick Festival at Easton Farm in Suffolk.

Oh My Darling and Blue Rodeo also made it from Trafalgar Square to Easton – as did a very friendly couple of Blue Rodeo fans – Al and Suzanne.

It is a strange event – Blue Rodeo would get mobbed at an event like this in Canada – in the UK they can walk around the event, visit the food stands and no one knows who they are. And the Brits that do know them would be too shy to say anything.

This is the sort of festival where Oh My Darling and the Travelling Band ended up playing frisbee together at the end of the evening….

Just dont stay at the nearby 3 Tuns.

1 July 2011

Alex and I drove from Stratford upon Avon to Elstree this morning and took a train into London for the Canada Day festivities in Trafalgar Square.

Good to catch up with my baby brother there – and to see the mad marathon runner looking well.

**************************
We saw Macbeth in Stratford last night. I love what they have don with the traditional old RSC theatre – which is now a raked 1,000 seat theatre with a thrust stage and seating in a circle on three sides of the stage – a far more comfortable version of a 16th century theatre.

But how can you have a Macbeth without witches – even the opening scene was cut…..no more when shall we three meet again!

30 June 2011

Time to head out of Newton Ferrers for Stratford….and the start of a few days road trip…

Newton Ferrers changes so little – very peaceful – although there are building works at a number of homes in the village.

*************************
Some more articles on ThaiStory – which you can read on www.foreignpolicy.com – search for writing by Andrew Marshall.

One depressing paragraph – “Thailand is slipping backwards into authoritarianism, militarism, and repression. And a general election on Sunday, July 3, seems unlikely to change that. It’s an election in which whoever wins, Thailand’s people are likely to lose.”

And the problem of reporting politics in Thailand is this: “Trying to explain Thai politics without reference to the role of the palace is thus like trying to tell the story of the Titanic without any mention of the ship.”

***************************
The debate over ThaiStory contains a wide collection of wisdom, informed comments and rants.

And the Economist’s Banyan column weighs in with its thoughts on the story as well.

29 June 2011

An interesting perspective on Andrew Marshall’s ThaiStory can be found here. Although be careful – this was written after the author had only completed part 1 of 4 parts.

27 June 2011

Only six days left for the Thai Army to call off the 3 July election – siting something like national security and the Thai Cambodia border dispute as the reason for postponement – it could happen…..

***************************
Just for fun this week I upgraded the rental to an Audi A5 TDI – and it is fun to drive….and a beautifully finished car. Add a great entertainment system, leather seats, sat nav and only a few miles on the clock.

****************************
Dubai watch – Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol opens December 16, 2011.

*****************************
And – for vampire lovers everywhere the sexy gore of True Blood is back!

25 June 2011

How do Emiratis think – well here is a fine example from the National today – “Mariam, a 45-year-old Emirati, said she has heard many stories of housekeepers absconding. “The issue with giving them a day off is that they may run away””

In the 21st century this is nothing short of slavery. Truly sad. And this is a quote from a family that employs four housekeepers.

********************************
We have been in Rolle, Geneve for two days for Alex’s end of term and end of school year at Le Rosey.

Do exclusive brand name bags really need to be carried when wearing the school uniform?

22 June 2011

Coming in the morning – Andrew Marshall’s first two instalments of his four part Thai Story. Long awaited – some new revelations are likely.

Andrew resigned from Reuters to complete the story – Reuters has disowned it with the following statement – “Reuters didn’t publish this story because we didn’t think it worked in the format in which it was delivered. We had questions regarding length, sourcing, objectivity, and legal issues. In addition, we were concerned the writer wasn’t participating in the normal editing process that would apply to any story Reuters publishes in keeping with our high editorial standards.”

Part 1 of #thaistory contains an introduction and detailed information on the monarchy and the succession

Part 2 of #thaistory covers the lese majeste law and the history of the crisis from the 2005 election to the 2006 coup

Part 3 of #thaistory (forthcoming after tomorrow) will cover 2006-2010.

Part 4 will offer conclusions and predictions.

I am not sure what to expect – initially will there be much more than in “The King Never Smiles” – which I cannot link to since it is banned in Thailand?

Expect some heavy redactions within the Wikileaks material that is used as well.

**********************
And Lake Maggiore is different as well. Far fewer English here – more Germans and Swiss. Stresa is a very sleepy town. It feels a bit like a poorer and smaller version of the Swiss town of Montreux.

**********************
Lake Garda and Lake Como are very different. Lake Garda is the people’s lake – camp sites everywhere around the lake and it is all very accessible. The tone is set ny endless adverts for “Sexy Shop” – you dont get that around Como.

Lake Como is for the people that think they run the country – and a few movie people as well.

I imagine Berlosconi having great parties in villas around the lake. Clooney has a villa somewhere on the lake. The only nightlife open at 10.30pm in Bellagio is the gelato shop !

21 June 2011

A morning in the sun, a glass of wine for lunch, and an afternoon siesta – and it is already 6pm. It is a tough life !

**************************
Villa Carlotta on Lake Como is nice but it really does not live up to the “impossible romantic” description. Give me Castle Howard any day.

***************************
My old colleague and friend Andrew Marshall is set to release part one of his Thai story on Thursday.

Part 1 of #thaistory (twitter hashtag) will be about the monarchy and succession and references 95 cables. Part 2 covers Thaksin and the crisis.

Expect to see part one on Thursday this week.

Meanwhile Not the Nation has its own take on this story.

****************************
One of the risks of sharing your life with a cabin crew – they always leave the do not disturb sign on in a hotel – scaring off any would be cleaners !

20 June 2011

Question – English Lake District or Italy’s Lake District – in a massive shock to my friends – the answer is England.

More rugged scenery – less populated – better choice of where and how to eat. A sense that the land is owned by the people – not by rich Italian industrialists who want to keep the rest of us out.

Italian food – pizza or pasta – and some stale bread in the cover charge.

A trip to the Lake District – regional foods – thai and asian restaurants – english pubs – spotted dick (dessert not disease!)….

Car parking in Italy – a nightmare – if you can find a car park the hourly parking costs will bankrupt you. Traffic – dont get me started again !

***************************
Thanks to the San Francisco Chronicle – “Some studies say half the women in the United States have one. That’s more than 50 million vibrators, not counting women with multiple devices or the few million owned by men, who also travel with what are known in the industry as rings and “sleeves” (the truly curious can find a thorough description of these elsewhere).”

And they are all made in China – what do those poor Chinese girls think of the decadent west now !

19 June 2011

A list of things not to do in Lake Garda:

1. Avoid (do anything except this) driving around the lake on a summer Sunday. The traffic is horrendous. A major traffic jam in every town; mad cyclists everywhere on roads that are too narrow. And motorbikes coming at you from 360 degrees.

2. Expecting normal driving times. Double them.

3. Never ever eat at the appalling Carbonaia restaurant in Pescharia.

4. Let your wife, partner stay in bed longer than is necessary because half the day will be gone and you will miss the ferry that you wanted to catch. And instead of a nice cruise on the lake you can spend five hours driving around it,

18 June 2011

Facebook can be so useless – Dear Robert Scott,

“Your Facebook account was recently logged into from a computer, mobile device or other location you’ve never used before. For your protection, we’ve temporarily locked your account until you can review this activity and make sure no one is using your account without your permission.

Did you log into Facebook from a new device or an unusual location?

– If this was not you, please log into Facebook from your computer and follow the instructions provided to help you control your account information.

– If this was you, there’s no need to worry. Simply log into Facebook again to get back into your account.”

Look I realise this is an American company and Americans think the world starts and ends at their borders – you really need to get out more – but the rest of us do travel. This is not protecting my privacy – it is just wasting my time.

16 June 2011

The Boston Bruins have won the Stanley Cup after beating the Vancouver Canucks 4-0 in the deciding Game Seven – unhappy Vancouver fans then set about looting and trashing downtown.

On TV it looks like a full blown riot with substantial looting….it is very hard to explain to people that this is just over a midsummer hockey game. Across the middle east people have been protesting for a cause, for the freedoms that people enjoy in Vancouver – and this is what people do with those freedoms….very sad.

15 June 2011

The year’s first total eclipse of the moon is taking place tonight and will last an unusually long time.

The lunar eclipse is visible from start to finish from eastern Africa, central Asia, the Middle East and western Australia — weather permitting.

And the eclipse was made available online, with commentary, as seen in Cyprus or Dubai.

Click here for the SLOOH Space Camera website

The period when Earth’s shadow completely blocks the moon — known as totality — will last a whopping 1 hour and 40 minutes. The last time the moon was covered for this long was in July 2000, when it lasted 7 minutes longer than that.

The entire eclipse will last a little over 5 1/2 hours.

Unlike solar eclipses, lunar eclipses are safe to watch with the naked eye.

The next total lunar eclipse will fall on December 10th with the best viewing from Asia and Australia.

**************************
The eclipse is bringing out the worst in the folks above my apartment who are having a very angry shouting match.

**************************
Tonight’s unexpected tv entertainment – the 1992 movie – North of Chiang Mai – Timothy Bottoms (silly name) and Kanta Danao – who appears to have only ever made one movie.

She plays the Thai heroine who conveniently says all her script in both English and Thai!

The New York scenes were actually shot in Toronto – they must have been filmed while I lived there.

Chiang Mai in 1992 was a very different city.

Box art

************************
In Thailand the government news agency actually has to tell people this:

“Authorities ask public not to shoot into the air during full lunar eclipse from 1-5am as bullet may stray and hit someone”

************************
Palm Jumeirah sink hole swallows taxi ! More quality construction in Dubai. I hope that the RTA did not blame the taxi driver.

*************************
CNN bringing us all the news that matters – Hong Kong travelers prefer eating to having sex in hotel beds

*************************
Amazing Thailand – things you never thought about because they could not be possible – somehow become possible – and then you realise that the Thai soap opera dramas which anywhere else would be outrageous are just scratching at the surface of life’s dramas…..

14 June 2011

More fiction from Airbus – which has pushed back the first flight of the A350-900 to the end of 2012 and is aiming for certification and service entry by the end of 2013. This is some six months later than previously planned.

But I bet this airplane will not see airline service until 2014. Which is bad news for Emirates; which will need to keep its battered uncomfortable A330s and A340s flying for another three years.

13 June 2011

Two days of golf – Al Hamra on Saturday and Al Badia in Dubai on Sunday. I had forgotten what a good course Al Badia is. A great mix of some really testing golf holes and others that are more forgiving. And even in an early Dubai summer it is in great condition.

The clubhouse and locker facilities are also excellent.

But it was so hot. After two days all I wanted to do was crawl into a cold bath and bed.

11 June 2011

Dubai in 1967 – youtube video

Dubai in 1984

9 June 2011

Another Emirates announcement as it relaunches its third daily flight to Sydney Australia from October this year.

***********************
Emirates is also blitzing (interesting choice of words!!) Europe with new advertising reminding Europeans that they are only employed because EK keeps ordering the A380s!

The background to the new advertisement is here – the advert itself is at the end of the youtube clip.

7 June 2011

Bronte country

Bed and breakfast at the bottom of main street in Haworth – and a short walk up the cobble stoned hill to the Haworth Parsonage home of the Bronte family.

*************************
On 1st November, Emirates Airline will launch daily services to St. Petersburg. Service is a mixture of A340 and A330.

6 June 2011

6 June in the UK and the temperature for most of the day failed to get past 13C in the lake district.

It is nice up here; people are welcoming and friendly. By mid summer it must get a bit too crowded and some of the roads and village centres must be near chaos !

But on a Monday in early June. Very nice.

5 June 2011

Jon Ungphakorn’s predictions for a Yingluck led Phua Thai government:

1. Life more or less the same for middle classes/low income groups.
2. Continued censorship of internet
3. No change to 112 – continued LM arrests
4. No change in army leadership
5. No officials or politicians charged for April-May 2010 events
6. No change in behaviour of Ministry of Culture
7. No tax reforms
8. No welfare state.

The only major policy changes will be political amnesty and better relations with Cambodia which will draw mass protests. So for Thaksin it is about recognition from above rather than radical change.

Pragmatic – and entirely depressing.

**************************
Sad – “I don’t have to answer this question. We should focus on tennis today… And actually, I don’t really know what happened.”

– Newly crowned tennis champion Li Na (李娜) on how she felt about winning the French Open on the 22nd anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown.

She is either self censoring or has grown up the product of very effective censorship and control.

***********************
The Emirates A330s are horribly uncomfortable airplanes.

4 June 2011

Big thumbs up for Li Na – who becomes the first Asian/Chinese woman to win a tennis grand slam title. She will not be the last.

************************
The Nation plumbs new depths in Thailand with a very deliberate front page on the Nation Weekend: best summed up by BP in this commentary:

What is the Nation Weekend implying about Yingluck?

************************
22nd anniversary of the Chinese crackdown and killings in Tiananmen Square.

Thousands in Hong Kong to mark Tiananmen crackdown

Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times on his facebook page today:

“June 4 always bring back searing memories of being on Tiananmen Square the night of the massacre in 1989. Gunfire! Tanks! Troops! And unbelievable courage by protesters. Ambulance drivers were shot, so it was up to rickshaw drivers to brave gunfire and pick up the injured. Then they’d rush off to hospitals, tears streaming down their cheeks. Some day there’ll be a memorial in Beijing to their courage.”

22 years later we are seeing the same courage across the Middle East.

Meanwhile Chinese dissent has largely been silenced by economic well – being and the encouragement of a fervent and potentially dangerous nationalism.

*************************
This is interesting: Life, the Universe and Everything – Stewart Brand is the founder of the Long Now Foundation, the Global Business Network, and of the internet platform The WELL. From 1968 to 1998, he was editor of the Whole Earth Catalogue. Brand was the original founder of the Haight-Ashbury Trip Festival and, in the 1960s, persuaded NASA to release the first pictures of the whole earth from space after studying biology at Stanford University and serving in the US Army.

His discussion of the human condition and the importance of technology in driving change is interesting – though on the latter the importance of technological change has been obvious since the industrial revolution.

3 June 2011

Back in Dubai – thanks to EK375 this morning.

Meanwhile two days ago an Emirates Airlines 777LR A6-EMD touched down on runway 23 at Geneva for the first time.

And here is a link to the Geneve Airplane spotters web site.

2 June 2011

Channel 131 is undergoing maintenance. Sorry for the inconvenience. Hope this does not last long.

******************************
The unsung heroes of BKK – the garbage collectors !

1 June 2011

Blatter re-elected as FIFA president for a fourth term – when your nose is so far into the trough I guess it is hard to see the crisis that has unveiled around you: this was the Guardian:

“As Fifa works through the voting countries towards the formality of Sepp Blatter’s restoration for four more years, the realisation is sinking in about how successful his campaign has been. Mohamed bin Hammam, the challenger, was taken bodily out of the contest after seven whistleblowers allegedly testified to being offered cash in return for voting for the Qatari. David Bernstein’s call for a postponement was angrily rejected amid all that anti-English and anti-media rhetoric.

Blatter promises “zero tolerance” of corruption and a strengthened ethics committee, but his proposals are still vague. His abiding theme in four days here has been that the Fifa “family” must do everything “from within,” and brook no interference from any government.

In Switzerland Fifa enjoys the historic tax exemption accorded to once-amateur sports governing bodies, even though it now makes $4.2bn (2007-10) from selling the TV and commercial rights to the World Cup. Despite a small, committed demonstration against that by young socialists and greens this morning, Fifa’s impermeability is set to remain, under Blatter for four more years.”

**************************
Grrr – Indian families are shopping en masse along Sukhumvit Rd – the sidewalks are dismal places already – over run with stalls selling junk and “number one” copy watches – but now you cannot get through the crowds haggling over 10 baht.

They have simply no clue that there are other people in the world and that some of them might want to walk past !

Grrrrrrr.

BTW – Indian tourists are taking over Thailand. More prominent that Chinese tourists. It is an easy flight from India and well served by the low costs airlines. The tourism industry in Thailand adopts and evolves accordingly.

Still plenty of cockroaches around !

*****************************
Hotel reviews can be such fun – here is w whining Indian family on a Bangkok hotel from booking.com:

“The breakfast was average infact we were told some fruits were exhausted.”

Over exercising fruits ??

31 May 2011

Hopefully this guy will not be flying an EK jet soon – if he thought Aussie was hot and humid he should try Dubai in summer !

Trainee Emirates pilot blacks out at plane controls

************************
Thailand’s got talent – something different: this is the 13th year old winner – half Thai – half American.

30 May 20101

This is getting a bit silly:

A Thai-born man with American citizenship arrested on a charge of lese majeste has also been charged with committing an offence against national security, Department of Special Investigation chief Tharit Pengdit says.

This has provided grounds for the DSI to oppose the man’s request for bail, Mr Tharit said.

The American was arrested on Thursday in Nakhon Ratchasima for posting a link on his blog in 2007 to The King Never Smiles, an unauthorised biography of His Majesty that is banned in Thailand.

The web site link was added four years ago – and he is arrested this week – with an election looming. There may be more to this story. If there is it is not being well reported.

29 May 2011

A big thank you to folks who sent birthday wishes.

We flew over to Bangkok on the 27th for three nights – nice to see Miss Apple on the flight waving to us from the first class stairs as we headed to the back of the plane.

We saw Hangover 2 on Saturday. It is basically a rehash of the plot of Hangover 1 substituting Bangkok for Las Vegas. At least if you know Bangkok well it is fun to see where they filmed and what they got right and wrong.

There is concern in Thailand that the film damages Thailand’s tourist image – not at all. There was not a cockroach or a rat in sight.

And a short walk down Saladaeng to Silom in the evening and you see dozens of both.

What is with the pot plant holders on the sidewalks at Siam. It used to be difficult enough to navigate through the sidewalk stalls. Now with these huge empty plant holders taking half the sidewalk it is almost impossible.

Dinner at Wine Connection at K Village of Soi 26 on Saturday night – busy. Too busy for a hapless and rather badly trained staff.

And then to Spasso at the Hyatt which has a new a band. The guitar player asked Tai “are you single tonight” – she was away a long time!

They were good enough to let us stay until the end of the European Champions final where Man U were played off the park by Barcelona. So it was after 3am that we headed back to Siri Sathorn.

And Chatujak today – because Tai needs yet more clothes !

25 May 2011

FlyDubai to start Ukraine flights to Kiev and Kharkov on September 16 with flights to the eastern city of Donetsk starting a day later.

Have to say that flydubai is a genuine success story!

************************
Am in a very indifferent mood.

**************************
If today’s movie review by Roger Ebert of Hangover 2 is anything to judge by, then the Tourism Authority of Thailand might have to do some damage control this weekend.

“Much of “The Hangover, Part II” plays like an anti-travelogue paid for by a rival tourist destination — Singapore, maybe.”

So not the best advertisement that Thailand has ever had. I wonder how much of the film will be censored for the Thai market?

24 May 2011

US President Obama does know how to work a crowd. His 24 hour visit to Ireland to search for the missing apostrophe was a huge success – and the best advert that Guinness has had for a long time.

23 May 2011

Emirates to fly the A380 to Munich starting 1 Jan 2012 & to operate an extra flight to Frankfurt, going triple daily.

***************************
So here is the quick round up of the end of the English footie season:

Man U win the title. Chelsea who won the double last year and finished second this year – sacked their manager in the corridor of Everton’s stadium last night and will now seek their sixth manager in seven years.

Chelsea have no shame and may attempt to work a clause into Ancelotti’s compensation package that prohibits him from managing another Premier League club.

Birmingham, Blackpool and West Ham went down. No one really cares much for any of these teams; they will not be missed.

Wigan survived – and that is good news for their intelligent and articulate manager, Roberto Martinez.

Wolves survived. What a dour team. But they have scored more goals than Birmingham. I suspect Wolves may be stronger next year.

Blackpool were mostly fun to watch – open attacking football with open appalling defending – encapsulated by an awful and decisive own goal yesterday. They have been doomed for weeks. The squad will break up now and I suspect they can do no better than mid table in next year’s Championship.

****************************
Fascinating article from the New York Times – it is from 1989 – although with a few changes in dates and ages could be written now – KING BHUMIBOL’S REIGN
By Barbara Crossette; Barbara Crossette, chief of The Times’s bureau in New Delhi, reported from Bangkok, Thailand, between 1984 and 1988. It was first published on May 21, 1989

***************************
Joe Cocker’s Dubai concert – reviewed by the National.

 

22 May 2011

So Emirates my have trouble getting new flights to Germany or to Canada – but there is always Mali as the UAE has signde an “Open Sky” Air Services Agreement with that African nation.

But I don’t think there will be Dubai – Mali flights in the near future.

21 May 2011

In Hong Kong over dinner last week one of my oldest (as in known a long time rather than ageing) friends asked me whether, should I die tomorrow, I would have any regrets.
She did not mean the little things like did I leave the laundry out or not leave the toilet seat down.

She did not even mean regrets about my life to date; she meant are there things that I should fix, just in case I wont be here tomorrow.

The timing of her question was interesting as Family Radio, a non-profit, listener-supported religious organization based in Oakland, Calif., has declared that May 21 will mark the end of the world, when Jesus Christ arrives for his second coming and the “rapture” of his believers.

There are more than 5,000 billboards, posters, fliers and digital bus displays across the USA saying that the world will end on the 21st May. Crazy people. And how to scare children.

Of course when the world does not end today – and keeps on going just happily thank you – they will have to come up with another day – and another lame explanation; just as the same group did back in 1994. The world did not end then either.

But back to where this started….

The regrets are historical not present. We all make choices along the way; and then have to make the best of the choices that we make.

If I go tomorrow – then the people I care about will be fine. No regrets – other than I would miss them too much.

No skeletons in cupboards. No unwelcome surprises.

But then my fortune teller says I will live til I am 88. So plenty of time…..

******************************
Twitter has helped fuel social change such as the Arab Spring, but now a British premiership footballer is suing Twitter because details of his 7 months affair with big brother starlet Imogen Thomas are all over the internet.

The footballer has obtained a super-injunction to stop details of the affair being published by the media.

It really is time that he has to say yes I did it and make his peace with his family and his many fans.

20 May 2011

Love a duck – Maradona’s contract with Al Wasl SC ..two years 37.5 millon dollars…

This will all end in tears…..

Maradona and the mercenaries.

*****************************
Obama’s speech yesterday on the Arab World maybe went down better in America – most of whom don’t care much anyway – than it did in our part of the world: where one write said that “there remains a sense in the Arab world, and the international community at large, that America has lost the will or perhaps the ability to shape events. At present juncture, Obama seems to be content to recap the obvious in lofty rhetoric.”

It was a speech that was “a belated restatement of the obvious, and business as usual.”

The Guardian was also underwhelmed – “For Americans, perhaps, this was stirring stuff. But for an Arab audience, hoping for more commitment on Palestine, it fell flat”

Robert Fisk in the Independent was dismissive of “Lots of rhetoric – but very little help.”

***************************
The Queen done good. Remarkable really. She is in her eighties. And she is still a great ambassador and diplomat. And her trip to Eire was a wonderful and long overdue success.

Ireland and England are neighbours. Ireland and the UK share a border. It is time to be the best of neighbours.

****************************
Thaksin had his picture taken in April in front of the International Criminal Court ! What was he thinking!

***********************
This sounds so like EK’s discussions with the Canadians – EK still seems to think it will be allowed to fly to additional destinations in Germany even when the local authorities are not even holding discussions on the subject!

Arabian Business (ever loyal) reports that “Emirates Airline said on Friday it remained “hopeful” of winning access to more airports in Germany despite reports that senior German officials are refusing to hold talks with the Dubai carrier.

German newspaper Handelsblatt reported on Friday that the country’s transport ministry was giving Emirates the cold shoulder by refusing to hold talks on granting airline rights to land in Berlin.

“There are no negotiations,” daily Handelsblatt cited a German government source as saying.

But an Emirates spokesperson told Arabian Business said the airline was still “hopeful” of winning German government support and was “looking forward to further dialogue””.

*********************
So Haley Reinhart is sent home from American Idol leaving the very predictable and rather dull Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina in the final.

Anyone with real creativity has long been sent home. Haley was the last chance of an interesting final.

Maybe the only people who actually vote in this show are from Texas. Because the two finalists are country singers at heart – and sadly the show really has gone down for the youth vote – the finalists are 16 and 17. Go back to school now !

*********************
In Bangkok the Appeals Court dismissed the appeal for Jatuporn’s bail, saying his public statements may cause unrest – on that basis they need to arrest the army chief, newspaper editors and most of the parliamentary candidates.

**********************
Back in Dubai – very full flights from Bangkok – we were a little fortunate to get onto EK373 last night.

**********************
Some new shopping rules – when in a supermarket in your own country and you cannot find something – you are allowed to ask where it is – there is no loss of face – people are there to help and they even speak your language!

Second rule – if packets are identical – you dont really need to check them all before you choose the one that you want to buy.

Just saying !

17 May 2011

This image of Dubai airport was recently acquired by DubaiSat-1, the UAE-owned and operated earth observation satellite, and shows Dubai International Airport from outer space. The satellite was launched by the Emirates Institution for Advanced Science and Technology (EIAST) in July 2000.

*************************
So Donald Trump will not run for US President. One sensible decision at least. He was wiped out by Obama in one weekend – roasted at the White House Correspondents Dinner and outmaneuvered by the removal of Osama bin Laden.

*************************
I had two nights in Hong Kong – although jet lag means I have not slept well.

*************************
I did buy a new camera – my old Nikon D80 is obsolete and damaged.

So I am now the proud owner of a Nikon D7000 with a Nikon 35mm f108 lens and a Sigma 18-250 lens.

**************************
I do like Cathay Pacific’s new tv advertising campaign. It emphasises its people in a very simple way.

14 May 2011

So video shows that Osama bin Laden sat at home on the floor, wrapped in a blanket, holding the remote and watching tv. Not so much a couch potato as a couch terrorist.

Heck that sounds familiar. Will the Navy Seals be coming for me next?

Osama appears to have had a collection of porn cds as well. Ok he beats me on that one.

He also had three wives; and did not leave the compound for five years – feels a bit like the Navy Seals may have put him out of his misery. Rough life.

************************
From Man U fans today….

“Man City are a joke – we got Barca and they got Stoke….”

*************************
Very scary – I am being followed on Twitter by – Stylendubai.com the online source to what’s new in the world of luxury fashion in Dubai – they are going to be so very disappointed in me !

***************************
Last night on twitter was AvGeeks Movie night – rename popular movies by giving them an aviation theme – there were many – and here are just a few of the gems:

Million Dollar BMI-Baby
You’ve got NOTAMs
50 First Flights
Bend it like Boeing
A First Officer and a Gentleman
Sex in the Citation
SIN city
ANA and the King
Four weddngs and a flypast
Bridget Jones’s Logbook
War of the OneWorlds
F-27 Dresses
Meet the Fokkers
The Embraer strikes back
Debbie does Dulles
Indiana Jones and the Last Upgrade
The Gladiaviator
Cathay SouthPacific
Air ChinaTown
The Not Yet Departed
The 777 year itch
Snow White and the 777 dwarfs
Fly Another Day
Long Hauls are Forever
Live and Let Fly Quantum of Solace – an upgrade!
Sheikhs on a Plane
South by SouthWest
The Big Easyjet
Raiders of the Lost MegaArk
The Polar Air Express
Mamma MIA
Boeing Places
Lawrence of Air Arabia
Star Wars VI: Return on the Red-Eye
and many many more ! And yes a good number of them are mine !

13 May 2011

Imagine living with 3 wives in one compound & never leaving the house for 5 years I think Osama Bin Ladin called the US Navy Seals himself.

*************************
There is a catch in the case of the British surgeon – apparently his lawyer, convinced a judge to allow a family friend to offer his passport in exchange in addition to paying an AED2,000 fee.

The preliminary hearing is on 20 June. The return of his friend’s passport presumably requires that the doctor returns to Dubai for the hearing.

**************************
Brunetti at Dubai Mall – an up market Italian style coffee shop. Overpriced. Selling stale, industrial tasting cakes. Avoid. The pistachio and almond cake could be the most unpleasant “thing” that I eat this year.

Starbucks has its faults but at least you know what you are getting. Or Cafe Nero for a decent coffee.

12 May 2011

The New York Times has some interesting comments of the lese majeste laws in Thailand and how they are being used before the July election.

The state of play with Dubai real estate: Dubai’s real estate sector will bottom out in the first quarter of 2012, according to a new report published by the emirate’s business group.

Sadly this date keeps on slipping…..back and back…

The Dubai Chamber of Commerce said oversupply was the main reason for prices declining so dramatically in the past two years. Inciteful ?? I think we all knew this already. That and a huge amount of property flipping.

“A robust rebound is expected at a slow pace as it may still take 2011 and the first quarter of 2012 for the sector prices to bottom out,” the study said.

But chamber officials conceded that the property market was “unlikely to return to pre-crisis sales or rental growth rates in the foreseeable future”.

*****************************
Here is an update on the allegations against Joseph Nunoo-Mensah, a surgeon at King’s College Hospital in London. See more details below – 5 May.

Unless something changes he is stuck in the UAE until at least 10 June when there will be a preliminary hearing in court.

Doesn’t someone need to gently suggest to his accuser that the charges are quietly dropped and this man allowed to return to his work and family?

Updated again – later in the day:

Joseph Nunoo-Mensah has now been allowed to return home – until a court date next month.

He is due to be reunited with his wife Alison and their children – Jacob, 13, Imogen, three and Malachi, two – by tomorrow.

His wife said that “Joseph was given his passport back on a 2,000 dirham payment – about £330 – and he will return to Dubai on June 20 for a preliminary hearing.

“We think the judge was swayed because Joseph’s lawyer explained his profession and that he does have patients waiting in the UK who need his help.

“It’s extremely unexpected and we’re still worried about what might happen in the future but this is fantastic news.”

Now – you have to assume that now he has his passport back Mr. Nunoo-Mensah and family will not be returning to Dubai in either the near or distant future. And after what his family has been through why would he want to return?

********************************
The Dh1.6 billion new Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Road which links Dubai to the Central Region and Fujairah, will be opened by the end of July.

Though to be honest I have no idea where this road is.

*********************************
Those naughty folks at Burson-Marsteller – and at Facebook who commissioned the mud-throwing by the PR agency…

10 May 2011

So there was big excitement this morning while everyone speculated and then waited to hear whet the Emirates 2010/2011 bonus would be – 12 weeks was reasonably well received.

**********************************
Meanwhile the Burj Khalifa had its first suicide when a man threw himself off the world’s tallest building in Dubai in the first suicide from the world’s tallest tower.

The National reported that the man, believed to be in his twenties and of South Asian background, jumped from the 147th floor of the 828-meter (2,717 feet) skyscraper and landed on a terrace on the 108th floor. Those details were not confirmed by the building’s developer. It seems more likely to have been a fall from the 124th floor where there is an external viewing gallery.

9 May 2011

HRW – “If this ‘Arab Spring’ is to usher in a new era, the torture chambers of today need to become a relic of the past”

8 May 2011

Emirates has announced that it is to hold an “Open Day,” to recruit cabin crew members in Atlanta on Thursday, June 2, at the InterContinental Buckhead hotel – this is often a good hint as to future destinations.

*********************
Man Utd demolished Chelsea – a 2-1 win flatters Chelsea who were very poor indeed.

7 May 2011

Damning – the FT’s weekend edition has an article by the paper’s architecture editor on Liveable v lovable cities.

Dubai is in his list of four worst cities – and this is what Edwin Heathcote says:

“Dubai

Everything that could go wrong with a city does here. It is, in fact, a place with no “here”. A succession of malls, highways, hotels and hideous towers, it has spent its history announcing its arrival but hasn’t a clue what to do when it gets there.”

*************************
Such a shame to hear that Seve Ballesteros died today – his self belief was as great as his talent. Match that with attitude and he was very special.

St Andrews in 1984 he made a birdie at the last to win – and in 1985 he led Europe to the first Ryder Cup win in decades before winning for the first time in the USA in 1987.

Great quote: ‘I look into their eyes, shake their hand, pat their back, and wish them luck, but I’m thinking, ‘I’m going to bury you’.’

The brain tumor diagnosed in 2008 eventually took his life. It was he was told the size of two golf balls.

He lives on through the thousands of people he inspired to play golf.

This is Ian Carter’s appreciation of Seve written for the BBC.

6 May 2011

Friday night and there is an open air concert in Burj Park. It is loud at Executive Towers. It must be dire for the neighbours in Burj Residences. Sorry but if you have an open air concert it really needs to end no later than 10pm.

Some people are working in the mornings. Some people work night and need to rest before they work. And some people have young families.

Or you have to hold the concert indoors. There are enough venues.

***********************
Jon Stewart with the Daily Show on the demise of bin Laden

***********************
On the theme of late night music our neighbours – the folks directly above us – were playing their music loud at 2pm. Noise travels easily in these apartments.

When I went up to their apartment and rang the bell magically the sound was turned down; someone came to the door and must have looked through the peep-hole. They did not open the door. Cowards.

5 May 2011

Here we go again: London surgeon held in Dubai after raising hands at motorist

More details here.

One day i will comment on these cases. But not now. Though there does sound like some intimidation was involved here. Simple – never ever react.

Changed my mind – this needs a comment – this guy is meant to be back in England performing critical surgery. He was here providing medical consulting services to a government clinic and then taking some time with his family before heading home.

He appears to have been arrested and with zero evidence except from the other driver who was allegedly tailgating/flashing him as he drove on the highway.

No other evidence has been released to the media. If there is other evidence then the authorities need to make it available to support the charges.

Based on unsubstantiated hearsay this should never have got this far. And Joseph Nunoo-Mensah should be back in England with his family.

The trouble is it is incidents like this that give the foreign media bricks to throw at Dubai.

***************************
Andrew Walker, senior fellow, Australian National University, on ABC radio in Australia yesterday:

“Look its very hard to predict what Prime Minister Abhisit’s view is. He’s obviously very concerned his party wont win the election. He’s got some hopes of being able to cobble together a coalition government after the election. But the fact is that Abhisit is caught between some very powerful players. He was brought in to government with the strong backing of the military and the Palace and it’s probably the military and the Palace in Thailand who are most nervous about an election so I’m sure Abhisit is getting a lot of heat about that.”

4 May 2011

OK folks – It is Barack Obama and Osama bin Laden.

Obama’s last name is similar to Osama’s first name – but really there is no need for writers and sub editors to get this wrong.

Unlike the SCMP.

****************************
In Thailand the government has encouraged people to fly the national and the royal flags with the emblem royally endorsed by His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej at their places to celebrate his seventh cycle birthday anniversary. The King’s birthday is not until December.

Now this is the same PM that has said that the political parties should not use the monarchy as part of their campaigning before the expected late June/early July election….

But who cares about a little hypocrisy in the high stakes of Thai politics….

*******************************
From a UAE based commentator on twitter today: “I suspect the biggest difference between the UAE and Bahrain is the existence of an opposition, not the willingness of govt to crush it”

That would apply to other countries within the region as well.

******************************
The burden of proof that Obama is dead lies with the White House. They do need to publish pictures of a dead Obama and of his burial.

The pictures may be gruesome; but they are necessary.

They have caused additional uncertainty by back-tracking on parts of the reporting of the raid on Osama’s mansion.

3 May 2011

Oh dear – just when the White House appears to be on its game it then starts to change its mind.

Osama was in a gunfight – now he was not armed

His wife was killed – now his wife is alive

His wife was used a a human shield – now she attacked the US troops so we shot her in the leg.

So what else is untrue. When you get this wrong all that you do is fuel the existing conspiracy theories.

*****************************
Good grief: In Thailand the awful MICT has requested an allocation of 50M baht (more than 1M euros) for 2011 to fund its Internet censorship and surveillance activities

******************************
Wonderful Sam Chui picture from Lukla, Tenzing-Hillary Airport.

*******************************
China has more Millionaires than the total number of Emarati Nationals on Earth.

2 May 2011

The big news of the day – Osama bin Laden was killed by American troops in Pakistan last night.

He may be dead, but in a way, he won. People in the USA gave up their rights. They passed the dreadful PatriotAct. They spent trillions on needless wars. And decisions and choices are based upon fear.

Robert Fisk for the Independent: “Obama is showing his birth certificate in one hand and waving bin Laden’s death certificate in the other!”

Just a thought – if this had gone wrong then Obama’s presidency would have probably been over. Instead he won – and will win a second term.

1 May 2011

Funniest headline of the day in Dubai – “Dnata becomes ‘dnata’ in brand overhaul”

Doing nothing at the airport !

************************************
Some people may need to think about this: Chap gets talking to another chap in the pub. “I’m worried about my hearing,” he says.

‘Well, you’re in luck,” says the second chap. “My friends say that I have healing hands. Let me try it.” So he cups his hands round the other fellow’s ears and emits a low humming noise for two minutes. “Are you worried about your hearing now?” he asks.

“Fraid so,” says the other man, “it’s still next Wednesday.”

30 April 2011
Robert Amsterdam on coup rumours in Thailand – “The coup rumors that are currently dominating the Thai political discourse are not remarkable. Instead, what is remarkable is that the public has become so used to it. After having suffered no fewer than 18 coups in less than 7 decades, the Thai people have been psychologically conditioned to see these unlawful seizures of power as a normal part of public life, rather than as a destructive force more typical of a third world backwater.”

He is right – but his credibility is so much lessened by the fact that he is paid by Thaksin.

**************************
Monarch has a decorates A320 for the wedding: from airliners.net

Oh dear – the editor of the Voice of Thaksin magazine was arrested by the Department of Special Investigation Saturday on charge of taking part in the conspiracy to topple the monarchy. DSI investigators arrested Somyos Prueksakasemsuk in Aranyaprathet district in Prachin Buri.
He was taken to the DSI head office in Bangkok for questioning.

Add this to the closure of community radio stations in red shirt heartlands and it does appear that there is a plan to silence opposition voices wherever possible.

**************************
Typical woman’s question – Kate to William after the service – “are you happy?” – what on earth is he supposed to say !

**************************
This once great United network across Asia now reduced to Continental 737s. Very sad. UNITED to transfer Hong Kong – Ho Chi Minh/Hong Kong – Singapore to Continental from 29OCT11. CO 737-800 replace 747-400.

UNITED will resume Tokyo Narita – Hong Kong from 29OCT11 with Continental Boeing 737-800 aircraft

***************************
A very loyal editorial from Canada’s Globe and Mail. William and Kate’s crowning moment, and ours, too.

****************************
One of the more entertaining pics from the royal wedding:

****************************
While the rest of the world was on wedding watch 16 people died yesterday after a terrorist bomb explosion at a busy tourist cafe in Marrakech, Morocco.

The latest attack was a blow to Morocco’s most important tourist city. Tourism is Morocco’s biggest source of foreign currency and the second biggest employer after agriculture.

***************************
Anderson Cooper’s (he is a CNN anchor) summary of London life at the end of the Royal Wedding – “I love London, but Brits drink 2 much. In 20 min I just saw 25 drunks, 3 vomiters, 5 public pee-ers, and 4 passed out people. Yuck.

He is right – and someone had to say it.

28 April 2011

Bahrain’s news agency reminding us of who really runs that sad little country – Massive Show of Gratitude to Saudi Monarch

*************************
The official Royal Wedding web site – the first royal wedding to be on facebook, twitter, flickr, youtube. To their credit the royals seem to have found people who fully understand how to use social media.

27 April 2011

The Thailand-Cambodia conflict might simply be understood as bigger country picking on smaller country. Thailand’s population is 67 million while Cambodia has 14 million. Thailand’s GDP is at US$584 billion, Cambodia’s GDP is at US$30 billion. Thailand’s military budget is US$ 4.3 billion, Cambodia’s military budget is US$ 191 million.

Not much of a contest!

Back in Dubai. Late arrival from Nice last night. Pity that the weather was best on the day we left!

25 April 2011

The Wall Street Journal on the political impact of the latest border fighting between Thailand and Cambodia:

“The military, palace and business elite all fear that supporters of deposed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra will win their fourth straight general election. The last three results were annulled by a coup and court rulings, and the red shirt supporters of Mr. Thaksin have become increasingly restive as a result of their disenfranchisement. Even if their Puea Thai Party wins, there is a strong chance they will not be allowed to form a government. So further unrest later this year seems likely.

In this context, a fight with Cambodia might seem an appealing way out of the deadlock. A limited war with a much smaller neighbor could unify Thais, as the red shirts would feel pressure to get behind the military in a time of national crisis. Mr. Abhisit, who has never won an election and is widely regarded as a figurehead within Thailand, could be dispensed with, and elections pushed off until the glow of victory and massive public spending restore the Bangkok elite’s popularity. (…)

Thailand’s friends have a responsibility to dissuade the military from military adventures. It’s also time they addressed the root cause of the problem. This conflict is a sign that the nation’s internal political crisis is beginning to generate external costs, showing once again that Asean’s credo of noninterference in domestic politics needs to be tempered with an awareness that promotion of democracy is part and parcel of regional stability.”

24 April 2011

Dubai’s population stood at around 1.929 million at the end of March and could surpass two million by the end of 2011, official data showed on Sunday.

The Dubai Statistics Centre put growth at five per cent, adding that it expects the emirate’s population to grow by an average 7,000 a month until the end of this year to reach a record high of about 2.03 million.

Males largely outnumbered females at the end of March, estimated at 1.479 million against about 431,415 females.
“The centre expects a five per cent growth in the population until 2015 unless this rate is altered by a census,” a source said, quoted by Emirat Alyoum newspaper.

The figures showed nationals remained a minority in Dubai, the region’s main commercial centre, standing at around 168,000, nearly nine per cent of the total.

*****************************
Too true: Mubarak made Ben Ali look classy, Gaddafi made Mubarak look benevolent, and Assad might just make Gaddafi look like a gentleman.”

*****************************
A thought for Easter Sunday – The Middle East has given the world three of its great and enduring religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam. All preach love and respect for humanity. Yet through history the followers of each faith have been both persecutors and persecuted. And that continues even today.

One hope for the Arab Spring is that is that it awakens a renewed respect of and appreciation for difference – political, ethnic and religious.

23 April 2011

Alex and I are in Nice – but it was raining heavily for most of today. We went by train to Monaco – but that was a disaster – it was so wet there that we went to a cafe and came straight back home.

The stands are going up for the Monaco Grand Prix on 29th May. Strange little town.

21 April 2011

Golfers and sponsors with heads in the sand:

Golf legend Colin Montgomerie is confident that Bahrain’s European Tour event will take place at the start of 2012 despite the unrest that has affected the Gulf state.

“We are only in April here, so there’s 10 months to go,” Montgomery said. “I hear the Grand Prix is on towards the end of the year, and we follow on from that four or five months later, so if that goes ahead I don’t think there is any need to worry.”

There is plenty of reason to worry – people are being arrested and imprisoned without charge. Military rule is being imposed by overseas military forces from KSA and the UAE.

Sponsors need to disassociate themselves with the Bahraini regime and so do sportsmen – this is akin to supporting apartheid in the 60s and 70s and is not acceptable.

****************************
And they are still at it in Thailand – Former coupmaker Gen Sonthi says no reason for military to stage a coup now; asks everyone not to involve Monarchy and military in politics

20 April 2011

Just a little pre election reminder of who really runs Thailand!

And a little more on Thailand’s boobgate hypocrisy.

19 April 2011

It is a man’s world – Dubai Population now @ 1,929,110 of which Men are 1,497,695 or 77.6 of total and annual growth 5%! : Dubai Statistics Centre.

*****************************
Another strange court ruling in Dubai – From the National today: “A man who kidnapped a Filipina tourist, beat her, and threatened to rape and murder her was sentenced this morning to a suspended six months in prison.

MA, 26, an unemployed Emirati, and his uncle dumped the victim into the street after MA physically abused her, court records said.

Raise a finger and it is jail time and deportation. Terrify a tourist with assault and threatened rape and it is a suspended sentence. It is sad to think that the judgement may in some way reflect the nationality of both the victim and the attacker. In my idealistic world the law is not dicriminatory.

18 April 2011

Emirates on 06JUN11 to operate Airbus A380 service on Dubai – Rome EK097/098 flight, 1-time only

***********************
Here is the Dubai that tourism officials want you to see. Thanks to the Manchester Evening News – who were presumably on a sponsored freebie. Hard to be critical when someone else is paying the bill.

17 April 2011

Golf today at Al Hamra – played like a donkey and got too much sun! Other than that a really nice day out !

***********************
Flydubai to add daily flights from Dubai to Riyadh and four flights per week to Jeddah from May 1; now serves five cities in Saudi Arabia.

************************
From the National: A second postmortem will be performed on the body of a British tourist who died in police custody on April 12, the Dubai Police Chief announced this morning.

Lee Bradley Brown, 39, was arrested on April 6 at the Burj Al Arab after assaulting an Asian hotel worker by pulling her hair and trying to throw her from a sixth-floor balcony overlooking the lobby.

The results of the first postmortem found Brown had died after choking on his own vomit, according to the Dubai Attorney General, Essam Issa al Humaidan.

*************************
London marathon day – the men’s race won by Emmanuel Mutai in 2:04:38. The fourth fastest marathon of all time and the fastest London has ever seen.

He is running at 13 miles an hour – that is just under five minutes for each mile – amazing!

16 April 2011

Tai is on her way to LAX. Lucky girl. A change of scenery would be welcome.

And I am home and bored. A walk around the Executive Towers building site did not cheer me up much either. Such a mess.

We were in Festival City yesterday – I had not been there for a while. Worrying to see how many stores, cafes and restaurants had closed leaving vacant retail space.

I guess 3 year leases had come up for renewal; and retailers had taken the opportunity to cut there losses. The mall is stuck between Mirdiff City Centre and Dubai Mall and loses out to both of them. The only real footfall is in Ikea which is in a separate building with its own car park.

*************************************
On Twitter from an Emirati commentator – The UAE has now 4th case of prisoner of conscious. Abdulla Balqoyos was arrest recently. This is not the UAE we are proud off. I am sad.

14 April 2011

Musical self indulgence: Faye Wong
***************************************
My first 3 LPs ever:

Bridge over Troubled Water – Simon and Garfunkel
Yellow Brick Road – Elton John
The Best Years of our Lives – Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel

Quickly followed by Supertramp’s Crime of the Century and 10CC’s The Original Soundtrack.

Great songs live forever.

These were played at school on an old Alba monophone record player.

And Tai just asked me – what is a “LP” ! I am so old !!

13 April 2011

EK gets an A380 to Athens!

An Emirates Airbus A380-800, registration A6-EDK performing flight EK-17 from Dubai (United Arab Emirates) to Manchester,EN (UK), was enroute at FL380 over the Black Sea north of Istanbul (Turkey) when a female passenger (47) suffered symptoms of a stroke.

The crew turned the aircraft south heading towards Izmir (Turkey) before turning west and diverting to Athens (Greece) for a safe landing on runway 21L about 50 minutes later. The patient was taken to a hospital.

The aircraft departed Athens after about 2 hours on the ground and reached Manchester with a delay of 3:40 hours.

******************************
If you are in Toronto on 21st April – this is a must attend: Toronto to Japan: Hope Blossoms.

“We at Toronto to Japan are thrilled to announce our big event – Hope Blossoms, a night of entertainment inspired by the grand tradition of the Japanese variety show. Canadian icons including Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje, Jian Ghomeshi, Adrienne Clarkson, Bob Wiseman, Basia Bulat, Jim Cuddy and Oh Susanna will share the stage to bring Torontonians laughter, tears – and hope. Not only a fundraiser, this is a show of solidarity for the people of Japan.”

***************************
Sawasdee pee maai. And a happy new year – but all the reasons to avoid Songkran in Thailand are here:

Accidental Tourist: Thai water torture

12 April 2010

One interesting note on Twitter: “Hey Dubai,, how’s it going with all the Saudis? Now you know how it feels like to have them all over the place. Sincerely, Bahrain =)) #ksa”

***************************
The arrest of three UAE citizens is causing international concern that is not yet reflected in the local media.

But the authorities in the UAE are wise enough to know that Emiratis and other residents have access to the widest range of international news sources.

Which is why these arrests seem to be a classic case of shooting oneself in the foot. The rest of the word thought that the UAE was an oasis of calm amid teh regional turmoil and unrest.

Here – concerns are already being raised by NYU which has a campus in Abu Dhabi – UAE Detains Prominent Professor, Raising Questions About Academic Freedom At NYUAD.

Arrests – and the lack of any official announcement from the authorities, send a very different message.

Habiba Hamid, an editorial writer at the UAE English-language paper The National, wrote a list of thoughts about the bin Ghaith arrest. She notes that the government taking the step of arresting a “credible domestic dissident for political reasons…seems unprecedented.” She adds, “Whilst thus far it has been impossible to verify whether or not Dr Nasser bin Ghaith has in fact been arrested, the perception that he may have been (as he is an exceptional figure) appears to, whether intentionally or not, criminalise dissent.”

Do read Ms. Hamid’s thoughts – they give balance and contest that foreign residents in the UAE will otherwise be unlikely to share.

*****************************
The biggest tragedy of the AA Gill article on Dubai in Vanity Fair is that the authorities made such a fuss over it.

The three page article was guillotined out of every edition on Vanity Fair available for sale in Dubai.

Why? It was not pornography. It was not political. It was not revolutionary. It was satire. And yes it was spiteful – much good satire is.

But the reaction from the authorities simply validated his article.

Growing up is about learning to accept you have critics; and being able to laugh at yourself. Dubai is still an infant.

As one commentator noted – “Satire has a history going back to the Ancient Greeks. Like caricatures, satire educates as it ridicules and lampoons. The Middle East, as in Asia have not had any revolutions in thought and ideas (which suits their autocratic regimes pretty well) and sees all critique as “insults” not to be endured. The maturity and resilience of a culture (and all the good things that come with it) comes with the ability to laugh at oneself. Anything else just leads to more wars and more tragedy.”

Exactly.

****************************
More on one of the arrested UAE bloggers – the best that they have been able to do is accuse him of possessing alcohol.

*****************************
A Qatari man with far too much money and way too little common sense has bought Qatar’s most expensive license plate. The registration ‘55555’ cost just under $4 million.

You could change so many people’s lives with $4million.

******************************
And here is why you should never stand up until the plane has reached the gate and the engines have been turned off – as an Air France A380 thumps a Comair RJ while taxiiing at JFK last night – Great video.

11 April 2011

The UAE has some of the most savvy leaders in the region which is why this story is a concern:

UAE arrests democracy activists

They have to know that this does not play out well internationally – just when Dubai looked likely to benefit as a place of calm and tolerance amid the regional turmoil.

The three political arrested include economics and law professor Nasser bin Ghaith who works at La Sorbonne in Abu Dhabi.

Also detained were Fahad Salem al-Shehhi and Ahmed Mansour, who take part in an online pro-democracy forum.

Newspaper coverage here in Dubai is very cautious. As this report summarises. Newspapers Inconsistent Over Blogger Arrests

***********************
We should have been going away for a few days this week – but either the flights back are too full; or hotels are fully booked; or we cannot get back in time for Tai’s flight to LAX at the end of the week which she has not been able to swap.

************************
You have to admire Rory McIlroy’s sense of perspective: “It will be pretty tough for me for the next few days but I will be fine. There are a lot worse things that can happen in your life. Shooting a bad score in the last round of a golf tournament is nothing in comparison to what other people go through,” he said after his agonising last day 80 at Augusta.

And from his manager – “What people seem to forget is that Rory is only 21. If he was American, he would still be in college and here we all are thinking he should have won the Masters. He is No8 in the world, and here we all are thinking he is an underachiever. It’s daft.”

9 April 2011

Now here is a career change for an Emirates Airline pilot….Mareh Bejou was a pilot for Emirates when he flew to Tripoli in mid-February. The next day he was a revolutionary who told his airline it had better send another pilot to take the plane back to Dubai.

****************************
Not the Nation nails Bangkok again: Sukhumbhand Proposes Building New ‘SkyBangkok’ On Top Of Old One

8 April 2011

So Pia goes home on American Idol – big shocker that one – maybe a woman cannot win Idol.

But the judges are at fault here – they wasted a save on the commercially very suspect Casey Adams a couple of weeks ago. Big big mistake.

**************************
Tommy Cooper – “I went to the doctors with jelly in 1 ear, custard in the other. I said, “You’ll have to speak up, I’m a trifle deaf.””

***************************
It is hot today – 38C at 1pm in Dubai today. This week it seems like someone flicked a switch and summer arrived.

****************************
A rather scary wallow in nostagia last night as every Brit in Dubai over the age of 40 turned up at Meydan for an 80s revisited concert from Belinda Carlisle, Curiosity Killed the Cat, Boy George, The Real Thing, Paul Young and Kid Creole and his Coconuts.

But these were not the original Coconuts – these were third generation Coconuts.

Now Belinda Carlisle (why would someone want to be named after one of England’s grimmer towns?) can still belt out a song.

But Paul Young. Man – you have got to stop singing. The voice is gone.

As for Meydan – it was the first time I had been out there. The car parks are not finished with lousy sign-posting and massive potholes.

Trackside it looks spectacular. Massive stands for basically one big race night each year. They really do need to find other uses for the venue – I guess concerts are a part of that.

The Brits do like a drink. The concert was standing room only ringed by bars. Tai was flying; I was driving; we looked a bit out of place carrying a water bottle.

5 April 2011

Dan Rivers is back in Thailand for CNN. There must be trouble ahead. His first report was on the conditions of near slavery that many people suffer in Thailand’s fishing fleets. Interesting. But there was no balance, He did not interview anyone from the government or local authorities so it was hard to get a sense of balance in the story.

4/4/11

On TCM last night – Come Fly with Me. From 1963! Flying was a bit different then!

*************************

Great picture of Dubai from airliners.net taken in March from an EKA340 – Exec Towers (and Millennium bottom left of pic).
**************************

UAE’s GCAA has issued its preliminary report on September 3 2010 UPS 744 crash at DXB after cargo fire – grim reading –

3 April 2011

With the cricket world cup over for another four years here is Vic Marks’ team of the tournament:

1 Virendar Sehwag (India)
2 Sachin Tendulkar (India)
3 Tillakaratne Dilshan (Sri Lanka)
4 Kumar Sangakkara (Sri Lanka, c/wk)
5 Jonathan Trott (England)
6 Yuvraj Singh (India)
7 Jacques Kallis (South Africa)
8 Lasith Malinga (Sri Lanka)
9 Zaheer Khan (India)
10 Saeed Ajmal (Pakistan)
11 Ajantha Mendis (Sri Lanka)

Hard to argue. Maybe Harbajan for Ajmal? Maybe even Swann for Ajmal.

Not an Aussie in sight. And no Kiwi – despite making it to the semi final.

************************
The UAE population has grown by 65 per cent to reach 8.26 million in the first half of 2010 compared to the same period in 2006, according to official figures.

Statistics released on the UAE Statistics Bureau showed that UAE nationals not even make up one million of the population.

The UAE nationals accounted for 11.5 per cent, or about 948,000, of the population at the end of June, Bloomberg News said quoting UAE Statistics Bureau.

The country’s expatriate population rose 75 per cent from 2006 to the end of June, to 7.3 million people.

It said that the majority – 42 per cent – of the UAE nationals reside in Abu Dhabi.

Find me another country – other maybe than Qatar – where citizens make up only 11.5% of the nation’s population.

And how much of the wealth of the nation is represented by that 11.5%?

***************************
Japanese government updates quake-tsunami casualty figures: 12,009 confirmed dead; 15,472 missing.

2 April 2011

Best April Fool story from yesterday – the Sun’a wonderfully headlined – Planet of the Apps.

Genius. The mock up IPads’s were made from cardboard with marmite covered raisins stuck on them to get the gorillas’ attention.

1 April 2011

flydubai from 22 April 2011 launches its 34th destination, Addis Ababa. Dubai – Addis Ababa route will be operated 3 times a week with Boeing 737-800 aircraft on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays.

Schedule:

FZ647 DXB1615 – 1915ADD 73H 257
FZ648 ADD2000 – 0055+1DXB 73H 257

31 March 2011
Web site agony:

This started with me having to change from publishing the site using FrontPage extensions (which are prehistroci in internet years) and publishing via FTP.

Then as I was trying to sort out the file structure to help me publish the site I deleted all files from my hard drive – even from the recycle bin.

So I had to recover the site from online by downloading it back onto my laptop.

But then lots of things now do not work – some of the picures do not publish – while some of them do. The color of my site links has changed.

And not all the pages are republished yet – cos it takes so, so long. In part that is Du’s fault – out local bandwidth provider has lost an undersea cable and the internet is crawling along.

****************************
India’s new census – the country has added 181 million people—equivalent to about five Canadas—in the past decade to reach a total of 1.21 billion.

And that excludes the Indian diaspora scattered all over the world…no wonder they are good at cricket.

*************************
Just too funny – a maid carrying a Singaporean soldier’s backpack has caused uproar in the city state.

*************************
Banyan’s consolidated Asia blog in the Economist is now a must read for anyone with an interest in socio-political news from across the region.

There was a cricket match in Mohali yesterday. India won. Pakistan came second. But the consensus from people watching on TV in Dubai was that Pakistan won the battle for the best looking women in the crowd – and the cameras were as focused on who was there as they were on the cricket match.

30 March 2011

Small cricket match in India today – as the India v Pakistan semi final brings both countries to a complete halt. Suspect there wont be much work done in Dubai today either.

29 March 2011

Emirates in flight magazine – April 2011.
************************

And while on the subject of magazine covers:
******************************
The hot spot in BKK for drinks, food, light jazz – Iron Fairies – on Thonglor. Can get a bit crowded. Thoroughly enjoyable.

******************************
Why does ever girl in Bangkok have a Blackberry – no one has a proper conversation anymore.

************************
Complaints from one of my friends yesterday at the red shirt protestors taking over Siam again at the weekend and partially blocking the roads – and I suspect, horror of horrors, making it harder for Bangkok’s hi-sos to go to their favorite malls.

Without a shred of confirming evidence she repeated the claim that the red shirts burned down Central World so how could they be allowed come back now. No one has been charged with the Central World arson. The government may be winning the propaganda war if people are accepting these statements without question.

My friend is smart. She represents Thailand’s future – well educated; open minded; international; she should be asking why are these people still out protesting; what needs to be changed and how can we make change happen to create a fairer society.

28 March 2011

The UAE’s very bad habit of locking up victims of rape and sexual assault has to end. They are victims not offendors. Rape victim sues UAE luxury hotel

26 March 2011

The Guardian on the Canadian PM – Charisma-free and charmless, Canada’s prime minister Stephen Harper is the very model of a modern political leader.

*************************
“We now have wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya! Aren’t we out of money? You can’t simultaneously fire teachers and Tomahawk missiles.” —Jon Stewart

25 March 2011

This will be interesting: The Civil Court will on Friday at 10.00 am hand down its verdict for Bt245 million damage in connection to the seizure of two Bangkok airports by the People’s Alliance for Democracy in 2008.

As plaintiff, the Airports of Thailand contends for damage caused by the 13 PAD leaders who led the crowds to seize and disrupt air traffic at Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports.

And the outcome: The Civil Court has found 13 PAD members guilty of closing the airports during their rally in 2009. It has ordered the 13 to pay 522 million baht in damages to the AOT.

Which appears to be double the amount suggested earlier in the Nation.

24 March 2011

Midsomer Murders returns to UK television this week. The show is based on the books by Caroline Graham, and was launched in 1997. It has featured 251 deaths, 222 of which were murders. Your everyday UK village!

Am amazed that there is anyone left there !

***********************************
MacDonald’s Broccoli Pie – can there be anything that you could less want to eat !

The world lost one of its greatest actors and celebrities yesterday:

Elizabeth Taylor – In this gallery, LIFE.com presents the best unpublished photos of Elizabeth Taylor from the magazine’s archives, including shots from her very first wedding, from the sets of Giant and Cleopatra, and from her legendary romance with two-time husband Richard Burton.

21 March 2011

The new Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental soaring above the clouds during its first flight.

The airplane is painted in a new Sunrise livery of red-orange to honor many key Boeing customers whose cultures recognize these colors as symbols of prosperity and good luck.

The new Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental soars above snow-capped mountains in Washington state during its first flight.

The 747-8 Intercontinental will have the lowest seat-mile cost of any large commercial jetliner, with 12% lower costs than its predecessor, the 747-400. The airplane provides 16% better fuel economy, 16% less carbon emissions per passenger and generates a 30% smaller noise footprint than the 747-400.

The new Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental soaring above clouds and mountains during its first flight.

The airplane is painted in a new Sunrise livery of red-orange to honor many key Boeing customers whose cultures recognize these colors as symbols of prosperity and good luck.

Given how few Boeing has sold it will need all the luck that it can get!

The airlines like the range, payload and economics of the 777. I am not sure why Boeing needed the 747-8?

**********************
Each Tomahawk cruise missile costs roughly $1 million. US launched 100+ against Libyan targets. You do the math.

**********************
So hot in BKK yesterday. Nice lunch at the Arun residence by the River.

19 March 2011

Apparently – The full moon this weekend is going to be the “biggest” and “brightest” we’ll see until 2029.

*****************************
45 protestors are reported killed in Yemen.

Meanwhile the hub of Bahrain’s rebellion was destroyed as the country’s embattled leaders intensified moves to crush an implacable reformist movement rippling through the Gulf states.

The giant white monument in the middle of Pearl Roundabout was brought down during Friday afternoon and the mound of grass that had been home for most of the last six weeks to thousands of demonstrators is now a pile of brown dirt.

The destruction appeared to be part of a plan to revert central Manama to life before the two-month uprising, which has paralysed the kingdom and sharply destabilised its neighbours, two of which, Saudi Arabia and UAE, have deployed troops in an attempt to quell the revolt.

Demolishing symbols does not creak people’s resolve….

17 March 2011

In Japan the number of confirmed dead and missing now stands at nearly 13,000 while some 450,000 people have been staying in temporary shelters amid sub-zero night-time temperatures.

*************************
Well done Kipp – enough is enough – Business 25/7 must be edited by half-wits.

**************************
In Koh Lanta – where the Germans occupy all the beach chairs from early morning.

And dinner last night at a beach restaurant called “same same but different.” Simple review – same same but indifferent.

***************************
A writer from Shibuya in Tokyo on the BBC web site:

“This has all been greatly over-hyped by foreign media. The radiation rates in Tokyo are same as they were back in December. All the protections around the reactors are doing exactly what they have been designed to do. The health risks are low near the edge of the evacuation zone, and almost non-existent in Tokyo even considering the worst case scenarios. What people need to be concerned about are the 100,000s of Japanese without shelter, warm clothes, blankets with little water and food in the north part of Japan. There are still thousands waiting to be rescued. People are dying and suffering in those devastated areas, while the media continues to create panic around these reactors. This is a small problem, even in the worse case compared to the damage the tsunamis have caused.”

16 March 2011

Back in BKK after a few nice days in Chiang Mai.

Ketawa Stylish resort is a nice small hotel to stay. Close to Riverside and Goodview.

The Sunday walking street market market is huge; it seems that everyone goes there.

Quails’ eggs taste good.

Fried banana is a great snack as you walk through the market.

Monk Chat is popular.

****************************
Etihad has issue a 28 page pilot’s grooming guide! Wish we could see it online !

Suggestions include the need to “air your shoes after use…Moisturise your skin” three times a week and some instructions such as “Males are not permitted to wear earrings or any other visible piercings” and “Do not sniff the perfume immediately after you spray it.”

Best of all “Your weekly treats should include, the use of a facial mask and exfoliation.”

And they still have to grease the landing !

13 March 2011

There is a good live Reuters blog from Japan.

Over 300,000 people evacuated in Japan.

The death toll now assumed to be in tens of thousands.

The government has warned of a possible explosion at a second reactor building at the earthquake-damaged Fukushima 1 power station.

An explanation of the nuclear issue from the BBC.

Updated pictures from the BBC.

Thailand on Saturday donated five million baht (164,000 U.S. dollars) and other disaster relief necessities as an initial assistance to victims of massive earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the Foreign Ministry said.

Oh dear – there are at least 45,000 Thais working, studying and living in Japan. The Thai Royal Family is worth how much – some US$35billion including the Crown Property lands. Seems to me that Thailand could dig a little deeper in aid.

12 March 2011

Pictures from the Japanese tsunami – words are not necessary.

**************************
Meanwhile some entertaining abuse of Dubai.

A.A. Gill wont be welcomed back in a hurry. But no smoke without fire. The article is in Vanity Fair – a monthly magazine. The article is meant to entertain. And it does. Of course it uses exaggeration but there is no smoke without fire.

Publicly the UAE lives in denial of its mistakes and its excesses. The newspapers are full of appallingly sychophantic articles oozing praise for the leadership/

But the reality is as one commentator said “If Dubai is still unable to be self critical on where things went wrong then it shouldn’t bother paying it’s debts. It’ll just do it again.”

A.A. Gill gets a lot of things factually wrong, he mixes different stories and situations and makes harsh stupid racial generalisations.

But….if you only can accept and write good news stories then someone else has to act as the counterbalance.

11 March 2011

Arrived in Chiang Mai last night; easy flight over to Bangkok on EK and connected onto Thai Airways to Chiang Mai.

Nice to be away from Dubai for a few days.

****************************
But hard to think about much else today other than the frightening pictures coming from Japan where this day will be remembered in history for many years to come:

The simple summary so far of a truly awful day for the people of Japan:

8.9 magnitude earthquake hits Japan, numerous aftershocks
10m tsunami in northern port of Sendai
Japan declares emergency at nuclear plant
Tsunami warnings for many other countries
Japanese PM calls for “spirit of fraternity”
Death toll rising

Best way of keeping up to date is to follow the live updates from say the BBC or the Guardian.

The BBC site is also streaming its television news.

The Kyodo news agency says that the death toll from the earthquake and tsunami is expected to exceed 1,000.

Japan is not unused to earthquakes and their building codes have probably saved thousands or even hundreds of thousands of lives.

The BBC is reporting that the pressure inside the No. 1 reactor at its Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear plant has been rising, with the risk of a radiation leak.

Al Jazeera’s resources in Asia are not as developed. And all I have access to is Al-Jazeera and the woeful Channel News Singapore Asia. Al Jazeera has not commented on the nuclear risk.

Obama this evening: President Obama’s statement concludes: “Today’s events remind us how fragile life can be. Our hearts go out to our friends in Japan and across the region, and we are going to stand with them as they recover and rebuild after this tragedy.”

It is night in Japan. The extent of the damage will only really be known in the morning.

9 March 2011

While Emirates focuses on adding capacity to existing routes, Qatar Airways which maybe has less focus on the bottom line continues to add new destinations.

From 14 September 2011, Qatar will launch service to Sofia where Airbus A320 aircraft operates 4 times a week via Bucharest.

The Budapest service, which currently operates via Bucharest, will become a daily nonstop service (increasing from the current 4 weekly).

From 5 October 2011, Qatar will be launching 5 weekly Doha – Oslo service on board Airbus A330-200 aircraft.

Emirates is being trumped by Qatar in Scandinavia.

**************************
It is a dreadful sign of the times when a UK debt collection company is awarded most innovative start up business.

**************************
Retiring today – the space shuttle Discovery. Discovery is the oldest of the remaining fleet of shuttles. Her first launch was Aug. 30, 1984. She’s flown more miles than any other reusable spacecraft. She’s flown all three return to flight missions, first after Challenger in 1988, then both return to flight missions after Columbia in 2005 and 2006. She launched the Hubble Space Telescope, carried the first Russian in an American spacecraft and was the ship for John Glenn’s return to space.

8 March 2011

Confirmation of EK’s third daily to Manchester:

Emirates from 01MAY11 is introducing 3rd Daily Dubai – Manchester service, operated by 3-class Airbus A330-200 aircraft.

The new schedule will be:

EK021 DXB0300 – 0755MAN 332 D
EK017 DXB0755 – 1225MAN 388 D
EK019 DXB1435 – 1915MAN 77W D

EK022 MAN0940 – 2000DXB 332 D
EK018 MAN1410 – 0015+1DXB 388 D
EK020 MAN2100 – 0705+1DXB 77W D

Note that Qatar and Etihad are both about to go double daily to Manchester – so there is a huge addition of seats to the middle east and beyond from the UK northwest.

As BA pulled out of Manchester it really did leave the door open for the gulf airlines to take over.

**********************
This cannot be right (as in right and wrong) The Royal Bank of Scotland, which is 83% owned by British taxpayer, says its Chief Executive will get pay package for 2010 worth £7.7m

**********************
Emirates Airline plans to hire 4,000 cabin crew over the 2011/2012 financial year to support its rapid expansion.

The latest Thai acronym for heavy handed security and excessive censorship is CAPO – Centre for the Administration of Peace and Order. This was the CRES – center for the resolution of the emergency situation!

**********************
THAI Begins Flights From Don Muang To Suvarnabhumi – Yes it is a spoof – but it almost makes sense !

******************************
From 1 September EK will add a third daily to Manchester. This will be an early morning departure from Dubai – approx 2am for a 7.00am arrival into MAN> Departure from Man at 9.25am for an approx 7pm return into Duabi. EK 21/22.

7 March 2011

“You lick the lollipop of mediocrity once, and you suck forever.” Not me – a US golfer.

**************************
From twitter land: Amazing thing about Dubai is 100s of nationalities can get along without anyone having a clue how to use their indicators on a roundabout

***************************
How paranoid is China at the moment – Shanghai St. Patrick’s Day parade cancelled

Sad that the Chinese are scared by an army of little green leprechauns having a good day out!

***************************
The treatment of Bradley Manning in a US military brig is obscene and wrong. Private Manning’s supporters have criticized his treatment as unduly harsh, contending that he is being pressured to agree to implicate Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks co-founder, as a conspirator in the leaking of diplomatic and military files.

I guess the only consolidation is that some of the US media and some bloggers are sufficiently concerned that we do get to hear and read about Manning’s condition. In many parts of the world we would never know his condition and treatment.

6 March 2011

Total media black-out from MUFC after defeat at Anfield. Even MUTV blanked. It really is a bit feeble. If this was anyone other than Man U then the FA/Premiership would be dealing with it.

***************************
England have done it! The only team in the Cricket World Cup that is making it fun to watch. Four games. Four great games. And today England snatched victory from dismal defeat. It was a stunning comeback from England, who were dead and buried when South Africa reached 63 for none and then 124 for three, needing just 172 to win. When the ball reverses, as it did today, England’s seamers are as good as anyone in the world, and Graeme Swann bowled magnificently on a helpful pitch.

The Guardian: “What is left to say about this England team? They are physically gone, shot to bits after the longest winter of all, yet they just never give in. What were we thinking writing this lot off? This is a triumph of the human spirit from a remarkable set of blokes. In the last eight days they have put us through three consecutive coronary-inducers, and finally they have won one. It means that, for the next few hours at least, they are top of the group. How absurd is that? And how can you not be totally, madly in love with this England cricket team?”

******************************
One comment said it all : “England aren’t doing boring at this World Cup,” says Ben Dunn. “The Dutch game was fun, India an all-time-great, Ireland the most fun you can have when watching your team lose and now this”

******************************
Golf today at Al Hamra. And for the first time in the UAE – no sun tan lotion – it was grey and cool. Good to get out for the day though some of the golf was average.

And I cooked enough chicken last night to be able to feed myself today as well.

5 March 2011

One of the more respected UAE commentators tweeted tonight:

“In case you didn’t get it yet: Libya is not Egypt, Egypt is not Tunisia, Tunisia is not Algeria, Algeria is not Yemen & Yemen is not Bahrain”

He is right – but the point is one would not happen without the other – Tunisia empowered the Egyptians, who inspired the Libyans, who have left people across the Middle Eat and North Africa thinking that maybe they are due a greater share in the social and economic well being of their countries.

**************************
I just wonder if Saturday at IKEA in #Dubai breaks records for the most languages spoken in one store at the same time….

It is a good example of just how international a city Dubai is.

**************************
Dubai’s new airport may be open to business traffic as well as cargo but the airport has its problems: usually worse wx conditions than DXB; fuel farms empty, fuel has to be bowsered in; arrivals only on RWY30, and departures only on RWY12 (ie one way traffic); arrivals and departures on the western side are currently banned due to the arrival/departure path being built over a municipal waste dump, hence severe birdstrike hazard. They will need to fix this. Here is the Notam.

XYA5555
GG ENHBZEZN ENZZNESI
231146 OMAEYNYX
(A0961/10 NOTAMN
Q) OMAE/QFAHX/IV/BO/A/000/999/2456N05505E005
A) OMDW
B) 1012240300 C) 1103230300
E) DUE TO INTENSE BIRD ACT AT WASTE SITE BOUNDED BY COORD
245541.44N 0550449.06E AND ASSOCIATED RISK OF BIRD STRIKE
IFR FLTS AT OMDW ARE RESTRICTED AS FLW:
RWY 12 – DEP ONLY
RWY 30 – ARR ONLY
VFR TRAINING FLTS ARE PERMITTED FOR EITHER RWY BUT MUST
REMAIN WI 5 DME FM JXB DVOR TO THE WNW.)

4 March 2011

Please don’t forget that protests are still continuing in Bahrain – with protestors still camped out on the Pearl roundabout and many marchers gathered there today – for the weekend.

**************************
Tai is on her way to Brisbane and Auckland. 5 days away. Quiet here.

So I get caught up with episodes of The Good Wife – still the most intelligent of US tv show.

3 March 2011

How bad is the property market in Dubai: from today#s Gulf News: A one-bedroom apartment in The Waves, Dubai Marina, used to cost Dh1.95 million during the boom time, but the same property is now available for Dh650,000, according to PowerHouse Properties

*****************************
Today: US$ 1,436 – gold per ounce. Wow.

*****************************
Ireland beat England in the cricket world cup – described by the Guardian as : “This is utterly astonishing, one of the most amazing victories in any sport for years…England had a shocker, but this is not about them. It’s about one of the most charming and joyous wins we’ll ever see and a match we will never forget, at least not until we’re in the special home and the faculties have gone.”

******************************
Thanks to Vanity Fair you can now generate your own Gaddafi rant – and here is mine:

“I am a lawyer, a revolutionary from the emirates …. I am not going to eat this land. I will die here as a pussy. You accountants and women who snog Qaddafi … get out of your malls and fill the airplanes …. A hot group of direct people who have taken ecstasy have disemboweled police stations like mice … report the rabbits. Football Players in washington protested for days near a non alcoholic beer sign …. Then the humvees came and spanked them …. I have not yet ordered one mistress to be tied. When I do, everything will tickle. There is no going left. Only up, down, circular!”

But it is just possible that he makes more sense than Charlie Sheen.

2 March 2011

Qatar Airways follows Etihad & Oman Air, to have pulled out of London’s Gatwick Airport. Other then BA and Virgin Emirates is now the only international major airline serving there.

I am with the New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof on this:

“If there’s a symbol of everything wrong with television news, it’s the focus on Charlie Sheen. Here we have America caught in historic budget debates that could lead to a shut-down of government, and the Middle East is in the midst of an equally historic democratic uprising — and TV “news” is giving a microphone to a fallen drug user with serious personal issues? It all makes me embarrassed for the news media.”

Piers Morgan had a one hour fawning interview with Sheen on his prime time CNN show.

The wall to wall coverage of the Oscars was pretty bleak as well.

Keeping people dumb seems to be the US media directive.

1 March 2011

Credit to Jamie’s Italian – who took the trouble to reply to my email.

**************************
I remain greatly impressed by The Pavilion Downtown – Emaar’s new arts space.

 

 

28 February 2011

Please bring back Billy Crystal to host the Oscars ! This year’s edition was truly terrible. Dull. Dull. Dull.

How does the King’s Speech win for original screenplay – it was not – it is from a play.

Wonderfully acted. But best film? A rich guy has a stutter and gets treated for it?

*************************
A quick mention of lunch on Saturday: Jamie’s Italian in Dubai – yes – Jamie Oliver’s new restaurant:

Disappointing. Overpriced. Nicely cooked. Decently presented. But nouvelle sized portions are not appropriate to an Italian restaurant. Example – fried calamari – 5 pieces for AED49 (I think). Drink prices (smallish glasses drowned in ice) that should be examined by the international criminal court.

And worst of all was watching the waiting staff chop up bread, for the designer bread basket, in the middle of the restaurant. I have never seen so many people manhandling loaves of bread. At least use a cloth or tea towel to hold the bread while cutting it. One of the staff cut her finger and with a yelp rushed off upstairs to get the cut seen to. The bread was left to be cut up and served to the next customer. Poor.

*************************
Sign of the times: Cirrus_Aircraft has agreed to be acquired by CAIGA (China Aviation Industry General Aircraft)

*************************
This gets worse: In Bangkok a DSI source told the BBC that the latest finding (that the Reuters camerman killed in May could not have been killed by an army soldier as the bullet used was from an AK-47) resulted from a fresh look only at the photos of the wounds suffered by Hiro Muramoto.

A look at the photos! What about from the autopsy or the pathologists report?

Ridiculous. And insulting to the intelligence of anyone who wants to get to the truth of what happened.

**************************
In Dubai the Executive Office today decided not to increase fees for private schools for the next academic year.

So the private schools are really not very private – as they are regulated.

And I thought that price increases were tied to the school assessment process from the KHDA? A good assessment justified a higher price increase?

27 February 2011

Omani security forces fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters demanding political reforms, killing at least one person. The clashes mark a significant escalation in two days of protests in Oman, a gulf state thought to be trouble-free.

***********************
One of the wisest tweets on the current situation in the middle east – “GCC states facing structural socio-economic challenges like employment and housing must avoid slipping into welfare band aiders.”@algergawi

***********************
England and India tie in Bangalore – 100 overs – 676 runs and 18 wickets. That’s entertainment.

Americans will never understand that there was no winner!.

Match tied. Though technically England should have won because they lost 8 wickets while India were all out in 49.5…

*********************
SmartWings now 3x a week from Prague to Dubai and vice versa – fares as low as Euro168 single from Dubai to Prague.

*********************
Oops – The Daily Mirror got this wrong !

**********************
High prices and a strong baht are making Hua Hin an expensive destination. It may not be a bad place to get a holiday condo now.

************************
Massive drought in Northern China, awful harvest, global food prices spiking, widespread revolution in the ME. The PRC leadership cannot be comfortable.

*************************
Old and new friends for Tai’s 30th birthday party last night. It was a very nice evening. 30 and gorgeous !

25 February 2011

At least this makes it clear who does run Thailand – this is so wrong – from the Bangkok Post today:

Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban has apologised to army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha after four Democrat MPs publicly criticised him for failing to end the insurgency in the southern border area.

24 February 2011

Here is the problem with soaring oil prices: for most airlines fuel represented more than a quarter of operating costs last year, when oil averaged just $79/barrel.

At $100-plus, the industry is into heavy losses, and since most airlines started frantically slashing non-fuel costs back in 2008 when oil soared to its pre-crisis peak of $140, there is not that much more they can do now do counter the latest rise.

The prospect of oil at $100 or higher for a significant period of time will hurt.

Two background trends are also alarming: emerging-country demand for fuel means soaring global demand, and 150 years of heavy oil production has depleted reserves.

**************************
Dubai Airports projects 25 to 40 movements per day at DWC by the end of 2011 – not bowel !!!

**************************
Here is some good news – Santa Claus (@CrapSantaSays) is now following your tweets (@rascottdotcom) on Twitter.

23 February 2011

No pictures but the cassoulet that I cooked last night was seriously good.

Emirates next destinations in the Americas – in no particular order and with no start dates announced yet – SEA, MIA, ORD, IAD, GIG, EZE, MEX

22 February 2011

Reality check : Our economy is based on the depletion of resources not their protection. Our monetary system is based on debt. Profit is maximised at the expense of other humans. The most successful managers are rewarded not for their empathy but for being the most efficient at maximising profit.

Shareholder return is not the same as stakeholder return; even in more advanced societies the gap between those who have and those who have not simply gets wider,

The consequences of their actions on others and on society are largely irrelevant.

Is this the beginning of a world revolution where hunger, thirst and gross inequality force millions onto the streets in countries all over the globe.

Those addicted to power, greed and money will not give it away without considerable bloodshed.

*********************************
Tai was called for a flight to Los Angeles at 3.15am – back on Friday.

***********************************
The Middle East and North African unrest is spreading quickly – Libya is frightening as we hope that Gaddafi goes quickly and that the repression of the Libyan people ends immediately.

Thai PBS says there are 50,000 Thai workers in ME including 23,000 in Libya. Hopefully they are safe.

21 February 2011

Wise words: “It’s not death I fear……….it’s what they’ll find on my computer when I go!!”

20 February 2011

The LPGA were playing this week at Siam Country Club outside Pattaya – top-ranked Taiwanese golfer Yani Tseng earned her third tournament win in three weeks shooting a 6-under 66 to pull away for a comfortable five-shot victory over Michelle Wie in the LPGA Thailand.

Ms. Wie finished second after a 70 today. Ms. Wie is trying to get through a season of part time golf and full time studying at Stanford. Talented girl ! Hope she did not get too distracted in Pattaya.

************************
Maybe this is the lesson from Egypt and Bahrain – Putting down protests by force might buy time but does not secure long-term protection. The more repressively governments in the Middle East behave, the more radicalised is the opposition they face. By Friday in Bahrain, as families were burying their dead, earlier calls for constitutional reform had given way to the clamour for regime change. And yesterday the people took back Pearl Square.

The unrest is far from over – there are newly empowered people across the region who have little to lose and lots to gain. It is both exhilarating and alarming.

19 February 2011

This is the trouble with low cost – low intelligence – In a massive case of cultural insensitivity, Easyjet’s recent dinner options on its Luton to Tel Aviv flights were bacon baguettes and ham melts. Needless to say, this did not go down too well with its passengers.

***********************
Lunch with one of the smartest people I know and a good friend.

Always happy when I meet up with someone I have not seen for many months and we talk as though we had seen eachother yesterday.

***********************
April 29th looms – here is the solution:

Royal Wedding, royal wedding
17 February 2011

Depressing allegations tonight from Torbay and Torquay.

**********************
Guilty confession – I like the TV series – The Good Wife.

***********************
Ok – a few days old – Valentines Joke: “I booked a table for Valentine’s Day for me and the wife. It ended in tears though.
Turns out she’s rubbish at snooker.”

************************
How to be on the wrong side of history: Arab foreign ministers of the Gulf monarchies are to hold an emergency meeting on Thursday in Manama, gripped by protests in which six people have been killed, Bahrain’s foreign ministry said.

“The Gulf Cooperation Council states are expected to announce their support for the (Bahraini) government in security, defence and politically,” said a Bahrain ministry spokesman.

The GCC groups Bahrain with Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

This would be a good time from the GCC to tell Bahrain that the violence against protestors was not acceptable.

**************************
With trouble throughout the Middle East The National newspaper in print today is a masterpiece. Main headline is “Teach us to drive safely, say young Emiratis.”

The secondary story is that Emiratis gave a broad welcome for the new election system where only 1% of them can vote.

The National had such potential when it was launched. Failed now.

**************************
Airbus A330-343X aircraft picture

from: Airliners.net

The latest logo jet from Etihad – promoting Abu Dhabi tourism for 2011

*************************
EK’s next A380s: for the 2011/12 financial year:

September 2011: MSN 077- A6-EDP – EK # 16
October 2011: MSN 080- A6-EDQ – EK # 17
November 2011: MSN 083 & 086- A6-EDR & A6-EDS – EK # 18 & 19
December 2011: MSN 090 – A6-EDT – EK # 20
February 2012: MSN 098 – A6-EDU – EK # 21
March 2012: MSN 101 – A6-EDV – EK # 22

*************************
Qatar Airways continues its fast expansion – as it uses smaller A320s to launch new routes – Qatar Airways To Fly Daily Non-Stop To Venice from mid June 2011.

*************************
I must find this when I am next in Hong Kong:

The Globe and Mail review: The Water Rat of Wanchai is the first book in what Anansi intends as a new mystery imprint called Spiderline. If the other novels are half as good as this debut by Ian Hamilton, then readers are going to celebrate. Hamilton, a nationally known journalist and non-fiction author, has created a marvellous character in Ava Lee, a Toronto forensic accountant.

That’s right, an accountant. Those who believe that CPA is the acronym for beige and boring will be stunned as Lee engages in adventures (and sex) from Hogtown to Hong Kong, Bangkok to Guyana. It seems Lee works for an “Uncle” who just may be part of the Chinese Mafia. Lee’s job is to track down the money and those who have it. In this case, it’s a nephew of a friend of “Uncle” who is owed $5-million. What happens to the person who diverted the millions is not Ava’s concern. Just find the cash and get it back to the nephew.

This is a terrific story that’s certain to be on the Arthur Ellis Best First Novel list this year. Even better news is that the next three novels in the series are already written and ready to print. Ava Lee is going to be chasing the accounts for a long, long time.

*****************************
How to keep your people happy; Spend US$5 billion on them: Kuwait is giving every citizen a $3,500 handout, in a move that highlights the divide between the oil-rich Gulf and the rest of the Middle East.

However questions are being asked if it is a generous gift, or a ploy to win government support.

16 February 2011

Internet dating in one sentence: “women are terrified of meeting serial killers online; men are terrified of meeting women of above-average weight”

**************************
The recurring theme from Emirates Airline is that it has no government support or subsidy.

In terms of direct subsidies that is true but Emirates does benefit from:

Lower Wages in Dubai and short term labour contracts; no pension or union costs.
Lower Fuel Costs
Lower DXB Landing Fees – they aply to all airlines but Dubai is Emirates’ hub so they benefit disproportionately.
Complex support of Emirates ie. marketing and other subsidies for Dubai Tourism and other business structures
Near Zero Interest Rates on Government Loans

Emirates subsidies are deeply embedded into a complex web of related companies as the airlines diversified into related industries and sectors, including airport services, engineering, hospitality services, catering, and tour operator operations.

15 February 2011

“Thai politics becomes a dog’s dinner” writes the Sydney Morning Herald. I will not link to it but you can always search online for the article. For regular readers and people who follow Thai politics and royalty there is nothing new. But it is not an article that would have been written two years ago….

14 February 2011

A rare visitor to Dubai – Qantas was in town today: A Qantas flight from London to Singapore has been stopped from flying into Iraqi airspace.

Qantas says Iraq air services would not allow QF32 into its airspace today, saying it did not recognise the authority that had pre-approved the flight path.

The flight had to divert to Dubai to refuel in order to allow for a different flight path.

The airline says it has been flying on this route for some weeks and does not know why this incident has occurred now.

The Australian carrier is now liaising with Iraqi authorities to investigate why the plane has been denied entry.

******************************
OK – if I must. Happy Valentines Day !

*******************************
Is Mubarak moving to the UAE. Officials in the UAE have not commented on the latest rumours, but state news agency WAM yesterday refuted reports Mubarak’s plane had already landed in Sharjah.

Mubarak would not be the first exiled politician to move here. In recent years Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, the late Pakistani ex-Premier Benazir Bhutto and a former Chechen warlord Sulim Yamadayev – who was later assassinated – all set up homes in Dubai.

13 February 2011

One of the great front pages:

yjgmc.jpg

Fair to say that events in Egypt were the best-reported revolution in history. None of the coming uprisings will be covered anywhere near as well.

Why: Egyptians are very articulate, speak great English; Egypt swarms with journalists, and many have spent time there, have connections and understand the issues; Egypt has a very high level of connection to the outside world and tourism and history means a huge % of the world “know” Egypt and have an interest.

The quality of some of the foreign media reporting puts their coverage of the red shirt protests and the army crackdown in BKK to shame.

****************************
Before events in Egypt took over all the news on Friday I had a good day at the Dubai Desert Masters.

I did not watch the marquee group of Westwood Kaymer and Woods; instead followed Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee and the two Spaniards, Martin and Cabrera-Bello. Good to watch quality golf up close. But professional golfers are generally miserable. They appear to take no pleasure in having one of the greatest jobs a man could have.

Senor Martin is a very grumpy club throwing young man !

The downside to watching: the pros get to walk in the grass down the fairway. The spectators get to yomp through the desert sand.

Never understand why people would take a young baby to the golf – if there is anywhere that a baby does not want to be that must be it.

10 February 2011

The hot question in the UK today…from popbitch “Which former newsreader, still much loved, used to send secret messages to his mistress at the end of the news? If the
adjusted his tie as the credits rolled, he was coming over for a spot of nookie.”

By the way I have no idea what the answer is but it does make news readers more interesting !

9 February 2011

A man goes to the doctor: “I am addicted to Twitter”, he says. Doctor says: “I am sorry, I don’t follow you”

*************************
Apparently Suan Lum night bazaar in Bangkok is no more. Bulldozed to make way for the developers and yet another shopping mall and yet another trafiic disaster. Very sad. It was a nice place to stroll for an evening and the food market and music were fun.

Apparently the developer of Suan Lum nightbazaar has bought a large piece of land on Ratchadaphisek Rd. It plans to build a large mixed-use development, called Ratchada Night Bazaar. Most vendors will move to the new location. Already at this new location is the large Ratchadaphisek-Ladprao night market. It will also be integrated in the new mall/market. Expected completion is 2012. It is not the best of tourist locations.

*********************
PoorTai – she was on airport standby for four hours from 8pm last night. It was 11.45pm and she was about to head home when she gets called for the 1.15am overnight turnaround to Tehran.

She was not a happy bunny.

*********************
Meanwhile back in Thailand Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva told a forum of bankers and asset managers today that an election would be held by the end of June.

Abhisit made the comments in Bangkok to the CLSA Asean Investors’ Forum, the statement from his Government House office said. Reporters were not allowed into the forum.

If he wants an election by the end of June, he will need to dissolve parliament in by May 15 at the latest (per Section 108 of the Constitution which states that a new general election must be held “not less than forty-five days but not more than sixty days as from the day the House of Representatives has been dissolved.

8 February 2011

Sorry – did not mean to sound quite so gloomy ! I was having some frustration with my UAE residence application but all is solved now. Just have to wait for the final paperwork to be completed.

************************
The European Golf Tour is in town this week – strangely without the resting Graeme McDowell.

Once again Dubai will fulfil its three-year commitment to underwrite the European Tour’s season-long ‘Race to Dubai’ in 2011.

But there are press reports of whispers from the Gulf suggesting that Europe’s golfers will be competing in the ‘Race to Abu Dhabi’ from 2012. Dubai’s rich neighbour is expected to host next year’s season-ending showpiece on the new Gary Player-designed course at Saadiyat Beach, which is owned by the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority.

Dubai will continue to host the Omega Desert Classic on the Majlis Course at the Emirates Club, and it is this event that takes place this week.

Tiger Woods is in town – with appearance money estimated at around US$3 million.

6 February 2011

A rather uncertain day today. More on that over the next few days. Maybe!

*************************
Great Britain’s King George VI died on this day in 1952; he was succeeded on the throne by his daughter, Elizabeth.

King George VI was of course the subject of “The King’s Speech” – which we saw earlier in the week – and which deserves all of the praise lavished on it. Two great leading roles. A top quality support cast. And a very smart script.

4 February 2011

On a personal level it was a grumpy day today – shame really as it was a lovely sunny blue sky day; with a breeze that made it feel like spring.

Had a walk along the beach at JBR before a late lunch. But is was one of those days when two people who are as close as Tai and I are still struggle to say the right things to eachother. Like being strangers after 7 years. Weird.

************************
Egypt’s attempts to muzzle the media must fail. Al Jazeera is reporting today that their Cairo office has been stormed by “gangs of thugs”. The news channel says its office and the equipment inside has been set fire.

In a statement the broadcaster says that “In the last week its bureau was forcibly closed, all its journalists had press credentials revoked, and nine journalists were detained at various stages. Al Jazeera has also faced unprecedented levels of interference in its broadcast signal as well as persistent and repeated attempts to bring down its websites.”

Meanwhile the Guardian’s Peter Beaumont and Jack Shenker were interrogated by the Egyptian army; two of many journalists similarly detained and threatened. Beaumont and Shenker were picked up by the army at a checkpoint and led to the ministry of the interior … “We were held for two hours … and we were both warned that if we came anywhere near the square again, things wouldn’t go so nicely for us.”

But one Arabic correspondent for the Guardian noted the domino effect of these protests:

“Arab kings and presidents are scrambling to appease their people: Jordan’s king dismissed his government, Algeria’s president said he will end emergency laws, the Yemeni president pledged not to run again. But for us Arabs, the biggest change has already happened. The holy image of his deity the ruler, surrounded by fearless, mustachioed mukhabarat officers, has been shattered.”

**************************************
The Pakistani cricketers at the centre of last year’s spot-fixing scandal are to be charged with conspiracy to cheat, the Crown Prosecution Service said today. A court date has been set for next month, and if the players do not return to Britain voluntarily their extradition will be sought.

Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir, and the agent Mazhar Majeed – accused of accepting £150,000 to fix the actions of the players – are to be charged over allegations that they conspired with gamblers to bowl no-balls to order in the Lord’s Test against England.

All three were provisionally suspended by the International Cricket Council and the verdict of a separate independent hearing is expected tomorrow.

3 February 2011

The dangers faced by bloggers and journalists in Cairo are huge – as this one example shows:

“I am ok. I got out. I was ambushed & beaten by the police, my phone confiscated , my car ripped apar& supplies taken #jan25”

The BBC meanwhile:

“Egyptian security seize BBC equipment at Cairo Hilton in attempt to stop us broadcasting #Egypt”

And from Al Jazeera: “Greek journalist stabbed in Cairo while covering the protests in Meydan Tahrir”

2 February 2011

Qatar Airways says it plans to begin flying to Montreal this June, offering three weekly round-trip flights from Doha on Boeing 777 aircraft.

****************************
From 1st September, Emirates’ daily flight to Hamburg becomes double daily. The extra frequencies are supported by a Boeing 777-200, also in a three-class configuration.

1 February 2011

Dubai and the UAE – then and now – Life magazine pictures.

****************************
Only in Dubai. Renato Formilleza Jr won the top prize in a 2009 Dubai Shopping Festival competition. A new apartment. The trouble is it may never be built. The story is here.

31 January 2011

Torres = £50m Carroll = £35m

Szczesny-Clichy-Djourou-Vermaelen-Sagna -Nasri -Walcott -Fabregas -Song -Wilshere – Van Persie = £44m

Makes Arsene Wenger look like a financial genius.

*******************************
Have to love the Sun’s ability to focus on things that matter: as it reports that the family of President Mubarak fled Egypt for the luxurious refuge of their £8.5million London townhouse.

The leader’s son Gamal, 47, is said to have spearheaded the move, flying to Britain on a private jet with his own family and NINETY-SEVEN pieces of luggage.

He owns a six-floor Georgian mansion a stone’s throw from Harrods in Knightsbridge, West London.

Mubarak is said to have amassed a £25billion fortune for his family since grabbing power in 1981.

There must be a UK footie team he can takeover as part of his retirement from presidential matters.

******************************

Al Jazeera reporting team have been arrested – Dan Nolan one of their reporters notes on Twitter: “Unsure if arrested or about to be deported. 6 of us held at army checkpoint outside Hilton hotel. Equipment seized too.”

**************************
Oh dear: endangered Tiger:

Tiger Woods’ Dubai Course

The Al Ruwaya design project in Dubai was Tiger Woods first course design – it was to be an 18-hole championship golf course surrounded by 100 villas, 75 mansions, 22 palaces, a 360,000 square-foot boutique hotel with 90 suites and 14 bungalows, a golf academy, a 139,000-square-foot clubhouse and a community center with luxury retail shops.

Construction began in 2007 and was targeted for completion in September 2009.

There are just five distinguishable golf holes (and half of a sixth), no construction appears to be continuing on any of the proposed buildings.

Officially, the project is described as “on hold,” but according to Golf Digest, sources in Dubai say that watering has stopped and that after Woods plays the Omega Dubai Desert Classic next week the project “will return to sand.”

And what happens to down payments by contracted villa owners?

Time for the Tiger Woods Qatar?

Of course the good people at Dubai Properties – a company not well known for dealing honestly with its customers still promotes the property on its web site:

http://dubaipropertiesgroup.ae/en/properties/the-tiger-woods-dubai

Under pressure Dubai Properties Group said today that it has suspended work on the luxury Tiger Woods Dubai golf course and residential unit because of unfavourable market conditions.

“This decision was based on current market conditions that do not support high-end luxury real estate. These conditions will continue to be monitored and a decision will be made in the future when to restart the project.”

This project will not restart. It will be desert again within months.

Just as a final note: Former world No.1 golfer Tiger Woods was paid a design fee of $10m, plus real estate royalties, for his role in the now-suspended Dubai golf development bearing his name.

30 January 2011
Another facebook deletion today. Friendship takes two.

***********************
Nick Kristof of the NYT in Cairo – “Tahrir Square is just unbelievable–first time I’ve ever strolled across it without worrying about traffic. Just tanks and thousands of protesters. Everybody’s very hopeful and very nervous.”

************************
I have seen the future and it is depressing. It is blackberries.

We went out for dinner with friends last night. Have not seen them for a long time. So there should have been lots to talk about and to catch up on. Wrong.

They both have blackberries. “Cant talk – I am social networking.” Or more accurately anti-social networking.

So that is the future. Dinners where people eat but are busy “networking” with people who are not sharing dinner.

Even in the car coming home – beep, beep, beep – how to annoy the taxi driver !

So conversation is dead – enjoy it while you still can.

And on the subject of cars:

3vvaa.jpg

************************
FA Cup draw: Manchester United vs Crawley Town. The first non-league team to reach last 16 of FA Cup for 17 years and they get the Premiership leaders and the most glamorous cup tie possible.

*************************
Al Jazeera on Sunday denounced the shutdown of its operations in Egypt by the Cairo authorities, saying the move was aimed at “censoring and silencing the voices of the Egyptian people.” “Al Jazeera sees this as an act designed to stifle and repress the freedom of reporting by the network and its journalists,” the Qatar-based satellite channel said in a statement.

Egypt’s outgoing information minister had earlier “ordered the closure of all activities by Al Jazeera in the Arab republic of Egypt, and the annulment of its licences, as well as withdrawing the press cards of all its employees,” the official MENA news agency said.

***************************
Lucky us : 19 private jets carrying families of wealthy Egypt and Arab businessmen leave Cairo, go to Dubai – from AFP and AL Jazeera.

29 January 2011

Tom Gara on Twitter:

Seriously, when I switch from Jazeera to CNN its like switching to a 24-hour infomercial for a revolutionary new toaster oven.

So shiny and fake, all giant white teeth and cliche and incredibly dull, conventional-wisdom spewing no-nothing guests.

Sadly when it comes to Egypt coverage Tom has got this about right.

****************************
World leaders are sitting in Davos drinking hot chocolate and debating climate change.

Meanwhile in Cairo:

Hundreds dead. Thousands injured. Thousands beaten and arrested. Major political opposition leaders arrested.

Meanwhile: Saudi King Abdullah expressed his support for embattled President Mubarak and slammed those “tampering” with Egypt’s security.

Which is why the KSA is such a negative force against progress in the Middle East.

But the KSA and Egypt both have close ties to the USA. The USA needs a rapid reassessment of who its allies are in the Middle East if any.

28 January 2011

US secretary of state Clinton: “As a partner we strongly believe that the Egyptian government needs to engage immediately with the Egyptian people in implementing political, social and economic reforms.”

That may not be strong enough for people that want Mubarak to quit immediately – but in diplomatic terms it is strong.

***********************
100 Amazing Egyptian Innovations

**********************
There are thousands of protestors on the streets of Jordan this evening as well.

Message to Gaddafi in Libya – your turn next month?

************************

If Egypt goes the entire region goes. It has by far the largest population in the Arab world; when Obama came to talk to the Arab World he did so from Cairo. It may well be time for Mubarak to go – and quickly: but the USA’s interests in Egypt are very exposed now: the peace treaty with Israel, the Suez canal, and co-operation against terrorism. And the question will be what or who comes next.

************************
While speaking at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government on 27 April 2010, ElBaradei joked that he was “looking for a job” and is seeking to be an “agent of change and an advocate for democracy” within Egyptian politics.

Mohamed ElBaradei returned to Egypt amid ongoing turmoil, with the biggest mass protests in 30 years. ElBaradei declared himself ready to lead a transitional government if that was the will of the nation, saying that: “If [people] want me to lead the transition, I will not let them down”. He was subsequently arrested

Reported from BBC’s Arabic service beaten in Cairo this afternoon says that the plain clothed secret police have been deliberately targeting and beating journalists. “The police are very very violent today”

Internet access almost completely cut off in Egypt – which suggests ISP collusion with authorities?

There may be a new world order coming quickly.

************************
A survey conducted by faculty members of the United Arab Emirates University found that aggressive tailgating, headlight flashing and cutting off other cars were all considered manly by young Emirati men, who took a disparaging view of traffic laws.

The per capita death toll on UAE roads is among the highest in the world, according to World Health Organisation data.

Road users are regularly spotted typing text messages on their mobile phones, eating and even applying fingernail polish while behind the wheel.

Up to half of the young Emirati men talk on mobile phones while driving, stop their cars in inner lanes to chat with other drivers, don’t bother wearing seatbelts, and drive in the wrong direction down one-way streets.

Yep – all of the above. And it is not just the Emiratis.Add:

Drivers from South Asia who are not used to the speed of UAE roads and who happily drive in middle and even outside lanes at dangerously slow speeds.

The fact that most people think indicators are optional.

That drivers think nothing of suddenly deciding to exit right while they are in the outside of four or more lanes.

**************************
Athens afternoon flight to be replaced by Vienna.

Effective 27 March 2011

4x weekly additional frequencies introduced to Vienna (VIE) operated by A340-500

EK125 DEP DXB 1715 ARR VIE 2120
EK126 DEP VIE 2250 ARR DXB 0630 (next day)

Flights operate on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Sunday

As a result VIE increases from Daily to 11x weekly
EK103/104 DXB-ATH-DXB operating 4x weekly will be discontinued.

As a result ATH drops from 11x weekly to Daily

***********************
Windy day in Dubai – A sand storm hit UAE Friday noon throwing normal life out of gear.

In Sharjah, within a span of minutes, a thick cloud of dust covered the city area accompanied by strong winds.

Residents said in many places visibility was reduced to a few metres and traffic in several streets were affected as the strong winds toppled garbage bins on the roads.

It also brought light drizzle in several areas.

In Dubai people had to run for cover as the storm took them by surprise.

**************************
Interesting advertisement: Not our apartment but it must be one that is adjacent.

“This excellent 2 BR Unit in Executive Towers B Block has a maid’s room with all ensuite bedrooms. It is on a high floor with an unblocked view towards Burj Khalifa view. It has a total area of 1532 sq ft including maids room and balcony. The master bedroom has its own walk in closet. With beautiful finish and convenience for families to live in this beautiful development you will find every amenity you need to make a real pleasure like health clubs, swimming pool, sport complexes, landscape garden, play area for children, shopping outlet and more. The project itself comprises of twelve towers in total with ten of them being residential buildings and one commercial building this is called Aspect Tower. It also has a hotel on the project called Business Bay Hotel which is in a fantastic location and should be ideal for visitors who are coming to Dubai on Business who want to stay in a central location close to meetings and within touching distance of all recreational activities, restaurants and bars. The Executive Towers is close to The Downtown and is just a few minutes drive to the Dubai Mall and the Burj Khalifa. It is also close to DIFC and right on the sheikh Zayed road. The unit is rented till 1st week of April 2011 hence prior appointment is required. Provident Real Estate”

Property Details Area: 1532 ft² Offer: for sale :Price/sqft: 1207.57 AED.

I wonder if it will sell.

************************************
In Egypt access to the internet and to mobile phone services has now been severely restricted.

Police appear to have been told to crush dissent.

26 January 2011

Idiotic stuff in the Toronto Sun today – now the Canadians have sunk to the same depths as the Gulf News. Tit for tat trash.

“Keep UAE flying low” was the title of the column which draws comparison’s between Mussolini’s Italy and modern day UAE.

The article includes this quote: “Emirates isn’t just a company. It’s a foreign policy tool of a family of dictators, who use it as a battering ram against competitors.”

The gloves are coming off.

********************
Happy Oz day down under. Pity you lost the cricket today.

Happy republic day in India.

**********************

A British man has pleaded guilty to making a bomb hoax onboard an Etihad Airways flight that was diverted under fighter jet escort.

James Glen, 37, appeared before Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court, following the mid-air incident on Monday that led to the flight being diverted to Stansted Airport.

Glen, who was “intoxicated”, told a flight attendant that a fellow passenger had a gun and had “threatened to blow himself up”, the court was told.

The Heathrow-bound flight, which had 163 passengers and 15 crew on board, was delayed for four hours.

Vivienne Perry, prosecuting, told the court the incident had a “considerable financial cost”, including charges incurred from the RAF escort, additional fuel and the cost to other passengers who missed connecting flights from Heathrow.

Mr Glen’s counsel said that he had acted in a manner “alien to him” due to the small amount of alcohol he had consumed, which had affected him more than usual due to the pressurized air in the cabin.

Yeah, yeah – and I speak fluent Swahili !

Glen is due to appear before the same court on March 10, when he is expected to be sentenced. Idiot!

25 January 2011

Great pics from SkyDiveDubai over the Palm Jumeirah and Dubai’s other airport at JBR – http://bit.ly/eC4Rax and http://bit.ly/iirIo5

***********************
Thaksin is tweeting in English today – “I miss Thailand I miss everyone there especially my family and all my supporters who always think of me and support me regardless,see u soon.” – and he says it is a promise and not a threat!

23 January 2011

Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways has expressed “top level interest” in Richard Branson’s British airline Virgin Atlantic, the Sunday Times newspaper reported.

Virgin Atlantic has previously said it received enquiries about tie-ups with rival carriers after it hired Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE) to assess the market.

The Sunday Times said the chief executive of Etihad had written to Deutsche to express his interest in the firm.

“We have no comment other than that we talk regularly and frequently to many airlines and a range of other businesses from all over the world about business issues and opportunities,” a spokeswoman for Etihad said.

A spokesman for Virgin was not immediately available to comment. Well – it was a Sunday!

21 January 2011

Briberia: Note from the Guardian: There are probably few original shareholders left at British Airways – that is, those who bought in 1987 when the company was privatised at 125p a share. But this not-so-merry band can now reflect on the fruits of 24 years. On the last day of trading before merger with Iberia, BA’s shares closed at 282.5p. The return to shareholders, which is more meaningful as it includes the reinvestment of dividends, works out at just under 4.5% a year. Not much for a quarter of century of loyalty to a company with a dominant presence at Europe’s busiest airport? True, in retrospect, the time to sell was 1997 when the shares peaked at 760p. Those were the days when budget airlines were a novelty, oil was cheap and few imagined that deficits in pension funds would be a problem. Warren Buffett wins again: he always said airlines were lousy investments.

*****************************
Just a note that the Nakheel vs Penguin dispute over the world should never have come to a judicial tribunal. Nakheel should have accepted a significantly reduced payment that allowed Penguin to retain their contract but over what will be a far longer time frame. Instead – as is typical in Dubai – the dispute goes into the global media and makes Dubai look foolish.

**************************************
This is the part of Dubai that saddens me – because no one seems to want to admit that it exists.

But this is the rather pompous John Simpson from the BBC on modern day slavery in Dubai.

Slavery may not be the best word as the workers to come here voluntarily – but as long as confiscating passports and denying legal protection remains mainstream, it is modern day slavery.

**********************
Don’t the Dubai Shopping festival discounts simply eliminate the Dubai mark-up that exists on everything sold the other 11 months of the yr?

20 January 2011

EK – new aircraft to the fleet in 2011: 3x A380 + 13x B77W with 2 A330s for sale and probably off to Virgin Blue.

The A380s do not arrive until the second half of 2011.

The big questions is where can they park even more 777s at Dubai in rush hour at the airport.

So expect additional announcements to cope with this new capacity; so far in 2011 – Basra, Geneva and Copenhagen – together with a fourth flight to Singapore which everyone expects to be extended on to Denpasar.

***************************
Penguin vs Nakheel: in a dispute over the World development – Penguin says that the “deteriorating” state of The World was proof that work has “effectively stopped” on the project and that Penguin should no longer be obliged to pay an annual fee of either Dh5 million or 15 per cent of revenue, whichever is larger.

Nakheel content that the project had not been cancelled but was slowed by the global financial crisis. Nakheel’s counsel say that The World was in “a coma” but would be revived as market conditions picked up.

Penguin Marine, which is affiliated with the Singapore marine equipment and logistics company Penguin International, has spent Dh25m on building infrastructure at Port Rashid to handle the flow of materials and construction workers to the islands.

Penguin said in a filing to the Dubai World Tribunal that the “navigation channels .… are so presently ill-defined, and the water depths have been so seriously eroded due to reclaimed sand silting-up the navigation channels, that major reclamation works will henceforth be required on The World islands to allow safe passage of the Respondent’s marine vessels to the Islands”.

Penguin’s claim was rejected by the tribunal.

No surprise there.

**************************
Emirates to launch service to Copenhagen, its 112nd destination on 1 Aug, 3rd route in 2011 after Basra & Geneva.

Daily Dubai – Copenhagen service will use an Airbus A330-200 aircraft, starting 01AUG11.

Reservation for this route should be open shortly. Schedule:

EK151 DXB0830 – 1310CPH 332 D
EK152 CPH1455 – 2315DXB 332 D

Effective 1 February 2012

EK151/152 DXB-CPH-DXB will upgrade from A330-200 (3-class) to B777-200ER (3-class).
*************************
The White House dinner – hosted by one Nobel laureate in honor of man who jailed the next. How sad is that?

**************************
Dinner for President Hu at the White House – Jackie Chan is also there for dinner:

First
D’Anjou Pear with Farmstead Goat Cheese Fennel, Black Walnuts, and White Balsamic

Second
Poached Maine Lobster
Orange Glaze Carrots and Black Trumpet Mushrooms

Wine: DuMol Chardonnay “Russian River” 2008 (California)

Lemon Sorbet

Main
Dry Aged Rib Eye with Buttermilk Crisp Onions
Double Stuffed Potatoes and Creamed Spinach

Wine: Quilceda Creek Cabernet “Columbia Valley” 2005 (Washington State)

Dessert
Old Fashioned Apple Pie
with Vanilla Ice Cream

Wine: Poet’s Leap Riesling “Botrytis” 2008 (Washington State)

Apparently the Chinese asked for an all-American dinner. Good job Mr Hu is not a Doctor !

******************************
Blocked in the UAE – only in NZ could you have a nude golf tournament – this is the link for anyone that can see it – http://www.naturist.co.nz/home/events/nude-golf-international/

*************************
Back in Dubai after a good few days in BKK. The Dennis Resort is now the Dennis Boutique Resort – change of location – some right sizing involved – but just as stylish !

*************************
At 4am last night Tai and I were still at Paklong Dalad – the flower market in BKK. Tai did not get to the hotel until about 2.30an from Sydney and we were both hungry!

The flower market is great fun. It is very busy. Lots of activity. Wonderfully colourful and very welcoming. And it is at its best in the middle of the night. As is the traffic. At 4am it took 10 minutes back to the hotel. At 2pm from almost the same location at Old Siam it took 50 minutes.

18 January 2011

Press release: “Penton Media’s Air Transport World®, the leading monthly magazine covering the global airline industry, announced the selection of Emirates Airline as its Airline of the Year for 2011. The Dubai, UAE-based carrier is being honored for its strong commitment to safety and operational excellence, its trendsetting customer service and its superb financial performance including a 22-year consecutive annual profit streak.

Since launching service in 1985, Emirates has grown into one of the largest and most dynamic airlines in the world and has transformed Dubai into a major connecting hub for global air travel. It is also a leader in developing flexible air routings that save fuel and reduce CO2 emissions.”

Living proof that expensive pr budgets are a good thing!

17 January 2011

Valentines Day in Dubai will be dry – no booze served. The hotels are scrambling. Honestly – who cares?

*************************
News today that a new James Bond book will have scenes set in Dubai – which led to some great suggestions for Dubai themed Bond films on twitter:

The Spy Who Loved Me So Much He Got Deported;Casino Nakheel; From Mirdiff with Love; Quantum of Burj: Al No; GoldenCreek; The World will never finish; Dhow another Day; The Spy Who Treated Me In a Culturally Appropriate Manner That Reflected Local Traditions; Licence to Build; Drive and Let Die, GoldenPalm; From Karama with Love; Dr Yes M’am Sir.

16 January 2011

It is a good month for new films on Emirates and EK418 usually has a 777 fitted with wide screen digital ice.

I watched Wall Street 2 – Michael Douglas and the wonderful (though rather bland in this film) Carey Mulligan.

And then the long Mao’s last dancer: a late 2010 drama based on the autobiography by Li Cunxin. Summary: At the age of 11, Li was plucked from a poor Chinese village by Madame Mao’s cultural delegates and taken to Beijing to study ballet. In 1979, during a cultural exchange to Texas, he fell in love with an American woman. Two years later, he managed to defect and went on to perform as a principal dancer for the Houston Ballet and as a principal artist with the Australian Ballet.

***************************
Al Jazeera’s coverage of the crisis in Tunisia is very thin indeed. This could be a moment for the Arab World’s leading international news broadcaster to excel – but the BBC coverage is so much more thorough.

I fear that the Tunisian’s may just be replacing one bad government with another.

**************************
And so it goes on: The Australian bobsleigh team have asked the Aussie cricket team for a meeting.
They want to ask their advice about going downhill so fast!

15 January 2011

Tunisia/Iran/Iraq/Egypt/Lebanon/Jordan – as early as Jan 15 it appears that 2011 will be a year of significant upheaval in the Middle East.

****************************
Tunisia has always censored news web sites and facebook. But people have used proxies to circumvent censorship. Twitter’s coverage of Tunisia is very active. Wikileaks’ revelations on Tunisia probably helped stoke people’s frustration.

Censorship does not work. It just makes people more curious to learn what it is that their governments are not letting them see.

Case in point – the January 1 edition of the Economist jumps from page 32 to 35 for copies sold in Dubai. Because someone has been employed to tear a page out of every edition – removing the article on Dubai’s Debt Forgetfulness. So we all have to simply take the Gulf News and Khaleej Times version of Dubai – no problem here – we are in boomtime.

12 January 2011

Take the last two digits of the year you were born and add the age you’re going to be at the end of this year. We all add up to 111.

The dreaded Nelson for everyone.

**************************
Eddie Haddad (amazingly still at Reuters!) was in town last night – have not seen him since a golf day in Bangkok. Good to catch up.

11 January 2011

I have to share this: most of my readers will have no idea what this is about but in ten years time when I read this I will still be able to look back and smile!

1. What do you call a world-class Australian cricketer?
Retired.
2. What do you call an Aussie with a bottle of Champagne?
A waiter.
3. What do you call an Australian who can hold a catch?
A fisherman.
4. Why can no-one drink wine in Australia at the moment?
They haven’t got any openers…
5. What is the difference between Cinderella and the Aussies?
Cinderella knew when to leave the ball.
6. What’s the Australian version of LBW? Lost, Beaten and Walloped.
7. If Jimmy Anderson was Australian, what would he be?
An all-rounder.
8. Who spends the most time on the crease out of anyone on the Australian cricket team?
The ironing lady!
9. But not all is lost…… Australia still has world class spinners.
There’s the redback, the funnel web…
10. What do you call an Aussie holding a six inch urn above his head?
The England bowling coach!

9 January 2011

Why Ottawa is fun in winter. You wont get this exhibition in the UAE! And the Rideau canal opened yesterday for over 2 kilometres of skating rink !

7 January 2011

How bleak are some parts of the Dubai property market. try this: Tensions high in Jumeirah Village service fees row.

********************
Note to Aussie cricket – your team is not that bad. The media are over hyping how bad the team is. Players like Ponting and Clarke and Hussey are class acts. Haddin, Siddle and Hilfenhaus are decent cricketers. Watson should be a quality allrounder and would be if he was not opening the batting.

*********************
From 16JAN11 to 31JAN11, Emirates will be operating A380 instead of Boeing 777-300ER aircraft on Dubai – Hong Kong NONSTOP EK380/381 service.

****************************
Guardian OBO: “Open the bottle, pour yourself a glass, swing up your feet, fold your hands behind your head, light a cigar, let that long slow smile od self-satisfaction creep across your face and enjoy that one little thought bouncing around your brain: England have won. England have won. England have won. England have won. England have won. England have won.

***********************
Ricky Ponting! Dame Edna Everage! Paul Hogan! Kylie Minogue! Sir Don Bradman! Rolf Harris! Elle MacPherson! Skippy the Bush Kangaroo – Can you hear me! Your boys took one hell of a beating!

6 January 2011

Dhaka will become flydubai’s 32nd destination when flights to the Bangladeshi capital begin on Monday, February 14.

*************************
The first cleaning of the outside of our building must be a horrendous job. There is one year of accumulated grime on the building and windows.

**************************
Last night’s football results will hasten the sacking of Messrs Hodgson, Ancelotti and Grant. Assume none of these three will still be in place by the end of the season.

Hodgson is probably a nice guy but he is so out of his depth at Liverpool.

****************************
The seven Thais standing trial in Cambodia for illegal entry maintain to the court that they did not intentionally encroach on Cambodian soil. They said they got lost and unintentionally wandered over the border.

So the video of Panich making a call to tell an assistant to PM Abhisit that they are now in Cambodia muct be entirely fictional!

They new. They were provoking a reaction. They got one.

5 January 2011

Amazing Thailand: The Nation reports that “using plastic bags instead of condoms during sex would put teenagers at risk of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and severe vaginal lacerations, the Public Health Ministry warned yesterday.”

What next – shower caps?

*********************
Effective 1 January 2012 EK139/140 DXB-PRG-DXB upgrades from Daily A330-200 (2-class) to Daily B777-300 (3-class).

This upgrade is to primarily support the very strong freight loads to/from PRG.

**********************
Classic Thailand headline from the official TAN news agency : Student bus in Surat Thani overturns due to slippery road from rain; 40 teachers and students injured. Buses do not overturn due to a slippery road. They overturn because the driver loses control.

3 January 2011

Who bans Skype: The UAE remains one of four countries that do not at present allow Skype software to be downloaded, and block access to Skype’s website. North Korea, Oman and Kuwait are the others, while Lebanon is also considering a ban.

***********************
And while on the subject of Dubai try hitting a clay pidgeon with a golf ball!

***********************
Just how bad was the New Years Eve traffic at Burj Khalifa:

Read these two reports;

Kipp report

The National

The best part is the National which reports that: “The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) was unavailable for comment yesterday, as was Emaar Properties, the organiser of the Burj Khalifa event. Dubai Police also did not respond to calls.”

Meanwhile if you read the Dubai media the event would seem to be a resounding and wonderful success putting Dubai on the world map for new year festivities.

One day reality must set in…..

2 January 2011

Those were the days: I love the moment at the end of the video where the stewardess lights the passenger cigarette.

*************************
The sad news over Christmas in the UK was the murder of Joanna Yeates. Last night her landlord was released on bail after being held for more than two days by police investigating the murder of the 25-year-old, whose body was found on Christmas morning.

Chris Jefferies, 65, a former teacher who lives above the flat Miss Yeates had shared in Bristol, had been arrested by police on Thursday.

If he is innocent then he deserves a very loud and very public police apology. His picture has been on the front page of every newspaper and the public assumption is that the police had got their man.

Innocent until proven guilty does not work when your face and name are on 24 hour news tv and in every UK newspaper. This is a very messy part of the UK law.

I January 2011

Official population figures from Dubai and the UAE:

Dubai

1965: 63,000
1975: 141,200
1985: 350,400
1995: 674,101
2005: 1,241,000
2010: 1,642,300

Abu Dhabi

1965: 49,000
1975: 120,475
1985: 250,252
1995: 394,422
2005: 692,278
2010: 802,477

Just thought you would be interested. The growth is spectacular.

*******************************
Lovely way to start the new year. Fabulous clear blue sky and a game of golf at Al Hamra at Ras al Kaimah. Not that I played very well. Nooraine Fazal (ex Reuters, now in Bangalore) was visiting. She hits the ball better and further than most guys that I play with. And the distance between the blue and red tees is too far !