Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Queen Rania and Saudi Arabia

Queen Rania of Jordan has just called on Europe not to turn its back on Syrian refugees. My first thought was that the Jordanian queen should have addressed her plea to the more logical direction of the Gulf states. After all, they are fellow Arabs, fellow Muslims and they are rich.

And then I remembered reading some time ago that the Gulf states (Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar and Kuwait) had set up a US$ 5 billion fund that invests in capital projects in Jordan … 

The Queen of Jordan is perhaps not really free to talk frankly to Saudi Arabia. Much easier to tell the Europeans what to do. And yet, we should not forget that Jordan itself has been bearing much if the burden (like Turkey), having had to take in great numbers of Syrian refugees: more than 600 thousand in Jordan and almost two million in Turkey.

So how about it Saudi?

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Don't buy Scottish Sturgeon

There is good sturgeon to be found in many countries, often producing the most wonderful caviar. 

For some reason the Scots are going wild over a local sturgeon: a recent poll has shown that Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon’s popularity continues to rise. Sadly, there’s nothing like blatant nationalism to boost popularity. 

Amazingly, Sturgeon whines about the fact that the Scottish electorate voted with their heads and not with their hearts: If we’d asked people just to vote for what was in their hearts we’d have won a majority. Where we lost was in the head.” She too understands that voting for separation is not a clever idea. But, Sturgeon and her party are obsessed with separation and – having lost last year’s referendum – she already is talking about a new referendum. 

Friday, 11 September 2015

Do you know a Lufthansa pilot? Tell him(her) what you think of him(her).

Just back from a short visit to Armenia and Georgia. There is probably not much one can do to provide 100 per cent protection from Montezuma’s revenge, which I caught in Tbilisi, on the last day of the trip.  I would, however, wish a heavy dose of the same revenge on the Lufthansa pilots, whose union called a strike on the very day we were meant to fly back.

Something must and can be done about the outrageous conduct of Lufthansa pilots; This was their 13th strike in the last 18 months. These German pilots, terrorise their employer as well as the wide air-travelling population, by calling short strikes with extreme short notice to prevent any planning of alternatives.

This is an abuse of the important right to strike by a bunch of high earning fat cats, and German politicians are doing nothing about it. At a time when Europe is cracking under the burden of an enormous refugee crisis, the best-paid pilots in the whole of Europe want more money.

Do you know a Lufthansa pilot, or someone who knows a Lufthansa pilot? Tell them how despicable they are. (No need to invite the pilot for dinner; let them eat alone. A phone call will do.)

Austrian Airlines / Turkish Airlines

For the flight to Erevan, we flew with Austrian Airlines who sometimes seem to almost monopolise the Eastern European routes. (I recently also flew with them to Romania.) If possible, this is an airline to avoid. You get almost no food on their flights. They are an unfriendly, arrogant lot, who probably think that Austria still owns the Austro-Hungarian empire.  

On the other hand, Turkish Airlines, which – because of the Lufthansa strike - flew us from Tbilisi via Istanbul, was a nice surprise. For a second, it sounded weird when the voice from the cockpit was a rough sounding Turkish-speaking male. But, it was the pilot and not, as the lady who sat next to me thought, a high-jacker. On both flights, the planes were new, spacious with attractive interiors. The service was very friendly; they seem to have more cabin staff than other airlines have these days. The food was good. I would definitely fly them again.