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Commonwealth Games farce continues 4, October 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Random.
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I think that I’ll keep a track of all the absurdities and mess-ups that transpire in Delhi’s Commonwealth Games.

  • The 10m diving board is apparently 10.7m tall.
  • There is a lack of start lists so athletes do not know who they are up against.
  • Timing systems have not been checked and have not even been installed at some venues.
  • Many missed the opening ceremony because of “chaos” on the metro. The main station is still a building site.
  • The scales at the boxing weigh-in are significantly wrong.
  • The safety certificates for the buildings were – so I believe – faked.
  • So far one bridge has collapsed…
  • There are examples of Dengue fever in the village.
  • The track and field in the stadium are in a deplorable state after the opening ceremony. Vast areas of the track are being relaid as is the grass. Athletes are reportedly severely concerned by this. This level of mess is “unparalleled in the history” of the games.
  • Some security scanners apparently do not work.
  • Mile long queues for tickets yet still most venues are mostly empty.
  • Rumors abound suggesting that thousands of beggars have simply been bussed out of the city.
  • The sandpit is seemingly infested with moths.
  • 2/3 of the British swimming squad (around 40 athletes) have come down with serious stomach upsets. So much so that Francesca Halsall who was tipped by the Australian team to get at least three Gold medals came 10th in one race and was copiously ill during another. She was taken from the pool where she vomited on the sidelines.
  • The latest theory is that the pool water was contaminated with pigeon droppings. Australian swimmers have fallen ill too.
  • The water supply to the toilets at the swimming center broke. Toilets could not be flushed and people could not wash their hands either.
  • The English sprinter Mark Lewis Francis lost out on getting the Gold medal in the 100m final after his blocks slipped at the start. He had to settle for silver.

I’ll update this as and when more things go wrong.

Egypt and Iran to resume direct flights 4, October 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Egypt, Iran.
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Regular direct flights are to be resumed between Iran and Egypt for the first time in 30 years. As the LA Times eloquently notes, this is to some a surprising decision.

The two countries back opposing political camps in Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories, lack full diplomatic ties and continually snipe at each other. But Iran’s pro-government Fars news agency described the deal and a visit by an Iranian trade delegation to Cairo as “a prelude to the resumption of ties between the two countries.”

Iran clearly seeks any opportunity to eschew the notion that they are isolated by American pressure. They are, therefore, willing to overlook Egypt’s Israeli peace treaty and other significant policy differences in order to make such a strong symbolic statement with the Arab world’s most populace country.

This is not the first time that Iran’s rhetoric has been subjugated to the exigencies of necessity. During the Iran-Iraq war, Iran and Israel had a strategic alliance as they were untied by their fear and mistrust of Iraq. Despite government-led and fostered anti-Semitism, Iran traded spare parts for their armed forces for oil with the ‘evil Zionists’.

The Egyptian half of this is, as far as I see it, more convoluted. The LA Times notes that the agreement came shortly after Egyptian businessman Rami Lakah signed a $1.37 billion deal with Iran’s Kish Airlines. Yet even were this agreement to lead to a wider boost for trade and business, which it surely will, this seems like a small gain given that the price is normalizing relations with a country that celebrates the assassin of Egypt’s former leader, Anwar Sadat. Moreover, what will the Americans think of this deal? The Egyptian economy and state security more generally is significantly bankrolled by American support and Washington will not be pleased to see this softening line.

Qatar detains (stupid) pirates 4, October 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Qatar.
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Six pirates have been caught in Qatari waters and two boats have been impounded.

While I don’t expect the pirates to have read my various posts on Qatar’s high-tech coastal surveillance systems, I confess I would expect them to realise that the Persian Gulf is awash with oil tankers, LNG ships, coastguard and Navy boats from Iran, Qatar, the UAE, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia and…what’s the last one…oh, the U S  N A V Y.

Really and sincerely, this must be one of the stupidest places to practice pirating anywhere in the entire world.

Map of alcohol in the G.C.C 4, October 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Random.
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This map is taken from the excellent and intriguing cominganarchy.com . Fairly obviously, it shows how available alcohol is in the G.C.C. states.

I’ve noted already that Qatar is wrong: you can buy alcohol in Doha with a license. Also, it may be worth nothing that alcohol in Kuwait and K.S.A. is freely available if expensive on the black market.

This post also offers me the opportunity to flag up the best April Fool’s joke ever in the Kuwait Times some years ago (the link at the bottom).

Irony-free ice theme park opens in RAK 4, October 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in The Emirates.
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The Middle East’s largest theme park has opened in the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah. Ice Land Water Park is a $100 million ‘ice-themed’ water park in  – essentially – the desert.

Those behind the park explicitly say – apparently without irony or any understanding – that global warming is a key theme of the park. It tells the story of global warming through the use of its penguins. While many see Global Warming as a bad thing this is clearly not so: yes, the penguins lose their natural habitat but – ta da! – they move to RAK in the Gulf and live happily ever after; easily becoming accustomed to the 60 Degree C temperature change. What a nice moral little lesson to teach kiddies.

It gets worse.

The Guardian notes that there is a ‘Coral Isle’ in the park, celebrating the fact that the waters are receding.

Cold water corals unknown for centuries emerge as a secret of Ice Land Water Park. Global warming has seen a change in sea temperatures leading to coral bleaching … Their survival at Ice Land [is] a blessing of nature.

See? Global Warming is positively a good thing. And the Emirates are doing the very best that they could be expected to do, being No.1 in the whole world in CO2 emissions per capita. Good for them.