Casper and Gambini’s – Restaurant Review

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Casper and Gambini 

We happened to be at Landmark Mall around dinnertime and stopped in here to eat. C&G was packed so we thought the food would be good. We were proved slightly wrong.

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C&G have over the last year introduced sushi into their menu, however they should not have bothered, the sushi is rather plain and not fresh tasting and not cheap (expect to pay around 75QAR + for very average sushi)

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After the Sushi we used the Entertainer Vouchers, we had to choose from the Crave and Comfort section of the menu and had steak frites and the tiger prawns. Both dishes were good and cooked well, it was of adequate proportion.

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Staff are attentive and I like how they see to it that their customers are satisfied with what they serve. The only thing I don’t like in here is the waiting time for them to be able to serve you your food

I would recommend going here if you happen to be in Landmark Mall however would not advise heading to Landmark Mall to eat there…

Adieu…Adieu….Stormy

Take me back….Srebrenica Twenty Years on….

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Today marks the 20 years since that fateful time with all the major press outlets covering the event such as the BBC and CNN (who have a well done video on their site of the story), and Al Jazeera, In September 2011 I went to Bosnia, during my trip I went to Srebrenica and it was honestly a life turning moment.

Tombstones of the Victims

Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه و سلم said: The believers, in their love, mutual kindness, and close ties, are like one body; when any part complains, the whole body responds to it with wakefulness and fever (Muslim) (Meaning it doesn’t matter if your Bosnian, Serbian, Chinese, Arab or Indian, Humanity is one) 

History

So firstly for those who are unaware of what occurred 20 years ago, in July 1995,there was a  killing of more than 8,000 Bosniaks, mainly men and boys, in and around the town of Srebrenica during the Bosnian War. The killing was perpetrated by units of the Army of Republika Srpska(VRS) under the command of General Ratko Mladić. The Secretary-General of the United Nations described the mass murder as the worst crime on European soil since the Second World War.

As Srebrenica was the most murderous single event in Europe since the aftermath of the second world war, the international war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the International Court of Justice have each determined that the killings, carried out by Bosnian Serb forces, amounted to genocide.

But the massacre also stands out for the shameful failure to prevent it that, even today, is a scar on the conscience of the UN and of western governments that were drawn into the war, especially the Dutch, who have been ordered now to pay some victims for their negligent acts.

Graveyard

Since 1995, 233 mass graves with bodies from those killed at Srebrenica have been found and investigated by the Bosnian Institute for Missing Persons and the International Commission on Missing Persons.

In several cases, bones from one body have been found in four and five different grave sites. DNA samples are taken from the dead and matched with those provided by survivors searching for their loved ones.

About 1,000 people remain missing from Srebrenica, another 7,000 are unaccounted after the 1992-1995 conflict which claimed a total of 100,000 lives.

Memorial Room

The harrowing accounts you come across when you are there, the stories told by the survivors, the mass graves, the fact justice still eludes the victims, it is all quite overwhelming.

Here are some excerpts taken from Wikipedia:

Dutch Bat medical orderly came across two Serb soldiers raping a young woman:

“[W]e saw two Serb soldiers, one of them was standing guard and the other one was lying on the girl, with his pants off. And we saw a girl lying on the ground, on some kind of mattress. There was blood on the mattress, even she was covered with blood. She had bruises on her legs. There was even blood coming down her legs. She was in total shock. She went totally crazy.”

Bosnian Muslim refugees nearby could see the rape, but could do nothing about it because of Serb soldiers standing nearby. Other people heard women screaming, or saw women being dragged away. Several individuals were so terrified that they committed suicide by hanging themselves. Throughout the night and early the next morning, stories about the rapes and killings spread through the crowd and the terror in the camp escalated.

Screams, gunshots and other frightening noises were audible throughout the night and no one could sleep. Soldiers were picking people out of the crowd and taking them away: some returned; others did not. Witness T recounted how three brothers – one merely a child and the others in their teens – were taken out in the night. When the boys’ mother went looking for them, she found them with their throats slit.[67]

One survivor described the murder of a baby and the rape of women occurring in the close vicinity of Dutch U.N. peacekeepers who did nothing to prevent it. According to the survivor, a Serb told a mother to make her child stop crying, and when it continued to cry he took it and slit its throat, after which he laughed.[57] Stories about rapes and killings spread through the crowd and the terror in the camp escalated.[42] Several individuals were so terrified that they committed suicide by hanging themselves.[52]

One of the survivors, Zarfa Turkovic,[58] described the horrors of rapes as follows: “Two [Serb soldiers] took her legs and raised them up in the air, while the third began raping her. Four of them were taking turns on her. People were silent, no one moved. She was screaming and yelling and begging them to stop. They put a rag into her mouth and then we just heard silent sobs….

Below is the gallery of the memorial room which really hits home the deep sense of shock of that time.

Inside the Memorial Hall they show a video, I have made a video of this because the story needs to be told.

Future

Serbia has banned the Srebrenica anniversary rallies, find it unbelievable that Serbia cannot deal with its ill judged history and refuses to push forward, by stopping the rally what do they hope to achieve?  Not many people may know this but parts of Bosnia are still controlled by Serbia via their special relations with The Republika Srpska  is one of two entities in Bosnia and Herzegovina; the other entity is the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In their areas you find the flag which is similar to Serbia and also remnants that the area is still quite hostile as you can see from the mine picture below.

I really do hope the victims can get closure and peace and that mankind learn this can never happen again,though judging by Syria and parts of Africa we have forgotten , as George Santayana once said…“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Adieu…Adieu…Stormy

Biella Restaurant

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Biella is one of my favourite run of the mill Italian restaurants in Doha. It doesn’t try to be something it isn’t and offers good value quality food, although the price is slightly at the higher end of the market.

Biella has three branches, the one at City centre is the largest, however the one in the Mall is my favourite as it doesn’t feel like your in a mall and also the chef there I believe is the best.

Delicious Mini Pizza

Delicious Mini Pizza

Salmon

Salmon

Interior of the City Centre Branch

Interior of the City Centre Branch


The prices need a tiny bit of adjustment, to bring them closer to what one would expect from a mall chain, but with decent service and hearty portions, we almost forgive them. With the many venues and constantly updated menu, it’s not haute cuisine, yet it’s still tasty. Offering Italian basics like pastas and salads, plus pizzas and sandwiches at lunch, there are lighter offerings alongside items smothered in cheese, and it’s a great spot for lunch that’s better than a mall burger. There’s also loads of options to keep kiddie palates happy, and the relaxed atmosphere means you don’t have to worry about bringing the tiny tots to the table.

Info –

Time: Sat-Thurs (09.00-23.00) / Fri (13.00-23:00)

The Mall 4467732, Landmark 44110928, City Centre 44933838

Qatar Airways A319 All Business Class Flight between London And Doha

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With Qatar Airways recent announcement of the closure of the all Business Class Flight to London in October 2015, I thought I would fast track my review of their flight so gives people a chance to use the service whilst they still can because it really is an excellent Service!

A319 view from the Lounge in London

A319 view from the Lounge in London

Plane Configuration

The A319 aircraft contains 40 business class seats only. This outward flight takes off from London Heathrow at 2155 and arrives into Doha at 0640 local time the next morning.

Configuration of Plane

Configuration of Plane

Seats

The aircraft is configured in one cabin, although because of the over-wing exits it naturally splits into two with four rows of 2-2 seating (AC-DF) in rows one to four, and then six rows of 2-2, making a total of 40.

A disadvantage of the front cabin is that there is only one washroom at the front, compared to two at the rear of the aircraft, and the one at the front is much smaller than the two at the back.

Seats on the A319

Seats on the A319

Entertainment

Entertainment on Large screens and Noise Cancelling Headphones which were provided

Food

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Having some So-Jennie (basically non-alco Champagne)

The menu was as follows

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Beetroot Gravlax with Horseradish Cream – Was a bit overpowering especially if you do not eat Beetroot that often.

Beat with Mash Potato and Carrot

Braised Lamb Shank with Puy Lentils – was surprisingly tender and well made.

Pancakes and Blueberries!

Buttermilk Pancakes with Blueberry compote, the most amazing thing about the flight!!

Sleeping

After eating, I put the seat flat to catch some Zzzzz, I got changed into the Grey pyjamas provided

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Verdict

Upon ending the flight I spoke with other passengers who said on the flight, they wished it was longer so they could have enjoyed the bed and got more sleep however the same would be said about the normal business class flights.

Though I found the seat is smaller than the normal business class, and larger flyers (like myself) might feel a little cramped.

For me the advantage of this over standard business class is the more efficient boarding and disembarkation as everyone is being channeled through the same process so no need for multiple buses or different connecting gates, also I felt there was more personal attention from the staff, although it’s pretty impressive on the wide-bodied fleet in any case as you will see from my future reviews of the B777 and A380.

Aviation fans like myself will want to try this service, but for regulars, one point to bear in mind is that the flight is slightly longer on the A319 than the wide-bodied fleet. This isn’t an issue on the night flight when you want to rest, but for the day flight you may want the flight to be as short as possible.

Nevertheless, a real treat.

Adieu…Adieu…Stormy

Return of the Tick Box….

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Hello All,

Sorry for the absence but I have been super busy with things, and things I shall start to share with you all, I have ‘ticked’ a whole host of things off over the last few months which I shall share over the forthcoming posts.

In the meantime as 1.3 Billion people are celebrating the month long celebration of Ramadan, by fasting during the day and praying at night, I came across this really insightful video which is an eye opener to all, regardless of if you have been before or not, detailing the efforts that go into keeping the holy Mosques of Makkah clean for pilgrims. A grand scale operation employing more than 2,700 cleaners, 260 controllers, 200 officials, and 100 supervisors, both male and female. There are four shifts a day where trained staff use high tech equipment to clean yet not damage the Mosques.

Impressive and heart warming, this film sheds a fresh, new light on one of the wonders of the world.

Ramadan Mubarak to all….

Adieu, Adieu…Stormy

C O A C H E L L A

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For the last two weekends, the famous Californian music festival has taken over Palm Springs in the USA. As a big fan of festivals I decided to hit up Coachella for a second time. This festival draws in crowds from all over the world but the majority you meet are L.A folk. As expected like most US festivals, it was really well organised, loads going on and there were some great artists performing.

One of the highlights for me was all the different food trucks – an amazing selection and seriously tasty stuff. We particularly enjoyed a new food concept which was showcasing at Coachella, Kushiyaki Dogs – traditional american hot dogs with a twist of Japanese. They offer vegetarian and vegan alternatives too and all the dishes we tried were incredible! Look out for these guys….they are onto to something special!

Over the weekend we saw loads of brilliant acts, Azealia Banks and Drake both put on amazing shows. But the UK artists definitely were on the best form, especially, Alt-J, Belle & Sebastian and the amazing Florence and the Machine.

It was an epic weekend and something you should all experience if you are in that part of the world or fancy a trip over. I have put together some of my favourite shots from the weekend for you to enjoy…..

If you are thinking of going next year and want any tips or advice please get in touch!

Adieu Adieu

Stormy

The Opening of NOBU, Doha

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So last night was the public opening of Nobu in Doha, the largest Nobu in the world! As I’m not going to be in town for a while I thought it was the perfect opportunity to check out the new venue and catch up with friends before departing.

The entrance is between Four Seasons Hotel and the Hilton, you can drive straight up to the restaurant and use the valet services or park at the Four Seasons hotel and they will chauffeur you down. The drive up is impressive – the restaurant is magically lit and it almost looks like a space ship has landed on the water. The greeting staff were friendly and professional just as you would expect for a high-end international restaurant. Inside there are two mains levels to the restaurant.

Level one offers a large dining space including a balcony and there is a separate bar area. The interiors are impressive with amazing lighting, the only thing to let it down was the tables inside look really cheap and don’t fit with the rest of the slick and luxurious image which is a real shame

Bar on the first floor

Bar on the first floor

Level 2 is much more chilled with a bar and an outside spiralled terrace with tables that lead up to a small bar at the top with amazing views of the city and ocean.

View of the dining area

View of the dining area

Bar at the top - great views!

Bar at the top – great views!

As the weather is still not too hot we chose the terrace and it was perfect – incredible views and great music, the ideal place for a catch up with friends! Our waitress was called Ann and she was so lovely and really helpful. However, the service was ridiculously slow – some cocktails took nearly an hour to arrive and the same with our bill despite continual requests.

Spiralled terrace area..

Spiralled terrace area..

Ann helped us decide on some appetisers to share which were, delicious wagyu beef sliders, fresh tuna cerviche and delicious chicken wings with a spicy salt on the side – all fantastic! We then all picked different options to try throughout the night.

Wagyu Beef Sliders

Wagyu Beef Sliders

Some favourites were black cod lettuce, crab meat sushi, eggplant miso and the crab spring rolls – each dish was delicious! The only complaint in regards to food was the portion size in relation to the price you are paying – the portions are tiny especially the tacos. The sushi seemed to be the most reasonable priced in comparison to other dishes – getting 6 pieces for around 60QR.

Spicy tuna roll, crab roll and eel roll - YUM!

Spicy tuna roll, crab roll and eel roll – YUM!

Not only is the food tasty, the cocktails/mocktails are fantastic (despite the wait!!) – there is a great selection, all freshly made and really flavoursome!

 Nobu mixologist at work....

Nobu mixologist at work….

Overall it is an amazing venue – incredible views, very chilled and fab food. But it is an expensive night out – around 350QR per person with no alcohol and 600QR+ with alcohol and you do begin to feel let down when you are paying such high prices for extremely slow service. I hope with time they will iron out these issues and I look forward to trying it again on my return!

Our friends definitely had a lot of fun though and felt like a great addition to the Doha scene…

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Definitely worth a visit even for just a drinks…. for more info go to –  www.noburestaurants.com/doha/experience-3 or call reservations on +974 4494 8500

Adieu, Adieu….Stormy

Take me back Tuesday…Qatar International Food Festival 2014…

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So it is that time of year again when Qatar International Food Festival (QIFF) takes over MIA park. As a bit of a foodie this is one of my favourite events in Doha and although I sadly won’t be in town this year, I wanted to share my love for this extravaganza and encourage others to go and eat what they can on my behalf.

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Stage at QIFF

It is a great day / evening out for family and friends with loads going on and a brilliant buzz. There are a variety of excellent food stalls dotted all over the park and there is honestly something for everyone. As well independent restaurants, all the main hotels pitch up and celebrate their own culinary delights with small taster dishes and most dishes start from around 25QR – plus the smaller portions allow you to taste quite a few different places.

High end of the Asian Food offering in Doha

High end of the Asian Food offering in Doha

and Low-end of the Asian Food sector of Doha at QIFF

and Low-end of the Asian Food sector of Doha at QIFF

On top of this, each year they collaborate with a different nationality, last being Brazil and this year it will be Turkey. So expect to see some great performances and entertainment from that region. In addition to all this, they have a few special events happening each day which you can also book such as live cooking lessons, an afternoon tea cruise on a Dhow boat, a BBQ donut and my favourite form last year ‘Dinner in the Sky’.

Crane for Dinner in the Sky

Crane for Dinner in the Sky

Last year we booked into the ‘Dinner in the Sky’ experience and if you are planning on going over the next few days it is a must! It costs around 500QR but it is well worth it. You are strapped in to seats like a racing car and suspended up in the air overlooking MIA and the Doha skyline, whilst a fantastic chef cooks up a delicious 3 course meal in front of your eyes. A good time to book is around 5.30/6pm so you can watch he sun go down and the city lights ignite whilst ‘floating’ in the air. Even our friend Coyes who is afraid of heights really enjoyed the whole experience.

Myself and Charlotte and Coyes in the Sky

Myself and Charlotte and Coyes in the Sky

OPENING – from Wednesday, March 25 until Saturday, March 28, the venue will be open from 1pm to 10:30pm.

DSC00659 IMG_20140323_185336PARKING – probably best to park at the new Souq Waqif car park but the festival will also run shuttle buses from the beach Marriot Hotel.

If you do go to the festival let me know your thoughts…

Anyway good day to you all from the USA!

Adieu, Adieu…. Stormy

Bosphorus Istanbul

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This is another hidden gem…. on the back streets of Souk Waqif, Qatar. Wonderful food, superb service, all served with pride and big smiles.

This place is hidden away from the main street down a small alley way. If I was them I would definitely sign post it better as currently, its a place that you’d only stumble across. It has an outside terrace on the street as well as a roof top terrace on the third floor. The kitchen is open and you have the option of choosing your own meat.

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For starters we shared a selection of yummy Turkish ‘pizzas’ with different types of dips….

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For mains, we decided to go for a sharing platter, an assortment of different meats from kebabs to chops – all grilled to perfection. The platter came with bread, rice, chips and some bits of salad but we ordered fattoush on top.  Added to that we ordered the lamb stew which was tasty but the meat could have been slightly more tender…..having said that we did all manage to scoff it a matter of minutes. For four of us this was more than enough!

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In addition the Turkish coffee is, as you would expect of very high quality and a perfect end to the meal. This place is a great spot for good quality, affordable food and another bonus is…..their Shisha is very reasonable at a price of 22 QAR. Your evening could go on for hours and hours at this place….definitely worth a visit!

10919032_867737963285953_742501341610610961_nAdieu Adieu, Stormy

Westin Dhaka – Hotel Review

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Having been to Bangladesh upteen times, I have yet to really experience the tourist side of Bangladesh as I often come with family and therefore have to stay with my relatives.

There are not many 5* hotel options in Dhaka, for me it was going to be a Starwood hotel as a platinum SPG member I decided on staying at the Westin Hotel in Dhaka.

The Westin is situation in the upmarket area of Dhaka, Gulshan.

The price of the rooms is excessive with a minimum price of 300 USD before taxes are included. I found the best option for me was to use my SPG points and cash  so I ended up spending 110 USD plus 10,000 SPG Points.

Room 1910

Room 1910

The rooms are decent – I was given room 1910 and the view is as good as you are going to get in Bangladesh…

View from room 1910

View from room 1910

View from room 1910

View from room 1910

I arrived early around 7am, however despite putting in a request for having an early check-in and having the request approved, the room was not ready and I was requested to have breakfast whilst they got this ready.

Egg station at Breakfast

Egg station at Breakfast

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Barista Bar producing average coffee

Barista Bar producing average coffee

Barista Bar producing average coffee

Pork in Bangladesh????

Pork in Bangladesh????

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To cater for the oriental cliental

To cater for the oriental cliental

To cater for the oriental cliental

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Bakery and Pastry section, quite large though quite disappoint ing in quality and not very fresh.

Bakery and Pastry section, quite large though quite disappoint ing in quality and not very fresh.

Bakery and Pastry section, quite large though quite disappoint ing in quality and not very fresh.

I have never previously had this drink, however I highly recommend it!

I have never previously had this drink, however I highly recommend it!

Breakfast was decent and had many options for most cuisines however priced at 2500 Taka (approx. 30 USD), I believe it is too expensive especially for Bangladesh.

There is a Italian restaurant on the top floor which is on the pricer side (again  – especially for Bangladesh). I would advise to go outside the hotel if you want dinner, with several restaurants within 5 min walking distance.

There is shisha available in the hotel, which is ideal for myself, though again at 2,000 Taka at (25 USD) it is again on the pricer side. The other issue apart from the high price,  is that it is outdoors which is full of mosquitos and I was bitten like a mofo! Surely there must be some indoor shisha spots in Desh????

Expensive Shisha...

Expensive Shisha…

One thing I liked about the hotel was the sports and fitness section, they have a decent pool that is open from early in the morning until 11pm.

Swimming Pool on the 5th Floor

Swimming Pool on the 5th Floor

Swimming Pool on the 5th Floor

Swimming Pool on the 5th Floor

In addition there was a service they were offering to their guests, and I believe its something other hotels should offer. Although I’m not sure how appeasing it is wearing someone else shoes, however the socks are new, and the clothes seemed clean enough.

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The next day, I had breakfast in the Lounge which I get access to complimentary, though its more discreet it does not offer the same variety that the breakfast buffet on the 2nd floor offers.

Indian Food section at Breakfast

Indian Food section at Breakfast

Fruit Section at Breakfast

Fruit Section at Breakfast

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Executive Club Lounge

Executive Club Lounge

Executive Club Lounge

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Cereal Section – Not the largest section I have seen..

Cereal Section - Not the largest section I have seen..

Cereal Section – Not the largest section I have seen..

There is also an evening happy hour in the lounge between 5.30pm to 7.30pm and it offers snacks and drinks.

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Snacks in the Lounge

Complimentary drinks in the Lounge

Complimentary drinks in the Lounge

Whilst I was there, there was a planned Hartal which can cause complete chaos in the streets, communicating that to a non-bengali is difficult however the Westin tried to explain it via this notice below –

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Whilst in reality an actual image of a hartal is…

A description of the rest of my trip will be up later on this week.

Adieu, Adieu…Stormy

Flashback Friday…Polygamy or Adultery, Religious Minorities Dating Scene, Mothers Love, Richest Man in History – Mansa Musa, Comic Relief

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So this weeks Flashback Friday takes place whilst I am in Bangladesh, so was articles I came across whilst flying…

1.  Polygamy or Adultery 

Polygamy or Adultery

Polygamy or Adultery

An online dating site that targets married people is being accused of breaking the law. A court in France must now decide whether the company is illegally encouraging spouses to cheat.

Is it permitted for a dating website to promote adultery, when fidelity in marriage is written into French civil law?

That is the question underlying a law-suit targeting the French company Gleeden, which boasts that it is the world’s leading “extra-conjugal site conceived for married women”.

Angered by Gleeden’s provocative advertising on the public transport system, the Association of Catholic Families (ACF) has filed a civil case contesting the site’s legality.

Under the Gleeden model, women do not pay to be registered on the site. Men buy credit, opening up different levels of access to registered women. Though accurate information on this is impossible to obtain, Gleeden says 80% of the people who use it are indeed married.

Margot, a Parisian aged 44, is one such user. She has been married for many years, but says she is unsatisfied sexually. However she has no intention of leaving her husband.

“I chose Gleeden precisely because it is for married people. It means that the person you meet knows your situation. There’s no deception. We can talk openly about husbands, wives and children.

I find it all very bizarre how this considered acceptable by some but polygamy is considered so bad by those same people.

As you may know Islam allowed polygyny. It is only allowed, not obligated. So those men who are content with one wife can live happily without committing a sin. Those who are able to control this desire, are discouraged from polygyny because it comes with a heavy burden of having to ensure justice and equality between wives.However, for those men who feel it is necessary for them to marry more than one wife, Islam permits them to do so without feeling guilty about it, so they can live a life of honour and dignity like everyone else. They do not have to hide, and they do not have to have secret relationships.

The other woman having the affair generally has no rights. The man can have an affair with her and not give her any of his time, emotional or financial attention. He can simply stop seeing her at any time. If he has children from her, he may deny that fact and she may have to go to court to prove he is the father. All these problems do not exist when the Islamic system of polygyny is implemented. Thus, it protects the dignity of the other woman too and prevents her from becoming a ” mistress”.

2. The Religious Minorities dating scene in the UK

Jewish Love

Jewish Love

I recently came across this article regarding the difficulties the British Jewish community face in getting married and the similarities they face to the Muslim marriage/dating scene –

The Jewish dating scene is in crisis. It’s stagnant, outdated and, for many of the people stuck in it, it’s utterly demoralising.

It’s a particular crisis for the growing band of Jews who are still single in their thirties and forties. They’re single because they’re holding out for someone Jewish but they’re not meeting anyone, even when common sense dictates that they ought to have been snapped up years ago. 

Thirtysomething Melanie* is one such person, displaying a list of personal attributes so impressive any Jewish mother would share her secret chicken-soup recipe to secure her as a daughter-in-law. Intelligent? Tick! Educated? Tick! Sociable? Tick! Successful? Tick! She owns her home and she’s active in her community. Melanie has also been single for years, despite trying every Jewish dating mechanism going.

This reminded me when BBC Three did a documentary titled Strictly Soulmates, a four part series that aired in February 2012. The series briefly chronicles the adventures of “religious” young British singletons as explained by this introductory summary on its YouTube page:

“Looking for love is tough at the best of times and it can be even harder when your pool of potential partners is small. Welcome to the world of being young, single and religious. This is looking for love as it’s rarely been seen on TV before – with religion in play there are a whole new set of rules and it can be seriously tough to find ‘the one’. Strictly Soulmates takes a fun, entertaining and emotional look at the real life trials and tribulations of a group of singletons trying to find their perfect match from four different religions: Evangelical Christian, Hindu, Muslim and Jewish.”

The Muslim one wasn’t great if I am to be honest as was heavily skewered to the Pakistani community however it was still interesting insights to see the issues such as negotiating religious and cultural boundaries when searching for a marital mate. However as I stated it does have its limitations, since it fails to represent diverse experiences and fall backs into perpetuating superficial binaries.

Religious Minorities Marriage/Dating Issues

Religious Minorities Marriage/Dating Issues

3. Mothers Love

BAmbi

Bambi

Bambi

Bambi

The powerful bond between mothers and their children, as seen across the globe.

Mothers Love

Mothers Love

4. Richest Man in History

Mansa-Musa

Mansa-Musa

When we think of the wealthiest people in the world, we most often think of the Waltons (of Wal-Mart fame), Warren Buffett, or Bill Gates. However, if you go a bit further back in history, you’ll discover that the wealth of the kings, queens, and rulers of yesteryear trumps the bank accounts of most modern day millionaires and even billionaires by a mile. In fact, during his time, one man controlled more wealth than Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and the most wealthy member of the Walton family, Sam Walton, combined. That man was Mansa Musa I. With an adjusted net worth of approximately $400 billion, Musa is without a doubt the richest man to have ever lived. So who was he? And why haven’t you heard more about him?

Top 10 Richest people in History

Top 10 Richest people in History

Much of Musa’s wealth came from the production of mosques, madrsasas, and universities, many of which are still standing today. The University of Sankore was built during his time, and is still in existence. The quality of life in urban centers, such as Timbuktu, was vastly superior to other parts of the world at the time, largely due to the availability of work, and Musa’s control of the gold and salt trades. When traveling throughout his kingdom on the way to Mecca in 1324, his procession included 60,000 people. Along the way, 12,000 of his followers carried four-pound gold bars, which he gave away to the poor everywhere he went. Unfortunately, this devalued the gold, especially in Cairo, Medina, and Mecca, and Musa subsequently borrowed as much gold as he could from money lenders in Cairo, even though it was loaned at a high interest rate. As a result, he now controlled the price of gold for all of the Mediterranean. He also controlled more than half of the world’s salt supply. Between his gold and his salt, traders from as far away as Europe made annual trips to his kingdom from Venice, Granada, and Genoa, and this gave him the power to set prices as high he wanted.

5.Comic Relief

Comic Relief

Comic Relief

Comic Relief in the UK has raised more than £1bn since the charity was co-founded by filmmaker Richard Curtis 30 years ago, with 78 Million being raised this year.

It is now being taken over to the US, lets hope they will be able to produce more golden moments like this –

Other top highlights of Comic Relief over the years are here.

However the worthiness of the event has been brought to question by this years host, Russel Brand who see’s it as part of the problem. 

Anyway thats enough for me,

Adieu…Adieu….Stormy

Baan Thai – Restaurant Review

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After spending the last few months in the Al Waab area of Doha, I managed to stumble across this little gem, Baan Thai.

Exterior of the restaurant

Exterior of the restaurant

Tucked away in Furousiya Street among a street full of eateries, Baan Thai is a definite “must try” in Doha.

The Menu is quite vast and has many options regardless of your spice appetitie –

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From looking at the restaurant from outside it may feel quite ordinary, when you step inside, you notice that this is a very clean oriental restaurant, which in Doha is a bit of an oddity at this price range. The place was not full and can’t imagine it would ever be unless there was an event, as the restaurant is two floors and each floor is quite large.

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With the kitchen on display with the chefs at work it does have a hybrid effect of Thai street food.
Service was great, Sopa, our waitress was very attentive and vibrant and I noticed that the other waitresses work around her.
The food has a very authentic Thai feel – we went for a variety of starters, and some soups..

Satay and Spring Rolls

Satay and Spring Rolls

Wonton Soup

Wonton Soup

Tom Yum

The portion sizes are adequate and decently priced for the portions. The only issue we had was the shrimps we ordered were not cooked properly. Although the menu does state that the dish is raw prawns the picture definitely did not look anything like what was served. But so we spoke to Sopa and she happily got them cooked and returned the dish back to us – which was delicious and spicy!

 Uncooked Shrimps

Uncooked Shrimps

Cooked Shrimps

Cooked Shrimps

Overall, a very good place to enjoy some authentic Thai food in Doha. What this place offers over restaurants such as Thai Smile or Thai Snack is the cleanliness of the restaurant and nice ambiance.

Info:

Info

Info

  • Location: Al-Furousiya Street, Muaither, Doha
  • Tel: 4029 8126 / 3351 5591
  • Travel: Al-Furousiya Street, Muaither

Adieu Adieu….Stormy

Saturday Brunch at the Millennium Doha Hotel

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Saturday Brunch at the Millennium Hotel is a surprising occasion.

Itallian Brunch

Millennium hotel is in the Al Saad area of Doha, a well known residential area and usually full of traffic which therefore is an area I do not tend to frequent unless I have to.

However on a Saturday, traffic is not too bad around there, and thought I would give this brunch a try.

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Live Music

Priced at QAR 180 per adult, with children under 12 at half price, and kids under six are free. It has a very friendly and tranquil atmosphere with guitarist playing gentle music in the background.

There are too many items to list but you are bound to find several you relish. Start with a fine range of cheese’s and breads, , then choose from a cold salad bar and a vast mix of appetisers and  soups.

Assortment of Appetisers

Fresh Salads

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Assortment of Appetisers

There is an extensive hot cooked dishes from traditional Italian lamb and rice, to chicken, fish and beef. Lamb chops are delicious and if you like Polenta there is a delicious plate available.

Rack of Lamb

Rack of Lamb

Polenta...

Polenta…

Lots of dessert choices, including a lovely recipe of Um Ali with almonds, fresh fruit platters, chocolate fountains and they even have ice cream and popcorn for the youngsters!  There is also an area in the corner for kids under 6 so that adults can have some peace and conversation.

Fruit Section

Fruit Section

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Chocolate Fountain

However, the highlight of Cosmo Restaurant Italian Brunch is the  live cooking station, where you can treat yourself to a gourmet pizza or pasta.

Scrumptious Raviolli made fresh at the Pasta Bar...

Scrumptious Raviolli made fresh at the Pasta Bar…

Live Pizza Making

Live Pizza Making

I would highly recommend the Saturday brunch and especially so if you have a voucher such as the Entertainer or voucher club which makes this really good value for money.

Info –

Italian Brunch: 12.30 to 3.30pm every Saturday

Cost: 180 QAR

Discounts : Voucher Club: 30% Off /Entertainer: Buy 1 Get 1 Free

Tel:  44247777
E-mail: info.mhdo@millenniumhotels.com

Adieu…Adieu…Stormy

Take me back Tuesday….Surfers Paradise (Gold Coast)

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Surfers Paradise

Surfers Paradise

The Gold Coast’s original epicentre of fun has always been Surfers Paradise.

Just 30 minutes from Gold Coast Airport, you should check out Surfers Paradise. Many people also do day trips from Brisbane which takes around an hour in the car.

Beach

Surfers Paradise didn’t earn its name without reason, and while it might seem obvious to grab your swim gear and head straight down to the water at the end of Cavill Avenue (Surfers Paradise’s main street), there’s a little more to it than that.

The famous beach at Surfers Paradise

The famous beach at Surfers Paradise

The foreshore area along Surfers Paradise beach has plenty of new public showers, toilets, seats and more that make rinsing off or relaxing far more enjoyable than before.

While it’s perhaps not the “perfect” beach on the Gold Coast as far as surf goes despite its name, Surfers Paradise beach is still a very viable spot for boarders who aren’t too fussy about catching the ultimate wave, with a decent break that tends to produce waves that hover around the 3-4 foot mark most of the year. As a result, surfing lessons are hugely popular with visitors who are looking to take the first steps towards learning to surf, and the beach’s relatively moderate waves make it a great place to do just that.

Shopping

The beach is made even more popular due to the fact that it’s within easy walking distance of most Surfers Paradise accommodation, coupled with the fact that there are many fast food and more high-end dining cafes and restaurants just across the street.

Accesible areas just across from the beach

Accesible areas just across from the beach

If you’re looking for more of a relaxed, uncrowded beach atmosphere however (particularly if you’re a family with younger kids), it’s advisable to head 10 minutes’ walk or so either south or north to one of the nearby patrolled – but not nearly as busy – areas of beach towards either Broadbeach or Main Beach.

Shopping District

Shopping District

There are 14 shopping centres and arcades in Surfers Paradise, so make sure you put on your walking shoes, explore them all and discover the hidden gems within the precinct.

For that unique Surfers Paradise gift, head down to the Surfers Paradise Beachfront markets every Wednesday and Friday night between 5:30pm and 10:00pm.

You will also find some unique shops in the area.

Interesting shop not sure its appropriate if a kid walks around the area

Interesting shop not sure its appropriate if a kid walks around the area

Tall Buildings

If you know me, you would know along with shopping, something else I really like is tall buildings.

Highest residential building in the southern hemisphere..

Highest residential building in the southern hemisphere..

The Q1 building in Surfers Paradise offers by far the best views of the Gold Coast. The SkyPoint Observation Deck sits atop the 77th floor of the Q1, which places visitors roughly 320 metres above the ground and provides views that stretch (on clear days) from Byron Bay in the south to Brisbane in the north befitting of its status as the tallest residential building in the Southern Hemisphere.

Tours

Aqua Duck Tour

Aqua Duck Tour

Conducted via amphibious-style military vehicles that have been re-branded with colourful duck-themed paintjobs, the ducks are massive vehicles that sit high up and thus provide a great viewing position for their passengers. While they’re not exactly speedy on land, their ability to slip smoothly into the water makes for a unique activity that will be good for little kids and big kids!

One of the things I wanted to do but wasn’t able to was Whales watching trip –

Whale watching trip

Whale watching trip

As it is only available from the months of June to the beginning of November. The humpback whales’ annual migratory period combines with the numerous access points to the ocean that the Gold Coast provides to make it one of the best spots to see these gentle ocean giants up close, and with numerous operators to choose from you’ll have a selection of day and time combinations to choose from during peak season

Entertainment

Barry ready to hit the town

Barry ready to hit the town

Surfers Paradise is the entertainment capital of Queensland with an array of nightclubs, pubs, bars and clubs, all within a two kilometre range and most operating into the earlyhours.

Exactly which one is “the place for you” will be almost entirely dependent on some combination of your age, musical preference as each Gold Coast nightclub offers something slightly different. For more detailed information check out this Gold Coast nightclubs guide which can help you.

For me I like to smoke shisha, and due to the large number of Arabs/Muslims (something I will touch upon shortly)

Shisha Spot

Shisha Spot

Muslim City aka Gold Coast

Gold Coast is probably known as one of the most tolerant and welcoming of all cities in Australia to muslims.

Which can seem quite ironic….

The famous beach at Surfers Paradise

The famous beach at Surfers Paradise

In direct contrast of the above...

In direct contrast of the above…

However the two communities as a whole have traditionally got on well and a balance has been achieved –

Muslim friendly attire for the Gold Coast

Muslim friendly attire for the Gold Coast

However that was until quite recently when there was a vote for a new mosque that was rejected by the council. Apparently there has been some dissent amongst locals of the growing islamic influence in the area, I hope the people there do not face too much islamophobia as the ones I met were extremely nice and hospitable.

Whilst there I managed to go to Friday prayer at the main Gold Coast Mosque

Inside the Mosque

Inside the Mosque

Gold Coast Mosque

Gold Coast Mosque

This I found is a good place to meet some people to ask about halal food and just personally for myself to speak to other western muslims and see what they are up to and what issues they face etc.

To sum up, I found Sufers Paradise a really interesting place and one full of surprises and would recommend to all regardless of what your into as it has bit of everything for everyone.

Adieu…Adieu..Stormy

Flashback Friday…Green Islam, Painful Memories, Swedish-Saudi Ties, Breaking the Internet, Fake Alan from Hangover

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So this weeks Flashback Friday will take a look at the following –

1. Green Islam 

Environmental Islam

Environmental Islam

‘Inspired by Muhammed’ is a new campaign (Launched by the Muslim convert Kristiane Backer on behalf of the Exploring Islam Foundation )which showcases Muslims who have been inspired by their faith to contribute positively to society and focuses on areas such as women’s rights, social justice as well as the environment. Its message can impact the Middle East and the world. –

The campaign was prompted by shocking finds from a May 2010 national poll in Britain which found that more than half the British population associated Islam with extremism (58%) and terrorism (50%). The opinion poll also discovered that just 6% of the British population believe that Islam promotes active measures to protect the environment.

Even though this campaign was several years ago, clearly the reputation of British Muslims is still being associated with the similar finds as the poll in 2010 and it is the work of the vast majority of muslims to fix this by getting involved in such campaigns.

2.Why painful memories linger with us

Painful Memories

Painful Memories

If we didn’t forget pain, women would never go through childbirth twice – or so says the myth. But the truth is that agonising memories don’t always diminish.

The evidence suggests that most women don’t forget: the memory of the experience of childbirth was the same for 60% of the women at two months and 12 months. In fact, just one-third of the mothers at 12 months had forgotten quite how painful they’d considered childbirth at two months. And for 18% the opposite happened – far from forgetting the pain, in their minds the experience had become more painful by 12 months.

3. Swedish-Saudi Ties

The Swedish government this week decided to scrap an arms deal with Saudi Arabia,

Tensions between Stockholm and Riyadh have grown so acute that Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador to Sweden on Wednesday.

Saudi Arabia bought some $39 million in Swedish military equipment last year alone. The kingdom recently became the world’s biggest arms importer; it’s Sweden’s third-largest non-Western customer for weapons.

For decades, Saudi Arabia’s vast energy reserves and strategic position in the Middle East have led Western countries to politely skirt around the issue of the kingdom’s draconian religious laws and woeful human rights record.

Swedish and KSA relations...

Swedish and KSA relations…

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom, meanwhile, has emerged as an outspoken figure, not averse to taking moral stands. The Saudis apparently were concerned about her remarks because last year, Sweden became one the most high-profile European countries to officially recognize Palestine as an independent state. Wallstrom said at the time that the move was intended to “support those who believe in negotiations and not violence,” but it was widely interpreted as a rebuke to the right-wing government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Sweden taking a leading role in the Palestian Cause

Sweden taking a leading role in the Palestian Cause

Sweden's support for Palestine

Sweden’s support for Palestine

It also showed up a host of Arab states, some of whom have long postured as champions of the Palestinian cause  but have done little to improve their plight.

4. The disastrous events that would break the internet

Can we break the Internet?

Can we break the Internet?

The internet is unbreakable. At least, we think it is. That’s why when something goes extremely viral, such as pictures of Kim Kardashian’s bottom or #thedress, we joke about it “breaking the internet”. This is because, well, that obviously isn’t going to happen – but we’re searching for some way of exaggerating the impact of the event. It’s a great piece of contemporary hyperbole. But could you really, literally, break the internet? And if so, does anyone really know for sure what would happen next?

Banks, commerce, government systems, personal communication, appliances – a lot of our modern world relies on the internet staying up. Localised, temporary disruption is little more than a nuisance. But if the internet really went dark, we’d be in trouble.

The real problem, though, is that we don’t know exactly how bad the trouble would be. Danny Hillis, an early pioneer of internet technology, pointed this out to an audience at TED in 2013.

5. Guy Makes $250,000 A Year By Impersonating Alan From ‘The Hangover’

This is what Thaddeus Kalinoski looked like before he became Alan.

This is what Thaddeus Kalinoski looked like before he became Alan.

Then one day after not shaving for several weeks I looked at myself in the mirror and thought ‘wait a minute – you look like Alan.’ People started telling me when I was out at night that I looked like him. So for kicks I decided to see if there was some money in doing this as a part time job to earn some extra cash.

I moved to Atlantic City to see what people thought and I had some fun, but then me and my buddy went to Vegas for a weekend away — and it all changed.

Groups often ask me to join them for dinner or a night at a club. It felt strange to be with strangers at first, but what was easy for me was that acting like Alan meant it wasn’t awkward. As long as I acted like him, most of the groups would just make jokes and have fun. It is a fantastic experience dipping into people’s lives like that.

Here’s Kalinoski with the real Bradley Cooper

Here’s Kalinoski with the real Bradley Cooper

Adieu…Adieu…Stormy

Take me back Tuesday…Great Ocean Road

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One of the most popular activities to do when visiting Victoria/Melbourne is to drive the Great Ocean Road. The winding coastal drive between Torquay and Warrnambool (or Port Campbell if you do the one day trip (which costs around 100 USD) takes you through surf towns, National Parks, and like the rugged splendour of the Twelve Apostles that has made the drive so famous.

The twelve apostles...

The twelve apostles…

You can do one day, two days trips however if I were to do it again I would hire a car and do the drive myself. However remember –

Don't forget its a former British Colony...

Don’t forget its a former British Colony…

Though you don’t have a guide there is enough information out there to ensure you are not lost and can take in the beauty of the sites in your own sweet time.

Coaches for the Day Trip

Coaches for the Day Trip

Historically The Great Ocean Road was built as a work project for veterans returning from World War I and was completed in 1932. The core of the Great Ocean Road, highway B100 from Torquay to Allansford near Warrnambool, runs for 243 kilometres.

Most tours starts at the world-famous Bells Beach, host of the World Surfing Championships.

Home of Surfing...

Home of Surfing…

This is also where Ripcurl originated from.

Home of Rip Curl

Home of Rip Curl

If hiking is more your cup of tea, Anglesea provides a variety of  beach and cliff hikes which all end in beautiful views down the coast. Or if you are a foodie then Lorne is the place to visit with fresh seafood coming straight from the sea to the your belly.

Apollo Bay is the next stop and is a small coastal town that allows you to have a nice stop for lunch whilst experiencing an authentic Aussie seaside experience…

Apollo Bay

Apollo Bay

Stereotypical sights of Apollo Bay

Stereotypical sights of Apollo Bay

At the end of the day trip you will head to Port Cambell National Park with its centre piece the World Famous Twelve Apostles which provides a fitting climax to the Journey

Famous and fabulous sights...

Famous and fabulous sights…

Jutting out from the ocean in spectacular fashion, these rocky stacks stand like they’ve been abandoned to the ocean by the retreating headland. Today only seven apostles can be seen from a network of viewing platforms connected via timber boardwalks around the clifftops. Around the area, there is some beautiful beaches and areas to explore…

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Before Selfies became cool....

Before Selfies became cool….

Stunning sights...

Stunning sights…

There’s pedestrian access to the viewing platforms from the car park at the 12 Apostles Visitor Centre (more a kiosk and toilets than info centre) via a tunnel beneath the Great Ocean Road.

Some say the best time to visit is sunset, , for the views and also to see little penguins returning from ashore. Sightings vary, but generally they arrive 30 minutes after sunset. You’ll need binoculars, which can be borrowed from the Port Campbell Visitor Centre

I would strongly recommend the helicopter ride to appreciate the views –

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If I was to do it again, I would make sure I go to Split Point Light House located outside of Airey’s Inlet  (If you’ve ever heard of the popular 90′s Australian TV show called Around the Twist you’ll want to make a stop at the Split Point Light House as it is the one featured in every episode of the TV show)

Anyway enough for me today…

Adieu…Adieu…Stormy

Flashback Friday….ISIS use of Qu’ranic Verses, Ford’s E-Bikes, Unmarried+Childless=Suicidal, Expensive Tea in London and Phones in Malawi!

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This weeks flashback Friday…

1. ISIS use of Qu’ranic Verses

I read this brilliant article, well have read several, but this one sticks out, regarding ISIS and the use of the Qu’ranic verses to justify their actions. The Koran clearly states that it contains two types of verses: context-independent verses, and context-dependent verses. Context-independent verses are unambiguous and timeless principles which can be applied in every situation. Context-dependent verses are those that are specific to particular situations, and can’t be read in isolation. The Koran then goes on to condemn those who cherry-pick verses to suit their own selfish ends, and tells its reader to take all the verses together before coming to any conclusions.

Peaceful believers following a peaceful religion despite groups like ISIS suggesting otherwise

Peaceful believers following a peaceful religion despite groups like ISIS suggesting otherwise

So how Muslims should co-exist with peaceful people of other beliefs, the Koran couldn’t be clearer: “Allah only forbids you from those who fight you because of religion and expel you from your homes”. For everyone else, it is taught that you should be kind and act fairly towards them

2. E-Bikes

Ford after producing cars for so long, are now turning their attention to bikes. With traffic problems and overly long commutes have been proved to have a significant economic and social impact on cities. According to the European Commission, congestion within the European Union costs about 100bn euros each year. Ford’s e-bikes are equipped with a 200-watt motor with a 9-amp-hour battery that provides electric pedal assistance for speeds of up to 25km/h (15mph). Both can also be folded.Rear-facing sensors offer riders an alert system that warns the cyclist when a vehicle is overtaking by vibrating both handlebars. Sensors also alert motorists to the presence of the e-bike by lighting up the handlebars.

Transport revolution?

Transport revolution?

Finnish car manufacturer Volvo also announced its own ebike at the recent Mobile World Congress in Barcelona while others such as Audi, BMW, Mercedes and Peugeot have also either launched electronic bikes or revealed concepts.

It seems a revolution is going to come to cities that will hopefully make things less polluted and traffic friendly though I can only see this really excelling in densely populated cities, like New York, London, Beijing etc but would not be a viable option in cities like Los Angels, Abu Dhabi, Cape Town.

3. Unmarried + No Children = Suicide

I read this sad story of a girl who was 29 , had seemingly had her whole life ahead of her, yet she unexpectedly took her own life, due to being unmarried and without kids. The social expectation on having a family and kids has always been quite prevalent in the East, however I feel it is now coming more prevalent in the West. People used to believe not having kids, or being a career woman was a symbolic gesture of woman’s power and strength, however I think the situation has changed and women now want and expect to be mothers and wives. It seems we  have now done a full circle and there is a symbolic  message of power and strength when you see ‘celebrities’ such as Beyonce or Victoria Beckham take such pride in being a mother it inspires others to take pride in my opinion and made being a mother ‘cool’ again.

Single, Unmarried, Childless? Theres More to life....

Single, Unmarried, Childless? Theres More to life….

4. Expensive Tea

Who doesn’t like a cup of tea? Well a restaurant in London is offering a change to sample the most expensive cup you will probably ever pay for…Da Hong Pao is the tea in question, while the concoction is made from a rare herb found only at high altitudes, simmered down for up to eight hours. It starts at £388 for a serving fit for four. Why is it so expensive? The leaves can retail for more than £650,000 a kilo. They come from just three fabled bushes in Fujian province. The story goes that these same bushes produced tea which cured the illness of a mother of a Ming dynasty emperor. Not sure I would spend that much based on the fable and from the article seems the taste was nothing to write home about.

A girl holds up tea leaves collected from a tea plantation fertilized with panda droppings in Ya'an in southwest China's Sichuan province Saturday March 17, 2012. Businessman An Yanshi is promoting the green tea which he fertilized with the panda droppings and wants to sell 21 commemorative sets packaged with 50 grams of the tea, panda themed tea sets and his own art works for the price of around 22,000 yuan or US$3,500. (AP Photo)

A girl holds up tea leaves collected from a tea plantation fertilized with panda droppings in Ya’an in southwest China’s Sichuan province Saturday March 17, 2012. Businessman An Yanshi is promoting the green tea which he fertilized with the panda droppings and wants to sell 21 commemorative sets packaged with 50 grams of the tea, panda themed tea sets and his own art works for the price of around 22,000 yuan or US$3,500. (AP Photo)

5. Phones in Malawi

We all like to use our phones, however would you like to if it meant using half your salary? For the average Malawi national this is the case, as the average person spends 56.29% of average monthly earnings on their mobile bills. Its quite extraordinary the cost of this and I am not sure why people would pay or why the even the government would accept this as it surely hampers other economic progress by having such basic commodity at such a high rate.  If you look at the cheapest three –

  • Macau, China – 0.11% of average monthly earnings
  • Hong Kong, China – 0.18 % of average monthly earnings
  • Denmark – 0.19% of average monthly earnings
Nurse Tiwonge Chisale from the Kabudula Community Hospital holds a mobile phone, Lilongwe District, Malawi ©

Nurse Tiwonge Chisale from the Kabudula Community Hospital holds a mobile phone, Lilongwe District, Malawi ©

All are areas which enjoy relatively strong economical performance and stability and I would have hoped African learn this and reduce costs in the future.

So thats it for me for this week!

Adieu…Adieu…Stormy

Take me back Tuesday…Ladzio Ultimatum Tour of Dubai, March 2013

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So this post takes us back to a trip to Dubai in March, 2013.

After working in Saudi for a year, I came back to Doha in February 2013 and it was the first time in several years, that I was living in Qatar but not managing a football team.
Lucky for me though my friend Mark Griffin was, and so I was able to join his team, Ladzio Ultimatum. It was more of a social thing, rather than playing competitively.
I joined at the perfect time, as the team was planning on going on a lads weekend away with a match played in Dubai against another amateur football team. I had never been on a ‘football tour kind of holiday’ before and so it was a new experience for myself and as you will see from the photos and videos, it was quite eventful.
It started off we everyone getting different flights on Thursday and so not everyone was together until the early hours of the morning. For those who got there early they had been going from pub to pub so were in quite a state by the time most of us had got there.
At 7.30am we had to get up and get ready to play a game against another amateur team in Dubai however most of the players were not in a very good state –
Slightly worse for wear, team heading for the friendly

Slightly worse for wear, team heading for the friendly

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The match was being played in the Dubai Sports City which offered fantastic facilities as you can see –

Superb facilities, shame most of the team were not in a state to make the most of it!

Superb facilities, shame most of the team were not in a state to make the most of it!

A lot of professional teams from around the world train at these facilities and when we were there, Anzhi Makhachkala were there, and I managed to see one of my favourite footballers of all time…
Joined by Roberto Carlos

Joined by Roberto Carlos

After the game, Mark clearly found the previous night and the match a bit too much ….

Leading by example..Captain/Manager Mark!

Leading by example..Captain/Manager Mark!

Neither the loss nor the state of the Captain halted procedures as we went home and showered and then headed to Brunch…
To some it may seem strange, this is a Muslim state, but alcohol flows liberally and pork is readily available. By law, Alcohol can be served only within the confines of a hotel, but with an estimated 500 hotels in the emirate, some with up to 26 bars, restaurants and clubs, you won’t be left thirsty (though there are exceptions such as Souk Al Bahr which has licensed restaurants). Additionally to add to ironic nature of the Brunch, while it is the holiest day of the week for Muslims, hotels throw their doors open for “champagne/alchol fueled brunches.”
As it was a football tour, we decided to go to Yalumba at Le Meridien Hotel ( Garhoud, Dubai; 12:30-3.30 p.m.; +971 4 702 2455; 499 dirham ($136), this brunch is not the sedate culinary experience, it is an exercise in excess, with free-flowing booze and heaping buffets that would have had even the most indulgent glutton beg for mercy.
Team Brunch

Team Brunch

The brunch contains everything, from a full english breakfast to sunday roast, from lobster to sushi, from a la carte to buffet – plus it is all prepared to a high standard.
Steaks and Tasty Yorkshire Puds

Steaks and Tasty Yorkshire Puds

Sushi Selection...

Sushi Selection…

Seafood selection

Seafood selection

Deserts selection

Deserts selection

There is a huge selection and it caters for all tastes but I suspect the main reason people go, is the champagne as it is known as a champagne brunch. Hence if you are drinking then I guess its good value however there is no discount for those who do not drink and so it is quite an expensive brunch even though the quality is of a high standard.
The brunch is obviously not aimed at locals or Muslims with the champagne element and additionally to that, there is a large pork section…
Cold Cuts of Pork...

Cold Cuts of Pork…

The Pork-Fest continues...

The Pork-Fest continues…

Though the hotel is slightly dated it is still clean and looks welcoming. The outdoor area is for people dressed up and ready to party in the sun. This brunch caters to people after a party atmosphere, and so the football team duly obliged by getting in on the fun…as we all had to carry our challenges –
Nabil Dancing Challenge –
Umar doing the PressUp Challenge –
Drinking from a shoe Challenge –
For me, I luckily got the task of drinking a pint in one, as I dont drink, all I had was a pint of Red Bull and that was my challenge completed!! Thankfully I didn’t get the following otherwise I dont know what I would have done –
Gary, though wasn’t so lucky –
After the brunch the party continues to the outdoor terrace, where if you manage to, you continue to binge with happy hour…
Captain/Manager Mark in his element

Captain/Manager Mark in his element

Until you eventually collapse…

It got all to much for Mike

It got all to much for Mike

The Next day I needed a time out from it all and went to meet my friend Alice at Al Safa park for the flea market

Calming way to end the weekend with Lunch in Al Safa Park with Alice

Calming way to end the weekend with Lunch in Al Safa Park with Alice

Flea Market at Al Safa Park

Flea Market at Al Safa Park

The Dubai Flea Market, was held at the Safa Park, on the first Saturday of every month, however I am unsure if it still is, as I can’t find anything online. However from what I found it now moves from location to location with the next one I found at Zabeel Park on the 7th March 2015.

All in all it was a brilliant and memorable weekend and though it might not have been my exact cup of tea its all about ticking things off….

Adieu…Adieu….Stormy

Anvil Rooms – New York Restaurant Week Review

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I have been meaning to get this review up for a while, however after going for a second time yesterday I thought I cannot delay any further!

So Anvil Rooms is one of my favourite restaurants in Doha, due to the fine cuisine, the epic views, the good ambiance and the fact you do not need to visit a hotel to enjoy all the aforementioned which is a rareity in Qatar plus for those who drink alcohol the restaurant is licensed.

Tornado Tower, Location of Anvil Rooms.

Tornado Tower, Location of Anvil Rooms.

I have been to the restaurant on a number of occasions previously, the business lunch (which runs everyday bar Friday, between 12-3pm) is usually for QR 149 per person which includes a steak, a side dish, a sauce and a soft drink and the Blacksmith Supper (for the same price and same days between 5.30pm -7pm) are the usual promotions that Anvil Rooms does.

However to celebrate New York Restaurant week, Anvil Rooms is offering a new promotion, Lunch, 12-3pm, 91QR or Dinner, 5.30-7pm, 138QR!  (to book a table call 4499 0685) . Below will be a review of the two meals I have had during the restaurant week..

Menu for Week 2 of NYC Restaurant Week

Menu for Week 2 of NYC Restaurant Week

So before each meal a beautiful breadbasket is served with a cheese break, a beef bacon and bread roll, a German bread and Anvil Rooms famous pretzel.

Breadbasket

Breadbasket

The Appetisers 

Wild Mushroom and Parmesan Tortellini with rosted pine nuts and squash veloute  - The dish was full of flavour however personally I felt the Tortellini was too overpowering by the Mushroom.

Wild Mushroom and Parmesan Tortellini with rosted pine nuts and squash veloute – The dish was full of flavour however personally I felt the Tortellini was too overpowering by the Mushroom.

Mesquite Smoked Cod and Salt Baked Beetroot, Tarragon Mayonnaise, Horseradish - not enough Cod and not a big fan of the mix of flavours.

Crispy Beef Shin, Heirloom Tomato Salad, Garlic, Croutons, Tomato Crisp – extremely tasty, the beef was tender and the salad was fresh and went well with the beef shin.

Mesquite Smoked Cod and Salt Baked Beetroot, Tarragon Mayonnaise, Horseradish - not enough Cod and not a big fan of the mix of flavours.

Mesquite Smoked Cod and Salt Baked Beetroot, Tarragon Mayonnaise, Horseradish – not enough Cod and not a big fan of the mix of flavours.

Sea Bass Ceviche, Citrus and Coriander Dressing, Togarashi Cured Fennel, Avocado Puree -  a delightful starter, light, fresh and not too filling.

Sea Bass Ceviche, Citrus and Coriander Dressing, Togarashi Cured Fennel, Avocado Puree – a delightful starter, light, fresh and not too filling.

The Main Courses

Spiced Caramel Braised Short rib - One of the best ribs I have had, amazing!

Spiced Caramel Braised Short rib – One of the best ribs I have had, amazing!

Barbecued King Fish - Very meaty and nice flavouring.

8 OZ New York Striploin, Classic Steak Sauce – My friend Osama had this and was impressed with the the size, however their was a large amount of fat on the meat.

Side dishes offered during the first week of NYC Restaurant week. - the chips/fries were not cooked well so we asked for them to be returned, the portion was very small, the truffle mash was like the tortellini, an overpowering mushroom flavour but the spinach was excellent.

Side dishes offered during the first week of NYC Restaurant week. – the chips/fries were not cooked well so we asked for them to be returned, the portion was very small, the truffle mash was like the tortellini, an overpowering mushroom flavour but the spinach was excellent.

The sides on offer for the 2nd week of NYC restaurant week - This collection was much more suitable for the dishes and the mash had less flavouring this time so was much easier to digest.

The sides on offer for the 2nd week of NYC restaurant week – This collection was much more suitable for the dishes and the mash had less flavouring this time so was much easier to digest.

Chilli and Soy Barbecued Salmon Fillet - I asked for this medium-well, and it was served exactly as I like it, apparently the chef does not usually do chilli dishes, considering this I would have to say that he has done excellently in this respect!

Chilli and Soy Barbecued Salmon Fillet – I asked for this medium-well, and it was served exactly as I like it, apparently the chef does not usually do chilli dishes, considering this I would have to say that he has done excellently in this respect!

The Deserts 

Lemon Cheesecake, Lemon Sorbet - as a cheesecake fiend I loved this, the sorbet was really nice, and the cheesecake tasted natural with not much artificial flavourings.

Lemon Cheesecake, Lemon Sorbet – as a cheesecake fiend I loved this, the sorbet was really nice, and the cheesecake tasted natural with not much artificial flavourings.

Chocolate and Nut Brownie, Caramel Popcorn, Vanilla Ice Cream -   this was a disappointment, we both thought it tasted pretty average and not something you would expect from such a nice restaurant.

Chocolate and Nut Brownie, Caramel Popcorn, Vanilla Ice Cream – this was a disappointment, we both thought it tasted pretty average and not something you would expect from such a nice restaurant.

Osama about to get stuck into the Brownie...

Osama about to get stuck into the Brownie…

Digging into a delicious Lemon Cheesecake

Digging into a delicious Lemon Cheesecake

Millionaire Sundae, Malt Ice Cream, Milk Chocolate Cremeux, Salt Caramel, Sable - this has received rave reviews from others, but to be honest we thought the ingredients were not mixed in the right manner and the mish mash resulted in an overtly chocolaty taste.

Millionaire Sundae, Malt Ice Cream, Milk Chocolate Cremeux, Salt Caramel, Sable – this has received rave reviews from others, but to be honest we thought the ingredients were not mixed in the right manner and the mish mash resulted in an overtly chocolaty taste.

Carrot Cake, Confit Orange Sorbet, Confit Carrot, - a simple desert that is difficult to get wrong, it doesn't wow you, but it doesn't disappoint you either.

Carrot Cake, Confit Orange Sorbet, Confit Carrot, – a simple desert that is difficult to get wrong, it doesn’t wow you, but it doesn’t disappoint you either.

Belated Birthday Girl - as it was Charlottes belated birthday meal, the restaurant offered to give a small cake, though the gesture was nice, I was slightly surprised that they charged for this when many restaurants in the fine dinning category would do offer it complementary.

Belated Birthday Girl – as it was Charlottes belated birthday meal, the restaurant offered to give a small cake, though the gesture was nice, I was slightly surprised that they charged for this when many restaurants in the fine dinning category would do offer it complementary.

If you do a google search on Anvil Rooms or monitor social media, you will see how much of an impact this promotion has had, and it just makes me wonder why are not more restaurants in Doha, especially ones linked to America such as New York Steakhouse, in Marriott Marquis who I feel really missed a trick in getting in on the act.

I can see other restaurants promoting this event next year due the popularity and success of the Anvil Rooms and the worldwide phenomena of New York restaurant week.

Outside of the promotion, I have to say the food is consistently of a high standard, there’s a range of Kobe, Wagyu and USDA steaks and the sides on offer are very varied and will suit most taste buds.  However for vegetarians or vegans, there is little on offer and as you can see from the NYC restaurant menu. However their service and quality of food comes at a high price therefore since there is a promotion I recommend everyone getting in on the act (providing you are not vegetarian or vegan).

Adieu..Adieu…Stormy

Take me back Tuesday…Al-Zubarah (UNESCO Site) Qatar 2014

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So this week’s Edition of Take me back Tuesday is of a recent trip (1 year ago) to the only UNESCO approved site in Qatar. Al-Zubarah. So to start with I will explain how to get to Zubarah,  from Doha, take the North Road (Shamal Road) towards Madinat Al Shamal. Take Exit 59 marked for ‘Zubara’. (Not the one towards Al Khor/Ras Laffan). After 25 minutes, you will see Al Zubarah Fort on the horizon.

How do you find this Gem??

How do you find this Gem??

On the way to Al-Zubara on the bus...

On the way to Al-Zubara on the bus…

On my trip I went as part of a work trip, as the company I was working for Qatar Museum who managed the Zubarah Archeological site arranged for several of its staff for a guided tour of the site.  However they also open the site and tours for non-staff and you can sign up here.

Tour's Organised by Qatar Museums

Tour’s Organised by Qatar Museums

Group of collogues being toured around

Group of collogues being toured around

Just two km west of the Al Zubarah fort, the Al Zubarah settlement shows evidence of a long-standing community where rich oyster banks and good trading connections in and beyond the Gulf ensured prosperity. Surrounded by a long wall belt and guard towers, the original town was 2,000 meters long and 600 meters wide. A separate quarter and a wider, more external wall were added later, and eventually houses were built outside of the walls.

Excavation area...

Excavation area…

Zubarah fort and the adjacent archaeological site is well worth a trip and represents a shining pearl of history in an otherwise  historical landscape. This is because the fort, along with the archaeological town down on the coast, has  been given UNESCO world heritage status. With this status comes a certain amount of responsibility and regulations and as you can see the archaeologists are hard at work…

Archologists displaying some of their skills.

Archologists displaying some of their skills.

Archologists displaying some of their skills.

Archologists displaying some of their skills.

Pre-serving the rocks

Pre-serving the rocks

The fort had just been restored and installed within is an impressive exhibition detailing the history of Zubarah and its role in establishing Qatar as an important place of trade.

Example of some of the works in the Museum in Zubara

Example of some of the works in the Museum in Zubara

This includes interactive touch screens and a small film in a room directly next to a newly opened shop (in which you can buy snacks, drinks books and postcards). A short distance away is a small exhibition of the recently uncovered archaeological finds found on the ongoing archaeological excavations that are occurring in the buried town down on the beach, a mere 5 minute drive away.

In 2009, the QMA jointly launched the Qatar Islamic Archaeology and Heritage Project (QIAH) with the University of Copenhagen. The QIAH is a ten-year research, conservation and heritage initiative with the objective of investigating archaeological sites, preserving their fragile remains and working towards the presentation of the sites to the public.  A team from the University of Hamburg recorded the architectural remains of Zubarah in great detail with a 3D scanner. To preserve the architectural remains, a restoration program has been launched using special, saline resistant mortar and plasters to maximise the visitor experience, while abiding by UNESCO heritage guidelines. The aim of the conservation work is to preserve the authenticity of the site, as well as to preserve areas that can be enjoyed by visitors to the site through, among other means, interactive displays on mobile devices.

Classifications of the finds...

Classifications of the finds…

Nice game of the archeologists finds...

Nice game of the archeologists finds…

It was interesting to see how these guys (archeologists) live for months on end in the middle of the desert, however with it being Qatar and being a well funded project, the living quarters were not too shabby…

Living Quarters of the Archeologists...

Living Quarters of the Archeologists…

Kitchen area of the archeologists...

Kitchen area of the archeologists…

All in all, this is great day out (and also free) and if you leave for the site in the morning, then you maybe able to go to the beach which is less than 15-minute off-road drive from the fort and I am sure will complete a great day out, however please be warned going out in the winter months (up to say March) can result in some strong winds there…

Windy day...

Windy day…

So please take appropriate clothing. bring some snacks and drinks as the options there are quite limited. Adieu…Adieu….Stormy!