(Photo courtesy of Reuters)
THE New York Times has an interesting article on Qatar’s big tourism expansion push, with billions of dollars being spent on a new airport terminal, new luxury hotels and a slew of museums designed by such hot shot architects as IM Pei and Jean Novel.
But as the article points out, Doha is still dreadfully dull, and it wonders if it will ever be as happening as glitzy Dubai. One person in the article makes the point that if Dubai is the Orlando of the Gulf, then Doha wants to be the Palm Springs. Good luck to the Qataris, though I still think neighboring Saudi Arabia has much more to offer to what I like to call “cultural tourists.”
Following on this Travel theme, the NYT has another article on the way the Sharjah, UAE-based low-cost airline Air Arabia is changing the traveling habits of Arabs who work in the Gulf, and of Indian workers here who can now afford travel home several times a year.
But as the article also points out, the fact that it has only five aircraft in its fleet means that if one breaks down, be prepared to wait up to 5 hours for another aircraft to be flown in. Read what passengers have to say on the Skytrax airline satisfaction website.
My Indian driver Muneer has repeatedly told me about friends of his who have flown on Air Arabia to India from Saudi Arabia, and he said that they complained to him that only water was served from Sharjah to India, a three-hour flight. I told him that they were stingy, and should expect minimal inflight service for the rock-bottom fares they are paying.
Indeed, it turns out that Air Arabia does sell sandwiches and drinks on its flights, but knowing how tight-fisted these workers are, I’m sure they would rather die of hunger than actually have to pay money for food on the plane!
Speaking of airlines, also check out what passengers are saying about Saudi Arabian Airlines here. Skytrax has downgraded it from being a four-star (good) airline to being a three-star (fair) airline. It seems that Saudia excels on certain sectors such as its flights to London (where new Boeing-777s with much leg room are used), while on Asian sectors they use tatty 747s that are falling apart.
Chaotic check-in scenes at Saudia check-in counters in the Kingdom were also a main complaint of the flying public.
FINALLY, a short article on the happening nightlife of my favorite Asian city: Manila. Special mentions are given to trendy restaurants in Makati’s Greenbelt shopping center, Tim Yap’s nightclub Embassy in Fort Bonifacio, and the Malate area with its vibrant gay nightlife including the club Bed.
When I lived in Manila in 2001, I used to always go to Joy with my friend Lito, which was located just a few meters away from where Bed is now on Maria Orosa Street.