Do you think sexual assaults have really increased? I don’t. I think those assaulted – it isn’t always women – are becoming braver about reporting the assaults. Until now, reporting a sexual assault has not resulted in the investigation of the assault, but has often resulted beating up the victim, especially if the one committing assault has friends in high places. The lower-ranking assault victim faces insults, lack of interest, friendly advice to just let it drop, and accusations that it was a ‘relationship.’ I’d like to believe that while the change is slow, and a long time coming, there is a change which will rein in some of these arrogant aggressors.
WASHINGTON — The sexual battery arrest of the Air Force officer who led the service’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response unit underscores how far the Defense Department has to go in addressing the plague of sexual crimes in the military, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee said Tuesday.
Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., told a committee hearing that a Pentagon report to be released later Tuesday reportedly estimates that, on average, there are more than 70 sexual assaults involving military personnel every day.
Authorities in Arlington County, Va., said Lt. Col. Jeffrey Krusinski was charged with groping a woman in a northern Virginia parking lot on Sunday. Krusinski was removed from his post in the sexual assault unit after the Air Force learned of his arrest. He started in the post in February
“While under our legal system everyone is innocent until proven guilty, this arrest speaks volumes about the status and effectiveness of (the Defense) department’s efforts to address the plague of sexual assaults in the military,” Levin said.
The Pentagon report says that the number of sexual assaults reported by members of the military rose from 3,192 to 3,374 in 2012, while the department estimates that as many as 26,000 service members were assaulted, based on anonymous surveys, according to officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the report.
Gen. Mark Welsh, the Air Force’s chief of staff, told the committee that he and Air Force Secretary Michael Donley were “appalled” by Krusinki’s arrest. Although the case is being adjudicated by the Arlington County police, Welsh said the Air Force has requested jurisdiction.
A police report said that the 41-year-old Krusinski was drunk and grabbed a woman’s breast and buttocks. The woman fought him off and called police, the report said.
The Arlington County Sheriff’s office said Krusinski was released Sunday on a $5,000 personal recognizance bond. An arraignment is scheduled for Thursday.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has spoken with Donley about the matter and “expressed outrage and disgust over the troubling allegations and emphasized that this matter will be dealt with swiftly and decisively,” Pentagon press secretary George Little said in a statement.
Two cases involving decisions by three-star generals to overturn guilty verdicts in sexual assault cases have outraged members of Congress and propelled a bipartisan push to change the military justice system to essentially strip commanding officers of their ability to reverse criminal convictions.
Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., is holding up the nomination of Air Force Lt. Gen. Susan Helms, tapped to serve as vice commander of the U.S. Space Command, until the Missouri Democrat gets more information about Helms’ decision to overturn a jury conviction in a sexual assault case.
Lt. Gen. Craig Franklin, commander of the 3rd Air Force at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, overturned the conviction against Lt. Col. James Wilkerson, a former inspector general at Aviano Air Base in Italy. Wilkerson had been found guilty last Nov. 2 of charges of abusive sexual contact, aggravated sexual assault and three instances of conduct unbecoming of an officer and a gentleman. The incident had involved a civilian employee.
May 7, 2013 Posted by intlxpatr | Crime, Cultural, Law and Order, Leadership, Mating Behavior, Political Issues, Relationships, Social Issues, Statistics, Women's Issues, Work Related Issues | rape, Sexual assault, sexual crimes, US Military | Leave a Comment
Little drops of water, little grains of sand, make the mighty ocean and the beauteous land . . .
Little drops of water, in the form of expressions of international outrage against the sentence of 100 lashings for a 15 year old girl, impregnated by her stepfather, who bore his still-born babe, and was ordered punished by the court system for immorality. A call to express outrage by boycotting travel to the Maldives seems to have gotten the attention of the government. It appears they will try to find a way to avoid this grueling punishment . . . thanks to the attention being paid.
From the English edition of Haveeru Online:
President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik on Tuesday urged patience from the international community in the case of the 15 year old alleged rape victim who received a flogging after being convicted of adultery in a separate incident.
The conviction had sparked an international outcry and condemnation from rights groups such as Amnesty International. While an online petition condemning the Maldives over the sentencing has received over two million signatures. The petition, started by New York-based campaign group avaaz.org, calls on President Waheed to intervene and has been signed by over two million users.
“We appreciate the international compassion for this young woman and ask for your patience as this case moves through the judicial system,” President Waheed said in a statement.
“Currently the case is being appealed and I have urged the judiciary to resolve this matter as quickly as possible.”
“This case should never have been presented in the courts and we are working to ensure that cases like this are never brought to the courts again.”
In the statement, President Waheed also assured that the young woman remains under the care of the Gender Ministry and is receiving the appropriate physical and psychological counseling at this time.
“As both the President and as a father, I am fully committed to protecting and advancing the rights of women and girls in the Maldives and throughout the world and share your deep concern about this young victim.”
In its attempt to pressure the Maldives government to overturn the sentence, Avaaz had called for tourism to be boycotted.
“Tourism is the big earner for the Maldives elite, including government ministers. Let’s build a million-strong petition to President Waheed this week, then threaten the islands’ reputation through hard-hitting ads in travel magazines and online until he steps in to save her and abolish this outrageous law,” Avaaz said on its website.
In that regard, President noted that the Maldives is a young democracy working to balance religious faith with new democratic values and asked the international community to support as partners as the country works through this challenge.
“A boycott on tourism will only serve as a setback to the economic opportunities and rights we are all striving to uphold for women, girls and the hardworking Maldivian people in general,” Waheed stressed.
The 15 year old girl who gave birth and buried the baby in Shaviyani Atoll Feydhoo had been sentenced to eight months under house arrest and 100 lashes after the Juvenile Court found her guilty of pre marital sex.
Prosecutors have maintained that the 15 year old was charged with adultery over another case which came to light during the investigation of the buried baby.
The baby born last June was found buried in the bath house of the girl’s home. The child delivered out of wedlock was dead at the time of discovery. Charges have been filed against the 15 year old’s mother and step-father over the deliberate murder of the baby.
May 2, 2013 Posted by intlxpatr | Bureaucracy, Community, Crime, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Health Issues, Law and Order, Leadership, Living Conditions, Mating Behavior, News, Social Issues | 4 Comments
I have had wonderful women who have worked for me; they were from the Philippines, from Sri Lanka, from India. They worked hard and they didn’t spend their money. They sent their money home to help support mothers, fathers, siblings, children. They had some real horror stories to tell about how they had been treated in prior employment – employers with jealous wives, touchy-feelie employers and their sons, people who seemed to assume that because they were working under their sponsorship, they owned their lives. In Qatar and in Kuwait, Labor law provides for a mandatory day off – except for house-workers. Some work from crack of dawn getting the children ready for school until the last thobe is ironed, late late in the night.
I did a little research. Here is what 38 Euros per month – slave wages – is worth:
$50.13 US Dollars (Minimum wage $7.25/hour + social security)
Qatari Rial 182.52 (Qatar has not set a minimum wage)
Kuwaiti Dinar 14.24 (Minimum wage = 60 KD per month)
Pope Francis on Wednesday condemned as “slave labour” the work conditions of victims of a factory collapse in Bangladesh in which more than 400 people have been found dead, Vatican radio reported.
“A headline that really struck me on the day of the tragedy in Bangladesh was ‘Living on 38 euros a month’. That is what the people who died were being paid. This is called slave labour,” the pope was quoted as saying at a private mass.
“Today in the world this slavery is being committed against something beautiful that God has given us — the capacity to create, to work, to have dignity. How many brothers and sisters find themselves in this situation!” he said.
“Not paying fairly, not giving a job because you are only looking at balance sheets, only looking at how to make a profit. That goes against God!” he was quoted as saying.
“There are many people who want to work but cannot. When a society is organised in a way that not everyone is given the chance to work, that society is not just,” he said.
Copyright (2013) AFP. All rights reserved.
If you have the time for some fascinating reading, it’s all available on the internet at the US State Departments Human Rights website; you can access by clicking here. Read – or skip – the overview, then go to the second column where you can see what is happening in every individual country. I’ve printed out labor excerpts below, but there are also fascinating observations on leadership, government, human rights and human trafficking.
QATAR: Labor Conditions according to
Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012
a. Freedom of Association and the Right to Collective Bargaining
The law does not adequately protect the right of workers to form and join independent unions, conduct legal strikes, and bargain collectively, a situation that made the exercise of these rights difficult. The law provides workers in private sector enterprises that have 100 citizen workers who are18 and older a limited right to organize, strike, and bargain collectively. For those few workers covered by the law protecting the right to collective bargaining, the government circumscribed the right to bargain collectively through its control over the rules and procedures of the bargaining and agreement processes. The labor code allows for only one trade union, the General Union of Workers of Qatar (General Union), which was composed of general committees for workers in various trades or industries. Trade or industry committees were composed of worker committees at the individual firm level.
Noncitizens are not eligible to join worker committees or the national union, effectively banning foreign workers from organizing, striking, or bargaining collectively. The law explicitly prohibits public sector workers or the military from organizing.
Civil servants and domestic workers do not have the right to strike; the law also prohibits strikes at public utilities and health or security service facilities, which include the gas, petroleum, and transportation sectors. Although the law recognizes the right to strike for some workers, restrictive conditions made the likelihood of a legal strike extremely remote. The law requires approval for a strike by three-fourths of a company’s workers committee. The Complaint Department of the Ministry of Labor in coordination with the Ministry of Interior must rule on all industrial disputes before workers can call a strike.
In organizations with more than 30 workers, the law permits the establishment of “joint committees” with an equal number of worker and management representatives to deal with a limited number of workplace issues. Foreign workers may be members of joint labor-management committees. The law offers a means to file collective disputes. If not settled internally between the employees and employer, the Ministry of Labor can be brought in to mediate a solution to such disputes.
The law requires Ministry of Labor approval for worker organizations to affiliate with groups outside the country. The law does not prohibit antiunion discrimination or provide for reinstatement of workers fired for union activity.
Freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining were not respected in practice. The General Union was not a functioning entity. Employees could not freely practice collective bargaining, and there were no workers under collective bargaining contracts. While rare, when labor unrest occurred, mostly involving the country’s overwhelmingly foreign workforce, the government responded by dispatching large numbers of police to the work sites or labor camps involved; the strikes generally ended peacefully after these shows of force. In most cases the government summarily deported the workers’ leaders and organizers. For example, on January 24, 127 Nepali workers were detained after they went on strike to protest low pay; some were later deported.
b. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor
The law prohibits all forms of forced or compulsory labor, and the government generally enforced the law.
The government made efforts to prevent and eliminate forced labor during the year. The government arrested and prosecuted individuals for labor law violations; two cases each of forced labor and bonded labor were before courts at year’s end. In addition the government closed 15 recruitment firms during the year. The QFCHT and the NHRC conducted several training sessions during the year for migrant laborers to educate them on their rights in the country. The NHRC printed and distributed pamphlets that included pertinent articles of the labor and sponsorship laws in multiple languages to better educate migrant workers on their rights. In addition the Ministry of Labor opened a free legal clinic for low-income migrant workers in March.
There were continuing indications of forced labor, especially in the construction and domestic labor sectors, which disproportionately affected migrant workers. Exorbitant recruitment fees incurred abroad entrapped many workers in long-term debt, making them more vulnerable to being exploited for forced labor. Some foreign workers who voluntarily entered the country to work had their passports and pay withheld, were refused exit permits, and worked under conditions to which they had not agreed. In a critical June report, Human Rights Watch highlighted a number of these problems, including poor living conditions, employers who routinely confiscated worker passports, and a sponsorship system that gave employers inordinate control of workers.
Also see the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/j/tip.
c. Prohibition of Child Labor and Minimum Age for Employment
The law sets the minimum age for employment at 16 and stipulates that minors between the ages of 16 and 18 can work with parental or guardian permission. Minors may not work more than six hours a day or more than 36 hours a week. Employers must provide the Labor Department with the names and occupations of their minor employees and obtain permission from the Ministry of Education to hire a minor. The Labor Department may prohibit the employment of minors in jobs judged dangerous to their health, safety, or morals. The government generally enforced relevant laws effectively, and child labor rarely occurred in practice.
d. Acceptable Conditions of Work
There is no minimum wage. The law requires equal pay for equal work in the private sector. The labor law prescribes a 48-hour workweek with a 24-hour rest period and paid annual leave days. Employees who work more than 48 hours per week or 36 hours per week during the holy month of Ramadan are entitled to an overtime pay supplement of at least a 25 percent. The law requires premium pay for overtime and prohibits excessive compulsory overtime. The government set occupational health and safety standards. The labor law and provisions for acceptable conditions of work do not apply to workers in the public sector, agriculture, or to domestic servants.
Responsibility for laws related to acceptable conditions of work fell primarily to the Ministry of Labor as well as the Ministry of Energy and Industry and the Ministry of Health. The government did not effectively enforce standards in all sectors; working conditions for citizens were generally adequate, as government agencies and the major private sector companies employing them generally followed relevant laws. Enforcement problems were in part due to insufficient training and lack of personnel. There were approximately 150 inspectors in the Ministry of Labor. Fear of penalties such as blacklisting, which allows the Ministry of Labor to suspend specific operations, appeared to have had some effect as a deterrent to some labor law violations.
The government took action to prevent violations and improve working conditions during the year. According to foreign diplomats and some individual migrant workers, the Ministry of Labor’s Department of Labor Affairs was perceived to be objective within its mandate when dealing with the nonpayment of wages, health and safety violations, and other labor law violations. The department claimed it resolved 80 percent of the 6,000 complaints filed by workers during the year. The ministry referred 292 cases to the labor courts for judgment. During the first half of the year, the labor courts heard 8,101 cases, of which 813 received final verdicts, 920 received preliminary verdicts, 5,236 were still under review, 1,111 were cancelled, and 21 were linked to existing cases. The courts ordered that companies provide both financial compensation and airline tickets to their country of origin for plaintiffs in 49 cases, financial compensation only in six cases, and airline tickets only in five cases. A limited number of labor complaints were referred to the criminal courts, but statistics were not publicly available.
The Labor Inspection Department conducted monthly and random inspections of labor camps; when it found them below minimum standards, the operators received a warning, and authorities ordered them to remedy the violations within one month. If they did not remedy the violations, the Ministry of Labor blacklisted the company and on occasion referred the matter to the public prosecutor for action. Some cases went to trial. During the year inspectors conducted 46,624 observations of work and labor housing sites. Inspectors found 90 percent of companies were compliant with the administrative aspects of the law, such as timely payment of salaries and work regulations, while 70 percent were found to be compliant with safety standards. The Ministry of Labor issued 7,337 warning notices, 5,245 for health and safety reasons and 2,092 for administrative reasons. There were 377 companies that were issued reports of violations, 231for health and safety reasons and 146 for administrative reasons. Violators faced penalties of up to 6,000 riyal ($1,648) and 30 days’ imprisonment in the most serious cases, but labor observers reported that most safety and health violations were handled through administrative fines or blacklisting. The Ministry of Labor maintained an office in Doha’s industrial area, where most unskilled laborers resided, to receive complaints about worker safety or nonpayment of wages.
Violations of wage, overtime, and safety and health standards were relatively common, especially in sectors employing foreign workers, in which working conditions were often poor. Employers often ignored working hour restrictions and other laws with respect to domestic workers and unskilled laborers, the majority of whom were foreigners. A November survey by Qatar University’s Social and Economic Survey Research Institute found that 90 percent of unskilled laborers worked on average six days per week and 9.3 hours per day. Many unskilled foreign laborers were housed in cramped, dirty, and hazardous conditions, often without running water, electricity, or adequate food. The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has repeatedly reported abusive conditions, including unexplained and work-related deaths, for migrant workers, especially in the construction sector. After an ITUC investigation of working conditions for Nepali workers, the organization alleged that work-related deaths due to problems such as heat exhaustion were wrongly attributed to heart attacks or natural causes.
Domestic workers, who are not protected by the labor law, often faced unacceptable working conditions. Many such workers frequently worked seven days a week and more than 12 hours a day with few or no holidays, no overtime pay, and no effective means to redress grievances.
According to the ITUC and other organizations, foreign workers faced legal obstacles and lengthy legal processes that prevented them from seeking redress for violations and exploitative conditions. The sponsorship law was widely considered the root of these violations. Under the country’s sponsorship system, most employees cannot leave the country without permission and are prevented from switching jobs without a “no objection letter” from their employer. Employees leaving the country without a no objection letter are barred from reemployment in the country for two years.
Kuwait Labor Practices According to
Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012
a. Freedom of Association and the Right to Collective Bargaining
The law protects the right of workers to form and join trade unions, conduct legal strikes, and bargain collectively, with significant restrictions. The law does not apply to public-sector employees, domestic workers, or maritime employees. Discrete labor laws set work conditions in the public and private sectors, with the oil industry treated separately. The law permits limited trade union pluralism at the local level, but there was only one government-authorized federation, the Kuwait Trade Union Federation (KTUF). The law also stipulates any new union must include at least 100 workers, and that at least 15 of the total must be Kuwaiti citizens.
The law provides workers a limited right to collective bargaining, excepting domestic servants, maritime workers, and civil servants. There is no minimum number of workers needed to conclude such agreements.
Public-sector workers do not have the right to strike. Private-sector workers have the right to strike, although cumbersome provisions calling for compulsory negotiation and arbitration in the case of disputes limit that right. Legal strikes require permission from the Ministry of Interior, which was rarely granted. The law does not prohibit retaliation against striking workers or prevent the government from interfering in union activities, including the right to strike.
The law prohibits antiunion discrimination and employer interference with union functions, and provides for reinstatement of workers fired for union activity.
However, the law empowers the courts to dissolve any union for violating labor laws or for threatening “public order and morals,” although a union can appeal such a court decision. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor can request the Court of First Instance to dissolve a union. Additionally, the emir may dissolve a union by decree.
Foreign workers, who constitute approximately 85 percent of the workforce, may join unions only as nonvoting members after five years of work in the particular sector the union represents, provided they obtain a certificate of good conduct and moral standing from the government. They cannot run for seats or vote in board elections. Both the International Labor Organization and the International Trade Union Confederation criticized the citizenship requirement for discouraging unions in sectors that employ few citizens, including much of private-sector employment, such as construction.
The government enforced applicable laws, and procedures were generally not subject to lengthy delay or appeals.
Although the law restricts freedom of association and collective bargaining rights, the government did not always enforce these limits. For example, according to KTUF, the government did not consistently enforce the requirement that foreign workers have at least five years working in Kuwait in a specific sector prior to joining a union.
The government also treated worker actions by citizens and noncitizens differently. While citizens and public-sector union leaders and workers faced no government repercussions for their roles in union or strike activities, companies directly threatened noncitizen workers calling for strikes with termination and deportation.
The government did not respect freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining. Worker organizations were generally not independent of the government, and the government interfered in union activities. The government essentially treated licensed unions as parastatal organizations, providing as much as 90 percent of their budgets and inspecting financial records; if a union ceases to exist, the government confiscates its assets.
While the National Trade Union Federation petitioned the government for official recognition during the year, it did not receive a license by year’s end.
b. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor
The law prohibits forced or compulsory labor “except in cases specified by law for national emergency and with just remuneration,” but the government did not effectively enforce the law.
Forced labor and conditions indicative of forced labor occurred in practice, especially among migrant workers. Such practices were usually a result of employer abuse of the sponsorship system for noncitizen workers. Employers frequently and illegally withheld salaries from domestic workers and minimum-wage laborers.
Domestic servitude was the most common type of forced labor, principally involving foreign domestic workers employed under the sponsorship system, but forced labor in the construction and sanitation sectors also existed. Forced labor conditions for migrant workers included nonpayment of wages, long working hours, deprivation of food, threats, physical and sexual abuse, and restrictions on movement, such as withholding passports or confinement to the workplace. There were numerous media reports throughout the year of domestic workers being abused by their sponsors or sustaining significant injuries while trying to escape from their sponsors; some reports alleged abuse resulted in workers’ deaths. Female domestic workers were particularly vulnerable to sexual abuse. Police and courts were reluctant to prosecute citizens for abuse in private residences.
See also the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/j/tip.
c. Prohibition of Child Labor and Minimum Age for Employment
The law prohibits child labor. The legal minimum age for employment is 18 years; however, employers may obtain permits from the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor to employ juveniles between 15 and 18 years old in some nonhazardous trades. Juveniles may work a maximum of six hours a day with no more than four consecutive hours followed by a one-hour rest period. Juveniles cannot work overtime nor between 7:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.
Although it was not extensive, there were credible reports of child labor by domestic servants of South Asian origin and Bidoon children. Some underage workers entered the country on travel documents with falsified birth dates.
Bidoon children as young as seven worked long hours as street vendors, sometimes under dangerous conditions, according to reports by human rights NGOs. Their need to provide for their families often led to poor educational performance or abandoning school.
The government made efforts to enforce the law effectively. Approximately 300 Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor inspectors routinely monitored private firms for labor law compliance, including laws against child labor. Noncompliant employers faced fines or a forced suspension of their company operations. However, the government did not enforce child labor laws in informal sector occupations, such as street vending.
d. Acceptable Conditions of Work
The law sets the national minimum private-sector wage at 60 dinars ($216) per month.
The law limits the standard workweek to 48 hours (40 hours for the petroleum industry), and gives private-sector workers 30 days of annual leave. The law also forbids requiring employees to work more than 60 hours per week or 10 hours per day. The law provides for 13 designated national holidays annually. Workers are entitled to 125 percent of base pay for working overtime and 150 percent of base pay for working on their designated weekly day off.
The government issued occupational health and safety standards. For example, the law provides that all outdoor work stop between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. during June, July, and August or times when the temperature rises to more than 120 degrees Fahrenheit in the shade.
The law and regulations governing acceptable conditions of work do not apply to domestic workers. The Ministry of Interior has jurisdiction over domestic worker matters.
The Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor was responsible for enforcement of wage and hour, overtime, and occupational safety and health regulations. However, enforcement by the ministry was poor, especially with respect to unskilled foreign laborers.
Approximately 500 labor inspectors monitored private firms. The government periodically inspected enterprises to raise awareness among workers and employers and to ensure they abided by existing safety rules, controlled pollution in certain industries, trained workers to use machines, and reported violations.
The Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor monitored work sites to ensure compliance with rules banning summer work and recorded hundreds of violations during the year. Workers could also report these violations to their embassies, the KTUF, or the Labor Disputes Department. Noncompliant employers faced warnings, fines, or forced suspensions of company operations, but these were often not substantial enough to deter violators.
Workers submitted complaints to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor’s Labor Disputes Department; however, the government did not enforce the standards uniformly.
At times the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor intervened to resolve labor disputes between foreign workers and their employers. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor’s labor arbitration panel sometimes ruled in favor of foreign laborers who claimed violations of work contracts by their employers. The government was more effective in resolving unpaid salary disputes involving private-sector laborers than those involving domestic workers. However, during the year the Ministry of Interior’s Department of Domestic Labor Office collected 8,340 dinars ($30,000) owed to 71 domestic workers by their employers.
Foreign workers were vulnerable to unacceptable conditions of work. Domestic servants and other unskilled foreign workers in the private sector frequently worked substantially in excess of 48 hours a week, often with no day of rest.
Since labor standards did not apply to domestic workers, such workers had little recourse when employers violated their rights. There were no inspections of private residences, the workplace of the majority of the country’s domestic workers, nor did the government make significant efforts to address working conditions for these workers. Reports commonly indicated employers forced domestic workers to work overtime without additional compensation. There were frequent reports of domestic workers committing or attempting suicide due to desperation over abuse or poor working conditions.
May 1, 2013 Posted by intlxpatr | Cross Cultural, Kuwait, Qatar, Middle East, Family Issues, ExPat Life, Social Issues, Living Conditions, Health Issues, Statistics, Doha, Community, Work Related Issues, Civility, Transparency | Human Rights Practices, Labor Law Kuwait, Labor Law Qatar, Pope Francis, slaves | Leave a Comment
This is a very interesting article from the April 27th Kuwait Times; after stating all the things that will happen to expats violating traffic rules – like running a red light - Lt Gen Al Ali adds that “of course” they will deal strictly with Kuwaits when their violations might endanger the safety of people on the roads. Hmm. When Qatar implemented a very strict traffic code with high fines for violations, they quickly discovered that the majority of the violations were committed by Qataris, whose families were highly indignant that they would be expected to pay fines – high fines.
Traffic laws are only effective when equally applied across the board. I congratulate the Kuwaiti police for making the decision to implement this new law equally, against all traffic violators, native and expat alike.
KUWAIT: The Assistant Undersecretary for Traffic Affairs Lt Gen Abdul Fattah Al-Ali said 86 expats have been deported during the past few days, emphasizing that he is implementing the instructions of the First Deputy Premier and Interior Minister Sheikh Ahmad Al-Hmoud, and the Undersecretary Gen Ghazi Al-Omar. He said that traffic department will not allow any kind of violation of the country’s law.
The traffic department held an extended traffic campaign in Shuwaikh industrial area, with the participation of 72 traffic patrols and 17 cranes. The campaign resulted in more than 300 citations, and the detention of about 70 vehicles, . Lt Gen Al Ali also announced some new procedures to be taken besides activating the existing traffic law articles, to overcome all mistakes that used to happen before.
Al-Ali said: “We have received green light from the minister of interior and undersecretary to take strict actions against expatriates who do not abide by traffic rules, especially those who jump red traffic light and drive without driving license and over speed. Those instructions have been passed to all patrols, and was given the blessings of first deputy prime minister and minister of interior, which calls for immediate deportation of any expatriate who drives without license.
Also all expatriates who jump red signal or overspeed will be deported. Of course, we will also take strict actions against citizens who commit such traffic violations as those violations endanger the lives of other people. Therefore, article 33 of traffic law will be strictly implemented, and the vehicle of the citizen who breaks the law will be impounded for three months.”
Al Ali said that new procedures will be taken against owners of the cars that are taken into custody, and they will have to pay all fines in addition o detention charges and cost of transporting the vehicle to the dumping ground. He added that the Ministry of Interior will take strict actions against reckless driving in Wafra, Subhan and Fahaheel.
He added in his report to press reporters that once the law completely implemented,there will be safety and security on the road and the number of road accidents which costs the state billions of dinars annually will come down. Ministry of Interior started communicating with Ministry of Commerce to cancel the license of any garage found repairing cars without repair permit from the local police station.
By Hanan Al-Saadoun, Staff Writer
KUWAIT: MoI assistant undersecretary for traffic affairs, Maj General Abdul Fattajh Al-Ali said that citizens and bedoons would be detained for committing severe traffic violation whereas expats would be deported for doing the same. “Law must be applied without exceptions”, he said noting that drivers committing severe traffic violations such as driving through red lights, speeding, driving without holding a driver’s license or vehicle registration or illegal use of vehicle as a taxi would be immediately detained and a special record would be made of their ‘traffic records’ to check if they had committed the same violations earlier. —Al-Rai
Top MOI officials to retire in reshuffle
KUWAIT: Two top Interior Ministry officers are poised to retire by the end of the month in a prelude to major reshuffles planned by First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sheikh Ahmad Al-Hmoud Al-Sabah. This was published by Al-Rai on Thursday quoting “reliable sources” who indicated that Minister Al-Hmoud “did not request extending the service for Major General Mustafa Al- Zaabi and Major General Khalil Al-Shamali”, who occupy the posts of Assistant Undersecretary for Traffic Affairs and Assistant Undersecretary for Correctional Institutions Affairs respectively. The reshuffle which starts sometime this month is set to cover directors and deputy directors and will fill the vacuum left by the two assistant undersecretaries. In this regard, the sources who spoke on condition of anonymity indicated that Assistant Undersecretary for General Security Affairs, Major General Mahmoud Al-Dousary, is expected to be shifted to the traffic affairs department “in order to utilize his long experience in the field which can prove helpful in carrying out strategic plan to end the state’s traffic problem”. The same sources further indicated that the ministry plans to launch a “comprehensive study” to address the problem of the shortage of staff through measures that will include “simplifying enrollment conditions at the Saad Al-Abdullah Police Academy”. — Al-Rai
This last week has to have been the sweetest week of the year; running into all my friends at Home Depot, the cool mornings and the warm afternoons, it all makes you feel energetic, and you tackle all those projects you’ve been mentally lining up.
For me, it was painting the front door. I think it used to be red. It faces west, and the strength of the setting sun over the years faded it to a rosy rose. It needed to go back to shimmering red, but that takes patience, and more than one coat, and it takes a special day, cool enough, warm enough, and entirely without humidity. To paint a door, you have to have it open, and then it has to dry open, and when you are painting a door red red, you have to paint it more than once, even painting over rosy red.
Done. And time for a field trip to the Botanical Gardens Sales in Mobile, with AdventureMan, now in another career as Master GardenerMan.
It’s all good this weather, this time of year – until you get on any road leading to the beach, especially on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday.
Saturday, coming back from Mobile, there was a sudden jamming up as the cars went down into the tunnel running under the tip of the bay. As we are waiting to get through, we hear these banshee screams and yells, and my first thought, after years of living in the Middle East is “oh! it’s a wedding!”
No. No, I was wrong. It is no one’s wedding, but it does seem to be a major mating ritual, as colleges close for a week or so for Spring break and the students head for the beaches. These students were hanging out the windows of their cars – sitting on the window sills – waving bottles and screeching.
Animal spirits. I hope they packed their sun protection, and all kinds of other protections.
Society changes. Cable television has had a huge influence, travel to other countries changes perceptions, education gives a wider perspective, The genie is out of the bottle; women are equal people. No woman should need someone else’s permission to travel, work, or to use contraception.
By Michelle Nichols
UNITED NATIONS, March 14 (Reuters) – Egypt’s ruling Muslim Brotherhood warns that a U.N. declaration on women’s rights could destroy society by allowing a woman to travel, work and use contraception without her husband’s approval and letting her control family spending.
The Islamist party of President Mohamed Mursi outlined 10 reasons why Muslim countries should “reject and condemn” the declaration, which the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women is racing to negotiate a consensus deal on by Friday.
The Brotherhood, which was elected to power in June, posted the statement on its website, http://www.ikhwanweb.com, on Thursday.
Egypt has joined Iran, Russia and the Vatican – dubbed an “unholy alliance” by some diplomats – in threatening to derail the women’s rights declaration by objecting to language on sexual, reproductive and gay rights.
The Muslim Brotherhood said the declaration would give “wives full rights to file legal complaints against husbands accusing them of rape or sexual harassment, obliging competent authorities to deal husbands punishments similar to those prescribed for raping or sexually harassing a stranger.”
U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice last week touted at the commission – a global policy-making body created in 1946 for the advancement of women – progress made by the United States in reducing the rate of violence against women by their partners.
“All 50 states in our union now have laws that treat date rape or spousal rape as just as much of a crime as rape by a stranger,” Rice said. “We cannot live in truly free societies, if women and girls are not free to reach their full potential.”
The contrasting views show the gap that needs to be breached in negotiations on the declaration, which this year is focused on urging an end to violence against women and girls. The commission failed to agree a declaration last year on a theme of empowering rural women due to similar disagreements.
WORLD IS WATCHING
Egypt has proposed an amendment, diplomats say, that would allow countries to avoid implementing the declaration if it clashed with national laws, religious or cultural values. But some diplomats say this would undermine the entire declaration.
The Muslim Brotherhood warned the declaration would give girls sexual freedom, legalize abortion, provide teenagers with contraceptives, give equality to women in marriage and require men and women to share duties such as child care and chores.
It said the declaration would allow “equal rights to homosexuals, and provide protection and respect for prostitutes” and “equal rights to adulterous wives and illegitimate sons resulting from adulterous relationships.”
A coalition of Arab human rights groups – from Egypt, Lebanon, the Palestinian Territories, Jordan and Tunisia – called on countries at the Commission on the Status of Women on Thursday to stop using religion, culture, and tradition to justify abuse of women.
“The current positions taken by some Arab governments at this meeting is clearly not representative of civil society views, aspirations or best practices regarding the elimination and prevention of violence against women and girls within our countries,” said the statement issued by the Coalition for Sexual and Bodily Rights in Muslim Societies.
Michelle Bachelet, a former president of Chile and head of U.N. Women, which supports the commission, said the commission was unable to reach a deal a decade ago when it last focused on the theme of women’s rights and ending violence against women.
“Ten years later, we simply cannot allow disagreement or indecision to block progress for the world’s women,” Bachelet told the opening session of the commission last week. “The world is watching … the violence needs to stop.” (Editing by Mohammad Zargham)
March 14, 2013 Posted by intlxpatr | Cultural, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Financial Issues, Health Issues, Living Conditions, Marriage, Mating Behavior, Parenting, Relationships, Social Issues, Spiritual, Values, Women's Issues, Work Related Issues | Leave a Comment
Horrifying article. I would have thought they would be talking about texting, which we can see for ourselves has people, young and old, swerving all over the highway, but no – the culprit is PASSENGERS! The death rate for teens in cars increases with each additional passenger!
The papers are full of heartbreaking obituaries, young people, men and women, who had so much potential, so much life ahead of them, and now they are gone. Heartbroken parents think of the years of joy they will miss.
Fatal Distraction: Teen Drivers And Passengers Are A Deadly Mix
Studies show that one passenger in a teen driver’s car increases fatality risk by 44%, two passengers doubles the risk
Sharon Silke Carty
AOL Auto News
Teen driving safety is one of those problems that is easy to ignore: So often the tragedies are spread out throughout small towns around the country. One lost life here, two lost there. We don’t often piece all those crashes together and realize what’s happening to our children.
Sometimes to get change, you need a tipping point. Maybe this week will be it: Since Sunday, 15 teenagers have died in major car accidents around the U.S. Six died after crashing into a pond in Ohio. Five died when they crashed into a tanker truck in Texas. Four died when they crashed into a creek in Illinois.
And that’s just the crashes that were major and notable enough to make national news. One teen in Colorado died Sunday when the teen driver of a car he was in crashed into the side of a mobile home. Three died in Indiana when the drivers, in two trucks, ran stop signs and collided head-on. A 15-year-old driver in Maryland died when he was fleeing police in a car. And there are others, many which don’t make the news. Crashes that don’t end in fatalities but left serious damage: traumatic brain injuries, crippling spinal cord issues.
“The numbers are so small and spread out geographically,” said Timothy Hollister, a teen driving safety advocate in Connecticut whose book, “Not So Fast: Parenting Teen Drivers Before They Get Behind The Wheel”, comes out in September. “It’s only when you put the numbers together nationally that people even begin to take notice.”
Driving is the No. 1 killer of teens in this country, accounting for about 25 percent of teen deaths each year. About 3,000 to 5,000 teens die annually in car wrecks, enough to fill the halls of a large high school. Or two.
Recently, the Governor’s Highway Safety Association release preliminary figures for 2012 that show a troubling trend: After 10 years of declining, teen driving deaths are on the rise.
Although teen crashes seem random and unpredictable, they actually often follow a predictable pattern: It’s likely a group of teens heading nowhere in particular, probably late at night, and going fast. Often, they’re not wearing seatbelts.
Researchers have identified the dangerous habits of young drivers, who can’t ever be considered safe behind the wheel because they are simply too novice. There’s a common thread for many fatal crashes: More than one passenger in the car, especially if those passengers are male.
The Passenger Effect
A study released last year by AAA said passengers have a huge impact on fatalities: Fatality rates went up 44 percent with one passenger under 21 years old, doubled with two passengers, and quadruples when carrying three or more passengers who are under 21 years old.
Many graduated drivers license (GDL) laws regulate how many passengers teens can have in the car before they are awarded a full license. Parents who are concerned about their teens behind the wheel want to pay close attention to this rule: Make sure your teens are driving alone mostly, with no more than one passenger. Don’t let them carpool to and from school events. Don’t let them head out for the evening with a bunch of other kids teens in one car. Remember that other passengers are a huge distraction that can turn into a fatal distraction.
Laws regarding passengers in vehicles driven by teens are “the single least enforced and most ignored rule,” Hollister said. “It’s the one piece that could make a difference. That’s parents putting convenience ahead of safety, and not understanding the dangers that every passenger in a teen driver’s car adds an additional risk.”
I have a whopping bill to pay, and while I hate to do it, it is necessary. Women in my family live a long time. People in America are living longer. While retirement funds can look generous at the time you retire, health care costs and late-life care can eat those funds down to nothing . . . and then what?
It’s not like the old days. There was a time when we didn’t live so long, and women didn’t work. Who, these days, has time to stay home and care for the ailing elderly? Because we live longer, by the time we become ailing-elderly, our children are borderline elderly themselves, unable to do the heavy lifting that comes with helping the elderly do even the smallest of everyday tasks, bathing, grooming, eating, dressing – it takes strength.
I found this article on AOL’s Daily Finance page.
Long-Term Care Insurance Should Be Part of Your Financial Plan
by Michele Lerner, Mar 12th 2013 5:00AM
In the world of insurance products, long-term care insurance is a relative newcomer. It was introduced in the late 1970s, but in recent years, it has become a much more important element of retirement planning thanks to twin rises in health care costs and longevity. (Life expectancy in 1930 was just 59.7; in 2010 life expectancy for Americans was 78.7.)
Many people associate long-term care insurance with nursing homes, but it also pays for in-home care and assisted living facilities. According to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance, 50 percent of long-term care insurance benefits in 2011 went to pay for in-home care, 31 percent for nursing home care, and 19 percent for an assisted living facility.
How Long-Term Care Insurance Works
Each long-term care insurance policy is slightly different, but most benefits kick in based on a similar definition of “disability”: either you have severe cognitive impairment or you need help with at least two daily living activities. These activities include bathing, dressing, eating or using the bathroom.
In other words, you don’t just automatically receive the benefits when you think you could use some help or when you move into a retirement community. Policies are typically purchased with fixed daily benefits for a fixed period of time such as three years or five years.
Can You Cover These Costs Without It?
On an hourly, daily and monthly basis, the cost of the kinds of services covered by long-term care insurance really add up.
A 2012 MetLife Survey of Long-term Care Costs found:
The national average monthly base rate in an assisted living community cost $3,550 in 2012.
The national average daily rate for a private room in a nursing home cost $248; a semi-private room ran $222 per day.
The national average daily rate for adult day services was $70.
The national average for hourly rates for home health aides was $21.
While many people recognize the value of having insurance coverage to help pay for their care when they age, not everyone purchases it.
A 2012 Generational Research project by Financial Finesse showed that just 10 percent of people age 45 to 54 have purchased long-term care insurance, and only 16 percent of people age 55 to 64 have it.
Why are people forgoing coverage? It comes down to cost, according to the AARP.
How Much Does Coverage Cost?
Long-term care insurance can vary widely depending on your age at the time of purchase, the length and amount of coverage, and policy characteristics including whether your benefits are adjusted for inflation and the length of any waiting period before benefits are paid, among other things.
According to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance, the average annual premium for long-term care insurance in 2012 for a policy for a 50-year old with a daily benefit of $200 for three years of coverage and a 3 percent automatic compound inflation coverage was $2,235. Your policy can’t be cancelled (except for non-payment) and premiums for long-term care insurance cannot be increased on an individual basis for your age or health reasons. Still, insurance companies can raise the premiums for an entire class of policyholders (such as everyone age 75 and older).
Obviously, the older you are when you purchase long-term care insurance, the more expensive the policy and the higher the likelihood that you will be turned down for the coverage. Underwriters look at your health records as well as mortality risk to determine your eligibility for coverage.
Some companies give you a discount if you’re married because they assume spouses are likely to take care of each other longer before resorting to a nursing home.
Four Reasons You Need Long-Term Care Insurance
So how do you know if you need this kind of insurance? If you have more limited retirement savings, long-term care insurance should probably be part of your financial plan. And even if you have $2 million or $3 million in the bank for your retirement and future health care needs, don’t dismiss these policies before you examine the benefits more closely. Consider, for example:
How much longer we’re living these days. The longer you live, the higher your chances of needing some type of long-term care, either in your home, in a nursing home or in an assisted living facility.
Rising health care costs. AARP says that health care costs have historically outpaced the overall rate of inflation. If you need to live in a nursing home for more than a year or two, you could need $250,000 or more to pay for it.
How far your retirement investments will really take you. Your 401(k) may look good when you retire at 65, but if you need to pay for assisted living or even a home health aide the income generated by your retirement investments could get eaten away very quickly. If one spouse needs to live in a nursing home but the other can stay at home, you’ll need enough savings to cover two separate living expenses.
Your family’s emotional and financial health. Even wealthy families often choose to purchase long-term care insurance because the policy can make decisions about how to care for loved ones easier by giving them more options. Instead of draining their inheritance, your family members can use insurance benefits to pay for home health care or to cover some of the expense of a more costly nursing home.
Financial experts suggest purchasing long-term care insurance between age 55 and 64, but remember that the younger you are when you buy it, the lower your premiums will be. If you or your parents are 50 or 55, it’s time to discuss your options with an insurance agent.
I have mixed feelings about child marriage. On one hand, girls are so immature in their teen years, and their bodies are not fully formed for child bearing. On the other hand, they are physically mature, and the hormones are raging.
A good friend married off her daughter at fifteen. She was actually “married” by contract at fourteen, but the families waited for the official marriage until she was fifteen. I was heartsick, but the girl herself was delighted. She liked the man she was marrying. She had no fears, no concerns. She started having babies – and she continued going to school, through university. I know it can work; I have seen it.
On the other hand, selling off a thirteen year old to a man she has never met, especially an OLD man, fills me with disgust. It’s a whole different situation.
Neither is it such a good thing, in our own culture, to have fourteen year old girls raising their babies with no husband around to be a father to the child. We all have some problems to face working out mating.
This is an excerpt from an article I found on Huffpost for International Women’s Day. You can read the whole article here.
Child Marriage On Rise As Global Crises Increase, New Study Says
Half of all girls living in the world’s 51 least-developed countries have been married before the age of 18, according to the U.N. The World Vision study, released to coincide with International Women’s Day on March 8, found that such marriages are on the rise due to an increase in global poverty and crises. Researchers highlighted that parents living in areas prone to political instability or natural disasters are more likely to marry off their daughters at a young age, largely due to fear from these crises. Children living in these areas, such as South Sudan or Somalia, are also more likely to be forced into child marriage, the study said.
Erica Hall, Child Rights Policy director at World Vision, explained that the root causes of child marriage — poverty and gender inequality — are being exacerbated.
“Worldwide, there are increases in security issues and increases in natural disasters linked to global warming,” Hall said. She cited the recent humanitarian crisis in the Sahel region of North Africa and Somalia due to drought and political unrest as an example in which many girls often quit school and are sent to work as domestic workers or are married, to reduce the burden on their families.
For Bangladeshi families such as Humaiya’s, drought and lack of food are the primary reasons to discharge a young girl from her home. One of the most unjust impacts of this is education inequality. World Vision’s research in Bangaldesh revealed that girls who were unable to attend school due to disruptions from natural disasters were more likely to marry early.
Humaiya speaks out about child rights issues such as early marriage and became an advocate through World Vision, which introduced Humaiya to HuffPost. She said she knows that her ongoing education in Bangladesh is rare. Some 66 percent of girls in Bangladesh are married before age 18, according to World Vision. Humaiya works to educate her peers in her village and speaks to government leaders, asking them to do more to stem child marriage and provide greater education opportunities.
But Humaiya told The Huffington Post that she has seen many of her friends married off, and described how disconnected she feels from the girls she has been friends with for five or more years.
“Now they are good cooks,” she said. “They are like my mother, even though we are the same age. I don’t know how to manage a family, but they know.”
She explained that her mother was 16 when she was forced to get married, and lost a son by the time she was 18 years old.
In Bangladesh, the law is that girls can’t marry until they’re 18 and boys can’t marry until they’re 21. But the rules are not implemented, Hall said.
“The law is not the problem,” she pointed out. “You have to have political will to do that and capacity and understanding among law enforcement. The goal is to get governments to enforce these things, and — this is such an NGO word — but it has to be a holistic approach.”
Hall pointed out that requiring marriage registration and working on a grassroots community level is key to creating systemic change. She cited examples such as the Grandmother’s Project in southern Senegal, a nonprofit partner of World Vision that focuses on reducing early marriage, female genital mutilation and early pregnancy by creating an intergenerational dialogue about how to shift the gender-role paradigm.
“That’s been successful — you know how grandmothers are — in getting an idea like that across that it doesn’t have to be part of the tradition,” Hall said.
World Vision also works with religious leaders to address the practice of child marriage.
“There is a strong foundation in religion that children should be protected and they don’t want girls dying in childbirth and these leaders say, ‘This is a tenet of our faith and this is why we are going to start speaking out against it,’” Hall explained.
The issue of child marriage has gained momentum outside of the NGO world as well. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced last October a public-private initiative that focuses on ending child marriage by increasing education opportunities, providing training among officials and tracking every country’s legal minimum age of marriage — in particular in Humaiya’s home country of Bangladesh.
March 9, 2013 Posted by intlxpatr | Cultural, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Financial Issues, Living Conditions, Mating Behavior, Social Issues, Women's Issues | Child Brides, Child marriage, International Women's Day, World Vision Study | 2 Comments
Ah . . . It’s great to be an Amir. And how wonderful, to buy your own wonderland, and help the locals while you are at it, LOL. No plans for development, just use by his wives and children . . . (Thank you again, John Mueller!)
Qatari emir buys six Greek islands for a song
Helena Smith in Athens
The Guardian, Monday 4 March 2013 20.23 GMT
The Greek island of Oxia, was the Qatari emir’s first purchase, which cost €5m.
The suitor is one of the world’s wealthiest men; the location happens to be the eurozone’s poorest country. But in an unlikely coming together of economic circumstances, the emir of Qatar, Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, has opted to splash out €8.5m (£7.35m) on six idyllic isles in the Ionian sea.
Closure of the deal – the latest in a global shopping spree that has seen the sheikh’s property portfolio spread from London to Beijing – has been met with glee in Greece, the west’s most bankrupt state, and Doha, where the royal household experienced 18 months of excruciating drama to take possession of the outcrops.
“Greece is that kind of place,” said Ioannis Kassianos, Ithaca’s straight-talking Greek-American mayor. “Even when you buy an island, even if you are the emir of Qatar, it takes a year and a half for all the paperwork to go through.”
The isles, known as the Echinades, caught the oil-rich monarch’s fancy when he moored his super-yacht in the turquoise waters off Ithaca, took in the view and liked what he saw. That was four summers ago.
Qatar’s Emir and his wife. Photograph: Yves Herman/Reuters
When the royal eventually got off the yacht, he inquired about the pine-covered chain as he strolled about Ithaca in sandals and shorts. “They have a fund with a couple of hundred million in it,” enthused Kassianos, a former US economics professor who assumed the mayorship of Homer’s fabled isle three years ago. “And as far as I know they want to buy all 18 of the islands, the whole lot.”
The purchase, the biggest private investment in Greece, appears to have been a windfall for the emir, who drove a hard bargain in a market where investors are few and far between. The first island, Oxia, initially came with a price tag of €7m before its Greek-Australian owners agreed to let it go for just under €5m. Last week, Denis Grivas, whose family has owned the title deeds to the other five almost since the foundation of modern Greece, also settled on a price.
“The islands have been in my family for over 150 years but we are not rich enough to be able to keep such valuable properties any longer,” he said, ruing the soaring taxes the crisis-hit Greek state has slapped on real estate. “We are very, very happy to see them go. They have been on the market for nearly 40 years.”
With their pristine beaches, ancient olive orchards and natural coves, the uninhabited isles are “an ideal opportunity for a solid business investment with unlimited possibilities”, says the high-end “private island online” site, describing the properties as Mediterranean pearls. “The potential for development is very big … from developing tourist-style Club Meds or hotel facilities, to villas to sell or rent.”
But the Gulf royal does not appear in any mood to create tourist resorts on the retreats. Instead, said Kassianos, his aim is to build palaces for the exclusive pleasure of his 24 children and three wives. The architects have already moved in, drawing up plans to create a private idyll, although he has run into trouble with Greek law.
“There is a stupid law because in Greece we do everything upside down,” lamented Kassianos. “That law says that whatever the size of your land, your home can be no bigger than 250 sq m. The emir has reacted to this saying his WC is 250 sq m and his kitchen alone has to be 1,000 sq m, because otherwise how is he going to feed all his guests?”
To appease the locals, the Qatari, who is also being heavily courted by the government to invest in Greece, has promised to come bearing gifts. “His people said ‘what present can we give you?’ and I said the island needs water desperately,” said Kassianos. “A study to lay a pipeline from the mainland is already under way. That’s not bad when we’ve been trying to get a new port here for the past 40 years.”
The emir plans to moor his yacht off his new property this summer. Locals on Ithaca are getting ready. An honorary citizenship beckons along with a feast fit for a very modern Homeric hero.
“The next time he comes we hope to get him and his family off his yacht and into our restaurants,” said Ithaca’s mayor.
Emir’s Grecian passion
This is not the first time the 56-year-old emir of Qatar has shown interest in Greece. Three years ago, when the country’s economic crisis erupted, the Gulf kingdom pledged to invest as much as €5bn in real estate, tourism, transport and infrastructure, including habours and airports. But perennial delays and the perils of Greece’s Byzantine bureaucracy were such that Qatar pulled out of the projects.
Last month, following a visit to Doha by the Greek prime minister, Antonis Samaras, interest was rekindled when Qatar signed up to take part in an international tender to develop Athens’ former international airport at Elliniko, one of the most sought after slices of real estate in Europe. The Gulf state has also shown interest in purchasing the famous beachfront Astir Palace hotel, once a stomping ground for celebrities outside the capital.
The emir may be rich but he is business savvy. He had wanted to buy the Ionian isle of Skorpios, where Jackie Kennedy married Aris Onassis. The deal fell through when the late shipowner’s granddaughter, Athina Onassis, refused to come down in price. She is selling for €200m.
• This article was amended on 5 March 2013. The original referred to one of the most sort after, rather than sought after, slices of real estate in Europe. This has been corrected.
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