Sunday 29 July 2007

Qataris not flying by the seat of their culture

Flight delayed

Some passengers flying back from Milan's Linate airport to London Heathrow would have been seriously displeased that their flight was delayed for four hours.

This delay was not caused by the weather or some unforeseen situation rather it was caused by the clash of civilisations and the absurd behaviour of adherents of a religion that portends to be rational.

It transpired that a minor royal of the Qatari ruling family of about 3,000 princes had gone shopping in Milan with his harem of three wives and a coterie of a male relative, a cook and a another servant, seven in all. BBC Story.

When they boarded the aircraft, the ladies objected to sitting beside men they did not know.

Adaptation versus integration

Now, the Islamic Arab culture caters for the fact that ladies do have to be chaperoned by male relations, especially if they are married to , as it were keep the women pure and chaste.

But Italy and the United Kingdom are not Qatar, an international setting like the seating plan of a commercial flight cannot be subject to manipulation due to religious concerns except if the women would have wanted to be classed as children, the elderly or the handicapped - it would stretch the imagination to place any of them in those categories.

So, as these truculent "chaste" women found that the air stewards could not rearrange the flight for their convenience seeing other proximity passengers might have been couples or groups rather than lone travellers, when the plane began to taxi for take-off two of the party refused to sit down creating a safety alert situation.

Storm at take-off

The take-off was aborted and the pilot ordered the whole party off the plane, but this was not before the police and Qatari diplomats got involved in the matter.

The party eventually returned to London on an Alitalia flight later that day.

There is no doubt that this intemperate situation would cause a bit of an embarrassment for the Qatari government as something irrational as boycotting British Airways might ensue.

Uncompromising and disagreeable

However, closer to the matter here, we find a situation where a foreign culture and religious adherence refused to adapt to circumstances outside the purview of its indigenous setting, it highlights the problem of people integrating in foreign cultures something that is a hot-button issue about Islam and European societies.

The prince on seeing this situation approached the pilot's cabin to complain, a situation that could have triggered a security, if not a terrorist alert, that move was unwise.

When the cabin crew could not resolve the issue, the party could have settled down in what was a probably an inconvenient situation for a 2-hour flight, but they brought in the law and their diplomatic bigwigs without due consideration for their fellow passengers and the inconvenience they might be causing.

Thankfully, the pilot was not cowed by that embarrassment of riches or the abuse of privilege as he ordered the party off the aircraft, the captain must always be king on any aircraft under their control.

Send the bill for a bad lesson

Meanwhile, the other passengers would have had a salutary lesson in Qatari culture and even the benign influence of Islamic teaching on the ability of women to appear in public and have a quality of independence in modern societies.

As I write, I hope a humongous bill containing the extended landing charges, compensation for inconveniencing all the other passengers as well as loses pertaining to having to reschedule the flight itinerary would be wending its way to the Qatari Royal Family accountant and bank manager.

Though the sorry situation about this story is if you are going to be a prince, never be born a minor prince because this would not have happened to the prime members of the family, they would probably have private jets or charter the whole craft.

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