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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Krispy Kreme Invades Qatar


A family in Qatar National Dress munch on Krispey Kreme donuts in a Kripsey Kreme advertisement
Look at pictures of the Gulf from fifty years ago, and the vast majority of the population appear lean, fit and thin. Look around now, and you’ll soon notice that for much of the population thinness is something they can only dream of (usually during a nap after the afternoon meal.)

Now, in what is a disaster for health campaigners everywhere, (not to mention English teachers struggling to teach correct spelling to their students), Krispy Kreme are becoming the latest fast food retailer to invade this tiny Gulf country. And what is worse, not only are they recruiting more victims for the massed ranks of obesity sufferers - they are going for them young.

Gulf Arabs in leaner times
Arabs in leaner times

It is already well known that Krispy Cream are offering a years supply of donuts to the winner of the competition - I believe it is the first 12 people to buy from their store opening on Friday.

However, not only are they dangling this bait in front of Qatar’s sugar loving population, it has also been alleged they are going for them young. At least according to one Qatar Living contributor, who claimed that her son came home from school with a box of six donuts. It seems that Krispy Kreme have been going round some schools offering free samples to the young students.

School ought to be the one place where children can escape the e-numbers, sugar and junk food that permeates our society today. As anyone who watched Jamie Oliver's superb campaign on school food in the UK, a bad diet at an early age can cause behavioral problems, poor educational achievement and a host of other problems. Perhaps as a result of this, many of Qatar's schools, including government schools, have banned soft drinks and other unhealthy products from the school grounds.

Krispey Kream’s tactics are no new innovation invented just for Qatar. The hole truth - what you don’t know about donuts reports that:

'Krispy Kreme has a brilliant marketing strategy. It delivers free doughnuts to local leaders, charities, and reporters as it moves into a community. And the media, in turn, fuel the Krispy Kreme craze.'

"When a store comes to town--any town--it's treated like a news event, from the time its plans pass the zoning board to its meticulously razzmatazzed grand opening," writes Jill Rosen in the October/November 2003 American Journalism Review.'

They certainly seem to be successful in doing that. The mother I mentioned above, for example, was far from angry that her child was being given large quantities of junk food without her permission. Instead she said:

"son got home fr school and got me a box of 6 krispy kreme doughnuts(bless that child he did not eat it all himself-AMEN)they were giving out samples at the school by the boxes too.....they are heavenly i tell ya.....hmmm now i cant wait to sink my teeth into them doughnuts over the week end.......lalalallallala>sings-I'M DREAMIN OF DOUGNUTS TONIGHT......."

But maybe you think I'm a spoil sport, and my rant is over the top? Well, consider these facts.

Fact 1: Diabetes in the Gulf is the highest in the world, affecting over 50% of Gulf Nationals.

Fact 2: Diabetes in Qatar is the highest in the Gulf.

Fact 3: Diabetes can lead to blindness, amputation and early death.

Fact 4: According to Professor Philip T. James, chairman of the International Obesity Task force, children as young as ten are now being affected by diabetes, and they are likely to become blind and suffer kidney failure by the age of 25. (See CMUQ in novel plan to monitor diabetes.)

Below is an extract taken from: The Hole Truth: What you don't know about donuts

KRISPY KREME

The good news: the most popular doughnut at Krispy Kreme, the Original Glazed, isn't as bad as most of the chain's other doughnuts. The bad news: they're so light and airy that stopping after only one ain't easy.

It's not the 200 calories that'll get you (though 200 times two, three, or four sure might). It's the six grams of saturated-plus-trans fat. That's nearly a third of a day's worth of bad fat in every ring. It's like eating a slice of white bread smeared with a tablespoon of lard (plus a tablespoon of jelly).

A Sugar Coated or Glazed Cinnamon--or Glazed or Cinnamon Twist--will do about the same damage. Even the Chocolate Iced looks the same to your arteries. (The chocolate icing is mostly sugar, so it adds about 50 calories, but no more fat.)

What pumps up the calories, fat, and sugar in Krispy Kreme's filled doughnuts? They're heavier. Krispy offers more than a dozen varieties that do away with the doughnut's healthiest feature: its calorie-free, fat-free hole.

Filled yeast doughnuts--including New York Cheesecake, Chocolate Malted Kreme, Caramel Kreme Crunch, Key Lime Pie, and Chocolate Iced Creme Filled--pack 300 to 390 calories and eight to ten grams of harmful fat. Some weigh nearly twice as much as an Original Glazed. Eating one is like having a nine-ounce filet mignon to tide you over until lunch.

Experienced consumers know better than to expect actual fruit in a fruit-filled doughnut. At Krispy Kreme, though, you never know. You get apples in the Cinnamon Apple Filled, but no raspberries in any of the Raspberries. To Krispy, "raspberry" means sugar, gums, artificial flavor, and a finely tuned mix of Red #40 and Blue #1 food coloring.

And the Glazed Blueberry (cake) doughnut uses nothing but corn cereal, corn syrup, and enough Blue #2, Red #40, Blue #1, and Green #3 to make "blueberry gumbits." Yum.

The blueberries may be missing, but the calories aren't. Whether it's Blueberry, Sour Cream, or Devil's Food, each Glazed cake doughnut packs 340 calories, seven teaspoons of corn syrup, and half a day's artery-clogging fat--nearly twice what you'd get in an Original Glazed. That's because glazed cake doughnuts--despite their holes--weigh as much as most filled doughnuts.

(Note - since this was written, Krispy Kreme have announced that all products sold in the US will be free of Transfats. The list of ingredients for their US products only can be viewed on their website. Ingredients for their products in other countries are not available.)


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Wheels n' Heels

The annual community fun day Wheels n' Heels will be held tomorrow at Sheraton Park on the Corniche from 12.00 to 5.00 in the afternoon. The event, which features a 3 kilometre walk/cycle/skate, aims to remind participants of the importance of a healthy lifestyle through exercise and healthy eating. The participants will be joined by the cyclists from the Tour of Qatar, as well as singers, TV personalities and other sports people. There will also be a number of activities such as a children's dance routine.


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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Al Bandar Fish Marktet

The Al Bandar fish market is located in Souq Waqif and is, in our opinion, one of the better restaurants in the Souq. Attentive waiters wait outside the restaurant, ready to guide you either towards one of the tables in the sun or to the pleasant upstairs dining area.


The menu is extensive but not overly expensive for seafood. We found the set menus provided particularly good value, with a four course meal starting at under QAR 100. Both our set menus option started with a refreshingly sharp Tom Yang Kung soup, which was followed by the most amazing "mixed appetizer", which is pictured above.

I then had the Al Bandar mixed seafood: a combination of delicious tender hamour, shrimps, squid and lobster, while my wife had prawns cooked in a lemon-garlic butter sauce.

If I have any criticism it is that the food could have been a little hotter - although that could have been our fault as we did dawdle over the starter. The desert could have also have been more appetizing, and the ice-cream that had been promised in the menu was not available - but by this point we were so sated that even the children were beyond caring.


During the meal the service was excellent, and the food arrived promptly as each course was finished. Coffee was included in the set meal price, and was also given to the one member of our party who did not have a set meal without any extra charge.

Details:

Tel: 4311818
Fax: 4311919

Also see:

Eating out in Doha
Qatar Food

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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Cycling: Tour of Qatar

The seventh Tour of Qatar starts tomorrow. The tour will take part in 6 stages. Stage one, a 6 km team time trial, will take place in Doha tomorrow.

Successive stages will see a 138 kilometre race from Al Zubarah to Doha Golf Club (Monday), a 148 kilometre race from the Shahinaya camel race to the Qatar Foundation (Tuesday) a 132 kilometre race from Khalifa Stadium to the Al Khor Corniche (Wednesday), a 170 kilometre race from Al Khor Academy to Al Khor Corniche (Thursday) and 120 kilometre race from Al Wakra to Doha Corniche (Friday).

For more information see the official web-site press release: Tour of Qatar.


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Friday, January 25, 2008

Museum of the Islamic Arts, Qatar: Opening dates

The Museum of the Islamic Arts on Doha's Corniche

For several years Qatar has been scouring the globe for treasures, snapping up what it wanted, when it wanted, at a total cost of well over one billion dollars. This included buying the Jenkin's Venus for almost eight million dollars, the highest price ever paid at any auction for a single antiquity.

As a result of this spending spree, Qatar has amassed a huge array of treasures, collecting everything from Fauberge eggs to classic cars.

Ultimately, Qatar plans to house these exhibits in a series of five museums across the Corniche. The first of these, the imposing Musuem of the Islamic Arts, is now ready to be opened. A soft “opening” is planned for 22nd March, ahead of a grand opening on November 22nd.

The Islamic Museum was designed by world famous architect I. M. Pei. Pei, who also designed the Louvre in Paris, was tempted out of retirement at the age of 88 to design the Islamic museum. The result now sits on its own Island off the Corniche.

Also see our website article: The Museum of the Islamic Arts, Qatar

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Qatar Football Blog



A blog I've been meaning to link to for a while is Football Qatar. This a team blog run by journalists, and provides extensive up-to-date coverage of both local matches and international matches affecting Qatar. The blog looks great and the writing is, of course professional - well worth checking out if you are into football.

Also see: Qatar Football


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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Qatar Journal


In what is a sad day for independent news in Qatar, Qatar Journal shut its doors today.

One of only a handful of regularly updated independent websites in Qatar, and the only news source solely focussed on Qatar, Qatar Journal has provided daily news updates on both its website and to its subscribers' in-boxes. Since we interviewed Qatar Journal in June 2007, the site had grown in popularity. It's perhaps a mark of the respect that Qatar Journal had acquired that Nigel was the only journalist in Qatar to be invited to the 2nd Arab free press forum in Beirut.

Nigel did not want to comment on why he had closed down the website, only to say that he would now have the time to work on other projects he had neglected since starting up QJ.

The Qatar Journal television scheduled will be delivered this week for the final time. However, you should still be able to access old Qatar Journal stories, as Qatar Living has generously offered to archive them.


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Russian Circus at the Hyatt Plaza

Shopping trolley at the Hyatt PlazaThe Hyatt Plaza, the mall with the largest shopping trolley in the world, will be hosting the International Russian Circus from Sunday 27th January until March March 15th, the Gulf Times reports today. During the week, one show will be held starting at 7.15, with two shows being held at the weekend: starting at 5.30 and 7.30. To get more information telephone 469 7322 or 469 4848.


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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

British Embassy Anouncement

BRITISH EMBASSY MOVING TO NEW DIPLOMATIC AREA IN WEST BAY:

The British Embassy is pleased to announce that it will be moving at the beginning of February from its current premises in Rumeila to a new building in West Bay. This purpose-built Embassy, located between the Rainbow roundabout and Aladdin’s roundabout, is much larger than its predecessor and offers an expanded platform for all aspects of the Embassy’s work to promote UK/Qatar relations, including trade and investment promotion and consular services. However, all visa applications should continue to be made at the Visa Application Centre in the Sherif Building, opposite Toyota Towers. Please see VFS's website for further details.

As a result of the move, there will be disruption to our visa service. All applicants intending to travel to the UK before mid-February should apply as soon as possible to the Visa Application Centre. We will not be able to accept visa applications between 1530hrs on Sunday 27 January and 0800hrs on Sunday 10 February. The Visa Application Centre (462-2159) will provide information only for telephone enquirers.

There will also be disruption to our consular services for British nationals. Applicants requiring new or replacement British passports should apply to the Embassy as soon as possible, as we will be unable to accept applications between 1300hrs on Thursday 24 January and 0800hrs on Sunday 10 February. In this period, we will only provide emergency consular assistance for British nationals. There will be no notarial services available. We apologise in advance for any inconvenience caused over the period of the move and look forward to receiving enquiries and visitors at our new premises. From 6 February the Embassy's new telephone number will be 496-2000.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Doha Short Film Festival

The 1st annual Doha Players Short Film Festival will be held on the 24th January ath the College of the North Atlantic Qatar. For details visit the Film Festival website or contact Pete on mrpeterdoha@gmail.com or Billy on vassago26_98@yahoo.com

Sunday, January 20, 2008

QNHG trip: Oryx, Camels and Robot Jockeys


The next Qatar Natural History Group tour will be taking place this Friday, and will involve a trip to the Oryx Breeding Centre, a government run research centre which is not normally open to visitors. Bringing young children is not advised.

This will be followed by a trip to the camel racing track, where a camel race using robot jockeys has been organised, after which there will be a visit to a camel stable to get better acquainted with the dromedaries. The meeting place will be at the tent petrol station at 9.30 a.m.

Pay your fines - before you go on holiday


Discussion on Qatar Living has been focussing on the need to pay fines before going on holiday. This follows a recent article in the Gulf Times which reported that residents have been prevented from going on holiday because of unpaid fines.

It is not possible to pay the fines at the airport, and the residents were told to visit the traffic department. In most cases, this would mean that flights would be missed.

It is also possible to pay fines online. While some months ago there seemed to be bugs with this system, it is now working correctly and it is possible to both check for traffic violations and to pay by credit card. To do this visit the e-gov site and put your vehicle number into the box on the right side bar on the front page.

If you happen to be one of the unfortunate and are at the airport when you are refused exit - and have your laptop - remember that the airport has free wireless. It is possible that you could pay your fine and exit the county, although we haven't looked into the technicalities of this!

Be aware, however, that traffic violations do not always appear instantly on the website. The only way to be completely sure is to visit the traffic department and check personally.

Also see: Driving in Qatar: Practical Information

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Qatar - land of bliss?



Qatar has been included in a new book called the Geography of bliss. The author, Eric Weiner, a travel correspondent sick of travelling to unhappy places around the world, decided to locate and visit the twenty happiest countries in the world.

However, he did not choose Qatar because of its happiness but because of its newfound wealth. (A good choice - Qatar's GDP per person has just vaunted to new heights, passing $70,000 per person and far higher than that of America.)

You'll have to read the book to find out exactly what Eric thinks of Qatar, although from the summary of the book on the Eric Weiner website things don't sound very hopeful:

"He travels to Switzerland, where he discovers the hidden virtues of boredom; to the tiny—and extremely wealthy—Persian Gulf nation of Qatar, where the relationship between money and happiness is laid bare..."

Also see: Qatar Visitor's Book Reviews







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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

QNHG Ramble

The Qatar Natural History Group will be holding a ramble at the Doha Golf Club this Friday, taking advantage of the closure of the club to golfing ahead of the Qatar Grand Masters. The walk will start at 10am. Ramblers are required to park their cars in the lower car park before meeting in front of the club house.


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Qatar’s population to increase to 2.5 million by 2016

Well, that’s the prediction. This incredible figure - Qatar’s current population is below a million, although it is expected to hit seven figures this year - was mentioned as an aside in a recent AFP interview with Hassan bin Ali, the chairman of the Doha 2016 Olympics bid.

As Qatar’s current native Qatari population is somewhere around 20% of this, presumably the vast majority of this increase in population will come from abroad.

Qatar Visitor has also recently learned for the first time that there are plans to improve the public transport system with railways.

Both underground and above ground railway systems are planned as part of the Lusail project, and the Doha bid details plans to build a metro/lrt railway, with additional tramlines and a feeder bus network, which will connect all the major Olympic sites. Construction of the first phase of the railway is due to begin next year.

There is also an incredible planned increase in the number of hotel rooms in Doha. Currently there are around 18,000 hotel rooms in Doha, well below the minimum 60,000 required for an Olympic bid. However, by 2016 Doha expects to have 83,000 hotel rooms available.

For more information on Doha's bid for the 2016 Qatar Olympics, visit the latest page on our website, Qatar Olympics.


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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Qatar GrandMasters

The Commercial Bank Qatar Grand Masters, with a total prize money of $2.2 million dollars, will be held at the Doha Golf Club this week. The tournament will start on the 25th January, with the finale being held on the 28th. The annual tournament, which was started in 1998 and now features many of the world’s top players, is part of the Europe and Asia PGA tours schedule. This year’s tournament will see former US open champion Michael Campbell playing in addition to Retief Goosen, Sergio Garcia, Chris DiMarco, Stuart Appleby and defending champion Henrik Stephenson.

Doha Golf Association contact details:
Address: PO Box 13530, Doha, Qatar
Tel: +974-4832338
Fax: + 974-4832679


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Sunday, January 13, 2008



The fifth annual Qatar Fencing Grand Prix will be held from the 18th to the 20th January at Aspire Academy, with 222 competitors competing for $31,000. See Qatar Fencing for more information.


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Saturday, January 12, 2008

Qatar Television Schedule

Nigel of Qatar Journal has launched a free weekly Qatar television schedule, delivered weekly to subscriber's in boxes. To get the schedule simply sign up for Qatar Journal's Qatar news alert. Both news alerts and the television schedule are free.

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Dentists in Qatar

teeth
A guest of mine recently had severe toothache while visiting me in Qatar. My first reaction was panic, as I always seem to hear stories of people who have paid a fortune for dental treatment in Qatar.

Fortunately, a friend told me about the dental clinics in the health centres. While our local health centre was shut (it was Saturday), a trip to Muntazah clinic saw my guest being treated in the dentist’s room within two minutes of arriving at the clinic. The cost: QAR 30 for the treatment, as my guest did not have a health card, and QAR 5 for the antibiotics and painkillers.

The medical centres do not just provide emergency treatment: from Sunday to Thursday they are available for checkups.

Another acquaintance went to a private dentist here to be quoted QAR 25,000 for the treatment he required. He changed dentist, but when it came to having the operation the dentist referred him back to the health system, saying the dentistry required was too complex for his clinic. The whole thing - private appointments included - will now cost him in the region of QAR 8000.

All this has lead to our latest article on our website, Qatar Dentists, which includes the pluses and minuses of going private, how to go get treatment at the dental section of Rumeila hospital as well as including a list of private dentists.

Note - you can now rate the Dentists on this page - please do so if you have a positive/negative experience with Qatar dentists as you can then help to guide other people to best dentists!

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Tourist Driving Licence: one or two weeks?

Confusion is currently ruling supreme amongst newly arrived residents as to just how long they can drive for before obtaining a temporary driving licence.

Almost all published information states that a driver can use a car for one week on a temporary driving licence. However, the police recently stated in the Gulf Times that a foreign driving licence is in fact valid for two weeks.

However, when we asked at the Traffic Department how long a licence was valid for, we were told it could be used for a week only.

It seems likely that a decision has been taken at the top to extend the use for two weeks, but that this decision has not been well communicated. Until this matter has been cleared up, we recommend not taking any risks and only driving on a foreign driving licence for one week.

Also see: Driving in Qatar: Practical Information

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Ras Al Nassaa: Review


I'd wanted to try the Ras Al Nassaa restaurant at the end of Doha's Corniche for a long time. While it looks a little run down, the location is superb: the restaurant juts into the harbour and offers views of the boats and harbour, with the Doha skyline in the distance.

Upon arriving we went to the family section outside. You can chose to sit in the shade, or along the terrace on huge leather beanbags, or even on a little pontoon floating on the water. There's also a small play area for children. Most people had chosen to enjoy a shisha - for good reason, as it turned out.

The service was, simply put, poor . I had to go in search for a waiter twice, and when we had ordered our food they had forgotten a dish. The food did arrive in reasonable time - although this didn't stop them from overcooking it, and the prawns were so dried out as to be uneatable.


We ordered coffee (after eventually locating a waiter), but it never came. As a result we checked the bill to make sure it had not been added , only to find that they had overcharged us by QAR120 - a fact they first denied, and then blamed on the cashier.

All in all, a shame given the location. In fact the location is so good I would still recommend a visit, although only when you are in a patient mood, and for a sandwich or a shisha rather than a meal.


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Sunday, January 06, 2008

Murray wins Qatar Open

Murray serving in the Qatar open
After watching Andy Murray coming second in the Qatar Open last year, it was great to see him take the title yesterday in the match against Stanislas Wawrinka.

Although Murray is ranked much higher than Wawrinka, this is due to injury suffered by Wawrinka rather than to a lack of talent, and the victory over Wawrinka, who practises with Federer and has beaten Murray twice before, did not prove an easy one.

Murray took the first set 6-4 after a hard battle over the final point, but lost the second set 4-6. However, Wawrinka made some crucial errors in the third set leading to Murray's victory.

Murray was supported throughout by a vocal crowd, who also booed the umpire when he twice overruled the linesman in Wawrinka's favour.


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Friday, January 04, 2008

Reporters Without Borders come to Qatar

The Doha Media Freedom centre has been set up in Qatar, Gulf News reported today. The centre will be funded by the government and run independently by Reporters Without Borders. The centre was set up at the instigation of the Emir.

Reporters Without Borders currently rates Qatar 79 out of 169 countries in its press freedom index, just below Kenya and just above the Congo.

It is perhaps ironic that the move comes shortly after the Qatar Journal editor was refused exit from Qatar when attempting to attend a conference by the Arab Free Press Forum in Beirut. Nigel himself attributed this to a mistake made by the immigration authorities regarding his sponsorship rather than a deliberate policy of repressing press freedom - however, the issue remains that Qatar certainly does have borders for reporters!

If representatives of Reporters Without Borders have to follow local laws, they will have to be sponsored. This means that they will need permission to leave the country - a permission which is sometimes denied, as was the case with Nigel.

The move also follows on the recent ridiculous censorship of Qatar Living. Images of piglet being blacked out in a Winnie the Pooh book had been published on Qatar Living which had given forth to a tongue in cheek discussion of the issue.

The incident gained a couple of bare paragraphs in the Gulf Times, a paper that is so desperate for Qatar news that it will often devote a column to the death of someone who used to live in Qatar ten years ago. An outraged letter by Frances Gillespie was also published - briefly. The letter has since been removed. The Peninsula, which is owned by Qatar’s Prime Minister, decided not to touch the story.

Still, this move suggests that Qatar does remain committed to extending press freedom in Qatar, and no doubt Reporters Without Borders will be welcomed with open arms.

At least, as long as they don’t try to smuggle in any Winnie the Pooh books.


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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Dangerous Wildlife in Abrouq Reserve

The oasis in the Abrouq nature reserve where the attack took place
In the Gulf Times today Gillespie writes about the recent attack on a Qatar Natural History Group member by an irate ostrich at the Abrouq Reserve. (See Ostrich Attack Survivor Says “Lucky to be Alive”.)

Simon Flynn, the British resident who was researching a route for one of the QNHG’s rambles, was lucky to be alive, as the tiny brained birds have been known to kill not just people but also large and dangerous predators such as lions.

With a speed of up to 70 kph, if you do get in trouble with an ostrich running away is not an option. Instead, you should sit down on the ground, cover your heads with your arms and wait until the bird either moves away or help comes.

Fortunately, help did come for Simon Flynn in the form of the keeper at the film set in Abrouq. The keeper drove off the bird with a stick, although not before Simon had been repeatedly kicked and pecked.

Following the attack, it is now recommended that residents keep away from the Ras Abrouq Nature Reserve. If you do visit, try to do so outside the current breeding season.

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