TROUBLE IN THE MIDDLE EAST
Yeah, that headline's a no-brainer. But it's interesting to see that Isram World, a New York-based tourism group, says it has "cancelled its tour programs to Dubai in the wake of the United Arab Emirates' decision to deny a visa to Israeli tennis player, Shahar Peer, to participate in the Dubai Tennis Championships."
In a press release received Tuesday, Isram World president and CEO A. Ady Gelber says that the UAE's action "is an odious act of political bigotry ... and it reveals that despite its massive investment in tourism infrastructure, Dubai appears not ready to be a member of the world tourism family."
Canadians, of course, are no strangers to this sort of thing, having watched as some African countries refused to take part in the Montreal Olympics in 1976. The Africans were angry that New Zealand had allowed its rugby team to play in South Africa at a time when apartheid was still a huge issue in South Africa. The International Olympic Committee refused to ban New Zealand from the Montreal Games, which prompted a boycott by some African countries.
It seems doubtful, but one wonders if the Vancouver Olympics in 2010 will somehow get ensnared in some sort of similar issue.
PEI ON BOARD
Whatever happens in Vancouver, we at least know that Prince Edward Island isn't likely to boycott the Winter Games. PEI Premier Robert Ghiz on Tuesday signed on to make his province a contributing partner to the Vancouver Games, a move previously made by Ontario, Quebec and other provinces.
"As part of this agreement, the province will be contributing toward showcasing our Island's arts and culture through the Vancouver 2010 Cultural Olympiad, and directly supporting the staging of the Games," Ghiz said. "I know that Islanders will be especially proud when the Olympic torch comes through our province on November 21, 2009."
The London Eye, the giant ferris wheel on the south side of the Thames River, has quickly become an icon in the city. It was supposed to last only for a few years but is now a permanent and hugely popular feature in the city. It's a great place to take pictures, provided it's not raining like it was a few days back when I had the pleasure of taking a spin.
Not only is it big in London, but now the idea is spreading all over the globe. They say the Southern Star Observation Wheel in Melbourne, which opened in November of last year, will attract some 1.5 million riders a year. Oddly, it’s 15 meters smaller than the London version (120 meters versus, apparently, 135). You would’ve expected the Aussies to make it a couple centimetres bigger than the English one just for spite, but there you go.
Not to be outdone, the giant wheel in Singapore - the Singapore Flyer - is 165 meters high, which is 112 meters bigger than the Niagara Falls Skywheel.
Funny we didn't hear about it, but the Singapore Flyer website notes that they've made safety improvements after 173 people got stuck on the wheel last December ... FOR SIX HOURS. I don't think I'd have survived with my sanity intact.