Qatar Airways Makes Female Employees Seek Permission To Marry

qatar airways plane
thewamphyri, Flickr

Imagine having to ask your boss for permission before getting married. It sounds crazy, but it’s the reality for tens of thousands of Qatar Airways’ employees. A report by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) claims the airline abuses many of its employees’ basic labor rights, particularly in the case of female workers.

The ITF says the terms and conditions in a typical employee’s contract state that women must “obtain prior permission from the company” if they want to get married. It’s not clear what the consequences of tying the knot without getting the green light would be, but based on what happens if you fall pregnant, we’re guessing the outcome wouldn’t be good. Women who become pregnant are required to notify Qatar Airways as soon as they find out. If they don’t, it’s considered a breach of contract. And even if they do speak up — well, they could be fired anyway, according to the report.While labor laws in Qatar might be tough on workers, more than 90% of the airline’s employees are foreigners, which means they don’t enjoy the same work-related freedoms they would have in their home countries.

The news follows controversy over a Turkish Airlines policy change earlier this year, which forbade female flight attendants from wearing red lipstick, dark nail polish and silver eye makeup, as well as banning them from coloring their hair blonde or red.

United To Restart Dreamliner Flights – But Is It Ready?

United Airlines will send Boeing 787 “Dreamliner” flights back to the skies on May 20. USA Today is reporting this date has been pushed up nearly two weeks earlier than the airline’s original plans, which would have restarted flights on May 31.

In case you haven’t heard, all 50 of these state-of-the-art jets were grounded by safety regulators earlier this year because of overheating concerns on the aircraft’s lithium-ion batteries. The grounding hit airlines hard, causing snags in proposed routes and forcing some airlines to lease planes. The St. Louis Business Journal reports Qatar Airways alone lost $200 million in revenue because of the incident.

Although investigators have not found the root cause of the problem, the Federal Aviation Administration officially approved Boeing’s proposed short-term fix for the problem late last month, setting the wheels in motion for the return of passenger flights. Ethiopian Airlines and Qatar Airways have both already resumed Boeing 787 flights, and so far everything seems to have gone along without a hitch, but we’re wondering if the billions of dollars that have already been invested in the planes have caused things to be pushed along a little too quickly.

United will kick off Boing 787 service in the U.S. during an 11 a.m. CT departure from Houston to Chicago O’Hare. Would you book a flight knowing it’s going to be on a Dreamliner, or will you wait a little to see how things pan out?

[Photo credit: Dave Sizer / Wikimedia Commons]

Visiting The Seychelles: Six Things You Need To Know

Seychelles

The Seychelles is a beautiful country of 115 granite and coral islands, pretty much in the middle of nowhere. Located 932 miles east of Africa and 1135 miles northeast of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean, getting there takes some work. A transit point for trade between Africa and Asia, the Seychelles islands are known for their pristine beaches and untouched nature reserves that make a visit worthwhile.

The main attraction- No trip to the Seychelles is complete without a visit to the Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located on Praslin Island (pictured), this is the only place in the world to find the rare coco de mer palm and home to rare birds such as the Seychelles bulbul, fruit pigeon and the black parrot.What to do- Pristine and uncrowded beaches, some framed by age-old granite boulders, offer powder-soft sands, turquoise waters and good opportunities for swimming, snorkeling, diving, fishing or pure relaxation. Artists’ studios, national reserves, marine parks, water sports, golf, horse-riding and guided nature tours show travelers some of the rarest species of flora and fauna on earth.

Getting there- Air Seychelles is the national carrier, operating non-stop scheduled flights from Mauritius and South Africa (Johannesburg) into Mahé International Airport. Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways and Emirates also provide flights to various destinations through their hubs in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha.

Language- Languages spoken in the Seychelles are Seychellois Creole, English and French, all of which share the title of being the official language of government and business. Tourist areas are most commonly English-speaking.

Local currency- The GB Pound Sterling (£), the US Dollar (US$) and the Euro (€) are all accepted, as well as some other major international currencies. Exchanging foreign currency into Seychelles Rupees can only be done at banks, authorized money dealers at the Seychelles International Airport, or with a hotel cashier.

Staying there- A wide range of new and refurbished hotels, Creole guesthouses and exclusive island retreats are currently on 16 of Seychelles 115 islands. Other islands are expected to develop hotel facilities in the near future, which could be good or bad, depending on how one views tourism and all it brings.

Seychelles, with an estimated population of 86,000, has the smallest population of any African state but this week celebrated its 100,000th visitor to arrive in the islands for 2012. Also this week, Air Seychelles celebrated the arrival of its first Airbus A330-200 aircraft, named Aldabra in honor of Aldabra island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Seychelles’ most remote and pristine islands.




One more thing you need to know: “How to Visit Seychelles on a Budget” by Gadling’s Alex Robertson Textor.

Update, July 27th 2012: Quinn and & Co, the firm that handles PR for Etihad, reached out to tell us that Air Seychelles also flies into Abu Dhabi from Mahé.

[Flickr photo by MrFederico]

Mathaf: Doha layover suggestion

mathaf

With the rise of Qatar Airways as a long-haul airline, Doha has become an increasingly easy short-term layover destination. The Qatari flag carrier boasts especially good links between Europe and Asia via Doha. Its route map include a whopping 12 cities in India, three in China, and four in Pakistan; notably, the airline also shuttles European tourists to the Indian Ocean holiday playgrounds of the Maldives and Seychelles. In 2012, Qatar Airways will introduce an additional slate of fascinating destinations, including Kiev, Kigali, Perth, and Zanzibar.

Doha’s got plenty of tourism draws, including the renovated Souq Waqif, the Museum of Islamic Art, and its Corniche. Qatar is terribly rich, with the world’s highest or second-highest GDP, depending on the evaluation matrix. As you might expect, Doha’s infrastructure for visitors is undeniably impressive. The city is also in the midst of a major construction boom. The stadiums under construction for the 2022 World Cup alone will keep construction humming through the end of the decade.

Since the tail-end of 2010, Doha has been home to Mathaf, Qatar’s Arab Museum of Modern Art. Mathaf’s current show, Cai Guo-Qiang’s Saraab, features 16 impressive commissioned pieces and scores of past works. Guo-Qiang is a major artist, famous for his large-scale projects involving gunpowder and fireworks. He is particularly well known for orchestrating the extraordinary fireworks displays at the 2008 Beijing Olympics’ opening and closing ceremonies.

In Arabic, “saraab” means mirage. The exhibition endeavors to explore connections between Quanzhou, Guo-Qiang’s hometown, and Doha, as well as between China and the Arab world more generally. Trade links between Quanzhou and the Arabian Peninsula are not difficult to trace–the former was once the starting point of the Maritime Silk Road–and Guo-Qiang makes the most of this connection. One particularly appealing piece, titled Endless, consists of three boats, one Chinese and two Qatari, sitting side-by-side in a shallow pool, shrouded in mist.

The museum, located in a former school building, was revamped smartly by the French architect Jean-François Bodin. Other notable features of the museum include a library with a great magazine selection and a cute café.

Mathaf is a good 14 kilometers (about eight miles) from central Doha. The going rate for a taxi from a hotel is 60 riyal ($16.50). Admission to exhibitions costs 25 riyal (just shy of $7) per person. The museum is closed on Monday. Saraab runs through May 26.

Qatar Airways offers 25% off flights in limited-time sale

qatar airwaysBook fast – Qatar Airways currently 20 to 25% off their normal business and economy class fares with a limited-time fare sale from the US to over 100 destinations worldwide.

Book by November 17 at 11:59 PM and enjoy a six-month travel window between November 21, 2011 and May 31, 2012. Customers can book online, via a travel agent, or in a reservations center.

The airline, named Airline of the Year 2011, is ideal for long-haul flights and includes one of the world’s most acclaimed business class cabins.

Choose from the airline’s entire array of destinations, including Doha, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Phuket, Dubai, Seychelles, Maldives, Delhi, Goa, Melbourne, and more.

[Flickr via idf-fotos]