Dubai tour company offers pirate hunting cruises off horn of Africa

After years of murders, kidnappings, and heists, the lawless sea near the horn of Africa seems to be getting worse. A Dubai firm is capitalizing on these pirate infested waters with a strange new form of pirate tourism. The tour company, Dubai based Seahunters LLC, sells both 7 and 14 day cruises embarking from Salalah, Oman and Abu Dhabi, UAE. Unlike the quintessential cruise, the cruisers do not board in hopes of devouring mid-morning nacho buffets or snorkeling with dolphins. These cruisers board in hopes of embarking on a hunting trip with the most taboo of target – humans.

Like any proper cruise, you can choose a type of stateroom with offers ranging from the humble sounding “standard inside” to the opulent “Hemingway suite.” The similarities to any other cruise end abruptly when you begin assembling your personal armory. With offerings such as the predictably yielding “bazooka package” and a “mercenary madness” kit, you can personalize your weapons cache almost endlessly. The “mercenary madness” package includes rental of a M107 .50 caliber sniper rifle, an AR 15 assault rifle, and an 18kt gold plated Desert Eagle pistol. Bow and arrows are also available for purists. Flamethrowers can be rented as well, though require a 3 day licensing course prior to departure.Ports of call include the otherworldly Socotra island known for its Dragon’s Blood trees, and Mogadishu – the most dangerous city on the planet.

With only 17 rooms, the pearl white yacht is sized to attract attention from opportunistic pirates while spending days drifting aimlessly through the Gulf of Aden. Seahunters does not guarantee that pirates will attempt to board the boat, but in the event that they do, the cruisers are free to defend themselves with their weapons. What this defense entails has been the target of several human rights organizations. Decrying this bizarre form of freelance privateering, many groups feel that baiting the pirates into the line of fire is an extreme example of human insensitivity and a case of morbid exploitation. Seahunters maintains that their program will provide substantial positive externalities such as safer waters due to a fearful pirate population.

A typical seven night cruise itinerary
Day 1 – Flight to Salalah Airport from Dubai, welcome dinner and concert
Day 2 – Boat departs
Day 3 – At sea
Day 4 – Mogadishu tank tour
Day 5 – At sea
Day 6 – The “Splendor of Socotra” tour on Socotra Island
Day 7 – At sea
Day 8 – Return to Salalah

flickr image via dvidshub

Luxury designer brand Louis Vuitton enters the hotel industry

The designer-inspired-hotels trend is ramping up. The Villa by Barton G has taken over the former Versace mansion, and Armani is getting set to open its first hotel in the Burj Dubai. Ralph Lauren and Bulgari have helped design exclusive hotels around the world, and now, LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the parent company of Louis Vuitton, announced plans to manage two luxury hotels in Egypt and Oman.

The two hotel project will cost $100 million and is financed by Egypt’s Orascom Development Holdings and private investors, including the Sultanate of Oman, according to an article in the Financial Times.

According to the article, the Oman hotel will feature 32 private villas, each with its own beach and swimming pool. The 40-suite hotel in Egypt will be set on an island overlooking the Nile. Both of the hotels are set to open in 2012, complete with a suite of luxury accommodations and amenities.

Paris-based LVMH, already famous for its leather handbags and watches, said the creation of LVMH Hotel Management was a “natural extension of activities in luxury hospitality”. LVMH alluded that there are more designer hotels in the pipeline, but the story gave no indication on when or where these hotels would launch.

Name That Hat: Oman


Thanks to all who posted answers for the inaugural Name That Hat. The winner was Moody75 who correctly guessed Oman. The name of the hat is a kumma, not “Steve” as the oddly named oddsocks opined. This one was bought at the main souk on the Muscat Corniche.

A couple of readers guessed Nigeria and Tanzania, and it’s true you’ll find similar head gear throughout other parts of Muslim Africa. Tanzania is a particularly good guess because Zanzibar was an East African destination for many of the Arab traders from Oman.

The name of the town where dhows (right) are built is Sur, and the world’s grandest canyon after the Grand Canyon is the magnificent Wadi Ghul.