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Vodafone Qatar

Vodafone Qatar

July 18 12pm: This story was updated to add a new statement from Vodafone Qatar

A government body has launched an inquiry after Vodafone Qatar customers were left without service for more than 18 hours yesterday.

Vodafone’s network was partially restored on Monday evening and the company said it had been working through the night to bring it fully up to speed today.

In a statement released to the public on Twitter this morning, the company apologised for its “brief communication” with customers yesterday due to “rapidly unfolding” events.

It added that network engineers from the company’s “global partners” had flown into Qatar in try to restore full service more quickly.

Compensation promise

In a series of tweets, Vodafone Qatar also said that it now had a “compensation plan” in place:

The company now has three days to send a detailed investigation report to the Communications Regulatory Authority (CRA).

In a statement yesterday, the CRA added that Vodafone is “bound by its license to provide customers with appropriate compensation for this disruption of service.”

Outrage

According to Vodafone, its network went down due to “technical issues” following a “routine upgrade” early Monday morning.

The telecom provider did give an accurate timeframe for when its network would be restored, however.

This lack of communication irked many of its 1.5 million customers. Some have even threatened to switch to competitor Ooredoo.

Vodafone now has until July 20 to tell the CRA:

  • What caused the outage;
  • To what extent it affected customers;
  • What steps were taken to resolve the issue; and
  • What measures will be put in place to prevent such outages from happening again.

Thoughts?

Pixabay

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

A new QR1.6 billion food-processing and storage facility will be built near Hamad Port to shore up Qatar’s food supplies, officials have announced.

For the first time, raw sugar, rice and cooking oil will be processed inside of Qatar, transport minister Jassim bin Saif Al-Sulaiti said yesterday, according to Bloomberg.

Previously, many of these commodities were only packaged locally.

Qatar-based company Al Jaber Engineering has been awarded a contract to design and build the facility, which has been in the works since last year.

Al Meera

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

But the project has taken on added significance since Qatar’s neighbors began a boycott against the country last month.

Qatar has been able to find other countries through which to import food, including Turkey and Iran.

Still, the blockade has been dubbed a “wakeup call” because the nation is so heavily reliant on imports.

In statement, Minister of Transport and Communications Al Sulaiti said:

“The State of Qatar views food security as an integral part of its national security.”

Ambitious plans

When completed in 2019, the 530,000 square meter facility should be able to hold enough food to meet two years worth of demand for three million people.

Animal feed will also be produced onsite through “recycling of waste products,” the transport ministry said.

Additionally, some of the products will be exported.

Mwani

Hamad Port for illustrative purposes only.

The facilities will operate in their own terminal, but 500m of Hamad Port’s wharf will be used to berth and discharge ships involved in the new project.

Qatar has already brought on several global food processing and storage companies ahead of the project’s launch.

They include Swiss-German Bühler; German BIA; and Italy’s C.M Bernardini.

However, officials have not yet said which countries they will source rice, sugar and other raw materials from.

Thoughts?

American Airlines/Facebook

American Airlins cabin crew

This story was updated on July 13 with Akbar Al Baker’s apology

Qatar Airways’ CEO is facing an international backlash this week for “incredibly offensive” comments he recently made about flight attendants.

During a speech in Dublin, Akbar Al Baker boasted that the average age of his airline’s cabin crew is 26 years old, adding:

“So there is no need for you to travel on these crap American carriers. You know you are always being served by grandmothers on American carriers.”

The outspoken official’s remarks were received with applause and laughter during his speech. But they were immediately denounced by rival American Airlines.

Jill Surdek, vice president of flight service for American Airlines Group, said in a message to employees that the comments were “both sexist and ageist at the same time.”

Reacting to the speech, a blogger for The Economist used the incident to demonstrate how firmly entrenched sexism in the sky remains.

It stated:

“Calling the service on America’s airlines ‘crap’ is fine; not many flyers mistake their treatment on United for good service, for example. It is no doubt also correct that flight attendants in America are older than in the Gulf.

But correlating those two facts hammers home the idea that the job of cabin crew is to be gawped at; that if a stewardess has lost her looks, she should be discarded and replaced by a younger model, regardless of how good she is at her job.”

Apology

On Wednesday, Al Baker apologised for the remarks in a letter to the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA).

Qatar Airways

Qatar Airways CEO and his staff celebrate the win

He said in the letter that his recent “careless” remarks did not reflect his “true sentiments” about cabin crew.

“For the cabin crew serving aboard all air carriers, professionalism, skill and dedication are the qualities that matter. I was wrong to imply that other factors, like age, are relevant,” he added.

Backlash in the US

American Airlines, which Qatar Airways is seeking to buy a stake in, was not the only organization in the US to take offense.

Chantelle D'mello

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

The Partnership for Open & Fair Skies called his comments “misogynistic and demeaning.”

The group represents US carriers including United, American and Delta airlines in a campaign to stop Gulf carriers’ expansion into the US.

In a statement, chief spokesperson of the coalition Jill Zuckman said:

“Those executives at the US Travel Association, FedEx and JetBlue who have repeatedly defended Al Baker must unequivocally condemn his comments and explain to women everywhere why they want to outsource American jobs to this man.”

Several unions have also weighed in, with the Air Line Pilots Association (the US pilots’ union) saying that Al Baker had “sunk to a new low.”

Meanwhile Bob Ross, president of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, defended his colleagues at American Airlines, calling them “well-seasoned and highly-trained professionals.”

Investment plans

This spat between the two carriers comes after Qatar Airways disclosed that it was planning to spend more than $800 million to purchase up to a 10 percent stake in American Airlines.

Qatar Airways/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

The carriers are both members of the same global alliance, oneworld.

In a statement last month, Qatar Airways said it saw the US carrier as “a strong investment opportunity” and “a good oneworld Alliance partner.”

In response, American CEO Doug Parker called the airlines’ intention “puzzling at best and concerning at worst.”

Thoughts?