Britons, our good name is being tarnished. We need to pull together in order to defend against the ongoing onslaught. And I mean every Briton; North, South, East and West residing. The Scots, the Welsh, the Northern Irish, and even you lot down in Jersey and Guernsey. None are safe.
I’m referring to the increasingly bad press that we’ve been getting about our drinking habits, our attitudes and our general behaviour. For example, the largely perceptive Kippreport recently posted a story about a Briton who had managed to ground a plane with his on-board drunken antics, before signing off with the question: Are Brits the UAE’s worst nationality?
Aside from this, I’ve been involved in several conversations over the past couple of weeks, in which my aggressors would damn my nationality on the grounds mentioned above. No matter how much I argued, I had to resign myself to the fact that their perception of the British could not be changed.
Why is this?
I admit that, yes, a disproportionate number of the 100,000 or so Brits living in the UAE have gotten themselves into no end of trouble. Stories of drunken brawls, drug smuggling charges and indecent exposure are awash across the media over here. And I’ll also admit that, yes, back at home, rates of alcoholism, hard drug abuse and crime are among the highest in the world. And that, yes, our literacy figures are among the poorest in the developed world.
But still, this does not mean that most of us aren’t part of the good-willed, upstanding, stiff-upper-lipped nation that was once a world superpower. The bad press does not change the fact that we’re in childish awe at the prospect of a royal wedding. Or that we take pleasure in something as simple as a warm, sunny afternoon. Or that we love sports, despite the fact that we’re no good at anything. These are inherently British traits, and I believe that they are to be celebrated. We’re a quaint nation, really.
Why do the Brits get more stick for their drinking than, say, the Australians? At the last Bathurst rally – a big fight at which some motor racing sometimes breaks out – the organisers limited the spectator’s allowance of booze to a mere 24 cans of lager, or a paltry four bottles of wine, per person per day. Clearly this wasn’t enough.
Weeks before the event, there were reports of Australian motorsport fans turning up at the grounds and burying booze, so that it could be reclaimed during the festival. Would this happen in the UK? No. We’re incapable of drinking that much. Surely a Brit would have been evicted from the grounds for any number of offences long before reaching the 24-can limit.
And why are we always given grief for the amounts of violence that our nationals perpetrate? Has anyone looked across the Atlantic to America, where gun crime is rife across the country? How about the armed gangs that reside in the slums of Los Angeles, or New York, or Washington DC, or Texas? Do we deserve more stick than them? All we do is go on lads’ tours of exotic destinations, bottle someone in the face, and go home. It’s all in a good night out.
And please, let’s not talk about our indecent exposure charges. The mainland European countries are surely worse than us. Do we have nude beaches stretching across huge areas of Mediterranean coast? Of course not. Our disgusting, littered, rocky beaches are the last place that a nude person would think to be.
So, I call upon you, Britons. Let us put an end to the slander that has been printed of late. The next time that you’re about to shoot someone from a moped on the Costa del Sol, take part in a homophobic murder or become the country’s youngest alcoholic, think about it. Think about what you’re doing to your nation’s good name. Think about your queen. Then go search for an embarrassing story about another nationality.
The price for an Omani entry visa was recently hiked from Dh60 to Dh200. That’s an increase of 333 per cent, which is, in layman’s terms, rather a lot. The news will affect the hundreds, if not thousands, of unofficial UAE residents who make the monthly trip to Oman in order to reset the 30-day allowance on their visit visas.
I know, because I just did it. Imagine my surprise when I got to the desk and was asked to hand over more than three times the amount of what I’d previously been paying. I stared back in disbelief at the serious-faced official, who simply drew my attention to a laminated piece of A4 paper that was stuck up on the wall next to the booth. I mouthed, “What?”, before reading the sign.
“From [some date] the price for an Omani entry visa will be 20 Omani Riyals,” it said. So I gingerly handed over the cash.
However, as horrendous as the price-rise is, I think it fair enough of the Omani authorities to implement it. If UAE residents want to carry on travelling through the nearest border without actually spending any cash in their neighbouring country, then Oman should reserve the right to charge a decent amount for this visa renewal service.
It’s also good from the UAE’s point of view. A price rise of this magnitude should serve as a reasonable kick up the arse in terms of securing a residence visa. It’s certainly made me more proactive in hassling my boss for the right documents.
And it made me think that, actually, Oman could be on to a brilliant money-making scheme here. So I did some calculations.
When I last renewed my visa, there were around 10 people doing the same thing. None of them were actually visiting Oman, they were simply getting stamped out of and then back into the UAE, thereby legally giving them an extra 30 days in the country.
We were all there for about 15 minutes. So let’s say that, for the purposes of this argument, there are about 40 people doing this every hour. This would mean that, over the course of a nine-hour working day, the Omani authorities could stamp 360 passports, charging Dh200 apiece.
That’s Dh72,000 per day.
And let’s not forget that the border is open seven days a week, even on public holidays. This means that over a year, Oman could potentially pocket something like Dh26,280,000 for pretty much nothing. There are always people who need their visas renewed, and if the price rise is anything to go by, the numbers are increasing. All Oman needs to do is employ a few people to sit behind the desks and stamp the passports. Does that cost Dh26 million a year? No.
If I’m honest, those numbers are probably optimistic. But the idea has given rise to my own superb business plan.
I’ll buy the country next to one that requires its visitors to leave after a month. Then I’ll happily invite them to come over to mine in order to renew their visas. I’ll charge a fair amount compared to the cost of simply extending the visa inside the other country, meaning that the only good that my country will export is a visa-resetting service, which will make up the entire GDP. Before long, I’ll be richer than my wildest dreams, on the covers of business and lifestyle magazines and dining with royalty.
I admit that the start-up costs will probably be quite large, but I’m sure I can cover those in no time. Now, does anyone know of a country for sale? How much did the US pay for Britain?
I’m afraid that I’m one of those people who believes that he can make a decent bit of music. Indeed, I believe it so fervently that I’ve even made myself a SoundCloud profile.
If you’re interested in hearing the mediocrity that comes out of my computer, please feel free to visit my page at http://soundcloud.com/mrtompaye