Thursday, 20 September 2018
Mark Thomas

Mark Thomas

Mark Thomas - The editor and big chief of The Dubrovnik Times. Born in the UK he has been living and working in Dubrovnik since 1998, yes he is one of the rare “old hands.” A unique insight into both British and Croatian life and culture, Mark is often known as just “Englez” or Englishman. He is a traveller, a current affairs freak and a huge AFC Wimbledon fan.

Email: mark.thomas@dubrovnik-times.com

You might be forgiven for thinking that another cruise ship had dropped anchor in front of Dubrovnik this morning, no this massive yacht is the seventh most expensive private yacht ever built at a staggering $286 million.

Radiant is the plaything of one of the richest men in the world Abdulla Al Futtaim an Emirati billionaire, owner of Al-Futtaim Group. He earned his wealth through operations in the automotive field, as well as retail and real estate. In May 2017, his net worth was estimated at $4.1 billion.

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And when he is sailing in the Adriatic he does so in considerable style. Radiant is an impressive 110 metres in length and features swimming pools, helicopter, cinema, numerous Jacuzzis and a gym.

It is also “armed” to keep away prying eyes. It has on board sonic guns that, according to BusinessInsider.com, would burst the eardrums of attackers as well as water cannons that would sink an approaching ship from 100 metres.

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Radiant in Dubrovnik - Photos Mark Thomas

Could we see the end of daylight saving time in Europe? If the European Union listens to the citizens, then the answer would be an overwhelming “yes.” In a survey which asked citizens of the EU should we stop daylight saving time and stop changing the clocks twice every year a massive 80 percent of voters said yes.

The European Union organised an online survey from the beginning of June to the middle of August this year and a record 4.6 million people voted, the largest ever turnout for an EU survey.

All over Europe clocks are moved one hour forward on the last Sunday in March and then one hour back again on the last Sunday in October. The vast majority of the people who voted want summertime to be introduced all year round.

A European Commission spokesman said his colleagues would take time to analyse the results before they address the public with official findings.

Although the vote was not mandatory, the survey will certainly be taken into account in the Commission’s deliberations on proposing new legislation. Any changes will need to be approved by the European Parliament and EU member states.

There are mega yachts and then there are elegant, beautiful yachts, and this one certainly falls into the second category. Built back in 1937 the Malahne is a yacht with a rich history and today she dropped anchor in Cavtat.

When launched all those years ago the Malahne belonged to William Stephenson, a Yorkshire man who was intrusted by Frank Woolworth to operate the British version of the retail giant.

And then with the outbreak of World War II Stephenson offered his pride and joy to the British Navy, they accepted and the Malahne was pressed into service and she even saw action at Dunkirk. She survived the war relatively unscathed and saw a number of different owners before being bought by the film producer Sam Spiegel who used her as an office whilst he made Lawrence of Arabia. And then in the mid-seventies she made her movie debut as the location for the film The Last of Sheila, starring Dyan Cannon, James Coburn, James Mason and Raquel Welch.

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In 1983 she passed into the hands of the of Saudi Sheikh Adel Al Mojil and he decided, rather unfortunately, to completely remodel her and turn her into a modern, sleek liner.

But in 2009 she was once again to shine in her former glory after being purchased by the yacht broker Nick Edmiston. She was almost completely rebuilt in a Cornwall shipyard and looked absolutely magnificent as she sailed in Cavat today.

The Erasmus exchange program is one of the greatest culture and character building programs that you can have in your whole life. The Erasmus Programme (EuRopean Community Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students) is a European Union student exchange programme established in 1987. Erasmus+, or Erasmus Plus, is the new programme combining all the EU's current schemes for education, training, youth and sport, which was started in January 2014.

And the Dubrovnik – Neretva County is making the most of the Erasmus+ program. As one student commented “The youth of Croatia, at least the ones that I know, don’t know about the range of possibilities the EU offers, and if they have heard they aren’t aware just how much this experience will enrich their lives. If they were to get involved in the Erasmus+ program they would see how much they could learn, probably about themselves the most.”

But the Erasmus+ program isn’t only open to the younger generations. Through EU supported programs citizens of all ages can make the most of education, sport, travel and many more exciting opportunities.

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The Erasmus Programme, together with a number of other independent programmes, was incorporated into the Socrates programme established by the European Commission in 1994. The Socrates programme ended on 31 December 1999 and was replaced with the Socrates II programme on 24 January 2000, which in turn was replaced by the Lifelong Learning Programme 2007–2013 on 1 January 2007.

One of the most useful parts of the Erasmus+ program is student mobility- Erasmus+ provides grants for a wide range of actions including the opportunity for students to undertake work placements abroad and for teachers and education staff to attend training courses.

So how can you find out more about the Erasmus+ program? Simple, visit the website of the Info-Centre for Youth of the Dubrovnik-Neretva County, which will offer you contacts and info on how you could study abroad as many students from the Dubrovnik – Neretva County already have.

The info-centre for youth of the Dubrovnik – Neretva County is a project from the Europe House Dubrovnik in partnership with the Dubrovnik – Neretva County and the University of Dubrovnik with the financial support of the Ministry for Demographics, families, youth and social politics.

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Europski dom Dubrovnik / Europe House Dubrovnik (EHD) was founded in March 1995 as a non-profit, non-party and non-governmental association. The founding goals were to affirm the concept of European unification, to inform Croatian citizens, especially young people, on the progress of European integration, to foster their understanding, tolerance and dialogue with the citizens of other states, and to promote Croatia through cooperation with foreign governmental and non-governmental organizations.

EHD organizes educational workshops, lectures, exhibitions, round tables, media campaigns, celebrations for Europe Day, international seminars and conferences. Besides releasing its own publications, EHD also collects and distributes publications on various aspects of European integration, in several European languages.

Association's activities are mostly youth-oriented. One of EHD's current programmes is therefore Regional Youth Info Centre. But the doors of Europe House Dubrovnik are open to foreign visitors of Dubrovnik, too, as the association organizes every summer free-of-charge mini courses of Croatian language. More information about the courses, which, after four seasons, became the landmark of the association situated in an easy-to-find environment of Nikole Tesle Street in Dubrovnik, you can find here.

Tickets for the direct flights between Dubrovnik and the US have gone on sale on the American Airlines website. This is a historic flight connection for Dubrovnik, the first direct, or non-stop, flight connection between Dubrovnik and the US for almost 30 years.

According to information from the company the new flights will operate three times a week with the first flight starting on the 7th of June. The flights, which will be operated until the 27th of September, will operate using Boeing 767s.

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The Dubrovnik Times spoke directly to American Airlines to bring you some more information about these new flight connections. We spoke to Tom Henderson, the Senior Communications Executive, for Europe, Canada and Asia.

Why has American Airlines decided to introduce flights to Croatia (Dubrovnik) in 2019?

Through our joint business partnership with British Airways we have seen an increasing demand in recent years for travel between Dubrovnik and the United States. We are confident that now is the right time to offer a direct flight and meet this demand.

What are your expectations for this line? Will you be marketing of both sides of the Atlantic?

As mentioned, we have seen there is strong potential for a direct service throughout the Summer season next year and expect the new route to perform well. In addition to Philadelphia, the new flight will give Croatian travellers a large onward network of connecting destinations across the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.

Is this a "test" year or do you feel that this connection could become a permanent fixture?

Launching a new route and market on a seasonal basis is a good way for American to assess how the market performs. We continually evaluate route performance but it is too early to speculate on if the route could become a year round service.

How long have you been working on this decision and were there any factors that finally brought this decision?

We have been assessing Dubrovnik for a while now as Croatia continues to be an increasingly popular destination for American visitors. We are pleased to be the only airline offering a direct service between both countries next year.

Even though the flights are seasonal and only to Dubrovnik could you foresee expansion of these flights to other Croatian cities and even outside of the main tourist season?

We continually evaluate new international markets and the seasonality of our services but at this time do not have any news to share regarding other destinations in Croatia.

Tickets are on sale on the American Airlines website with the first flight out of Philadelphia on the 7th of July 2019.

In June this year Croatia saw the largest growth of all 28 European Union members in terms of industrial production.

In June the industrial output increased by a healthy 4.5 percent compared to May, the largest growth inside the EU.

Eurostat reported that the largest month-on-month drops were recorded in Ireland (8.9 percent), the Netherlands (1.3 percent) and Hungary (1.2 percent). The highest monthly increases were posted by Croatia (4.5 percent), Romania (1.7 percent), the Czech Republic, and Finland (1.5 percent).

"In the EU28, the decrease of 0.4 percent month-on-month is due to the fall in the production of capital goods by 2.0 percent, intermediate goods by 0.3 percent, durable consumer goods by 0.2 percent, and non-durable consumer goods by 0.1 percent. Meanwhile, the production of energy rose by 0.5 percent," commented Eurostat.

According to official reports from the statistics bureau Croatia’s economy grew by 2.9 percent in the second quarter of 2018 when compared to the same quarter from last year. The reason for this growth is due to higher export growth combined with public spending.

Croatia’s economy, bolstered by the tourism industry, seems to be on track as this was the sixteenth straight growth of GDP in a quarter. In the first quarter of this year GDP increased by 2.5 percent.

Imports have slightly fallen this year and exports are on the rise which has proved positive for the overall economy.

The contribution of domestic demand was also positive. Household spending in Q2 2018 went up 3.6 percent year-on-year, slowing down from Q1 2018, when the year-on-year increase was 3.9 percent.

The sounds of traditional Dalmatian melodies floated over the stone facades of the Old City of Dubrovnik last night and you would be forgiven if you thought it was just another local vocal choir filling the night air. It was a vocal choir, or klapa, but with a slight difference, a vocal choir made up of Samoans from New Zealand.

Christian and Austin Malietoa-Brown, two members of the vocal group, Klapa Samoana, performed in the heart of the Old City of Dubrovnik last night in front of a packed audience. And it was a magical night, two Samoans singing ancient songs of love in Croatian.

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The performances by the Samoana ensemble are realized and funded by the City of Dubrovnik and the Tourist Board of the City of Dubrovnik. Tonight they will perform one more time in Mokosica in front of the café bar Kiss.

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Klapa Samoana in Dubrovnik - Photos Božo Radić 

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