Baggage pilferage irks Lanka expats

Updated 15 October 2014
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Baggage pilferage irks Lanka expats

As if incidents of pilfering the baggage of workers returning from the Kingdom at Colombo Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) weren’t enough, passengers are now complaining of baggage being lost altogether at the other end.
The latest victim was Rohaan Samath, who lost one of his suitcases at the BIA when he arrived in Colombo via SriLankan Airlines.
Samath told Arab News that he lodged a complaint with the airlines, but after 21 days, has still not heard any word.
“We have traveled many times to Sri Lanka on Saudi Arabian Airlines and never lost a single bag,” the passenger said, blaming the island’s national carrier for its negligence in mishandling the baggage and possible thefts at Colombo airport. Samath has returned to Riyadh and had filed a claim for the loss of his baggage.
“Its not the money,” he said. “We take things from here to our loved ones and if we do not get it when we are in Colombo, what is the point?”
“It is disappointing that SriLankan Airlines does not go the extra mile to serve its passengers.”
Mohammed Mansur, a banker who returned from Colombo, said the airline’s service has deteriorated in recent times. “I have a frequent flyer card, which entitles me to business class check-in,” he said.
“Unfortunately, I was pushed into long economy class queues, both at Riyadh airport and at BIA,” Mansur said, adding that airline officials do not respect their own frequent flyer card.
This is despite the fact that Mansur holds a SriLankan Airlines ‘Smile’ classic card, as well as a ‘Oneworld-Ruby’ card. A returning housemaid from the Middle East, meanwhile, recently had SR7,000 worth of cash and gold stolen after she landed at Colombo airport.
She has lodged a complaint with the airport police that her bags had been stolen, presumably while they were being transferred from the flight to the baggage belt.
The BIA police said that they had arrested one suspect, but that another suspect had evaded arrest.
Police had recovered part of the stolen cash from the arrested suspect, while the gold has not been recovered yet.
Police sources said it was the third such incident this year and that there had been many incidents according to the suspects’ confession.
About seven suspects had been arrested so far this year and some of them had been bailed out after being produced in court. They stole anything and everything, from undergarments to mobile phones and cameras, from the baggage of arriving passengers at the airport. A Sri Lankan attached to a foreign mission in the Kingdom told Arab News that he lost his brand new laptop at the Colombo airport.
“I found my laptop missing upon opening the baggage at home, but I could not do anything since I had already left the airport,” he said.
Mohammed Ali said that during his last trip to Colombo, he found that his bag had been rummaged through and its contents thrown out onto the belt after finding nothing expensive inside.
“Airport authorities should carefully monitor the baggage handled by the porters,” he added.
The modus operandi is to identify an unlocked bag that comes via conveyor belt from the flight and gather around it when it reaches a certain point, from where it is taken out for loading and stolen from.
“Two to three porters stand guard while one steals,” an airport officer said.


Pitbull and Akon wow crowds at Saudi Arabia’s Asharqiah Music Festival

Updated 16 min 49 sec ago
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Pitbull and Akon wow crowds at Saudi Arabia’s Asharqiah Music Festival

  • Earlier on Friday, planes raced over the waters of the Dammam Corniche, thrilling the crowd who had gathered to see the Red Bull Race
  • Although not the actual championship itself, the demonstration did not disappoint, with pilots pulling their aircraft through barrel rolls and high G-force turns along a floating obstacle course

DAMMAM: Week two of Sharqiah Season started with a bang as US rapper Pitbull performed at Dammam’s Life Park as part of the Asharqiah Music Festival on Friday afternoon.
Although his Thursday night concert was canceled, fans were certainly not disappointed when he took the stage at 4 p.m. An energy-filled Pitbull hyped-up the crowd in minutes, and soon enough everyone was singing along to some of his most famous songs, including “Taxi,” “Timber,” “On The Floor” and more.
The rapper even teased a short sample of his newest song, “Cinco de Mayo,” leading the crowd in the opening chant before launching into the song’s intro.
He thanked his fans multiple times for their understanding over the delay of the concert, telling them how happy he was to have made it.
“I want you to be able to tell people, ‘I went to a Pitbull concert, and I had the time of my life, Saudi Arabia!’” he shouted, before launching into a rendition of “Time of Our Lives.”


Fireworks, confetti and a wildly enthusiastic audience made for a memorable experience.
Arab News caught up with Pitbull backstage after the show. When asked if he had something to say to his fans, he replied: “To everyone in Saudi I wanna say thank you for the love, I appreciate the opportunity. Great crowd, great energy.”
The performance was hastily rescheduled due to the rapper’s delay in Iceland on his way to Saudi Arabia for the festival.
Due to technical difficulties, his plane was grounded and unable to fly until a spare part was delivered from the US, causing him to miss the initial date.
Pitbull posted an apology video on Twitter, in which he promised fans an unforgettable experience at the rescheduled show. “Make sure you keep your tickets,” he told his fans.
Safa Hukrdoh, from Dammam, said she would have preferred to experience the concert at night, but had no complaints. “I think it was amazing. I have been to other concerts outside (of Saudi Arabia), but this is the first time inside.”
The festivities at Life Park continue today as Akon, French Montana and Amr Diab all take the stage for the second evening of the Asharqiah Music Festival.

It is one of 83 events planned for the Sharqiah Season, the first of 11 Saudi Seasons taking place across the country in 2019.
Earlier on Friday, planes raced over the waters of the Dammam Corniche, thrilling the crowd who had gathered to see the Red Bull Race. Although not the actual championship itself, the demonstration did not disappoint, with pilots pulling their aircraft through barrel rolls and high G-force turns along a floating obstacle course.
“It’s been a nice day for the family,” said Mohammed Saleh Al-Ghamdi, who had come out with his wife, his mother-in-law and his three children. “We come here every weekend, and every weekend there is a new surprise waiting.
“This time it is these air races, which my son, Hussam, found really exciting. We all had our photos taken with the planes and ate hamburgers, and now we are going to have some ice cream before the next plane comes out to perform.”
Sharqiah Season is the first of 11 cultural events organized by the General Entertainment Authority, the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, The General Sports Authority and General Culture Authority.
The initiative falls in line with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 program, which aims to improve the quality of life in the Kingdom by providing enriching cultural pursuits and shows. The 83 activities planned for the festival, which is being held in 9 different cities, feature entertainment, educational activities, sports events and culture.
Sharqiah Season continues until March 30, with the weekends ahead also featuring the Formula 1 H20 boat race, as well as concerts in Dammam featuring Deadmau5 among others.