Muslim hotel worker wins compensation over alcohol-chocolate swap

Zakaria Kioua, who does not drink alcohol as a practicing Muslim, was told by managers at the five-star Lainston House hotel in the south of England (pictured) that they did not wish to offend him by giving him the bottle of alcohol. (Pterre / CC BY-SA)
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Updated 25 September 2020

Muslim hotel worker wins compensation over alcohol-chocolate swap

  • Man was told by managers at five-star hotel that they did not wish to offend him by giving him the bottle of alcohol
  • Tribunal ruled that claim of harassment linked to religion or beliefs was legitimate one

LONDON: A man has successfully sued his employer for religious harassment after he was given a box of chocolates as a raffle prize instead of an expensive bottle of Cognac.
Zakaria Kioua, who does not drink alcohol as a practicing Muslim, was told by managers at the five-star Lainston House hotel in the south of England that they did not wish to offend him by giving him the bottle of alcohol, saying it would have been like offering nuts to a person with a nut allergy.
But Kioua, 37, said his faith was “not an illness” and he felt humiliated and targeted because of his religious beliefs.
The Cognac was a raffle prize at a staff party held in January 2017. But Kioua, who trained as a vet in Algeria before moving to the UK and worked as a linen porter at the hotel, was given “cheap” chocolates instead after one of his colleagues said he did not drink alcohol, British media reported.
After resigning from his position, Kioua launched claims against the hotel in April 2019. An employment tribunal in Southampton handed down its judgement this week, ruling that the claim of harassment linked to religion or beliefs was a legitimate one.
“A nut allergy is an illness, a life-threatening illness. It is not an acceptable point of comparison. It minimizes the importance of Mr. Kioua’s beliefs and practices,” the tribunal said.
“The point is not that (the swap) was well-intentioned. The point is that it should not have been said, just as the decision should not have been made to change Mr. Kioua’s prize,” it added.
“Both are on the grounds of his religion and neither should have happened; both are offensive and caused him distress.”
Kioua was awarded £2,000 ($2,545) to be paid by Lainston House for “injury to feelings” plus interest, The Times newspaper reported.


Dubai-built dhow recognized as largest ever by Guinness World Records

Updated 28 October 2020

Dubai-built dhow recognized as largest ever by Guinness World Records

  • The dhow is powered by two 1,850-horsepower engines and will be used to transport cargo from the UAE to the wider region

LONDON: A dhow built in Dubai has been named the world’s largest wooden Arabic dhow in the world by Guinness World Records, it was announced on Wednesday.

The dhow, named Obaid after Emirati shipbuilder Obaid Jumaa bin Majid Al-Falasi who began an apprenticeship aged 9 in the 1940s, measures more than 91 meters long and more than 20 meters wide. The vessel is 11.22 meters high and weighs 2,500 tons.

 

According to the ship’s builder Majid Obaid Al-Falasi, son of the late Obaid, work started on the dhow years ago with no plan or actual blueprints.

“Our forefathers were divers, our ancestors worked in the sea, and my own father perused this craftsmanship for almost all his life. This is a gratitude to my father, and my country, which always aims for the top positions,” he said.

“We tried to get the longest pieces of log available. We are born dhow builders and can build dhows using other materials, but wood keeps its identity.”

The dhow is powered by two 1,850-horsepower engines and will be used to transport cargo from the UAE to Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Egypt, Kenya, Pakistan and India.

“This achievement is just the inevitable continuation for building dhows in the world,” said Majid, whose family still produces the traditional boats in the Dubai Creek area.

“I see it in the eyes of my son. He is passionate about what I do and what his grandfather used to do. This is what matters, for them to be able to continue the tradition and have it transferred to the next generation.

“At a speed of 14 knots, it will be enough for this dhow to operate and achieve its desired return on investment. Who knows, you might see this dhow docking at different ports all across the world.”