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  • DavidGordon10

    Absent from here for a while … but a topic on which I wonder if other forum members have a view.

    Looking at travel that needs to be done, and that might be possible next year, I can identify a number of countries which I like very much – but there is dissociation between my enjoyment of the country and my opinion of the political regime. The “enjoyment of the country” relates to the people there, the culture, issues in my own area of work, and so on.

    The countries where I dislike the politics? Well, I will not write the names of specific places here, but they include two very large countries across the pond, several (of at least three different theocratical natures) in the middle East, three or so in the far East.

    I should add that “my own area of work” is one that transcends politics. I have just run a seminar where colleagues from Iran and Israel have had a superb and cordial discussion, and we are one of the few organisations that talks to both North and South Korea.

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    Firstly welcome back David, missed your insightful comments ….

    Now to your question, balancing personal ethics and morals with leisure , pleasure and business
    Like most on the forum, I’ve been blessed with opportunities that most others haven’t

    Enjoying a meal in Kenyan farmers hut overlooking the Rift Valley
    Getting drunk with locals in a pub in Minsk
    Hoi Polloing with the who’s who of HK in the Aqua Bar
    Sharing airplane space with Lords, cabinet ministers , sportsmen and celebrities
    Drinking with Right Wing Bible bashers in Minnesota
    Yakking with lookie lookie men across many resorts
    Debating with spaced out hippies in Amsterdam

    The one constant, is the common theme of all the individuals I’ve encountered.

    All they crave is the chance to be rewarded and acknowledged for a job well done, allowing them to feed their family, have a beer or 2, and every now and again have enough money left over to take a break .

    Sadly , the politicians / despots and tyrants of this world want to interfere with that common theme.

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    Welcome back David – nice to read your very interesting thread and I hope my reply does it justice.

    I enjoy discussing politics on my travels, mainly to try and understand how other people think and how others live their lives. I only object to debating and being educated, when clearly, what i am being told is factually incorrect. I have no issue breaking bread with ultra religious people (from any religion), not do I have an issue with attending lectures and hearing pretty extremist views – AS LONG AS – I am not being forced to believe (and told) someone else’s way of life is the way I should live my life.

    A lot has been written about the middle east conflict – but i find there to be a respectful acknowledgement between religions when people know in advance about you. As a Jewish person, I have been to several Arab countries where my agent/client knows in advance I am Jewish. I would have had a problem if I had kept it a secret, but people are curious, on both sides. I have been asked whether I require kosher food in some very interesting countries, where the thought of a Jewish person entering, would be ridiculed.

    I have travelled in PJ’s with very well known people and one of the more humbling experiences is seeing a famous actress always sharing the cleaning of an aircraft (rented) prior to landing, including running the hoover over the entire aircraft.

    North Korea remains on my bucket list, although for different reasons…

    I cant wait for the world to open up again – the world is a fabulous place – we are on it for too short a time…

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    Indeed a fascinating subject.

    Personally, I do not think there are any countries I would not visit professionally because of the political regime. As with the OP, my work is designed to transcend politics and, if the countries were ‘fully functional’, they probably wouldn’t need me anyway. That has included meetings with warlords in Africa, military personnel from SE Asia (at times when they were under effective military rule), alleged war criminals in the Balkans and some very, very corrupt politicians all over the place. You still need to somehow engage with them though. Isolation rarely works. Personal security would probably be the only issue which would prevent me travelling.

    For leisure travel, the overall political regime would be a factor in any decision to visit, for sure. But mainly it would be about my own feelings about the country itself and it’s people, and of course personal security again. In some cases, there may also be parts of a country I would not visit, nor wish to be seen to financially or morally support, rather than the country as a whole.

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    I was also happy to go anywhere my work took me. The one thing that struck me though, when travelling, was how many people chose/preferred not to respect local laws and customs, as though their UK passport gave them some sort of immunity. My number 1 rule when travelling to a foreign country was to acquaint myself with this basic knowledge.

    The story of the young British gentleman recently beaten in Changi prison for dealing drugs is a case in point; agree with the form punishment or not, the local rules apply, regardless of your nationality.

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    How prescientthat this thread was started on the day of the first commercial flight from Israel to the UAE:


    “The first commercial flight from Israel to the UAE is taking place, marking a major step in normalising relations after the announcement of a peace deal. An Israeli El Al airliner will make the three-hour trip, carrying a delegation of Israeli and US officials. The flight is being allowed to cross Saudi Arabian airspace, normally blocked to Israeli air traffic.

    Wouldn’t it be wonderful if this started a rolling ball towards peace in the Middle East? My guess is that the majority of the populations want this, but blinkered politicians and extremists (on all sides) are the blockage.

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