Host Ramez Galal, above, has tried the plane prank on other celebrities, one of whom chased him down the runway while pelting him with stones. Courtesy MBC
Host Ramez Galal, above, has tried the plane prank on other celebrities, one of whom chased him down the runway while pelting him with stones. Courtesy MBC

Was Paris Hilton in on Ramez Galal’s Dubai flight prank?



It's got the whole world talking. A week after notorious Egyptian comic and TV show presenter Ramez Galal took American socialite and part-time DJ Paris Hilton on a scenic, terror-filled flight over Dubai, the aftermath has seen as many twists and turns as the plane in question: Hilton last week announced her intentions to sue the show, Ramez Wakel el-Gaw (Ramez In Control), for emotional distress.
The following day, celebrity news website TMZ reported that it exclusively obtained a document from the show's production house, which stated that not only was Hilton a willing participant in the prank, she was also paid nearly a million dollars to get on that plane.
Hilton is yet to respond to the claims, but it does sound like a rather well-­coordinated operation to push up the reality show's ratings while giving the celebrity plenty of publicity.
The set-up
It began last Sunday when Hilton's episode was broadcast as part of Galal's latest MBC ­comedy series.
The set-up involved the stars boarding a light plane for a leisurely, aerial tour over the emirate, only for the situation to escalate — or should we say, descend — into terror: the aircraft suddenly nosedived after a simulated technical failure. The video clip, which went viral after it was uploaded on YouTube, shows Hilton getting anxious, then panicking as skydivers masquerading as passengers open the cabin door and leap out.
Only after the plane returned to the ground was the celebrity told the truth. Taking it surprisingly well, a shaky Hilton goes on to praise Galal for "taking it to the next level. I have seen Punk'd [American prank reality show hosted by Ashton Kutcher] but you have taken me on a plane and nearly killed me".
Ramez in Control
Ramez Wakel el-Gaw has Galal playing elaborate pranks on a series of guest stars, which, until Hilton's appearance, had been limited to celebrities from the Arab world. Where Punk'd was designed to anger its targets, Galal's goals can only be best ­described as to psychologically scar his victims.
Take, for example, 2012's Ramez Tha'lab Al Sahra (Ramez Desert Fox). The joke played on real fears – it involved the unwitting stars being kidnapped in the desert in broad daylight by armed terrorists after their tour bus is hijacked. In last year's Ramez Qarash Al Bahar (Ramez The Sea Shark), the mayhem was moved to the ocean. Celebrities were invited for a cruise on a small boat, which began leaking and ended up with the captain abandoning ship and leaving the passengers to fend for themselves while (fake) sharks appear and make a beeline for the stranded vessel.
The appeal
Galal's programme is incredibly popular, not least because each prank is meticulously executed. In Tha'lab Al Sahra, for instance, no detail was spared, from the fake, screaming passengers and bus driver who feigned his death to the sounds of gunfire and approaching police sirens. In Ramez Wakel el-Gaw, the fact that the pilots had the nerve to almost hurtle the plane to the ground was enough for anyone on the flight to believe the end was near.
Then there are the celebrity reactions.
Stripped of their public facade, the stars give viewers a rare – and sometimes shocking – glimpse of who they really are. Egyptian singer Mustafa Kamel, who was pranked in similar fashion to Hilton, tearfully admitted to Galal that he was thinking of his children because he was expecting the plane to crash.
Other victims of the plane prank include Egyptian actress Sara Salama, who was so livid that she couldn't speak; and Lebanese television host Neeshan, whose reaction was ­explosive: he pelted Galal with stones and chased him down the runway while letting out a torrent of expletives.
Why he gets away with it
Because he is much loved. In his 15-year career as an actor, singer and television talk-show host — not to mention being the son of esteemed Egyptian director Ahmed Tawfik Galal — the 42-year-old's amiable personality both on- and off-screen has earned him plenty of goodwill.
Which is one the reasons why it's entirely possible that Hilton was in on the joke the entire time.
Ramez Wakel el-Gaw is on nightly during Ramadan at 9.30pm on MBC. For details, go to www.mbc.net
sasaeed@thenational.ae

HWJN

Director: Yasir Alyasiri

Starring: Baraa Alem, Nour Alkhadra, Alanoud Saud

Rating: 3/5

Which products are to be taxed?

To be taxed:

Flavoured water, long-life fruit juice concentrates, pre-packaged sweetened coffee drinks fall under the ‘sweetened drink’ category

Not taxed

Freshly squeezed fruit juices, ground coffee beans, tea leaves and pre-prepared flavoured milkshakes do not come under the ‘sweetened drink’ band.

Products excluded from the ‘sweetened drink’ category would contain at least 75 per cent milk in a ready-to-drink form or as a milk substitute, baby formula, follow-up formula or baby food, beverages consumed for medicinal use and special dietary needs determined as per GCC Standardisation Organisation rules

Scoreline:

Everton 4

Richarlison 13'), Sigurdsson 28', ​​​​​​​Digne 56', Walcott 64'

Manchester United 0

Man of the match: Gylfi Sigurdsson (Everton)

SRI LANKS ODI SQUAD

Perera (capt), Mendis, Gunathilaka, de Silva, Nissanka, Shanaka, Bandara, Hasaranga, Udana, Dananjaya, Dickwella, Chameera, Mendis, Fernando, Sandakan, Karunaratne, Fernando, Fernando.

Sweet Tooth

Creator: Jim Mickle
Starring: Christian Convery, Nonso Anozie, Adeel Akhtar, Stefania LaVie Owen
Rating: 2.5/5

The specs

Powertrain: Single electric motor
Power: 201hp
Torque: 310Nm
Transmission: Single-speed auto
Battery: 53kWh lithium-ion battery pack (GS base model); 70kWh battery pack (GF)
Touring range: 350km (GS); 480km (GF)
Price: From Dh129,900 (GS); Dh149,000 (GF)
On sale: Now

Specs: 2024 McLaren Artura Spider

Engine: 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 and electric motor
Max power: 700hp at 7,500rpm
Max torque: 720Nm at 2,250rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed dual-clutch auto
0-100km/h: 3.0sec
Top speed: 330kph
Price: From Dh1.14 million ($311,000)
On sale: Now

Scoreline

Syria 1-1 Australia

Syria Al Somah 85'

Australia Kruse 40'

TUESDAY'S ORDER OF PLAY

Centre Court

Starting at 2pm:

Elina Svitolina (UKR) [3] v Jennifer Brady (USA)

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) v Belinda Bencic (SUI [4]

Not before 7pm:

Sofia Kenin (USA) [5] v Elena Rybakina (KAZ)

Maria Sakkari (GRE) v Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) [7]

 

Court One

Starting at midday:

Karolina Muchova (CZE) v Katerina Siniakova (CZE)

Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) v Aliaksandra Sasnovich (BLR)

Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) v Dayana Yastermska (UKR)

Petra Martic (CRO) [8] v Su-Wei Hsieh (TPE)

Sorana Cirstea (ROU) v Anett Kontaveit (EST)

Confirmed bouts (more to be added)

Cory Sandhagen v Umar Nurmagomedov
Nick Diaz v Vicente Luque
Michael Chiesa v Tony Ferguson
Deiveson Figueiredo v Marlon Vera
Mackenzie Dern v Loopy Godinez

Tickets for the August 3 Fight Night, held in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, went on sale earlier this month, through www.etihadarena.ae and www.ticketmaster.ae.

Need to know

The flights: Flydubai flies from Dubai to Kilimanjaro airport via Dar es Salaam from Dh1,619 return including taxes. The trip takes 8 hours. 

The trek: Make sure that whatever tour company you select to climb Kilimanjaro, that it is a reputable one. The way to climb successfully would be with experienced guides and porters, from a company committed to quality, safety and an ethical approach to the mountain and its staff. Sonia Nazareth booked a VIP package through Safari Africa. The tour works out to $4,775 (Dh17,538) per person, based on a 4-person booking scheme, for 9 nights on the mountain (including one night before and after the trek at Arusha). The price includes all meals, a head guide, an assistant guide for every 2 trekkers, porters to carry the luggage, a cook and kitchen staff, a dining and mess tent, a sleeping tent set up for 2 persons, a chemical toilet and park entrance fees. The tiny ration of heated water provided for our bath in our makeshift private bathroom stall was the greatest luxury. A standard package, also based on a 4-person booking, works out to $3,050 (Dh11,202) per person.

When to go: You can climb Kili at any time of year, but the best months to ascend  are  January-February and September-October.  Also good are July and August, if you’re tolerant of the colder weather that winter brings.

Do not underestimate the importance of kit. Even if you’re travelling at a relatively pleasant time, be geared up for the cold and the rain.

Indoor cricket in a nutshell

Indoor Cricket World Cup – Sep 16-20, Insportz, Dubai

16 Indoor cricket matches are 16 overs per side

8 There are eight players per team

9 There have been nine Indoor Cricket World Cups for men. Australia have won every one.

5 Five runs are deducted from the score when a wickets falls

4 Batsmen bat in pairs, facing four overs per partnership

Scoring In indoor cricket, runs are scored by way of both physical and bonus runs. Physical runs are scored by both batsmen completing a run from one crease to the other. Bonus runs are scored when the ball hits a net in different zones, but only when at least one physical run is score.

Zones

A Front net, behind the striker and wicketkeeper: 0 runs

B Side nets, between the striker and halfway down the pitch: 1 run

C Side nets between halfway and the bowlers end: 2 runs

D Back net: 4 runs on the bounce, 6 runs on the full

About Tenderd

Started: May 2018

Founder: Arjun Mohan

Based: Dubai

Size: 23 employees 

Funding: Raised $5.8m in a seed fund round in December 2018. Backers include Y Combinator, Beco Capital, Venturesouq, Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, Paul Buchheit, Justin Mateen, Matt Mickiewicz, SOMA, Dynamo and Global Founders Capital

In 2018, the ICRC received 27,756 trace requests in the Middle East alone. The global total was 45,507.

 

There are 139,018 global trace requests that have not been resolved yet, 55,672 of these are in the Middle East region.

 

More than 540,000 individuals approached the ICRC in the Middle East asking to be reunited with missing loved ones in 2018.

 

The total figure for the entire world was 654,000 in 2018.

The five pillars of Islam
Fourth Arab Economic and Social Development Summit

As he spoke, Mr Aboul Gheit repeatedly referred to the need to tackle issues affecting the welfare of people across the region both in terms of preventing conflict and in pushing development.
Lebanon is scheduled to host the fourth Arab Economic and Social Development Summit in January that will see regional leaders gather to tackle the challenges facing the Middle East. The last such summit was held in 2013. Assistant Secretary-General Hossam Zaki told The National that the Beirut Summit “will be an opportunity for Arab leaders to discuss solely economic and social issues, the conference will not focus on political concerns such as Palestine, Syria or Libya". He added that its slogan will be “the individual is at the heart of development”, adding that it will focus on all elements of human capital.

Cricket World Cup League Two

Oman, UAE, Namibia

Al Amerat, Muscat

 

Results

Oman beat UAE by five wickets

UAE beat Namibia by eight runs

 

Fixtures

Wednesday January 8 –Oman v Namibia

Thursday January 9 – Oman v UAE

Saturday January 11 – UAE v Namibia

Sunday January 12 – Oman v Namibia


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