The Significance of Ramadan

The Significance of Ramadan

This month, millions of Muslims around the world will observe the month of Ramadan. It’s one of the five pillars of Islam and sees followers abstain from drinking liquids, sex and smoking and they’re expected to fast during the daylight hours.

It’s the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and Ramadan places an emphasis on charity, community, worship and faith. As it’s time of appreciation, connection to one’s faith and community, charity and prayer are also emphasised and particularly encouraged. Followers hope that it’s a month of consciousness, reflection and nourishment of the soul. When the sun goes down, they can then break their fast with a meal ‘iftar’.

The end of Ramadan is marked with Eid, a 3-day period of festivities and it’s the time to cave in to life’s culinary pleasures: great food surrounded by your family and friends. This year due to Covid-19, it is likely to be a different affair for Muslims celebrating around the world.

To all our Muslim readers, Ramadan Mubarak!

If you enjoyed this article, then check out our documentary presented by the lovely Mehreen Baig. She looks at the motivations and challenges facing the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims during their greatest month of the year. Click here to watch.

By Kaz Bosali

Commemorating Easter

Commemorating Easter

It is Easter on Sunday 4th April.

With Easter approaching, we look at the traditions around the world and explore how different cultures celebrate this religious festival. Easter celebrations (although no doubt different this year) is observed around the world. To learn how Jerusalem, Mexico, Spain and Antigua mark the occasion, click here.

One of the prominent and best place to witness the faith and celebration of Easter is in the Holy Land of Jerusalem, one of the world’s oldest cities (some 4,000 years) and the most holy site in the world. Pre-Covid, usually on Easter Day, Christians of all ethnicity gather in Jerusalem’s Old City to follow in the footsteps of Christ. Read our article on Easter in Jerusalem here.

Everyone at Pilot wish you a Happy Easter!

Travel in the COVID-Zone

Travel in the COVID-Zone
September 14, 2020

Israel returns to full lockdown

Israel is to impose a new three-week nationwide lockdown from Friday in a bid to again slow down the spread of COVID-19. Daily new infections are currently closing in on nearly 3000 a day.

The move has attracted criticism from some of the nations’s conservative religious leaders due to the coincidence of the lockdown with two of the most important events in the Jewish calendar – Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) and the most holy of all, Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement).

Others have heralded the move as crucial in order to protect the nation from even more deaths, which currently stands at 1,126.

The logistics of shipping a vaccine around the world

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has suggested that over 8000 Jumbo Jets would be required to ship a vaccine for the coronavirus around the world.

Most vaccines require storage temperatures of between 2C – 8C, excluding a number of other aircraft from the task at hand.

While no vaccine has yet been fully developed, a global airlift plan is being developed between airlines, the IATA, governments and scientists to deliver the vaccine, on the basis of one dose per person.

Tensions are rising in Australia

Over the weekend, Melbourne saw clashes between the authorities and the public during two anti-lockdown protests. Over 80 people were arrested during the protests for breaking the current stay-at-home legislation.

The protests come as the state of Victoria has extended its ‘state of disaster’ for another month, giving the authorities extended powers to enforce public health orders. The state has been on lockdown since early July.

Meanwhile in Queensland, the cheif health officer has been given police protection following death threats which come after strict state rules prevented a young woman from attending her fathers funeral.

Australian prime minister Scott Morrison has expressed concern at the extremely tight border restrictions upheld by Queensland and other state legislatures, and has since agreed with the suggestion that Australia is losing its humanity in the face of the public health crisis.

Other Coronavirus News & Statistics

  • England has imposed stricter measures on the size of gatherings, limiting them to just 6 people. This comes following criticisms of young people for allegedly not respecting the social distancing measures already in place.
  • Canadian airline refuses to take off because of a 3 year old child allegedly not wearing a face covering. The airline’s (and the Canadian government’s) policy requires all children over the age of 2 to wear a face covering.
  • Worldometers: Up to date Coronavirus statistics

Main image: Tel Aviv, RG in TLV, Flickr Creative Commons

Travel in the COVID-Zone

Travel in the COVID-Zone
July 29, 2020

Foreigners banned from 2020’s Hajj Pilgrimage

Foreign worshipers have been forbidden from attending this year’s annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Just 10,000 people who already reside in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will be allowed to attend in a bid to avoid further infections in the nation, which currently sits in the top 20 worst affected countries. Hajj welcomed 2.5 million pilgrims in 2019.

Read more: Muslim Pilgrimages: Hajj

The results of our twitter poll are in…

In our recent twitter poll, we asked our followers what their travel plans look like over the coming months. 63.6% of participants said that they will not be travelling anywhere before the end of the year, with none of the participants planning on travelling for business!

Although the poll is clearly a bit of fun, it does somewhat mimic the results of other, larger-scale surveys. In a recent survey by Opinium, on behalf of iCarhireinsurance.com, it was found 42% are planning on booking holidays for 2021, but won’t be bothering with 2020.

Latest Coronavirus News & Statistics

  • Bicycle discounts to be ‘prescribed’ by the NHS as Boris Johnson announces cycling revolution to combat obesity in the UK.

  • Kenya has banned the sale of alcohol as a part of an extension to their curfew which is expected to last for at least one more month.
  • More than half of Mumbai’s Slum dwellers have had the coronavirus, according to a scientific survey carried out by the municipality, the government think-tank Niti Aayog and the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research.

Main image: Holy Ka’ba, Camera Eye, Flickr Creative Commons

Travel in the COVID-Zone

Travel in the COVID-Zone
July 8, 2020

Lockdown returns to Melbourne…

Australia has been largely applauded for its rapid and effective response to the global Coronavirus outbreak and has seen success in containing the virus and stopping the spread by using a strict lockdown.

The state of Victoria, home to Australia’s second largest city, Melbourne, had some of the nation’s most stringent lockdown measures and was among the last to lift its restrictions when the worst of the outbreak seemed to have passed.

But as much of the country emerges from the restrictions following their success, the virus has resumed spreading at an alarming rate in Melbourne, with a record 191 new infections just yesterday.

The city has today announced that it will re-lockdown for six weeks in a bid to once again stop the spread.

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said the city and some of its surrounds will be locked down under tougher restrictions than were imposed during the first shutdown which only began to lift on June 1. The borders between Victoria and its neighbour states will remain shut for the duration.

“We are in many respects in a more precarious, challenging and potentially tragic position now than we were some months ago,” Andrews said.

…and to Israel

In a bid to spare the nation another total lockdown, Israel’s government has today announced that bars, gyms, nightclubs, swimming pools and event halls will all be closing again.

Israel lifted the initial lockdown on May 28 following a low of just 5 new cases reported on May 24. By July 1, new infection numbers had returned to pre-lockdown levels of 1000 new infections per day.

Latest Coronavirus News & Statistics

  • The United Kingdom’s Office for National Statistics reports that 80% of people who test positive for COVID-19 are asymptomatic on the day of the test., further highlighting the danger of asymptomatic transmission.
  • The United States surpassed 3 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 this week, a number which is almost equal to population of Madrid, Spain’s most populous city and capital.
  • Worldometers: Up to date Coronavirus statistics

Main image: Melbourne Town Hall, Pilot Productions ©

Travel in the COVID-Zone

Travel in the COVID-Zone
June 2, 2020

Al-Aqsa Mosque Reopens After 2 Months of Lockdown

Jerusalems’s Al-Aqsa mosque has reopened to both worshipers and visitors after months of closure due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Council of Islamic Waqf – who manage the Muslim sites on the holy Temple Mount complex – have said that due to a drastically slowed spread of the virus in its nearby vicinity, that the mosque can now reopen with adjustments made to how worshipers and visitors use it.

In order to reduce the risk of future spread at Islam’s third-holiest site, some of the precautionary measures that will be implemented include the compulsory use of face masks and bringing personal prayer rugs should they wish to pray in the mosque or on the grounds.

Temple Mount, or Haram al-Sharif, is a highly important site for all Abrahamic religions.

Muslims revere the site, believing that the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven there on a miraculous night journey. It is also the holiest site to Jews, who refer to it as the Temple Mount and believe it to be the location of two biblical temples. Resultingly, the ‘ownership’ and use of the site has been a central issue within the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Latest Coronavirus News & Statistics

  • The UK’s bicycle industry says it has seen an “enormous” increase in the use and sale of bikes during the coronavirus lockdown, with some retailers reporting a 40% uplift in sales!
  • Officials and medical professionals have expressed concern that the widespread George Floyd protests in the USA will see a dramatic increase in new coronavirus cases.
  • Germany lifts travel restrictions to the UK and the USA as individual regions begin to unlock!
  • The Leaning Tower of Pisa reopened to tourists on May 30.
  • Greece and the Greek Islands (including Crete) are set to lift the 2-week quarantine requirements for foreign tourists on July 1 with a view to kick-starting the seasonal tourism which makes up around 18% of Greece’s GDP!
  • Worldometers: Up to date Coronavirus statistics

More information:

Must See Mosques of the World

Phobic Traveller: The What, When & How of COVID-19 Travel

Phobic Traveller: Challenges and Innovation in the Travel Industry

Tips For Coping During Lockdown

Forgotten Seafarers

Forgotten Seafarers

According to the International Chamber of Shipping, 1.6 million seafarers are stranded at sea and are unable to go home, while relief crews cannot be brought in.

The UK Chamber of Shipping said up to 2,000 – or around one in 13 – of the UK’s 25,750 seafarers were among the stranded.

In a letter written to Shipping Minister Kelly Tolhurst, the trade association has asked the UK government to sign up to and acknowledge the International Maritime Organisation COVID-19 guidance for personal protective equipment and for interactions between ship and shore-based personnel to ensure crew changeovers can resume. Getting them home is “increasingly taking on a humanitarian dimension”, it adds.

Working at sea often entails consecutive shifts over weeks or even months with few days off, followed by a rest period of weeks or months between trips. While these seafarers are unable to return, work will resume even for those in need of a break.

Discover the seafarer way of life with our series Tough Boats

Mark Dickinson, general secretary of seafarer union Nautilus International, said many UK seafarers were working 90-hour weeks.

In an interview with the BBC, he said: “It’s a confined workplace – not the Hilton Hotel – for three, four or five months. The accommodation is fairly basic and you’re with a small group of people.

“You get into a situation where you think, ‘I’ve got six weeks to go,’ ‘I’ve got four weeks to go,’ and even when this is extended by 24 hours it’s pretty awful. It’s worse when it’s so open-ended.”

Despite uncertainty, seafarers have been honoured for their hard work and professionalism throughout the global pandemic by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF).

More information:

Watch: Tough Boats – The Arctic

Download: Tough Boats – Great Lakes

Read: Major Shipping Firms Dedicate $5bn To Clean Fuel Research

Read: Phobic Traveller: The What, When & How of COVID-19 Travel

Read: All-Female Sailing Team ‘eXXpedeition’ on a Mission to Clean Up Our Oceans

Main image: Container ship leaving bay area, Derell Licht, Flickr Creative Commons

By Sofi Summers

Tips For Coping During Lockdown

Tips For Coping During Lockdown

It would be fair to say that more of us than usual are facing stress and/or anxiety this month, and with looming uncertainty as to when we will return to normal, it is important to look after your wellbeing. The good news is that most of us have got plenty of time on our hands to take proper care of ourselves, but if you’re struggling for ideas we’ve put together a list of tips and resources for remaining calm and staving off Coronavirus anxiety – and dare we say – using this awkward time wisely!

Mood Boosters

Positive news

John Krasinski of The Office has launched a YouTube channel aptly named “Some Good News“, covering any and all positive news that the world has to offer. Spare 30 minutes from your week (preferably minutes which you may have been spending ‘terror scrolling’), and check in with John every Monday for his mood boosting show.

Online therapy

The mental health tech sector has experienced a boom in the past month, with more and more people seeking help from online and app-based sources. App based services such as Better Help offer an affordable and easy way to access a professional ear to chew on. If you’d prefer to deal with your stressors on your own, services such as Headspace use meditation to build awareness alongside a healthy sense of perspective.

Watch something inspiring

Head over to the Pilot Guides Store and download any number of our shows. We’re currently loving our Pocket Guides (currently half price!) for planning our next city break, and Travelling in the 70’s for some good old fashioned nostalgia!

70's cars in Los Angeles, Travelling in the 70's by Pilot Productions

70’s cars in Los Angeles, Travelling in the 70’s by Pilot Productions

Schedule video calls with loved ones

Whether its a quiz night, a cup of coffee and a chin-wag or a shared takeaway, utilise video calling to maintain meaningful connections with people you care about. Aside from the obvious boost this will provide to your mood, it will also give you the opportunity to take your mind off your own problems and check in with everyone else.

A screen-ban

Set an allocated time every day where you turn off the TV, put down the phone or tablet and close your laptop. Use this time to read, practice journalling, meditate or some other activity aside from your chores. Actively unwinding can help your frantic thoughts to slow down, inspire creativity and help you let go of factors which are beyond your control. Aside from the benefits of the activities themselves, less screen time will help slow down your consumption of negative information, give your eyes a break from harmful blue-light and help you recognise when you are simply scrolling because you are bored.

Sleep

Physical exercise

In most places, lockdown laws enable individuals to partake in an hour of physical activity each day. This is for good reason – exercise generates feel-good hormones! It’s also a great opportunity to get some fresh air, vitamin D, and connect with nature. Don’t forget that walking counts as exercise too, and now would be a great time to take in some of your local sights!

Historic Walks Hollywood - Justine in the Hollywood Hills

If you cant go out, ensure to do something physical at home. Yoga is a great way to relax your body and mind. Isometric (such as a plank) and isotonic exercises (such as squats and push-ups) are great if you do not have much space and are confined to home.

DVD: Historic Walks

Sleep hygiene

Preparing and preserving your bedroom as a place for sleep can be very important when trying to minimise disruption to sleep! In the morning, make your bed and air your bedroom; and in the evening light a candle or spray some calming linen spray. Stay away from your bedroom until it is time for bed. Also, Mr. Sandman is not a fan of the blue-light from your phone either, so make sure to leave it aside for a restful nights’ kip!

Routine

Set a time for bed each night and stick to it, set an alarm each morning and avoid sleeping-in. Is your sleep pattern already busted? Try to move your bedtime and wake-up back by 10 minutes each day. Even so much as paying attention to your sleep pattern and making a concerted effort towards maintaining a routine will help you feel more in control.

Sleeping in a yurt... Pilot Productions

Sleeping in a yurt… Pilot Productions

Finances

Cash KingMake a zero-sum budget

Do you know where your money goes each month? Knowing where every penny has gone, and where every penny should be will help restore a sense of control in these financially stressful period. There are some fantastic online tools to help you draw up this budget, and many computers come with a pre-loaded budget templates!

Seek help

If things aren’t looking too rosy, then don’t bury your head in the sand. As well as finding out if there are any state benefits which you may be entitled to receive, you should look to temporarily reduce your obligations where possible. Many lenders are offering payment holidays as well as adjustments to repayment schedules, so call your lenders and discuss ways to ease your situation. Remember, it is in their interest for you not to default! Institutions such as Citizens Advice Bureau in the UK can provide some clarity on where to find help, and help you seek it. In the US, assistance generally varies from state to state, so do some digging and find out if there is anything you can do to ease the burden for even a short period.

Home

Spring clean

It is that time of year, after all. What better way to spend an afternoon than cleaning your house from top to bottom, and ‘putting winter away’. Having a clean and tidy environment in the spring time is important, especially when you’re spending so much time at home.

Clean out your closet

Take inventory of your closet! Set aside anything you no longer wear ready to donate it to a charity shop or a clothes bank. Alternatively, to generate some cash, you could sell them online! As the saying goes, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure!”. Apply this principle to other cupboards, too. Perhaps you have a pile of paperwork stashed away that you’ve been meaning to sort through, old electronics which have been sat in a box collecting dust, or a bathroom cabinet full of lotions and potions – get rid of what you no longer want and organise what you do!

Get creative in the kitchen

Empty out your food cupboard and fridge and get creative! Not only will this help with efforts to cut down on your spending, but cooking can also be a great way to release some stress. There is a plethora of recipes using just about any ingredients on the internet, but we would recommend checking out our Ten Great Global Recipes for inspiration!

A spicy pudding soup with fresh fruit. So wrong, but so delicious.

spicy pudding soup with fresh fruit. So wrong, but so delicious. And more or less exactly what you’ll get when you combine the contents of your cupboard…

Work

We love this Antique Writing Desk. When you're done for the day, you simply shut it! Image by Thomas Quine, Flickr creative Commons

We love this Antique Writing Desk. When you’re done for the day, you simply shut it! Image by Thomas Quine, Flickr creative Commons

Working from home

Pilot HQ’s tried and tested tips:

  • Stick to a routine: Clock in and out at roughly the same time each day where your role permits!
  • Make the most of not commuting: Go for a walk and/or eat a good breakfast!
  • Keep your work area as separate from your living area as possible: As tempting as it might be, taking your laptop to bed is not as productive as you think it is!
  • Take a lunch break!
  • Get dressed properly: Not just for that ever impending surprise video call, but getting dressed for work will help you focus on work, and keep work and home tasks separate.

Furloughed or on leave

Devote work-time to professional development or other activities which will help to enrich your career and and add value to your employers or your business. This is not limited to simply seeking out online courses; a more holistic approach to enrichment will enhance your life and your career. We love activities such as learning a language, or exploring the plethora of lessons that history has to offer. Why not check out our Study Guides to get a taste for what you might be interested in pursuing.

Unemployed

As much as finding gainful employment is your priority here, it may also be useful to take this time to reflect on your career so far to help determine what your next move might be. If you were already looking to make a change in your career, then there is literally no time like the present. Those who have lost their jobs could also engage in enriching activities to keep the mind as sharp as possible for when that interview finally comes your way.


Have you already engaged in any of the above, or do you have your own coping strategies? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter!

Main Image: Ned Kelly‘s First Home in Beveridge, Pilot Productions

Major Shipping Firms Dedicate $5bn To Clean Fuel Research

Major Shipping Firms Dedicate $5bn To Clean Fuel Research

7 major global shipping firms have between them pledged $5 billion to develop new clean fuel systems to tackle pollution caused by the industry.

The firms’ aim to decarbonise transoceanic shipping has been received positively by the wider industry and environmental campaigners alike. Shipping accounts for 3% of global emissions and for 90% of how goods are transported around the globe.

Currently viable options include biofuels, green hydrogen, ammonia, renewable electricity and fuel-cells.

The ship owners also are also welcoming a fuel levy to help support research and development in the future. The shipping industry is known for being heavily subsidised, with legislation protecting them from taxes in most parts of the world, however these calls signify a change in attitudes and an acknowledgement that pollution will not tackle itself.

This move also comes following an International Maritime Organisation regulation which has seen fuel suppliers innovating for the January 2020 date which it is set to come into effect, for heavy fuel oil suppliers cut the amount of sulfur used in ship fuels. The sulfur-containing fuel, when heated before combustion, creates harmful sulfur dioxide as a by-product which is released into the atmosphere. It is thought that the reduction of sulfur in the fuel will dramatically improve public health, particularly in the world’s busiest major port areas such as Shanghai, Singapore, Rotterdam, Los Angeles and Valencia.

The international shipping community is clearly demonstrating wider awareness and an eagerness to follow many of the world’s heavy industry communities in their commitment to tackle climate change.

More information:

Read: Chinese Firm to Manufacture 200,000 ‘New Energy’ Vehicles by 2025

Read: All-Female Sailing Team ‘eXXpedeition’ on a Mission to Clean Up Our Oceans

Read: IMO 2020 – cleaner shipping for cleaner air

By Sofi Summers

Main Image: Emma Maersk, Roy, Flickr Creative Commons

Thirty Mummies Excavated In Egypt

Thirty Mummies Excavated In Egypt
October 22, 2019

Thirty coffins containing mummies thought to belong to the families of high priests have been excavated from an ancient burial site in Egypt.

The sarcophagi are very well preserved, and are thought to be around 3000 years old.

Study Guide: The Ancient Egyptians

The mummies will be displayed in an exhibition at the Grand Egyptian Museum, a new museum scheduled to open in 2020, along with the full Tutankhamun collection.

The multicolored coffins were found in the heart of ancient Egypt – in the Valley of the Kings in Luxor, and have got scientists, Egyptologists and archaeologists very excited! It is the first collection of coffins of this scale to be discovered since the end of the 19th century. The Valley of the Kings is also famous as being the resting place of King Tutankhamun.

More information:

Read: Pharoh Tomb: The Pyramids Of Giza

Download: Tough Boats – Egypt Down The Nile

Buy: Empire Builders – The Ancient Egyptians