Dead Dog


I went on a recce two days ago to Wadi Rum. Again.

We went in the company mini-bus. It was the same driver I told Abdul I would never ride with again.

He ran over and killed a dog.


FOOTNOTE ADDED MAY 11th 2016

In hindsight, I discovered the driver is a really nice guy. I feel bad for criticizing his driving. But he’s not a great driver and ATG should have taken my warnings seriously. That they did not, reflects far more on them than the driver’s driving did on the driver.

My Meeting With Anwar & Anthony & Jasmine


I like Anwar and Abdul but the fact is this company breeds distrust and so I find it hard to believe their motives.

Last week, I got a call from a rather nervous sounding Abdul telling me I was needed over at the ATG headquarters (ATG1). Was I about to be fired? I asked him why. Rather oddly, he told me that Talal had recommended that Ibrahim and Anwar seek my advice over the design for a new Art Dept in the basement of ATG1 because, “he’s good at that sort of thing”.

Now how would Talal know that I’m good at anything considering he has never once spoken to me? But being curious to know their real intentions, I agreed. Now I happen to know there’s a subtle mind-manipulation technique that states if, you want someone to like you, ask them to do you a favour. So my first thought was that they had two goals;

  1. Create a division between me and the rest of the Art Dept and especially Chris since I seemed to be siding with him too much.
  2. Get me on their side a bit by playing the aforementioned mind manipulation technique on me.

So I decided to go along with it to see what they might do.

Half an hour later I’m with Abdul and Anwar in the basement advising them on what to do with the basement. Fifteen minutes after that, I’m outside with Abdul, Anwar and Anthony and I’m being invited to the pub that evening to watch a football match.

Time to back up. The inclusion of Anthony is significant. As mentioned in a previous blog entry, I sat in on a meeting with Talal about the fortress wall that did not go well. The thing I noticed most was the complete breakdown of communication between the English and Jordanian crew. With one exception. Anthony. Somehow he has become ‘friends’ with Talal. I wanted to know how he did it in the hope that if there were bridges to be built between ATP and the international crew, he might offer a solution.

So a few weeks ago I emailed him asking to meet to talk about how I might work better with ATG so that “Medinah” could be the show it is meant to be. I then had to postpone meeting him because my family came to visit for five days. But I did not follow up and a week after they had gone I found myself standing outside ATG1 being invited to the pub by Anwar and Anthony after just having a subtle manipulation technique played on me. Coincidence? I’m not sure.

I decided not to go to the pub, but that evening,I was Skyping my family when my ATG cell phone rang. I didn’t know the number so I answered it and asked who it was. It was Anwar. He was coming to the hotel to pick me up. Hmmmmm…….

Since I was Skyping, I persuaded him to let me meet him at the pub. Which I did. Anwar was there. We chatted about ATG, Talal’s secret but no doubt smart mission, about ATG’s good intentions, and Anwar’s desire to quit producing and focus again on development (but Talal wouldn’t let him). Then Anthony turned up. I had a long chat with him about ATG. I told him that I had calculated that (comparatively) ATG had more money to spend on “Medinah” than was spent on “Game Of Thrones” – that made him somewhat silent as I don’t think he’d thought about that. Anyway, the evening wet well, I was made to feel welcome, I was invited to Anthony’s place the next time he does a bar-b-que and told that Anwar does a mean “leg of lamb”, and it all seemed rather good.

Of course, next day back in the Art Dept there was a few jokes about my going over to “the other side” (plus a possible hint of genuine suspicion from Dominic Smithers). I told them that I suspected this was a set-up. Chris agreed.

Later the next day, I went back to the basement because I felt the floor-plan Anwar had emailed me for the basement was wrong. It was, so I took new measurements. But as I was leaving I bumped into a young woman called Jasmine – who was loitering in the stairwell – who works for Fadi. She asked who I was. I told her. Then she asked me if I knew Anthony and started going on about how much she liked and respected him. She then said, “He’s a really nice person. You’re a nice person too. I can tell”. She then complimented me on my sunglasses which she loved. She was she flirting with me! But why? Was she a plant? Had Talal put her up to this? Was ATG really this transparently conniving?

I told Chris about this later on and said the discouraging thing was that I have never thought like this before. ATG has succeeded in making me paranoid. I can’t even bump into a woman on the stairs and not suspect she was put there deliberately! But it did seem very strange that I was constantly being reminded about Anthony – the person I had contacted to see if he could advise me on how to work better with ATG.

I should also mention that I have been told by Abdul that ATG spies on its employee’s emails. How do they do this? Anyone who has an ATG email account is not given the means to change their password. This means ATG has their password and can log in at any time to read their emails including emails sent to them from other accounts (such as emails I have sent to Anthony). So even if Anthony had not told Talal that I’d emailed him, Talal probably knew.

I emailed Jude a few days later (another email Talal would have seen) asking if I could get Jasmine’s email address and phone number. The reason I emailed Jude asking this was because I figured if she gave me the details without asking why I wanted them, Jasmine was probably a plant. And if Jude did ask why, it meant either she was not a plant or that Jude didn’t know what Talal was up to. A few days passed before she emailed me back saying she would need Fadi’s permission so could I explain why I needed Jasmine’s details. So I don’t yet know if Jasmine was a plant.

But I am expecting an invite to Anthony’s place soon. I’ll go. I like him. But I don’t know if I can trust him. We’ll see.

Driving Like Crazy


I’m a good driver. Not in a “laddish” sort of way but in a “I see possible problems long before anyone else” sort of way.

So when the Art Dept driver quit and in his place a new guy took us on a recce yesterday, I was the only person who seemed to notice that he did more than twenty dangerous overtaking manoeuvres (approaching the crest of hills – that sort of thing), had to do two emergency brakes, and pulled out in front of a bus nearly killing our oblivious Prop Master.

When I told our Location Manager (LM) – who somehow seems to do everything – that I would never get in a vehicle with this guy again, our LM thought I was joking. I told him three times.

Today another recce was organised. Same driver. I refused to go. The LM seemed irritated. Apparently my commitment to ATP is supposed to include putting my life on the line for them…

Audio Recording (of “Meeting Given Go-Ahead. But No Go-Ahead For The $7,000 Set!”)


In case you wanted to hear it yourself, here’s the audio recording of meeting in which Talal dismissed Simon – the director – by calling him a “used car salesman”, accuses the international crew of constantly interrupting him (while constantly interrupting them), storms out the room in a huff, and expresses significant concerns about Ahmed.

In Talal’s defence, I will say that I agree with him that “Medinah” should have stayed in Jordan. Costs are 1/6th that of the UK and Qatar. But that doesn’t mean it would have ever been completed in Jordan. The funds were being bled dry without any visible reason why (even if it is obvious why). The fact is, they were (are) just being bled dry quicker in Qatar.

“Medinah” needed to stay in Jordan. But it also needed a Production company that knew what it was doing and didn’t have other agendas. *I* could have produced “Medinah” n Jordan. I could have delivered the show Ahmed and the investors wanted for the money ATP had been given. It would have been hard work. It would have required meticulous planning. But it would have been done. And I say that after having spent enough time there to rule out cultural differences as potential hurdles.

So why couldn’t ATP?

audio