State Of (Non) Play


As I expected, nothing is happening.

Two weeks ago (on the Saturday) Ibrahim promised me the scaffolding would arrive the next day. It did not.

Last Sunday (he was here in Doha), he promised it would “be here today or tomorrow”. Again, on the Monday, Ibrahim promised it would “be here today or tomorrow”. And on the Tuesday, he again promised “today or tomorrow”.

By the end of the Wednesday, it had not arrived. Nor did it arrive Thursday.

The only thing that happened is that on the Wednesday, I had an email from Neil saying that Ali (from Innovation) had come over and that he had forced Majid to supply the list of scaffolding so that a supervising rigger that Ali had arranged to be at the hangar could assess if it was enough.

Apparently, Majid ran off looking very panicky to make a phone call. At that same time, I was in a meeting about the bus crash sequence. Ibrahim was there. He got a call, answered, leapt out of his seat and suddenly vanished.

Back at the hangar, Majid reluctantly handed over the list and the supervising rigger said there was plenty of scaffolding on it although some essential parts were missing.

This would be a step in the right direction if it were not for Majid’s odd behavior and Ibrahim suddenly vanishing at the same time.

That same day, Joel and Ahmed had a long chat. Joel has always stood by the Art Dept saying we cannot build sets without money (for some strange reason Ahmed has been blaming us for not building sets despite our not having any money to build them with – go figure).

Anyway, Ahmed apparently asked Joel what he thought and Joel told him he thinks that ATP are holding back funds to try to force the show back to Jordan so that they can collect their monthly fee for longer. Joel thinks if the show goes back to Jordan it will fall apart. I think Ahmed may have acknowledged this possibility. I 100% believe Joel is right.

Anyway, sets.

We had a big meeting about the Oasis last Monday. Weil was there to meet Ibrahim. Afterwards, Ibrahim took him to one side to discuss money. That was the last we heard from Weil.

On Thursday, I asked Ibrahim what happened since Ibrahim has not volunteered any information. He told me the contract was being updated as he’d persuaded Weil to recce the contract length from 90 to 75 days. How that is possible I do not yet know. You can’t make plants grow or root faster.

When I asked about the buses last Wednesday, Majid told me he was getting Scar to sign the contract “today”. But Scar refused. Apparently, the contract included various penalties he considers unreasonable. Also, it said he had to deliver in 24 days and he said he could not.

The next day, I asked Majid about it. He said it was fine and Weil had agreed to deliver in 22 days! I expressed surprise saying the Art Dept had just spoken to Weil who said 24 days was not enough. Majid looked awkward and said he was getting Scar to sign the contract “today”. Clearly, he was lying.

The Patrols. These are two cars Ray needs. For over four weeks now, Majid has been promising Ray he will buy them “tomorrow”.

The rocket launch control room needs a steel framework for the mezzanine floor and steel handrails. We gave Ibrahim a quote from our chosen supplier. He wanted to know exactly how they would build it. They refused to supply more details until they’d been paid (maybe they’ve heard about ATP?). Since I heard Ibrahim had been badmouthing us about not doing things the ATP way, I sent him two more quotes (which we had previously emailed to him on October 20th anyway). I have not head back.

Joel is right. ATP has everything it needs to release funds for all the sets and they do nothing. The only reason anything is happening down at the hangar is that one of *our* crew (not ATP) is using petty cash to buy supplies. And because the one thing ATP bought is timber.

Today, the construction boys ran out of screws. And we have run out of petty cash. So they are waiting for screws to turn up so they can continue building.

How utterly ridiculous.

Ibrahim’s Response … And Mine …


Ibrahim did not like my whiteboard note. Of course he did not. It’s too spot on. And could cause a world of trouble for ATP if I keep it up. Here’s what he said.

Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 12.10.24 AM

Here’s my response;

Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 12.11.14 AM

Of course, I’m bullshitting. I know fine well that Ibrahim is blaming us and that he is utterly two-faced and thinks we are all idiots. I know he has convinced Ahmed that everything is all our fault – which is not so difficult because Ahmed wants someone to blame and it is easier to blame us than ATG (Ahmed never shows any loyalty, no doubt because he has none). According to ATP, we cause problems by not following ATP’s procedure (not true), but they’re the ones that keep taking quotes and contractors away from us. Like the scaffolding: Seven and a half weeks we have been waiting for this to turn up while ATP refuses to tell us what is going on. Meantime, every time we ask where it is, we get the same vague answer, “It’s being dealt with.” Right, like that takes seven and a half weeks. Meantime we can do nothing to get the sets built.

I asked about the buses today, Ibrahim told me, “The contract is being processed.”

I asked about the Patrols. “They are being bought tomorrow.”

Oasis? “We’ll sort it out now.”

Scaffolding? “I promise that will arrive today or tomorrow.” Oh wait, that was his promise yesterday, the day before, the day before, and last week.

And it still has not arrived.

It’s Being Processed…


I’ve been trying to avoid saying or thinking it, but I think we’ve reached the point where I have to accept that we will never film in Qatar. If anywhere at all.

It’s been six weeks (around Sept 19th) since we first presented quotes to ATP for scaffolding so we could begin work on the caves and rocket launch control room. And after all that time we still do not have any scaffolding.

Last Wednesday morning, I called a meeting between Production and the Art Dept to ask why no-one seemed to agree on who was responsible for sorting out the scaffolding. At the time, I was being told that Azmi was saying Hamad was doing it and Hamad was saying that Azmi was doing it. Hamad said it was not his job because he is not an expert on scaffolding and that that was the Art Dept’s job. At which point, Jude informed us that scaffolding had been bought from a company we had not recommended. I asked for confirmation they would be providing what we had asked for but she could not do that. Hamad then tried to justify it being bought without the Art Dept being consulted, to which I pointed out that he had just said the Art Dept was the experts so why was he justifying Production buying scaffolding without our input?

Expressing concern that we had no way of knowing what had been ordered, I asked for the supplier’s list. After three days I still did not have it. Instead, I got the list they used to buy it — a list that had been confirmed to be out-of-date weeks earlier; a list that did not list all the individual components needed because it was based upon detailed conversations between the Construction Dept and another contractor. Put it another way, Production had fucked up once again.

Ibrahim then emailed me asking why the Art Dept was causing problems. Antony pointed out to Ibrahim that we were trying to prevent problems. Ibrahim said we should wait until the scaffolding arrives and then see if anything was missing and that, if it was, he would buy or hire replacement scaffolding immediately.

And that is what it has been like for the last seven and a half weeks.

The Circle & The Square


This morning before Abdul ambushed me, the UK crew spoke about how this show would probably never happen. The problem is that both sides are guilty. The argument goes like this;

ATG: There’s not enough money. We can’t make the show.
Investors: You promised to make all 20 episodes for this amount of money. Make it happen.
ATG: There’s not enough money. We can’t make the show.
Investors: You promised to make all 20 episodes for this amount of money. Make it happen.
ATG: There’s not enough money. We can’t make the show.
Investors: You promised to make all 20 episodes for this amount of money. Make it happen.

And so on…

And so the point is that the show will never get made.

We did discuss three options however;

  1. The show is made as an ATG+ show – meaning slightly better than their usual rubbish.
  2. It never gets made.
  3. ATG spend $5-10 million on the pilot then hand the rest of the money back.

I agreed that the only logical option was option 3. At least then the investors might be so impressed they bankroll the rest of the show. The ATG get the rest of the money.

But Ahmed allegedly sees a fourth option. He apparently insists they can do it by hiring cheap labour from places like South Africa. Clearly he does not get that cheap labour is unskilled labour and filmmaking is a skilled job. Personally, I’m concerned about a Qatari talking about hiring cheap labour. Their track record for doing this is not great.

So the UK crew is right. Both sides are to blame.

But none of the above had anything to do with the alleged disappearance of the bulk of the money. That is another issue. And the fact that if this show had been placed into the hands of a real production company and shot in Jordan, it *would* have been possible for the money the show had.

For example, (and I figured this out months ago) the fortress set. Cost in UK = £35,000. Cost in Jordan = £7,000. One 1/5th the cost. If you follow that logic through to it’s natural conclusion, that means $40 million in Jordan is equivalent to $200,000 in the UK. Ten episodes of GAME OF THRONES costs £100 million. That’s £10 million each. Cost of one episode of MEDINAH as shot in Jordan equals $2 million which is equivalent to $10 million in the UK. In other words, if shot in Jordan, the cost per episode of MEDINAH was exactly the same as GAME OF THRONES. But we are not shooting in Jordan. We are shooting in Qatar. Why? Because the Qatari investors no longer trust ATG because Talal told Ahmed the fortress set was going to cost $250-500K!

So you can say that it is both sides fault, but we got here because of the kind of company ATG is and the kind of crook Talal is. If they had been a real production company, everything would be fine.

Ergo, Arab Telemedia Group has killed MEDINAH.

The Truth Is Out……


So I’ve been promising a major bit of news and here it is.

After it all went off over the wages, Issam, Chris and Simon decided we should all have a meeting to discuss the email that we had sent (see below).

Screen Shot 2015-08-14 at 13.39.34

As you will see, the email was to the point, factual, and decisive. It was written by more than one person, sent from an anonymous account so ATG could not victimise anyone, and signed alphabetically so they could not pinpoint a hierarchy.

The next day, ATG had a crisis meeting and on the Sunday they responded with this email;

Praxino Mail – Unpaid Wages

(click link above to see full email)

Praxino Mail - Unpaid Wages copy

It runs for several pages (4) and is remarkable in that it manages to turn our “to the point, factual, and decisive” email into something else. ATG clearly put a lot of work into this email. They must have, because there are so many lies. Not one thing in it is true. But let’s start with the rather bizarre insinuation that our email represents a conspiracy! Why did they do this?

The answer to this question is best represented by how Abdul began the meeting. He started by labouring the fact that ATG was concerned about the email because it suggested a conspiracy intended to sabotage the show (!) and that if we had problems he would rather we approach him one-on-one. Why did he say this? Because ATG like to bully and while they can bully individuals, they cannot bully a group. So Abdul’s statement had nothing to do with fixing problems and everything to do with “fixing us”.

But all of this is nothing compared to what happened half an hour into the meeting.

I think it was me who initially pushed the point about the fact that Abdul was compromised because ATG owes him US$40,000+. I pointed out that he was supposed to look after the investors’ interests but how could he when ATG owed him so much money? He asked me what it had to do with me and why did I care? I said I cared about people doing what was right and ATG were not doing what was right by him. It was then that things started to unravel.

Abdul explained that he did not mind being owed so much money because he could afford to take “a hit”. For example, he said, “If four payments are owed, two to me and two to Ray, I’m happy for him to be paid.” At which point Chris said, “Well that obviously means there is a cash flow problem.” Abdul then said that was not the case, at which point we started going round in circles as Chris, myself (and I think Terry) started to question his logic;

“If there isn’t a cash flow problem, why aren’t they paying you?”
“Well, because they can’t right now.”
“So there is a cash flow problem?”
“No, there isn’t.”
“So why aren’t they paying you? If they have the cash, what is stopping them?”
“Well they have had a problem making payments.”
“For four months! They’re paying us. How come they can’t pay you?”
“Because they can’t.”
“Then there is a cash flow problem?”

Or words to the above affect. At which point a studio representative, who had been quietly listening said, “I don’t understand, Where is all the money we just gave you?”

We could all see that Abdul knew he was in trouble. He tried to make excuses, then the studio rep dropped the final blow.

“This makes me think ATG must be spending Medinah’s money on it’s other shows.”

Terry and I both saw a look of utter horror flicker across Abdul’s face. He quickly made excuses. But at that point everyone around the table knew – the studio rep had just said he knew what ATG was up to. It was out there. And Abdul was cornered.

But it was at that point we backed off.

We all know Abdul is cornered. ATG owes him $40,000-plus and they are using it to control him. He is their puppet, and they can make him dance as much as they like.

While we have no actual proof that ATG is embezzling money and everything I say in this blog is alleged only, Abdul signs contracts and agreements and payments. If ATG is up to no good, and we all firmly believe that is the case, he is directly in the firing line. It’s no accident ATG sent Abdul and Majid to Doha alone. Majid has no authority and Abdul is expendable. Chris and I have discussed the fact that if ATG do get caught, we believe Talal and Fadi would go to jail. The same could be true of Abdul.

For anyone who would like to deny the above conversation ever took place, well, I recorded it.